how flexible should job candidates be about interview times, employers finding online dating profiles, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Should job candidates be more flexible with interview requests?

I have been scheduling phone screenings and in-person interviews with job candidates. For calls, I offer two days, allowing them to tell me a time that works best for a brief chat. For interviews, I provide a few options for days and time. I’ve had a few candidates respond saying they can’t take personal calls at work (no breaks?) or suggesting an entirely different day and time for a call or interview. While I understand a current job takes priority, I am surprised to see that these candidates aren’t more flexible, considering they are the ones seeking a new career. What are your thoughts on accommodating such requests and could they be an insight into work behaviors?

You should absolutely attempt to accommodate those requests. People have lives outside of interviewing — they have work meetings, deadlines, and other obligations that they need to schedule interviews around. As for breaks, many people don’t get breaks at all, or their breaks are too short to interview during, or they need to, you know, eat during that break. Also, remember that they are the ones who probably need to be discreet and hide from their employer that they’re talking with you at all; your schedule requires no such contortions in the name of discretion.

Offering two possible days isn’t going cover all the different scheduling conflicts people will have, and it’s reasonable for them to write back and explain those times won’t work for them and request a different one.

Keep in mind that you’re proposing a business conversation that will benefit both of you. Be flexible with people and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re doing them a favor and they should drop everything to make it work.

2. Company says I need to move before they’ll promote me

I’m getting promoted, and I live with one of my potential staff members. The company says I need to move because I will be her direct supervisor. I’ve been her boss before in the past and never had any conflict. Can they fire me or demote me if we continued to live together?

Yes, and they’re smart to refuse to allow you to manage someone you live with. There’s too much potential for conflict of interest or favoritism, or perceived conflict or interest or favoritism. For example: Will you truly be objective about giving her tough feedback or a critical performance review or firing her if you need to, knowing that you’ll be returning to a shared home with her that evening? Will other people believe you’ll be able to?

It’s totally reasonable for a company to say you need to preserve professional boundaries with people you manage. And if they didn’t, the rest of your staff would rightly have a beef with it.

3. Employers finding online dating profiles

Would it be unprofessional or inappropriate if a potential employer (I’m a college senior) saw me or a dating website or app? There are no racy pictures, rough language, etc, but it is part of my personal online presence that is less controlled than my Facebook or Instagram.

No. You’re allowed to online date; there’s nothing inherently unprofessional about it, assuming your profile isn’t explicit or otherwise … alarming. (And really, assuming your profile isn’t linked to an identifiable name that an employer might be googling, someone who stumbled across your dating profile is presumably on the dating website themselves, so it would be a bit hypocritical to hold it against you.)

4. Employer limits time off, even when it’s unpaid

I work for a small company (fewer than five employees). I am part-time and work around four hours a day. My boss, the owner, has decided that we are only allowed to have two weeks off per year. However, we do not get paid for time off, vacations, sick time, holidays, etc. Is she allowed to limit the number of days we can take off if we give her proper notice of the absence? Again, we are all part time, non-exempt employees.

Yes. In fact, it’s pretty normal for employers to only allow a certain number of days off per year, even if the time is unpaid. After all, they hired you expecting a certain degree of availability and reliable presence; it’s reasonable to say “I need to be able to rely on you to be here most days, except for X days off per year.”

But I agree that this tends to go down more easily if an employer offers paid time off, especially for sick time. And if she’s placing unusually heavy limits on the amount of time you can take off, that would be irritating as well.

{ 164 comments… read them below }

  1. Natalie*

    #1, also keep in mind you are quite probably not the only prospective employer they are trying to fit in. It’s one thing to fit a single phone interview into a work week. It gets exponentially more complicated if you are trying to hide multiple phone/in-person interviews.

    1. Juli G.*

      Fair. I try to be pretty understanding of this – in fact, it actually makes the candidate a bit more appealing.

      There was a misstep 2-3 years ago when I tried to schedule a phone interview and the young lady let me know she was forced to reschedule because she had a “real interview”.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Did she mean an in person interview, or an interview for what she thought was a proper / better job?

        If she meant an in person interview its a poor word choice, and still bad but if she was disparaging the job with your firm then yikes! What was she thinking

        1. De Minimis*

          I would never tell someone that, but if an interview is with a recruiter I do consider that less “real” than an interview with a company or organization that is for an actual job opening.

          1. M-C*

            And I’d also consider an in-person interview more real than a phone one, since presumably it’s further down the line with the interviewing process.

    2. Crabby PM*

      It continues to astound me that HR teams don’t understand how challenging it is to interview in the middle of the work day. Thank you for standing up for us.

      “Indication of work behaviors” – yes, it indicates that this person is professional, discreet, and manages their work time well!

  2. So Very Anonymous*

    Just to add to the response to OP #1: I work in a cubicle and the conference rooms where I work aren’t soundproof and also have terrible reception. I can’t do an interview outside bc I work at a university and I could encounter any of the students/faculty I work with. Ditto for nearby coffee shops. I take transit to work. I *have* to flex my time or use PTO to do an interview, even a phone or Skype interview.

    I also have a fair number of unbreakable commitments each term which would be exactly the kind of thing I’d be being hired to do. And I do kind of expect that an interviewer would understand if I needed to schedule around such a commitment (because they’d want me to consider similar commitments made for them if I were hired to be equally unbreakable, right?) I am certainly willing to take PTO or flex my schedule to interview, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an interviewee to need some consideration.

    1. KT*

      This….during my last job search, I was lucky enough to drive to work. So for an interview I could run out to my car for 20 minutes and have a quiet place. But in other jobs where I had an open floor plan, I took public transportation so there was no real way I could do it discretely. Back then, I had to schedule coming in late or leaving early to accommodate a phone interview–without making up a medical emergency, that means I had to submit a time off request, etc. It’s a lot harder than OP 1 is giving candidates credit for.

    2. B*

      This! I am in a huge open space floor plan, get horrible cell reception, and have no private rooms. Taking a scheduled break is hard when I am always pulled into meetings. And then trying to find a coffee shop or any place is hard because employees and customers are right around it and I can’t go to my car because I take public transport.
      If you don’t wish to be flexible or respect when a candidate is trying to be honest and work with a schedule then you will lose the people you really want. I have said no to interviews when they were inflexible or expected too much too quickly. It is about working to make sure it’s a right fit on each end, not about you holding and trying keep every last bit of power.

    3. Suzanne*

      at a former job of mine, there is no possible way I could have even done a 5 minute phone interview at work. Another job had no PTO so I had to make up the hours I missed and get permission X number of days ahead of time. My daughter recently went through this and felt terrible about lying to her employer so often just to go for an interview or do a phone interview, but she had no other choice. Most employers wouldn’t interview outside of the 8 to 5 timeframe and her breaks were whenever she could squeeze a few minutes in. She also had very, very limited PTO.

      If employers are going to ignore people who are currently unemployed (and they absolutely do), then they best be flexible about interview times with those currently employed. Otherwise, don’t complain that you can’t find quality employees who give their all to the job as you’ve made it nearly impossible for them to interview.

      1. Artemesia*

        I really think people doing phone interviews should be prepared to do them outside the normal workday for all the reasons people are mentioning. This means if someone’s job is in HR and requires them to do significant interviewing then the job hours for that job should include Saturdays or evenings some of the time.

        It is ludicrous to expect people to do these from their workplace ‘on their break’ given the unreliability of break times for most people and the fact that very few people today have their own office.

