Job Interview in a Different City. Help!
August 20, 2018 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I have a job interview a month from now in a different city. I will be flying. Need advice on how to do this on the DL.

I have a job, and have an interview for a similar position with a new company in another city in about a month. The interview date is middle of the week, and they want to fly me in the night before. There is an all-day schedule for meetings with different people on the day of the interview, and I would fly back home that evening.

I've used a lot of vacation this year. I don't think it would be unreasonable to pull a vacation day for this, but my boss is definitely the type who wants to know where I'm going or what I am doing. I have flown to interview in a different city before, taking a day off from my job at the time, and my flight back got canceled – extremely stressful as I tried to get on standby flights, hoping I would be home in time to make it to work the next day. The interview is all day, with lots of different meetings with different people.

I work from home and am extremely accessible online during work hours, so disappearing for a full day will definitely be odd. How do you take an interview like this without alerting your current place of work? Especially when they are rather suspicious.

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Personal/family business.
posted by sprezzy at 10:55 AM on August 20, 2018 [11 favorites]

I'm not clear on if you boss really wants to know what you're doing or if they're just making conversation. Do you know anyone in the other city that you can 'visit' for the week? Can you take off the days after the interview until the weekend and make it a 'vacation'? If not, I would just bring your laptop with you so that if you end up with a canceled flight, you can work from a hotel room or airport lounge.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 10:58 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I did this once and I claimed it was a family visit. (It was to the city where my family lived and I was hoping to move back to, so this wasn't even a lie.) That lie doesn't work as well for a single midweek day, though.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:01 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Does your boss even need to know that you're leaving town - unless you're worried about running into someone at the airport? Can you say you're taking a personal day or that you're running errands? That would be true.
posted by FencingGal at 11:23 AM on August 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is there a reason you don't want to call in sick for a day or a couple of days? Even if you don't have paid sick days, it might be worth it for you to forgo a day's pay if you're very concerned about your current workplace figuring out what's going on.
posted by holborne at 11:24 AM on August 20, 2018 [15 favorites]

Most people I've worked with have accepted "family business", "personal business", or "personal business that I'm not comfortable discussing" without prying. Usually they assume it's a medical situation for you or your family and respect your privacy (and are made uncomfortable by the implication that it's a medical or highly personal matter, and that discomfort makes them even less likely to ask).

Before the trip you shouldn't talk about it much or at all, but if pressed you can say things like "things will be okay, I just have to go for a (few) day(s), but I'm not comfortable talking about it right now." Afterwards if anyone asks you can say "everything is okay now."

Don't be evasive and don't lie, just let them know that you're not comfortable discussing it. Feel free to sound a little ominous to play up the "probably a tough personal situation" side of things.

Now, if your boss is really so terrible that they won't approve time off without a full, excessively-personal explanation, you're being forced to lie and I'd go for it. But it's best to be vague and unwilling to discuss.
posted by Tehhund at 11:53 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have called in sick in this situation. Not ideal but the best solution imo.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:08 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would say medical appointment.
posted by saucysault at 12:16 PM on August 20, 2018

Call in sick.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:21 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

my boss is definitely the type who wants to know where I'm going or what I am doing
This is 100 percent not their business, but many people think it is, so this is a situation where you may be forced to lie. Try not to feel bad and know they are the ones being unreasonable here. Unless your job involves being available all the time, you can leave the state without their knowledge. Make up something if you must, but try to get in the habit of being private about your time off in general. This vacation time is a benefit that you have earned and the company has no right to tell you how to use it. They can probably tell you when to use/not use it but that probably does not apply in this situation. Personally, I try to be as flexible with them as they are with me.

Calling in sick or saying that is a medical appointment have the potential cause a problem if someone finds out. Implying it is medical when it is in fact personal is safer. Many companies require you to report working "from home" in another state for tax or legal reasons, so try to avoid that.
posted by soelo at 12:31 PM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Call in sick. I did this once when I had an extremely intense job where vacations had to be approved months in advance. It was stressful but it worked. And if you have trouble getting back (unlikely, but if), you can just call in sick for a second day.

Your boss might be a jerk about it, but you really don't have to say anything more than "I'm not feeling well." Resist the temptation to elaborate.

Alternatively, you can take a personal day ahead of time and say you have to handle something personal. This is less stressful on the day of because you don't have to worry about getting "caught" but if you have an overstepping boss, it might not be worth the interrogation.
posted by lunasol at 12:31 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I asked this question a couple of years ago (anonymity no more!). I took the general advice from the commenters there and told my boss, basically, "I had something pretty urgent come up unexpectedly, and I'm going to need a few days off". An IRL friend suggested taking the entire rest of the week, to make it look less suspicious, which I did. It worked swimmingly. As far as I'm aware, no one at my old job ever knew I even left town, let alone interviewed for a job.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:44 PM on August 20, 2018

It's unfortunate that it's mid-week- whenever I've done this the interviewing company has been considerate enough to schedule on a Friday. You probably should take the day after or the rest of the week off if you have to go on a Wednesday.
posted by pinochiette at 1:27 PM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you call in sick, tell them it was a gastrointestinal issue. If you go with head cold and there is no residual stuffed nose, etc it might be more suspicious. Mild food poisoning can take a few days to recover from and nobody wants to hear about it or ask more when it’s a GI bug.
posted by slateyness at 1:27 PM on August 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

Eh? The issue with calling in sick is that it's not true, and it's possible to get caught out on something like this.

When things like this have come up for me I've just said something to the effect of "I have to take next Thursday off for some unavoidable personal business" or "I have important family business I have to take care of next Thursday, so I can't come in to the office that day" or "I have to go out of town next Thursday on some family business I can't get out of. The plan is to fly in and out the same day, but needless to say I can't come in and I won't really be reachable." This tends to discourage inquiry as to the nature of the business, and doesn't frame it as you asking them if you can take the day off but rather you telling them you will take that day off.
posted by slkinsey at 1:57 PM on August 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

As a reason for a needed day off, dental surgery is always useful. It's entirely plausible, doesn't imply illness, and can be needed suddenly. It also easily explains a mid-week appointment. If you run into travel complications, you can blame your delay on unexpected surgical complications - need a root canal, etc.

Good luck with your job hunt!
posted by citygirl at 3:43 PM on August 20, 2018

Food poisoning-You KNEW that day old pizzaria salad was sketchy tho it tasted fine. If you can’t get home it can easily be a 2-day illness.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 6:00 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the idea behind family/personal business vs taking a sick day or claiming some dental thing, though, is that you DON'T want people to ask you about it later.

If you imply that it's something really personal or family related people tend not to pry, but if someone was sick or had dental surgery it'd almost be rude of me not to inquire how they're doing the next time I talk to them.
posted by sprezzy at 6:02 PM on August 20, 2018

My boss has definitely had days where he unexpectedly took off for dental surgery. I don't think he's interviewing elsewhere...
posted by madcaptenor at 8:22 AM on August 21, 2018

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