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December 28, 2006 9:30 AM   Subscribe

How do I schedule interviews for a new job while I'm employed full-time?

Two months after this post, I've started looking for a new job. Even though I've been working since I was 14, this is only the second time I've gone through this process of searching and interviewing, and have never done it while employed full-time. To complicate things more, I've just returned from vacation and have taken a couple of days off for Christmas - I have no vacation or personal time left for the year, any time off will be unpaid. I'm not concerned about losing money or hours of work, just the appearance of taking so much time off recently. I also work in the suburbs but am applying for jobs in Chicago (closer to home), so interviewing on a lunch break isn't really an option. Do I really just need to bite the bullet and take more time off? How do I do it without tipping off my employer? Can I ask prospective employers to be flexible in their schedules to accomodate my 8 to 4.30 work hours?
posted by youngergirl44 to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do I really just need to bite the bullet and take more time off? How do I do it without tipping off my employer? Can I ask prospective employers to be flexible in their schedules to accomodate my 8 to 4.30 work hours?

1. Yes.

2. The traditional ruse is a series of "doctor's appointments." You might find it helpful to cultivate a sudden, difficult-to-treat dental crisis, culminating in a multi-appointment root canal. But there's no way around the fact that you'll be wearing a suit to the "dentist's."

Anyway, why do you care so much? If they're the kind of schmucks who would fire you over a mere suspicion, perhaps you're better off collecting unemployment while you look full-time.

3. To a certain extent. You can ask for interview times early or late in the day (though they may or may not be able to accommodate you); but you can't really ask them to interview you outside of their normal business hours.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:44 AM on December 28, 2006

Do I really just need to bite the bullet and take more time off?
Yes. This time of year, it is not uncommon for people to have colds and flu; if you're going to claim that, though, you should probably take the whole day off. If want to take partial days off, tell your employer you're going to an OB/GYN because of female problems. Especially if you have a male boss, the questions won't go further and you can string that out into a series of "appointments" for tests and seeing specialists. It's best not to go into any detail though (OB/GYN should be enough.) Be aware that this is a lie and if you get caught in it it will look bad. When you finally get a job it will probably be apparent to them what you've been doing while away from the office. The only other alternative to making up some cover story is to be up front with them.

How do I do it without tipping off my employer?
Your employer will probably catch on. Don't worry about it, as long as you're meeting your work obligations.

Can I ask prospective employers to be flexible in their schedules to accomodate my 8 to 4.30 work hours?
You can, but I would do it the other way around. Don't tell them your preferred work schedule until you've asked what their standard hours are first. If they match up, you're good. If the don't, however, I wouldn't mention anything about your limitations (which is how the employer will see it) until later in the interview process, closer to offer time. If they ask you when you would prefer to work, be honest.
posted by Doohickie at 9:44 AM on December 28, 2006

Oh... I misread your last question... I thought you only wanted to work 8-4:30. In the case of interview times, it can't hurt to ask. The downside of meeting outside normal hours is that you will probably only meet a manager and won't see the dynamics of the work environment without the rest of the people there. This might okay for a first interview.
posted by Doohickie at 9:47 AM on December 28, 2006

You can certainly ask to see if it's possible to meet outside of your work hours though you may not be able to insist upon it. When I was interviewing for my current job, I was able to meet slightly earlier in the morning sometimes and then just be a little "delayed" getting in to work. Doctor's appointments can serve as a ruse sometimes though you can't play that card too frequently. There are all sorts of things that can come up (waiting for the plumber, having to drop a family member off at the airport, not feeling well) that, when used discreetly, can be put into play. Just try not too be obviously dressed for an interview when you show up late to work. If you work in a more casual environment, there's something to be said for throwing the random suit into the sartorial mix every once in a while just so that it doesn't arouse suspicions when you where a suit on an interview day.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:50 AM on December 28, 2006

Best answer: I wouldn't lie to them, if you can, take a personal day. Work it into your lunch schedule, etc. If I was interviewing someone and knew they were currently employed, I'd ask what they told their boss they were doing right now. If they explained the elaborate lie they made up to meet with me, I'd be suspicious of their honesty. If they said "I didn't tell him anything, this is my lunch break" or "I took a personal day" or "I have flexible hours at my current job" , or something liek that, I'd be much less worried.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:25 AM on December 28, 2006

I think we just did this....
posted by occhiblu at 10:33 AM on December 28, 2006

When do your vacation days start up again? You say you're out for the year, but there's only three days left to the year. If you're out of days for the next six months, you may have a problem because it may take you some time to find a job and you'll probably have multiple interviews for each solid job opportunity. So take that into consideration.

The doctor appt. excuse is always the best one. If you're going to do that and NOT take the whole day off, try to schedule early morning interviews. Wear your suit to the interview, then stop off at McDonald's or wherever on the way to work and change into your normal work clothes.

Try to avoid middle of the day interviews, because then you'll almost certainly have to take the whole day off--unpaid--and you'll raise more eyebrows at your current job.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2006

My partner just went through a job hunt while working an 8:30-5:30 job. Two different companies interviewed him in the evening after business hours. He did take a vacation day to go to an all-day interview. All other communication--phone calls to make offers/discuss salary/etc.--took place outside regular business hours as well.
posted by not that girl at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2006

Response by poster: occhiblu is right - we did just do this. Thank you for pointing it out. I was on vacation when that post came up. I did search the tags for 'interview' but that post didn't come up in my results - the tag on it says 'interviewing'. Sorry, and thank you for the answers posted so far.
posted by youngergirl44 at 12:02 PM on December 28, 2006

Oh btw, if you feign a root canal or some other elaborate scheme of doctor's appointments- Make sure you remember to play along when you go to lunch...
posted by eleongonzales at 1:29 PM on December 28, 2006

I used to just say I had an appointment, and schedule the time. It's a lie to take sick time, but you can say professional appointment, and put it in as vac. time. Then throw up a smokescreen about money(debt) management, personal issues, legal questions, etc. The more explaining you do, the worse you look.
posted by theora55 at 7:03 PM on December 28, 2006

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