        1. BRR*

          Yeah, I have a phone interview next week and my choices were limited to two mornings or an afternoon. Given my situation my boss knows I’m looking but I’m going to have to take a 2:00 lunch to avoid using pto and really I’m not sure how Ok that is. This employer is known for having many rounds with what looks like the first two or three all by phone. That’s a real burden if I make it forward which doesn’t even include interviewing other places.

          Also to the op it is mutual process. It can be flipped around. You’re looking for somebody to fill a role, shouldn’t you be more flexible in trying to find the best person? Honestly this question leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth based on that and asking if it’s an insight into working behavior. Yes it is, that they will be an employee who won’t abandon their job to do a phone screen at another company.

          1. Green*

            Yes. It’s the difference between finding somebody to fill a role and finding the best somebody to fill a role. If all you need is a person, you’ll find one whether or not you’re flexible. If you want the *best* person, you’re going to lose a lot of people who take their jobs seriously by limiting your flexibility.

            1. M-C*

              +1 OP’s lack of empathy/current information is very telling, and if I were interviewing at their company I’d keep that in mind if I had to make a choice later on.

        2. Lee*

          Yes — and it’s so insulting too. Just turn the tables and imagine how indignant an interviewer would be if, when trying to arrange a mutually convenient interview time, the potential candidate suggested she fit in an extra interview for the day by conducting it on her break time. Right.

        3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          When I was a hiring manager I routinely offered evening phone interviews. Not only was it easier for the candidate, it really allowed me to focus when the majority of my team had gone home for the night!

          1. TootsNYC*


            And part of it is that I want someone who will honor their commitments. But also–I know how hard it is, so why do I want to jerk someone else around?

            And yeah, if you’re doing it by phone, couldn’t -you- spend a half hour doing work from home in the evening? I sure would!

            1. Not my real handle*


              And if I am going to ask someone to take time off work, I would rather it was someone who was a finalist and had a strong chance of an offer, rather than someone going through a phone interview.

          1. Mialoubug*

            I usually reach out asking potential interviewees for a bunch of times that work for them, then try to work my schedule around those. I thought that would be a realistic way of working through the scheduling issues. One candidate kept insisting that she would be interviewing at 1130 am on a date that I was unavailable. I asked her for some more times that week but she kept weirdly insisting that I should give her times to chose from because from because “that was how it was done.” Pretty sure we dodged a bullet with her.

        4. Shell*

          My phone interview for my current job was during New Year’s Day, heh. And in-person interview was on the Saturday after.

          But there was a second-degree connection that allowed me to get away with that (I specifically requested the interviews to be not during office hours, because I had just came back from a vacation and sneaking out of my job would’ve been difficult).

      2. Sparky*

        I’ve ducked into a supply room and had a tense, whispered interview with a potential employer because I could not get away from my job, and I didn’t want them to know I was looking. I don’t think I made the best impression on the woman interviewing me…

        1. Audiophile*

          I worked a front desk and did a phone interview on the company phone at the desk. The potential employer, the college where I graduated from, gave me one time, with less then 24hrs notice. I could either turn it down or take it. It did not go well.

      3. JM in England*

        +1 to your last paragraph, Suzanne.

        You would think that employers would realise that the unemployed have way more flexibility regarding interview times, plus they also represent a pool of untapped talent.

    4. themmases*

      I’ve been working a job this summer that requires me to visit stores all over my city to get some information about a product they sell. Several hotel gift shops are on the list, and I’ve been really surprised at how easy it was to just walk into these places.

      While dressed like a particularly sloppy tourist I walked right into the sky lobbies of several Nice Places in downtown Chicago with the blessing of any staff I encountered even after I told them I was working on a research project regarding a certain heavily regulated product they sold. Mostly they didn’t ask me anything unless I spoke to them first or I looked really lost. I wandered around these lobbies in khaki shorts with a clipboard, clearly looking for something, and still no one bothered me. If the person running the gift shop was out, I plunked right down in those beautifully appointed lobbies and got some work done and no one cared.

      All of this is to say that although I didn’t believe it, the advice about taking a phone call in a hotel lobby is not only real but fun and easy, even if you are super awkward like me. I wish I had known when I worked downtown. Neighboring office buildings are more of a gamble; some have hardly any furniture and others have very assertive front desk workers who will let you go but want to know what you’re looking for first.

      Even then though, when I worked a very flexible office job downtown it could easily have taken me 15 minutes to get out of my building, walk to my chosen interview spot, find a quiet place to sit, and make the call. Those hotel elevators are not fast… Must be the chandeliers.

      1. MK*

        Eh, I don’t think it’s odd that no one questioned you in a hotel lobby, especially if it was a large, busy place

      2. Anna*

        I once did an interview in the café at a Whole Foods. Not weird, especially if the company employs people who telecommute.

      3. M-C*

        No doubt you can shoehorn your way into places where you don’t belong, that doesn’t mean you’d be welcome to talk for as long as needed without interruptions. Quietly working is much more tolerated than extended conversations. And to me the main problem with this advice is background noise. Do you want to ask the interviewer to repeat themselves multiple times because the espresso machine interrupted them? Do you consider what they might think if some truck starts backing up nearby and drowns you out for 3mn?

        But it’s much harder to skip to some other location when working out in the burbs, where the only place available within half an hour might be crawling with your co-workers/management. And let’s not even mention weather, which can be severely restrictive in some areas for much of the year. No, really, phone interviews are mostly for the convenience of the interviewer, not the hapless interviewee.

      4. Crabby PM*

        I do this, and the three times I’ve been questioned–“Can I help you, Miss?” I always say, “My mom/dad/grandmother is a guest, I’m waiting for them to get back from shopping/sightseeing” and that’s been the end of it.

        But not everyone works near a hotel.

    5. ella*

      At my current job, I’m always moving around and don’t have my own desk or phone. If I’m on a work phone it’s obvious and weird because my job never requires me to be on the phone. If I’m on my cell phone, well, that looks really bad. I would never do a phone interview at work. I called somebody back on Friday to schedule an interview, and even that felt weird, but I did it because it was Friday and the woman wants to interview me on Wednesday and I didn’t want to wait until Monday to get that figured out (also, I work on Monday).

      I’m slightly unusual in that my boss knows that I’m job searching and is fine with it, but still, her priority (and mine) is that I’m doing the work I’m scheduled to be doing when I’m on the clock, not trying to find other jobs. I try to schedule interviews outside of work hours whenever I possibly can.

    6. Jennifer*

      Seconding this kind of problem. I do phone calls to my therapist during lunch once a week and even if I hike out to the far back of campus, there is always someone wandering around right at a bad moment. ALWAYS. No privacy ever.

      I laugh at the idea of flexibility. I get told “11:30 on Tuesday, that’s it” for my interview options, because they all only do interviews on one day and if you can’t make it for what they assigned you, too bad.

  3. AdAgencyChick*

    #1 — put yourself in their shoes. Suppose *you* are job hunting and a company offers you only two possible dates. Are you sure you’d be able to drop everything? That you can take calls whenever you need to?

    I just finished a job hunt (thank GOODNESS that’s over) and because I worked in an open office, every time I needed to speak to a potential employer, I had to hide on another floor of the building and hope nobody saw me in the elevator. I’m glad recruiters understood and were willing to let me call them back when I could get away and not insist on speaking to me right then. It’s not that I couldn’t take breaks, it’s that I had to arrange things with the interviewer in advance so that I could get to where I needed to be to make the call. (And some employed candidates really *can’t* take breaks when they want to.)

