employer asked me to interview at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday

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.

{ 79 comments… read them below }

  1. CK

    My first reaction to this would have been to say that time would be difficult to make, and propose a more reasonable time.

    1. Ama

      OP here. Thanks for the input, everyone. I’m going to email the guy (CEO; small company) confirming the time. After all, he did double-book my skills test. Not exactly trusting his scheduling abilities here.

      If I get a weird reply or a time correction, I’ll post it here. And I’ll get back to you guys after the interview.

      1. Mary

        I am wondering is he is trying to hide the fact that he is interviewing you. Maybe he doesn’t want anyone to know as he may be trying to replace someone who doesn’t know they are about to be replaced. That explains why on a Saturday – probably the early morning time is to get a golf game in ;>)

        1. Ruffingit

          That was my immediate thought as well. This sounds more like the double secret probation time period kind of thing. I think they don’t want people to know they’re interviewing.

          1. KarenT

            That could explain the Saturday part, but 6:45 is weirdly early. And weirdly specific–6:30 too early but 7:00 was too late?

      2. LCL

        CEO of a small company-that explains it, to me. My guess is his company is so small he is controlling, or trying to control every aspect of it. 0645 on Saturday works for him because he wants to stop by the business early Saturday before he does family time.

        Small businesses like this can be heaven or hell to work for. Make sure you know going in what his expectations are for your work schedule, availability, and duties. Some small businesses owners push their employees to be available 24/7 because the owner is, so everyone else should be.
        (myself I have worked all shifts, including starting at 0230, and now start at 0630 so 0645 doesn’t seem too odd.)

          1. Jessa

            Exactly. This is a time he happens to have free, never mind if anyone else would. Maybe he has another task that will take him near the interview site just after the interview time. But this is not about much more than him doing what he wants. Which is fine, he has a right to, but normal people do kind of acknowledge that yeh this is a weird time.

        1. Piper

          This. All of this. I’ve dealt with the small business CEOs before and sadly, more often than not (in my personal experience), I’ve been stuck with the crazed control freaks who think 6:45 am on a Saturday is a perfectly reasonable time to do anything related to work.

  2. Bryan

    I hope that’s not too early for your parents to wake up so they can come with you (I’m still not over the last article).

    I it has to be inconvenient for whoever is interviewing you. I can’t imagine getting an email telling me I have to interview somebody at dawn on a Saturday.

    1. fposte

      I’m hoping that it turns out to be because of the interviewer’s schedule, because that would at least be vaguely reasonable. (Like if they’re heading to the airport at 9 and won’t be back for a week.)

  3. Jessie W

    Crazy! Unless it’s for a Farmers’ Market or weekly event that happens Saturday mornings, then there HAS to be something up. I can’t wait for an update for this!

  4. Not So NewReader

    I had a 7 AM interview once. But it was normal hours for that biz. Plus it was in a public place with other people milling about. I pretty much knew it was a test to see if I would get there. I showed no reaction, except to show up and be professional. I ended up with one of the best bosses I have had in my life.
    This is not anything like what OP is describing.
    Maybe I am paranoid- but, OP, please tell a friend or family member where you are going on that day and give a rough idea of when you expect to be back.

    It’s just my opinion, but if you give this some thought and decide to back out of the interview I would say it might be a wise decision for more than one reason.

    1. RubyJackson

      100% agree with this. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of 1-on-1 interview alone with a man when no one else is around.

  5. Brandy

    It would have to be in a coffee shop for me to go to an interview at that time of morning on a Saturday. And I regularly work at 7:00 a.m. so I’m used to being up early. Something is not right there.

  6. PPK

    My only though is if the interviewer in a vastly different time zone and 6:45 AM is the best stab at a good time for both parties? Or a favorable time for the interviewer, but kind of bad in the OPs time zone?

