interviewing while employed
December 12, 2006 8:19 PM   Subscribe

What are the unwritten rules and conventions behind interviewing for a position at a different company while you hold a full time job?

In previous times of my life, I have only interviewed while a student or while unemployed, so scheduling interviews wasn't really a problem. Do companies make any effort to interview at odd hours, or are you expected to call in "sick" so you can interview? Or does it vary depending on the importance of the position and the company? Is it ever advantageous to let your current company know you are looking? What other differences are there between looking for a job while working and looking while unemployed?
posted by realpseudonym to Work & Money (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Calling in sick or having an appointment on interview day is pretty much the norm, unless you've indicated to your employer from the start that you'll be looking to move up quickly, such as you might if you were in an internship.

Your current employer discovering your wandering eyes could be advantageous leverage if more pay might convince you to stay. But that could easily backfire and leave you with neither job.

The big difference for unemployed job-seekers, I suppose, would likely be their willingness to take the first job that comes their way. If you're already working at a job you like, you can more leisurely peruse job openings to see if something really desireable opens up. Like a spy position, for instance.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:33 PM on December 12, 2006

I called in sick.

Avoid company email for such purposes. Avoid printing out job details online to a company printer (I monitor all of these, though no one asks for reports, so its mostly for personal humor right now).
posted by SirStan at 8:52 PM on December 12, 2006

A friend of mine used to pay the door man to hold his portfolio for him, just in case he had an interview. That way he could beg off sick and not have to go home to retrieve it.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:57 PM on December 12, 2006

Depending on what time the interview was, and how was away it was, I would sometimes just take a long lunch, come in for a half day, or just call in sick. I've had interviews at all kinds of times.

The unfortunate thing was that the dress code at my job was "business casual" which meant suits were rare. So really, if someone who wasn't in the upper tier of management was wearing a suit, it was a fairly good bet they'd get teased all day about having a job interview.

Also, depending on what industry you are in, HR managers tend to talk to one another. I was in publishing, and HR found out pretty quickly whenever any of us had an interview anywhere else. No repercussions, but it wasn't exactly comfortable.

Good luck!
posted by eggplantia5 at 9:05 PM on December 12, 2006

If you have a professional position, you just tell your boss you have an afternoon appointment. You don't have to specify what it is, or why you are leaving. You leave work, change into a suit and get your resume, and do the interview.

If you are really unhappy, your boss will catch on of course and probably figure out what you are doing. But its normal for professionals to take time off w/o having to account for what they are doing.

If you don't have that freedom, its up to how you feel ethically about lying with the sick/doctor/whatever appt excuse.
posted by rsanheim at 9:43 PM on December 12, 2006

I always try to request to interview outside normal business hours so that it is not necessary to take time off and generally receive a positive reception to this, at least for the initial one-on-one stages. If this is not feasible, I go with the "personal appointment". If pressed I'd call it a doctor's appt but it hasn't come to that.

My first job, I was honest about it, and my supervisor (who was also a mentor) was very frank that this was an area where complete honesty was neither expected nor desired.
posted by Manjusri at 11:39 PM on December 12, 2006

it's up to you to accomodate the schedule of your interviewer. if you have to take a long lunch or an afternoon off, so be it. it's been my experience that no one is going to give you the 3rd degree; if you feel comfortable calling in sick, or need to cover your tracks, no one is going to demand a note from your doctor. if your company does interrogate you for that sort of thing, well, you should be looking for a new job anyway.

the only tricky part, i've found, is how to dress for an interview if that's not the style in your office. by now i'm like houdini, except at getting into a suit and tie. i also make a point to dress "dressy" now and then for no reason, so it's not 100% conspicuous when i do have to dress for an interview.

best of luck.
posted by sonofslim at 8:01 AM on December 13, 2006

My way of getting around the dress code problem was to schedule interviews first thing in the morning, and then change in a gas station bathroom before going into my current job.

Ditto the "don't use company email" and "don't use company printers" things. Your company is probably monitoring those, even if you don't think they would be.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:26 AM on December 13, 2006

i also make a point to dress "dressy" now and then for no reason, so it's not 100% conspicuous when i do have to dress for an interview.

I have a co-worker who does precisely the same thing.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:31 AM on December 13, 2006

Don't take sick leave to interview for another job. It seems pretty unethical to me.

I'm going through the same process right now. I don't have enough vacation time to take time off. My position doesn't allow comp time (that is, I can't stay an hour late each day for a week and then take a half-day on the day of an interview), but if it did, that would be my first choice. I've simply explained to potential employers my situation and that I felt unethical taking sick time to interview during the business day, and they've worked with me, for the most part. The position that will probably be my new job fairly soon was impressed that I was honest with them, for what it's worth.
posted by kdar at 10:47 AM on December 13, 2006

For my last job interview, I took the afternoon off. I just went in and asked for the afternoon off (using annual leave of course) and my boss said okay. I wore a shirt and (suit) pants as usual and kept my suit jacket in the car. I put it on for the interview and all went well. Calling in sick is a little shady but works. Some people just say they have doctor's appointments. One woman I worked for used to tell us she had a meeting in [location of interview] that afternoon and made it sound work-related.

Most places will probably start you with a phone interview and if they like what they hear, then you'll get called in for the interview, so it won't be this constant leaving the office thing. You may only have to leave once or twice before you get a job. BTW, if you start dressing up now, even only a few days a week, it looks shady. My old boss did this and it was dead obvious to everyone that she was planning her exit.
posted by ml98tu at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2006

« Older Buying pizza boxes in Toronto   |   Desktop Cluster Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.