    Remember, you’re also not the only company they’re interviewing with if they’re actively looking. So it might seem like not much of an imposition to expect that they’ll be available for the 15 minutes you want to talk to them when it’s most convenient for you — but there may be several employers asking the same thing of them, too.

    1. over education and underemployed*

      Yes to advance notice! For a lot of the phone interviews I’ve had lately, the days offered have been “today” or “tomorrow”, and surprise, the interviewers aren’t always available during my scheduled lunch break that very day! I have a public facing job (which is obvious from my resume! I am neither a manager nor a white collar desk worker!), so taking an unscheduled break can actually be a problem that affects my co-workers, and going for an in-person interview on a work day also requires scheduling coverage.

      Sometimes I can swing a phone interview anyway, and I actively volunteer my weekdays off as the best days for in person interviews, but one of the things that I DO judge potential employers on is how sensitive they are to outside demands like that. I want a better job, not just any job.

    2. BRR*

      I got advance notice yesterday to do a phone screen next week, I thought that was pretty short notice but doable. I’m happy this job hunt has at least been by email first. Last hunt two years ago the first contact was sometimes by phone to set up a time to do a phone screen.

  4. Gene*

    so it would be a bit hypocritical to hold it against you.

    Looking at the stories I read here, my first reaction to this was, “Wouldn’t be the first time a hiring manager was nuts.”

    Having meet my wife on a dating site nearly 20 years ago, it might have been considered strange then, not now to anyone for whom you would want to work.

  5. Dan*


    Also keep in mind that the people you are interviewing aren’t even sure they want to work for you yet. As aam says, this is supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, which to me means there are limits to how far I will bend over backwards to accommodate you.

    Remember, as an applicant with a job, I have leverage — staying at my current job. I’m not going to burn *all* of my pto on prospects I’m not reasonably sure about.

    1. Sins & Needles*

      I’d second the point that applicants are also making decisions about culture and fit, not just the interviewers. I remember a job I applied for a few years ago, and the company insisted that all interviews had to take place on December 24th, the day before Christmas. They told me that on December 18th. I remember telling them that I had nonrefundable plane tickets to go visit my family, but the company insisted, insisted! that all interviews would take place on December 24th, no exceptions, and that if I wanted the job badly enough, I’d come to an interview then. I declined the interview, because the extreme inflexibility and instance that I prove I really, really, really wanted to work there (by canceling my plans), told me it wasn’t a good fit.

      I wasn’t just looking for a new job, I was looking for a correct new job.

      1. MK*

        I think your example is especially pointed, because I find it very hard to believe Christmas Eve was really the most convenient time to interview all the candidates; more likely it was some idiotic test.

        1. katamia*

          Yeah, it sounds like they wanted people who either have no life or who are wiling to put their lives on hold whenever their jobs want something.

          1. Sins & Needles*

            Yes. There was something up. Or maybe they were just loons. But the OP’s comment, about candidates being the one seeking new careers, did remind me of that experience, extreme as it was.

            (As an aside, the word “extreme” got so overused in my part of the world that I always hear it as “EXTREEEEEEMMMMME!” I almost didn’t use the word, in spite of it being the correct word.)

            1. NutellaNutterson*

              Off topic: our local caution signs for road construction warn “motorcycles use extreme caution” and I can’t help but say it like an X-Games announcer. “My caution is extreeeeeeeeme!”

    2. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, during the last year of my last job I went on a *lot* of interviews. I basically used all my PTO for them. I had one interview lined up where the recruiter was continually disrespectful and weird. Finally, I decided to cancel the interview, because I decided to save my PTO for another opportunity.

    3. BRR*

      This is a good point. Even if I’m applying a company i would like to be wined and dined a little. Let’s go back to the dating analogy. Do you want to date someone who thinks they’re doing you a favor?

  6. Jeanne*

    #2, Is it possible for your house mate to transfer departments? The company may be willing to help with that to make everything work out. Otherwise, you may have to move. Also, even if you move out, you may need to cut back on your friendship with your coworker. I would still see it as a favoritism issue even after you move. I know it’s not fair but it is how I would view it.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes, if I were upper management I’d be almost as concerned about OP managing a former roommate. It would be nice for the company to try to reassign roles if possible.

    2. anonanonanon*

      I think it’s a little presumptuous and rude to make the roommate change their job for the OP’s sake. The roommate might be okay with that suggestion, but think it’d be a strange request for OP to make regardless.

      1. Jeanne*

        It is but it depends if they are really good friends. One of them is going to have to make a sacrifice here. Either A gives up the promotion or B transfers. Or else they both make a sacrifice. A gets the promotion, B has to find a new roommate, and they both lose the friendship. If B wants A to succeed, she may be willing to transfer.

      2. NacSacJack*

        This happens all the time at our company for married couples. At a previous company, if they even heard a whiff of two co-workers dating, one of them was given the opportunity to transfer depts immediately.

  7. Bluesboy*


    I actually see it as a positive message when a potential candidate responds like this. To me, the message they’re sending is that they’ve decided to move on, but that they’re remaining professional in their current job right up to the end – isn’t that the type of person you want in your team?

    Imagine the days you suggest clash with their company’s biggest event of the year. One possible candidate asks to reschedule. The other candidate thinks “Ah, I’ll just phone in sick so I can do the interview.”

    Which would you rather have working for you? Because if you fail to offer flexibility, you just filtered out the first…

    1. AcademiaNut*

      The other practical problem with thinking “If they really wanted the job, they’d find a way to get here when I ask them” is that filtering your candidates by desperation is not a great way to get the best candidates. You may effectively be filtering out top candidates with options, people who are looking to move on from their current job for career development, but aren’t currently desperately unhappy, and people who are particularly conscientious about their job duties.

      1. Umvue*

        This. OP#1, this way of approaching interviews specifically selects for people with either no options or no judgment. I mean, maybe that’s a public service — those people need jobs too. It’s probably not a service to your company, though, and in the end possibly not your own reputation, either.

        1. Three Thousand*

          My instinct is it’s a simple power trip. They’re remembering the days they had to bow and scrape and “prove how much you want the job” and they’re looking to get a little of their own hazing in. That they’ll end up with only desperate candidates this way might not seem like an issue if they’re used to thinking of applicants as generally desperate and begging for a job.

          1. Lee*

            Well, we’re also in a slightly better economic time where some employers may not be used to a majority of their applicants currently holding other jobs and screening THEM out.

            I’ll never forget the guy who interviewed me for a floor job at an office supply chain store in 2009 and was happy beyond measure that all of the applicants were college graduates with years of professional experience in other fields and he had his pick of any of them. He acted like a super-shit to all of them. I know I’ve never shopped there again since.

            1. Three Thousand*

              Yeah, I can see feeling like you’re getting something back from people you think have more than you do and make you feel inferior. It must feel like you get to turn the tables on them.

    2. Suzanne*

      “…they’re remaining professional in their current job right up to the end – isn’t that the type of person you want in your team?” One would think, but in my experience, and the experience of others, it’s much easier to be inflexible with the interviewing & then complain you can’t find decent employees.