  7. Jamie

    What’s throwing me is this is for a M-F 9:00 – 5:00 job. If this was for any kind of mfg position I wouldn’t bat an eye. A lot of time our production managers will meet with people early Saturdays because it’s a lot less hectic than during the week – lighter shift – and Saturdays are part of the deal. And 6:45 is like noon to the rest of us…they start wicked early.

    1. KarenT

      Totally–and I agree with Alison that the real problem is them not acknowledging that this is unusual.
      I once was called for an interview. The guy who phoned me started with, “So, are you available to interview in the evenings, like 7 pm?” I was a bit surprised, but I said it was fine and he explained that he was on jury duty and the trial was going to be on for the foreseeable future. He said they needed someone in place ASAP, and they couldn’t wait for the trial to finish. His explanation made sense and I was fine with it, but it would have been a little strange if he didn’t say anything.

  8. Natalie

    Yikes. I am definitely not a morning person, so it would frankly be a stretch for me to be awake at 6:45 am on a Saturday, much less showered, dressed, caffeinated, and fed.

      1. SAF

        Amen.

        I recently left a project management job at a manufacturing/ contractor place. The guys in the shop and in the field started at 6. Ugh. They thought I came in really late, arriving at the ungodly (for me) early hour of 8.

    1. CathVWXYNot?

      Totally agree. I am sooooo not a morning person, but every 3 or 4 weeks I have a 6 am teleconference (timezone problems – there are people on the call from all across North America, Western Europe, and South East Asia). I have to get up at 5:30 am so I have time to make and drink a cup of tea before we start, and I’m still barely coherent on most calls.

      They do very kindly schedule any items that specifically need my input at the end of the call, and any items that need input from the Japanese and Korean participants at the beginning (it’s late at night for them). Even so, though, I’m sure they all think I’m an idiot. I’ll probably get to meet most of them at an in-person meeting in November… but it’s 9 timezones away, so when I do, I’ll be horribly jet-lagged…

      So, yeah, if I had an interview at 6:45 am, there is no way I would get that job.

      1. the gold digger

        I am doing phone interviews of people in the middle east and we have started at 6:15 a.m. However, I am calling from home in my PJs.

        I would rather have a Sat interview at 6:45 a.m., though, than during regular work hours, because this way, I don’t have to leave work or take vacation.

        1. CathVWXYNot?

          Yes, I do these calls from my sofa, in my PJs. Pretty much everyone else is sitting in an office, so I’m very grateful that we don’t use videoconferencing… although it was bad enough when one of my two cats started purring into the mic (while I was talking, so I couldn’t mute!) I had to shoo her away while claiming not to be able to hear the “strange interference on the line” that everyone else was complaining about…

          Said kitty is now known as The Cat Whose Purr Was Heard Around the World

  9. PEBCAK

    I’m wondering if the hiring manager thinks they are doing the candidates a favor by scheduling outside of regular business hours.

    1. The IT Manager

      My thoughts too, but expecting me to be anywhere outside my home at 6:45 on any day is not doing me any favors.

  10. Sydney Bristow

    Weird. My only thought was perhaps they got the OP confused with someone else who had requested to schedule an interview outside of normal business hours. This time slot might be helpful for people who can’t take time off from work to interview but its odd as a first attempt to schedule.

    1. The IT Manager

      Also a possibility, but 6:45 am and 6:45pm are both odd especially on a Saturday.

      I would definately double check that the business did mean 6:45am on a Saturday.

    2. Girasol

      I’m having the weirdest trouble with my email adjusting my requests for normal hours meetings to odd hours Sundays. I would hate to think anyone was wasting time thinking what sort of sinister message I was sending. A simple “Did you really mean Sunday?” is most helpful.

  11. De Minimis

    Is this a position for a single job, or is it one where they’re hiring several people at once? The hours the OP mention make me think it’s the former, which would make this pretty weird. If it’s a case where they’re hiring a group, it might make a little more sense.

    Might be also that it is not as much of a 9-5 job as the OP was led to believe, the hours might be flexible to the point where it’s not even day shift anymore. I’ve encountered government jobs where this was the case, like the jobs where people process tax returns.

