A reader writes:
I’ve managed to pass a skills test and move on to have a real interview at a good, career-building type of job. Yay! But the interview is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday. This strikes everyone I’ve talked to as really bizarre. I don’t enjoy the interview time but I’ve confirmed it and I’m sucking it up and going.
As far as I’m aware, the job is a relatively normal weekday 9-5, with somewhat flexible hours, but I’m not sure. Does the odd day/time raise any particular questions or concerns (scheduling, expected overtime, etc.) that I should mention during the interview? If so, how should I bring them up?
6:45 a.m. on a Saturday for a regular 9-5 type job?
I wrote back and asked whether the employer provided any context for the weird time, or even acknowledged that they were asking something very out of the ordinary. The response:
Nothing, just “please confirm.” I’m not sure how to approach asking them about it. A few people think it might be some kind of trap or test, since the skills test was scheduled for a day I was out of town and I had to reschedule. It might be worth mentioning that the rescheduled skills test was at the same time as another candidate’s test and I had to wait a half hour.
Unless masochism is part of the job description, I can’t imagine why someone would think this was acceptable to do, at least not without acknowledging to you that it’s insanely early and outside of normal business hours.
Is there any chance that it was a typo? Or that they meant p.m. rather than a.m.? You said you confirmed the time would work, but did you confirm it was the correct time? Because a typo is the only explanation that makes sense to me.
(I disagree with the hypothesis that they’re testing you because you couldn’t do the skills test on the first day they offered. First, not being able to take the first day offered isn’t a big deal — at least not to any sane company. And second, creating a test like this would be pretty crazy, and I don’t know any hiring manager who would be willing to come in at the crack of dawn on a Saturday just to see if you’d show up.)
In any case, assuming that it’s not a typo, then yes, I would take it as a flag of … something. Lack of consideration for people? And/or a self-centeredness on the part of your interviewer? An expectation that people will drop everything for work, no matter how inconvenient or outside of the range of normal?
To be clear, the issue isn’t the early interview time — that’s certainly odd, but it’s not the big problem here. The big problem is that they’re acting like this is normal and not anything that would require apology or explanation, and that’s what really signals potential issues. It’s similar to how it wouldn’t be completely outrageous for an employer to ask you at 10 a.m. if you can interview at 3 p.m. that day, but it would be a red flag if they didn’t acknowledge the short notice. A lack of any acknowledgement or context would tell you that that company was probably fairly disorganized and chaotic and not especially considerate of people. It’s the same thing here — the fact that they’re not acknowledging that this is unusual tells you that they don’t think it’s especially unusual, and that’s a flag.
So yeah, ask about it at the interview. Say, “This is an unusual time to interview — what are your hours normally like?” (And If they’re surprised that you’re surprised, that’s an additional red flag.) And ask about typical hours, overtime, how last-minute projects are handled, etc.
Overall, though, the thing for you to keep in mind as you move forward is that this indicates something. Your job during this hiring process is to figure out what.