  8. Seal*

    #2 – Very early in my career, I was desperate for a place to live so I made the huge mistake of moving in with a subordinate. This woman was already a bit of a problem employee and living with her only made things worse. Although we had a year-long lease, the situation was so uncomfortable that I moved out after a few months. Since I couldn’t find anyone to sublet right way she got to live in the apartment by herself on my dime for a few months, too. To this day, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Bottom line – you can’t live with the people you supervise.

  9. A Kate*

    Alison, are you suggesting that applicants should be able to request phone interviews outside of regular business hours? Or just that they should be able to request a specific time and day within regular business hours that works best for them in terms of getting away from work? I agree that the latter is totally reasonable. Not so sure about the former.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, I’m saying that the OP shouldn’t hold it against someone if the two possible days she suggests don’t work for them and if they need to schedule it on a different day. I don’t think employers are obligated to offer phone interviews outside normal business hours (since that would mean routinely cutting into interviewers’ out-of-work time), but I also think that a smart manager will make an exception to that for very strong candidates.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think if someone does a lot of interviewing, their ‘regular work hours’ should include some times outside of 9 to 5 schedules. And if it is a rare thing then the employee doing the interviewing should be expected to work evenings or Saturdays during the interview period and receive compensating comp time.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          This would be nice for candidates, but the employer might not need to do this to hire well, so it serves little to no business purpose. I have no trouble hiring great people without coming in on a Saturday, so there’s no need for me to give up my family time. I would strongly discourage out managers from doing this, because working weekends wears people out, and it would be unlikely to improve our candidate pool. Even if they can flex that time Monday morning, it doesn’t make up for having to get ready for work, put on their work clothes, commute, and break up their weekend day. Business happens during business hours. That is just part of applying for jobs.

          1. Dan*

            To be fair, you aren’t writing in to an advice column having a problem with people being “inflexible” with interview times.

            Also, as an exec, can I assume you aren’t hiring early career professionals? It seems to me that the farther you climb up the food chain, the easier it is to disappear behind a closed office door for 30 minutes.

            1. Pineapple Incident*

              I don’t know about that.. I’m the lowest on the food chain where I work, and being able to disappear for 10 minutes, much less 30, isn’t a reliable possibility for me. I might be able to get off the floor for that amount of time, but to plan when it would be in advance of more than an hour is impossible.

        2. Anx*

          I don’t think it’s necessary for most people on the hiring end to do this, but by offering interview times only during candidates’ work hours, they aren’t opening their applicant pool to anyone with jobs that don’t have down time at work.

          Most of the jobs I’ve worked have been ones in which I’m actively working with clients and wouldn’t have know that I have an hour to myself or a place to call or a chance to leave. At my current job I’d have to call out of work/leave early and inconvenience my work’s clients unless they do interviews on Fridays. Of course, that also means a pay cut (I have no PTO).

          When employers dismiss the unemployed and those with more rigid work requirements, I’m sure they still find plenty of qualified applicants. But it means that those that already have a good amount of experience and are in jobs with some flexibility have more opportunities to continue to advance their careers and those that don’t will have a big disadvantage.

      2. OP1*

        OP #1 here! Thank you all for this insight! I’ve had the luxury of working 9-5 with flexible hours/breaks so it’s interesting to see how different some work days/time-off policies can be for others. I like the idea of proposing a call a little outside of working hours. Seeing the limited/under-qualified candidate pool, I understand how mutually beneficial this process is and that good candidates could be written off if I’m not flexible.

        That being said, I am not a hiring manager but was tasked with screening resumes for my department. One particular candidate (who was not strong, possibly not qualified at all, but a relative of a higher-up’s friend) responded to my request with a poorly written email offering one day/time back and saying “I hope one of the above time work for you.” It was slightly discouraging and I asked the company’s hiring manager how he would respond. He felt that this was a sign the candidate was entitled and I shouldn’t have even responded.

        Given his take and my lack of experience in this role, I am happy to read readers’ thoughts.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Op#1, I also think there is variation by field. That is, the field that the person is currently working in. You can probably make some reasonable guesses about whether someone can be flexible during the day. If they are in a management role, it’s likely they have more control over their schedule. In retail, less likely. I’m not suggesting that you assume 100% whether a candidate can be flexible or not based on their current job, but it might give you some hints about whether they are being rigid or whether their restrictions are truly a function of their current job.

          1. Bostonian*

            I do think that if a candidate doesn’t have much flexibility and is only offering a limited window when they can get away, they are obligated to acknowledge or explain that a little bit in their communication with the prospective employer. “I’m with clients all day, but I could arrange coverage to step away at X time” or “I don’t have privacy for this sort of call at my desk, but I could talk over my lunch break between 12:30 and 1:30” or whatever. Sounds like this person is communicating poorly and is just not a great candidate.

        2. Observer*

          Keep in mind that the hiring manager probably knows that this kid is related to someone and sees the sloppiness of the email as well. So that colors things.

          Also think about this – you may have lots of flexibility. But even if your organization is good about this kind of thing, I’m sure that there are positions where that kind of flexibility is not really practical. Others have given good examples. Sometimes it’s just the nature of the role – almost any public facing role which needs to be continuously covered, in fact. Take you typical receptionist. They tend to have short lunch breaks, and most generally need to eat, as it can be a surprisingly tasking job, and often it’s not appropriate to eat while on the job.

        3. TootsNYC*

          This specific example is a specific example.
          It’s not an indicator of how the process ought to go with normally appropriate candidates.

          Or, maybe it is a good indicator, because: It’s totally OK to scratch a candidate off your list because you don’t like the way they’re handling that negotiation. Every communication tells you something about that person, and it’s completely reasonable (and in fact required) to act on that information. “Poorly written”? Ditch him.

          But the fact that they’re negotiating the time is not a fair reason to scratch someone off the list. And more important, it’s not going to serve you well in your search.

    2. SevenSixOne*

      ” applicants should be able to request phone interviews outside of regular business hours applicants should be able to request phone interviews outside of regular business hours”

      Yes, they should… because most people don’t just work 9-5 Monday-Friday anymore. I’ve never had a work schedule like that in nearly 15 years of working full-time, no one I know has a schedule like that, NO ONE in my 80+ person department does because we’re open and staffed 24/7, and even the departments in my company with “normal” business hours are open and staffed ~8:00 am-8:00 pm seven days a week.

      Even though expecting people to be available for an interview at, say, 3:00 am is absurd, I don’t think trying to schedule something at, for example, 7:00 am or 6:30 pm is out of line.

      1. Honeybee*

        Even if most people don’t work 9-5 Monday through Friday anymore (most people I know do, and everyone on my team does although sometimes they stay late or come in early depending on their projects and role, but ymmv), I think a significant enough number do that they aren’t willing to schedule phone interviews outside that time. 7 am is much earlier than most people would be willing, I think – that’s a full two hours before I start and I’d be getting ready for work at that time. Also, phone interviews take time – a 6:30 pm interview would mean the interviewer would have to stick around work until 7-7:30 pm; for anyone, but particularly interviewers with kids, that might be impossible.

        I could see maybe trying to angle for an 8 am interview or a 5:15 pm one, particularly if the phone interview were only going to be around 30 minutes. But I wouldn’t try to schedule a phone interview at 7 am. All of the ones I did were during normal business hours (but I was fortunate because I was on the East Coast applying for a lot of West Coast jobs, so some of them were after normal business hours for me).