  12. R

    It might be possible that they are interviewing people to replace a poor performer who will be fired soon, but isn’t aware of that yet. They could be hiding the interviews from the person who will be replaced. I would certainly be sure to ask why this position is open.

    1. Steve G

      +1

      I was interviewed, and hired for, a position for which the previous employee was terminated after they hired me. It was a dinner interview at a restaurant, not at the office, after business hours.

  13. Audiophile

    I was once asked to interview on Christmas Eve and I showed up and no one was ready to meet with me. It was a retailer. They scrambled to find someone, while I wandered around the store for 15 minutes.
    I did not get the job and I was pretty relieved and I didn’t.

    1. Al Lo

      I once had an interview on Christmas Eve — sort of. We’d arranged it, with a caveat to the effect of, “I’ll see if there’s another opening in my schedule and confirm” (the interviewer was going out of town, I think). I didn’t hear back, so I assumed that meant we were meeting on Christmas Eve; he assumed that because he didn’t confirm the Christmas Eve appointment, we hadn’t finalized it. So, I showed up at the coffee shop where we were meeting and sat there for half an hour before finally deciding to leave.

      It really was just a mixup in communication — I had the interview the following week, and it went well, although I didn’t get/take the job. At this point, I honestly can’t remember if they offered it to someone else or if they offered it to me and I declined. Either way, the interview wasn’t a disaster, and I don’t think it tarnished either the interviewer’s or my perception of the experience.

  14. Diane

    Any chance you’ll be interviewing with someone overseas via Skype or phone at the same time and that’s why the time is so early in the U.S.? Maybe one of the interviewers is calling in from another physical location. Either way, like Alison said the company should have at least acknowledged the weird time. Def want an update on this one!

    1. Sophie

      This could be a possibility. One of the interviewers might be on a business trip or someone overseas is on the interview panel. And if the person scheduling interview is just a messenger between the interviewers and interviewees, she may not comment on this weird interview schedule. If it’s a somewhat bureaucratic organization, I can see this happening. But you can double check to make sure that this is not a mistake.

  15. TownieGirl

    I applied for an office based M-F, 8-4, position several years ago and all of the recruitment contact from the Hiring Manager came on Friday and Saturday nights. It sent off teeny little alarm bells that I really should have paid attention to.

    I was successful in getting the position but I only stayed in that job a brief time. The Manager had the expectation that her staff were available to her any time and any place, she just never switched off and she had no understanding of work/life balance or boundaries whatsoever. She just assumed as it was a great job (to be fair it may have been a great job) anyone would be happy to work like she did.

    Always trust your instinct. Following on from Not So New Reader’s advice – have you read Gavin De Becker’s book The Gift of Fear? In my opinion, it should be required reading in High School – he gives some great advice about instinct and safety, it’s a great resource.

    TG

  16. JenTheNiceHRGirl

    I cannot think of any reasonable explanation for a 6:45am interview on a Saturday, for a normal 9am-5pm job (I am not saying that there isn’t one, just that I cannot come up with one, but there very well might be one). I have had to work with some pretty hectic hiring manager schedules, but never had to schedule something that early on a Saturday. Usually a company with a culture that offers flexible schedules, has a flexible interviewing process. The companies with a more ridged culture, usually are the ones who give you one date and time and expect you to be able to make it. Unless you thrive in this type of culture, I would take this as a sign that it probably isn’t the right culture fit for you. candidates. I am going to agree with most of the comments I see on here about asking why the 6:45am meeting. If the hiring manager does come back with a reasonable explanation (going out of town, have a flight to catch at 9am, really want to meet you before my trip so I can wrap up the interviewing process) and states that the hours are in-fact 9am-5pm with some flexibility, ok then maybe you will want to go check it out…. but it is still weird that the 6:45am time was initially proposed without an explanation. I am interested in hearing what happens with this one.