        1. Bostonian*

          A lot of interviewers could probably do the phone interview from home – I know plenty of people who have to be on 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. conference calls from home in order to connect with people around the world with a big time difference. I know others who regularly do work from home after putting the kids to bed. For people in those jobs, I think it’s reasonable to expect them to be available to conduct phone interviews off hours.

    3. Colette*

      I don’t see a problem with applicants requesting interviews outside of business hours – but I don’t think the interviewer is obligated to agree.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I will, within reason….We are open 9 to 5, and I won’t do before 8 or after 6, except maybe for a phone call. But honestly, it makes me stop and think about how interested I really am in that candidate. If it’s borderline and I was just barely squeezing them in over the bar for interviews, I might not.

        1. Colette*

          I suspect that how the candidat asks matters, too. Do they acknowledge that they’re asking for something inconvenient? Do they explain why? There’s a difference between “this is our busy time at work, so I won’t be able to get away during the day. Would it be possible to interview outside of normal business hours?” And “I’m very busy, so we will have to talk Wednesday night at 9.”

          1. OP1*

            This was sort of where I was going with “is it an insight into work behavior.” Could a response more along the lines of “that doesn’t work but this ONE other time will” indicate how they might interact with clients?

            1. Mephyle*

              As you can see from the other answers, it might indicate how they might interact with clients, but more likely it is a function of their current workplace obligations and scheduling, and the physical space they have (or don’t have) available to take a phone call.

                1. BRR*

                  I’m not completely behind one position but I’m leaning towards it being the same as when applicants hear from employers and not read too much into it. It certainly MIGHT mean something but there are a lot of “it depends.” Or maybe similar to a thank you not where it wouldn’t make me sway far from my original thought. I can see a good quality candidate be apprehensive to suggest other times.

            2. Colette*

              I’m of the opinion that when you’re asking for a favour (which is what asking for an interview outside of the times you’ve been offered is) you need to be as flexible as possible. So if you can’t make it on Tuesday or Wednesday, you need to make yourself available any evening that week, or anytime on Friday, even if that means giving up family time/your rock climbing class/going out with friend. Giving one alternate time would be pretty demanding.

            3. Zillah*

              Maybe? It’s a really unreliable gauge, though, so I’m not really sure why you’d use it. They’re working within a (possibly strict) set of parameters directly linked to their livelihoods, and those parameters presumably wouldn’t remain the same if they were hired by your company. It may be relevant, or it may not be.

              That doesn’t mean you have to accommodate everyone who asks for one specific time – if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work, and I don’t think you need to kill yourself to fit everyone in – but I wouldn’t assume anything about their work ethic/style from it, especially since if that is a problem, it’s quite likely that it will come out in other ways.

              1. So Very Anonymous*

                Also, if you’re hiring me for a job that involves teaching (which is the case for me) and I ask about other options because your original options fall during teaching times for me, wouldn’t you want to know that I’m responsible about my teaching and won’t blow it off if something else comes up?

            4. TootsNYC*

              Well, I don’t see anything wrong w/ a candidate proposing one specific time. It’s just one sentence, one “back” in a “back and forth”; presumably the answer will be either yes or no.

              Maybe that’s the time that’s easiest for them. If it does work for you, yay for everybody. Why not ask for it?

              And you say “it’s more about tone”–but I would say that tone is important no matter what the substance of the response is, and someone who can’t use proper grammar and can’t count is out of the running.

              I will say that I cut people some slack in terms of whether I love their wording choice. Unless they really, really turn me off, I stick to my initial reaction to their résumé and experience.

        2. BRR*

          This is a good point I hadn’t thought of. It really draws a little more scrutiny to your candidacy.

      2. SevenSixOne*

        Yeah, if they can’t do it, that’s fine… but I still don’t think it’s out of line for the interviewer or the candidate to ask “are you able to do this at 7:00?” and for the other person to say “No, but would 8:00 work for you?”

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve often interviewed before or after regular business hours. Once had a breakfast interview. These are in-person, mind you, for which I think there’s a little more leeway. I think it’s a smart thing for hiring managers to do, because it decreases the likelihood that either person’s schedule will get changed or a meeting will come up during the day.

    5. BRR*

      I totally get why interviews aren’t offered outside normal business hours. I know my employer wouldn’t approve for one of our in house recruiters to spend two hours a week doing phone screens in the evening and come in two hours late or leave early. But it would be nice at least for phone screens. I have two doctors and a therapist who offer after 5 appointments and it’s so nice.

      1. Pearl116*

        More flexibility for phone screens lasting more than 10–15 minutes would be wonderful! But I understand the other side of “table” that you illustrated above :) I’ve a 30-minute phone screen tomorrow (Monday) at 10 a.m., for an editorial/admin position at a local university. This time is unpaid, and cannot be made up at the end of my day. The hiring manager needs to make a decision for in-persons by Tuesday, and no other time was or is available (I was called Friday.) I’m currently on the contractor/temping merry-go-round, after 10 years with the same company, trying to disembark gracefully, but a little leeway would have been nice here (I tried, diplomatically!) And speaking of “tone”—this is for OP1—I must say that the HR recruiter for the position had one that would have put me off to her had our positions were switched! She’s most likely harried, but it was definitely a “wow” moment when I was told basically—and shortly—to take it or leave it after suggesting an after-lunch or end-of-day screen, thinking that would be easier for them (for no particular reason.) Her tone was everything that got my back up in this case, not the packed schedules of her and the hiring manager. Well, fair play: we all have schedules to keep, but I’ve never been in the position of having to think of a good reason to leave a new gig mid-morning— “Dr.’s appointment” is only going to fly once here, if at all!

  10. Heather*

    OP1: So because someone is looking for a job, that means he or she is at the mercy of whatever the employer wants? I don’t think so. This is exactly the line of thinking that leads to terrible job offers and even worse workplace environments. You have to realize that employment works both ways. Job seekers want employers who respect their (reasonable) needs like adequate pay, time off, benefits, etc., and employers need candidates who are willing to go the extra mile. If staff can’t get what they need, you probably won’t either…at least not long term because people will quit.

    As a job seeker, I’ve had this problem recently. Employers expect me to accept a much lower salary or position because I’m unemployed. Or they’ll bait and switch a full-time job with a part-time temp job halfway through a two month long interview process without comment. I guess to them, I should take what I can get whenever they feel like giving it. But that’s my decision and I don’t appreciate being mislead or talked down to.

    Long story short, you get what you give!

    1. DarjeelingAtNoon*

      You really expressed this well, and it really helps to know I am not alone. I have been experiencing something similar. I had one interviewer call on Friday night at 7 pm, and instead of setting up an interview, just launched into one without warning. I asked one clarifying question about the job she was referring to, and she asked, “Have you been applying to so many positions that you cannot remember?” I responded well, stating that I was checking my memory since it had been over a month since applying. I checked later, it had been over two months. I felt like a captive to my need for a job, so I did the best I could. However, I really doubt whether I would ever work for someone using such tactics

      You also mentioned switching job details. I have had that happen too. One company I was hired to switched the job from one division to another, then I find out I would be conducting home visits with individuals charged with certain violent crimes. I had another company switch my schedule from my full time CONTRACT to only several days per month (no new contract). I found this out 2 months into employment ~ after turning down other job offers.

      As a recent grad, I thought it may be that my new chosen field is just unprofessional. It takes a Masters degree just to be considered for these positions, but I feel like I am being treated really badly and it is beginning to seem like a trend.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Ugh, that’s awful.

        I’ve had a good job come out of a surprise! phone interview, but I was unemployed at the time and my resume made that clear. It also just moved really fast in general – I applied one day, had the surprise interview the next, and started work the day after that – so it was unusual. (Also it was a contract position…believe it or not, in government.)

        1. DarjeelingAtNoon*

          That is really great that it turned out well for you. That is unusual for things to move so fast, so I bet that helped a lot.

          I wouldn’t mind a surprise interview so much, but the hostile demeanor of the interviewer was over the top, and she grilled me on inane facts like policies (it was not a legal job in the least). It felt more like a pop quiz at 7 pm on a Friday night. Also, there was the fact that she didn’t even ask if it was a good time for me. What is so discouraging is that I have now had many rude experiences at interviews, so it is seeming like a trend.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            That’s utterly ridiculous. What if you were on your way out the door for dinner reservations? What if you were putting the baby to bed? What if you’d already had a margarita and a half?

            If you have other options, and the interviewer would be your manager, then I would steer very clear of this job. Good luck in your search.

  11. MK*

    OP1, job seekers should absolutely be flexible. The problem is, you seem to define that as “they should take one of the options I offer them no matter how inconvenient it is for them”; that’s not them being flexible, it’s you being very much not flexible.

    Also, they are the ones applying for a job, yes, but you are the one advertising for an employee. And at this point, neither of you knows if the other is the right fit, so the whole thing could end up being a waste of time. Just as you can’t let the hiring process disrupt the ordinary course of bussiness, so you schedule interviews at times convenient to you, for their part they cannot afford to prioritize your hiring process over their current job or their other job prospects, not to mention that they might have other non-flexible time commitments, like doctor’s appointments, children’s care, etc.

    1. Heather*

      That’s a great way to shoot yourself in the foot and not how I feel at all. I think it’s important for both sides to be flexible, within reason of course. That means staying within normal business hours, and connecting within a decent time frame. I don’t expect OP1 to bend over backwards to accommodate candidates, but a little room wouldn’t hurt, especially if the person is employed. And if the candidate can’t make themselves available, then the employer has every right to move on. What irked me was OP’S idea that it should be easy for all job seekers to connect, when it’s not. Like AWA said, everyone’s schedule and current work environment is different. For example, to make interviews work, I’ve had to take calls in a storage closet, in my car, and schedule plenty of “Dr’s appointments.” OP should be aware that this is the case for a lot of people who aren’t trying to put their income in jeopardy while looking for something else.

  12. James M*

    Keep in mind that you’re proposing a business conversation that will benefit both of you. Be flexible with people and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re doing them a favor and they should drop everything to make it work.

    This is an example of why Alison has earned my respect.

  13. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. It can sometimes be difficult to find a suitable place to make an important call. When I was interviewing for my last job I was working in an open plan office and the stairwell had a terrible echo!

  14. Merry and Bright*

    #1 I appreciate Alison’s views here. Flexibility is one thing that has improved in job-hunting. When I joined the workforce you often applied for a job by post. If you got an interview invitation that came by post too, but it was a bit like an army call-up paper in a way – “You will be interviewed at xxx by yyy on zzz” and that was pretty much it.

    1. BRR*

      I just got an email that was similar. Hey we would like you to come in. Your time is this time at this place. (At this point I was on the verge of saying no). The last sentence was please let me know if you can make it or if you have any questions. If not I will see you then.

      That kept them from being a complete turn off in my eyes. But only barely and partially because I’m desperate but not to outside employers.

      1. NutellaNutterson*

        If it’s going to be that restricted, explaining why can go a long way, too. There are a million reasons for rigid scheduling, and as Alison has said before, showing that you understand the inconvenience goes a long way.

  15. Neeta*

    A few years ago, when I went through a very intense (well for me), bout of interviews. In order to be as accommodating as possible, I ended up accepting a lot of interviews during lunch break. This meant, that I had to start skipping going for lunch with colleagues. While I did offer all sorts of random explanations, I am not particularly good at being “stealthy”, so of course there were some raised eyebrows.

    No one gave me a hard time for it or anything, but when I did finally put in my notice, one of my colleagues’ first remark was: so that’s why you suddenly had errands during lunch hour.

  16. Not Today Satan*

    I work late a couple days a week and some weekends. It’s annoying, but my job involves providing services to the public, and I need to be available for clients. IMO, being a recruiter is a similar job in that way, and they should have one or two late days for phone interviews. Phone interviews are so preliminary, and people go on so many that never end up even becoming an in-person interview, that it’s not really right to make your candidates take off work for them. (Or to make them try to do the interview while walking on a busy street, or in the stairwell of their office hoping not to get caught, etc.)

    1. BRR*

      Totally agree. I’m going to be let go next month. I get paid for my pto. I want/need that money. I lose 150 dollars for every day I have to take off to interview. I’m also trying to interview with as many places as I can find with jobs I’m interested in. It adds up.

      1. Green*

        That’s a bit unreasonable though. You either need to be more selective with your interviews (and willing to miss out on opportunities) or willing to take PTO. Both hoarding PTO and interviewing with as many places as you can find with jobs are incompatible goals.

        As Allison said, it’s a *mutually* beneficial transaction. Each party needs to be willing to offer some flexibility within work hours for scheduling: that applies to interviewees as well.

        1. BRR*

          I’m willing to take pto, but a four round interview process for one job is rough. This is for a job that will pay mid-five figures. I know I can’t have it all but it could be consolidated to make it slightly easier on candidates.

    2. TootsNYC*

      My current job is for a large company; the HR lady’s first suggestion of a screening interview was after 5pm. That made me think this was pretty much their norm–she knew I had a job, and she knew it was at least 45 minutes from her office.

      And all the hiring managers/stakeholders also suggested evening meets.

  17. Xarcady*

    #1. I’m currently unemployed and looking for a job. I’m working a part-time retail job and temping pretty much full-time to make ends meet.

    The temp work is mostly at one company. It is a secure facility and temps are not allowed to bring cell phones into the building. The office is open-plan, so there is no way to take an interview phone call. And the office is out in the boondocks and my cell phone doesn’t get a signal there, so sneaking out to my car on a break doesn’t work either.

    And the retail job bans cell phones as well. I can bring mine into the building, but it must be turned off. I get breaks, but there is no way to schedule them to be at a certain time. If there are customers lined up, I will get in trouble for leaving the sales floor.

    So I need a few days advance notice of a phone interview, so I can make arrangements to be out of the temp job for a few hours–I need to check with both the temp agency and the person at the job who supervises me. The temp agency has strict rules about not missing more than 10% of the time allotted for a project, so I can’t just take time off on a whim. The retail job requires three weeks notice for time off. Or I can just call out or show up late, but then I earn attendance points–more than 6 points in any 6 month period and I’m fired.

    It’s probably just a coincidence that I’m working two jobs with strict cell phone policies and strict attendance polices, but, while I really want to finally have a full-time job with benefits, I can’t risk losing either job for a screening interview.

    1. Xarcady*

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that when I take the time off to handle a phone interview during the work day, I’m not taking paid time off, because that doesn’t exist in my world. I’m losing an hour or two of pay. That’s not going to break the bank, but it is another consideration. It’s a risk I’m willing to take in the hopes of getting out of temp/retail hell, but it is another factor that plays into people’s ability to take interview calls during the work day.