  17. Suze

    Let me chime in and say if this is a manufacturer, then no, a Saturday morning interview at 6:45 am is not really strange or unusual. Our plant runs 24/7, three shifts, and we have actually offered Saturdays as an alternative for those who cannot take time off their work to interview during the week, or have other scheduling snafus. However, we do not make this a requirement. It’s more of something we offer to great candidates when no other date/time will work…for THEM! So far many of them have seemed appreciative that we’re willing to come in to interview them on a Saturday to fit into their schedule.

    As for me, I am at work by 7 am. My manager is here by 5 am. I hope you understand my chuckling a bit over the dismay of the ungodly hour of 6:45 a.m.!

    We stagger our hours so we can provide HR services to 300 employees on three shifts. It seems perfectly normal to me to get up at 4:30 a.m.!

    Make sense?

  18. Bob

    Am I the only employed jobseeker who would actually be thrilled to be offered a 6:45 AM Saturday interview? I haven’t come across anyone lately who is even willing to go outside 9:00-5:00 weekdays when I ask…

  19. Kathy

    I was asked to interview on a Saturday morning for a regular 9-5 job, but it was due to the fact that the person I was replacing was still working there and did not know she was being replaced. They planned the interview for a time when that person wouldn’t be there.

      1. Kathy

        ah, I was young and naive at the time, and that did not occur to me! However, I am still at that company 23 years later, so in this case it worked out. The person needed to be fired and they couldn’t leave the position “unattended”.

  20. P

    After getting through round 1 with HR, I had a hiring manager call me on a Saturday morning at 8:30 expecting to interview. This was for a 9-5 office job. I asked if we could talk at another time as I have a small house and little kids and his response was that he wouldn’t take much of my time. I sucked it up and spoke to him for around 45 minutes and during the conversation found out he’s out west, so it was 5:30am in his time zone!

    This was a big red flag for me about this company and I’m glad it didn’t work out.

  21. Anon

    It’s probably too late, but I would have responded with “Confirmed: 6:45am Saturday” or something similar – that way if it was a mistake (i.e. a typo, selected wrong day in calendar, calendar set to different time zone, etc) the scheduler may have noticed.

  22. Jen M.

    As stated further up in the comments, I’d jump at the chance to interview at a time like this, because I am employed and am looking to leave, but trying to keep that fact from my employer.

    Now, IF my gut was telling me, “NO!” that would be a different matter.

  23. Kat A.

    Maybe the person working the job they’re hiring for is still working there and doesn’t know they’re looking for a replacement. So they need to be discreet.

  24. Ruffingit

    There are some jobs where this would be appropriate: manufacturing, oil fields, bakeries, hospitals. But otherwise, I can’t see it, it’s just weird. I suspect that either that this is a typo or they are trying to cover up the fact that they’re interviewing so the person they want to fire and then replace won’t know about it. That’s all I can think of because this otherwise makes no sense.

  25. NutellaNutterson

    Not only could am vs pm be a typo, but if the date was written and not the day of the week, this could be an incredibly simple mix-up. (Hah, just typed mxi-pu.) Either the wrong number was pressed on a keyboard, or US vs. rest-of-world date ordering systems could be to blame.

  26. Flabbergasted

    Do you know anyone or have contacts with anyone who works there to ask them if this is normal practice? I’m a morning person and would have no problem starting work at that time but my boss would not. Maybe he’s a morning riser and wants to do this early for other plans he has or maybe he’s testing your boundaries. I would thing he should have apologized for the early time. Try sending a follow up email the day before to confirm your meeting with “looking forward to our meeting on Saturday morning at 6:45am”. Note this makes you look like a morning person so do you really want to send this message for any future mornings? Another option is to send a message that you don’t rise that early in the morning to get there for 6:45am but 8am would work for you which makes you look like you may be late for work. Not much of a choice. And is 6:45pm any better on a Saturday? Can’t wait to hear the follow up.

  27. Jazzy Red

    I’d go if the interview was being held at a restaurant and the CEO is buying.