    2. Kathlynn*

      I’m assuming this is an auto correct issue, because you aren’t unemployed, you are underemployed.

      1. Zillah*

        Or unemployed in their field – working a PT job and a FT job isn’t really “underemployed” either.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          It can be, if the job is below their skill level. A doctor driving a taxi full time is underemployed.

        2. Honeybee*

          Underemployment usually refers not to not having enough work, but to being employed “below” someone’s qualifications and experience. Like a former director of marketing who can only find work as an entry-level marketing associate is “underemployed.”

          1. Pearl116*

            Not in my experience. “Underemployed” in my geographic area, as well as vocational/avocation world, means being employed, but struggling financially as well as vocationally. That really is the definition here, including by my state’s definition of “underemployed.” Heck, the main chapel of one our city’s Universities includes the “underemployed” in the weekly Sunday homily. And I’m hard-pressed to imagine—again, at least where I live, and by realtime observation—a director of marketing gaining paid employment as an entry-level marketing associate regardless of the circumstances of the former director’s unemployment.

  18. ShellBell*

    When interviewing, you don’t want to self select for only those people with nothing to do or no qualms about stepping away from work no matter their responsibilities.

  19. Bunny*

    Yeah, scheduling interviews when you’re in work is really tricky.

    1- There is no guarantee that any one interview will result in an offer, so you cannot treat any interview like it is your last. Which means keeping discreet, keeping your current work prioritised, and ideally getting a bunch of other interviews lined up for other vacancies, too.
    2- If you’re jobhunting because of an upcoming redundancy or other firm end-date to your employment, chances are you’re working harder than normal – finishing up projects, passing on knowledge to anyone remaining, discussing strategies for work hand-over… so you’ll have less time than normal.
    3- And that’s without even accounting for how easy it is for you to take breaks, or step away from your desk phone interviews. I was extremely lucky with a previous fixed-term temp position that my manager – unprompted – let me know it was okay for me to take phone interviews at my desk so long as I still got my work done. But that’s been very rare in my experience.

    I’m always a little put-off when employers get antsy about scheduling interviews for people. I mean, employers in general tend to vastly prefer candidates who are already in employment than those who are out of work, but expect their prospective candidates to have as much availability as if they were at home all day long. I’ve seriously had employers call my mobile unprompted in the middle of the day, to ask if I could take a “quick phone interview” right there and then.

    1. JM in England*

      Unscheduled phone interviews are a pet hate of mine. It seems that employers don’t realise that they take as much preparation as for an in-person one.

  20. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    I don’t mind a candidate asking for another time, but many do it poorly by not suggesting an alternate time (just saying “I can’t”), acting irritated that I asked for that time in the first place, or going on and on about why it’s impossible, or telling me they will try to make it work and then not getting back to me until an hour before the time to say they can’t. In those cases, if I wasn’t very interested in the candidate to start with, I won’t keep trying to schedule. But ask politely, sure, I will negotiate another time.

    1. Liane*

      While I, being both underemployed & looking for a better job, agree that OP1 is way too rigid & lacking in understanding about job hunters – I agree with this too. Definitely the way I operate. “Sorry, I cannot make Tues the 14th work. I am off all day Wed the 15th or the following Monday, if those work for you.”

  21. Macedon*

    #1 –

    I am surprised to see that these candidates aren’t more flexible, considering they are the ones seeking a new career.

    And you’re the one seeking to fill a role. In fact, it’s part of your job to do that, whereas interviewing for a position is a step these candidates take to hopefully start doing their job. The way I’d look at it is, you’re getting paid for the interview time. They’re not. You have nothing to lose from conducting this interview, and are in fact safely performing your duties – they’ve got a fair bit to lose, because if a particularly prickly supervisor catches them interviewing, they could risk termination, or at least a very unpleasant conversation.

    Insofar as the candidate’s demands fit into your recruitment timeframe, don’t directly conflict with other rigid duties you might have and aren’t constantly altered, I’d be in favour of trying to accommodate them as much as possible. If anything, employers who unreasonably think you should drop everything to meet their limited terms are sending huge warning signs about their future expectations, and they’re conveying a clear disconnect from the working world. I’d raise an eyebrow at someone who’s only willing to (even phone) interview on two days, unless they volunteered a fair reason why this is the case (urgency to fill the role, hiring manager only in the country those two days for the next three months, etc.)

    1. Suzanne*

      Yes. I know a young woman who was fired on the spot when her employer discovered she was interviewing somewhere else.
      Employers, if you’re going to ignore the currently unemployed and only want people who are employed, consider the risk that person may be taking for your interview, for a job that you may decide you aren’t going to offer.

  22. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    How many candidates do you have and how hard is it to hire for the position? How critical is the position?

    If we’re hiring for an entry level temp position, it’s pretty easy to say to the agency “we want to see candidates on these two days, here are the time slots, please fill them up”.

    Beyond that, we’ve never been able to be anything but as accommodating as possible so we can have the largest possible candidate pool from which to choose. A phone interview outside of work hours is usually only 8am or 5pm, not 9 at night. People can usually in person interview on their lunch with an extra half hour or hour they’ve arranged tacked onto it.

    If we were a Large & Famous Employer, I’m sure we could be more demanding but we’re not. On any job posting, we get most 5 to 10 resumes we’re interested in at all, so we want to talk to everybody we can.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      P.S. a desirable candidate would propose clear choices of what she can do, if she can’t accommodate an original request. You could consider that a first screening. If she can’t help problem solve the phone and in person interview times, then I would probably move on. We’ve got a lot of problem solving in the day to day job here.

      1. TootsNYC*

        You could consider that a first screening. If she can’t help problem solve the phone and in person interview times, then I would probably move on.

        Yes! Every communication is a source of information.

        So the candidate’s professionalism, her problem solving skills, her knowledge of office norms…those are all reasons to decide not to pursue an actual interview.
        But her needing to come at a time different from the one you are trying to dictate? That’s not a “lack of knowledge of office norms.”

    2. Honeybee*

      Interestingly enough, sometimes the Large & Famous Employers tend to be the most accommodating and flexible – at least in my experience. I interviewed with a couple during my last hiring round and for the phone interviews, they basically asked me to pick a date and time during a specific week. Even for in-person interviews I was given a choice of several days (2-3) and told that if none of those worked they’d work with me to find ones that did. The way they explained it to me is that they’re trying to hire the best candidates, and they realize that the best candidates often have pending interviews, interest, and maybe even offers from other companies. I’m also in a field (tech) that has fewer potential employees than open slots, as companies grow rapidly and race to deploy the best new products before competitors. I’ve heard the recruiting process described as an arms race.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Makes sense.

        I think if you’re Vogue Magazine looking for editorial assistants or Shonda Rhimes production looking for crew members, famous + oversupply of potential employees means you can be pretty demanding and still have a great pool. IDK, I’m just guessing, having never worked for Vogue or Shonda.

        Anyway, I’ve literally never had an over supply of good candidates for any job opening which I guess puts me in good company with Large & Famous Tech Companies.

        1. Annonny*

          I worked for a different Big Fish and got the job because a friend at an associated office called me and said “send me your resume RIGHT NOW.” I literally turned around from my errand to do it, because it was very much a case of oversupply vs fame.

      2. Charityb*

        That makes sense. Companies like that are probably more deliberate in their hiring practices. They don’t extend interview offers to candidates that they’re not particularly interested in/borderline and the candidates who they are interested in aren’t necessarily just sitting at home all day waiting for an interview.