    Otherwise, 6:45 am on a Saturday, ummm, no thanks.

  28. Miss Displaced

    Gosh, I would be happy if more places were open to odd interview hours!

    I work full time and am looking. It’s often SO HARD to get away from my job for an interview and remain discrete about it. I end up using all my PTO for interviews instead of actual doctor or dentist appointments.

  29. Clover

    Is it possible that the person who sent you the invite was in another time zone when the invite was sent?

    I’ve made this mistake before. I was in Amsterdam for a business trip and was returning to the U.S. the following week, and I set up some meetings for after I’d returned. In my jet-lagged state it failed to occur to me that I was sending these invites in CET rather than Pacific time. So my colleagues in the U.S. got invites for middle-of-the-night meetings. Fortunately they alerted me about the problem and we all had a good laugh and rescheduled.

  30. Ama

    OP here again.

    The interview was AWFUL. I mean, it went well enough and I’m pretty sure I did a great job, but there were red flags EVERYWHERE. I’m gonna take this opportunity with a giant grain of salt.

      1. Ama

        They had the attitude that they were doing me a favor by making it on a Saturday for people with full-time jobs and early enough that it wouldn’t interfere with my weekend plans. They laughed off the question about working hours and didn’t answer it.

        I was interviewed by a new hire while the VP was taking notes. She had a packet of questions and just went through them without giving me time to ask follow-ups based on them. And some of the questions were horrible!

        “How would you respond if I told you this interview was going poorly?”
        “How would you rate me as an interviewer?”
        “If you found out that one of your coworkers was trying to go freelance and trying to take one of the company’s clients, what would you do?”

        Awful. Awful trap questions. Especially that last one.

        Anyways, at the end when I finally could ask questions, I asked them what the skills test I took was specifically measuring and what about my performance on it made them want to bring me back, which IMO is a great question. The answer?

        “Well we can’t actually tell you what the test was measuring. Our test has already been posted online and we don’t want any more knowledge about it out there. But we can tell you that you passed! We wouldn’t have brought you back if you didn’t pass.”

        Just to clarify, their test is a fairly standard one. Nothing all that unique about it. I was only asking for feedback, and they couldn’t give me any because secrets.

        Did I mention that they pay new hires about 40% less than industry standard?

        1. Not So NewReader

          Am laughing out loud at these people. OP, usually the interview is when they treat people the best. This is their best.
          How sad is that.
          The only thing I will give them a pass on is that these pre-employment tests seem to require uber secrecy. Like you ask them the combination code to Fort Knox or what the recipe is for their fried chicken coating.
          If it is any consolation, I took a test one time and they said they would call me. Well, they didn’t and I could see they had plenty of openings. I went back and I asked if I passed the test. They told me that was a secret. I said “Okay, if I don’t know if I passed or failed how do I figure out if I should check back with you or not? I don’t want to be a nag, but I am interested in your opportunities.”
          She paused and after a few seconds of thinking said, “I don’t know.” (wth?)
          That was the end of that application.
          I later found out that no one could pass the test at another store. They were using the wrong answer key. Everyone who took the test failed it.
          It will be interesting to hear if they offer you a job, OP. I am thinking that you will probably decline? Their loss, not yours.

          1. Ama

            My boyfriend had a brilliant zinger when he heard about it

            Him: did you tell them to go fuck themselves?
            Me: I’ll try to negotiate higher pay, but if they refuse then I’ll turn it down.
            Him: if they ask why, you should tell them that it’s a secret but it’s been posted online.

        2. Adam V

          This sounds vaguely like my first job… except for the 6:45 AM Saturday interviewing time (the only people in the office on weekends were workers in the fishbowl), the rest is spot on. Skills test measuring… *something*? Check. Lowball offers to new hires? Check. Awful VPs? Mine wasn’t, but I knew other people at the company with less-than-stellar things to say about theirs.

          Ama, even if it’s a different company, you’ve got my sympathy.

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