        There are other companies that seem to interview people knowing that they probably won’t want to hire them so they are less motivated to work with those candidates if it’s even slightly inconvenient.

      3. MK*

        Large companies probably also have the resources to be more flexible. If you have an HR department to narrow down the resumes and a hiring manager with two assistants to take it from there, you can be more accomodating than a small company where one person might handle the whole process on top of their normal duties.

      4. TootsNYC*

        Interestingly enough, sometimes the Large & Famous Employers tend to be the most accommodating and flexible –

        I mentioned above that for my current job at a Large & Famous Employer, the senior HR recruiter who contacted me suggested an after-hours appointment as her first choice.

  23. INTP*

    For #3 –

    I don’t think just being on a website without your name attached to it is a problem at all. However, I would make sure that it isn’t google-able with your name or email address or linked to any social media accounts that might be found. It’s not that having a dating profile is unprofessional, but dating profiles often include information that would offend someone or cause them to judge you. For example, if your preferences exclude a certain body type, race, or age, and someone takes that too personally; if you request someone only of your religion and they assume you’re a religious zealot; if you mark that you’re looking for casual encounters and they consider that immoral; and so on. The chances of someone randomly coming across your profile before the interview and committing the picture to memory so they recognize you are pretty low, so I wouldn’t worry about a profile with no searchable things on it, though.

    1. voyager1*

      About 10 years ago a coworker who was a manager was on a dating site. She was known for being difficult to work with. She had several pics on it but her main profile pic was from the company site. It went around the office gossip circle…

    2. D-Coder*

      Also note: Google Images can find matches to a photo. So do NOT use your LinkedIn photo on your dating profile, unless you don’t care if people can find one from the other!

  24. Kadee*

    #1 – I totally agree with Alison’s response. I also agree with the comments that argue that inflexibility may simply mean strong values for keeping commitments. All that aside, I don’t want hiring managers to suddenly start thinking that people who can be completely flexible and are able to meet whatever days/times the interviewer lays out as someone who doesn’t care or is bailing out on their responsibilities as it’s been insinuated in a few responses here. Some people have very flexible hours, days not full of meetings, private work areas that they can go to, etc. Someone may not be very flexible because they’re trying to keep their commitments, but that doesn’t mean there’s always a polar opposite to that.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Agreed. Some people who are being flexible may be blowing off commitments; some people who are being inflexible may be just being rigid and demanding more than they need. The vast majority are doing what they can within the framework of the situation they’re in, while being as fair to their current employer as they reasonably can when job searching.

    2. OP1*

      I agree. I’m not sure the lack of flexibility or ability to meet any time provided says much about how dedicated an employee they will be.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly the point. Which is why it was off-putting to see the question framed as a possible negative insight to workplace behaviors.

  25. Kyrielle*

    Re #1 – so glad the companies I interviewed with were flexible. They asked what time(s) worked for me and then scheduled me in. When I was at my old job, I got breaks whenever I wanted them *if* there was nothing else going on. No break at our standard meeting time was predictable, but when the various crises would arise was *not*. Phone interviews were thus especially tricky.

    Except I only worked Monday to Thursday, and the companies interviewing me were all willing to accommodate my “can we interview on Fridays, please?” request. Result: I only ever took one call, the initial HR screen for one company, while at work. And luckily, that one did not arrive during one of the routine crises.

    (Yes, the phrase “routine crises” applies, and yes, it was one of the factors in my job search.)

  26. Nina*

    I understand OP #1’s perspective. I think the way in which the candidate replies is very important.

  27. Jake*


    “The business is the one looking for a new employee to add value to their business, so I’m surprised they aren’t more flexible.”

    The line I wrote is equally as absurd as the OP’s attitude.

    1. Tara*

      This was my thought as well. Sure they’re the ones looking for a new career, but you’re also the one looking for a new employee. Both parties are equally searching for something.

  28. just laura*

    If it were me, I’d temporarily suspend my online dating while job searching, just to avoid any potential awkwardness.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I think that’s way too cautious. I’d pick a username for the dating site that’s neither my real name nor the same as usernames affiliated with my real name (e.g., my Twitter handle), and I’d leave professional details out of the dating site profile (“I’m an engineer,” fine, but not “I’m the senior engineer for Spout Design at Teapots, Inc.”), but otherwise, I’d go for it. I suppose it might feel slightly awkward if the interviewer is also dating online and happened across my profile the night before he interviewed me… but a) I think that only happens in sitcoms and b) something similar could happen professionally at any point in time. Should people continually avoid online dating for fear of running into their boss, their clients, their subordinates?

      I guess the one exception would be, sadly, if I were really desperate to get hired, living in a state without anti-discrimination laws, and LGBTQ, I might not date online at all until I had landed a job with a company that wasn’t homophobic.

      1. Koko*

        Yeah, given that many people job search for several months on end, that’s a long time to stop doing something as normal as dating.

  29. SunnyLibrarian*

    I had someone seven hours away invite me in for an interview…in two days. I asked if the interview could be moved or if we could do a Skype interview. They could not because they needed their directors there to meet me. I wished them luck.

    I notice they are consistently hiring for this position. Not always the case, but if someone doesn’t have anything going on that they can just drop whatever they are doing and interview seven hours away, they probably aren’t great candidates.

  30. J*

    I started a new job last week and the application/interview process was pretty quick but they still were able to be flexible about interview times.

    They mostly asked me what days/times would work for me and scheduled around that. I did have to suggest a couple of different times when they tried to get me in for an interview on days where I would have conflicts with my current job. They were fine with that and I took that as a sign of professionalism and good will towards applicants.

    If they had been pushy about times and not willing to be flexible at all that would have been a red flag and I probably wouldn’t be working there. I wasn’t happy at my old job but I also wasn’t desperate.


    4 – I would be furious if my boss told me how to use my time off – especially as there is no company rule against it and apparently vacation banking is permitted. Manger needs to BACK OFF.

  32. Retail Lifer*

    OP #1, I often don’t get a lunch break. Even if I do, it can’t always be scheduled ahead of time – when business slows down I can go. I only have two days during the week that I can set a time for lunch. At most of my other retail jobs, I had NO days where I could, so I ahd to schedule all phone interviews for mornings on days that I worked a later shift. Not everyone has a standard Monday-Friday job, and not every company has enough employees to ensure a scheduled break time.

  33. Ambz*

    #1: Also, they might not get phone signal at work, or depending where they work, there might be very structured breaks and not much opportunity to go outside of that. Where I worked this summer, I didn’t get signal because of my mobile provider, and it was in a factory, so breaks were at a certain time for everyone and at the end of the break you had to be back because the line would start moving again. Would be kind of awkward to have a phone interview and cut it short because “I’m going to get in huge trouble if I’m not back before the line starts moving again”. I don’t know where else this might be a problem; maybe in jobs where you schedule in clients and have a busy workday, or retail where you need to make sure people can cover for you while you go for break.

  34. CCMeBackGirl*

    1# – I literally just dealt with another section of my office dumping resumes on me and telling me to schedule for ONE DAY. They then told me the next day that they also couldn’t do anything before 1 (something no one mentioned to me before). One person said our scheduling was inconvenient but they would try to make it, and when I asked the head interviewer about her situation, he scoffed, “If she wants the job she’ll make time for it.”

    That struck me as incredibly ignorant and douchey, but hey, ‘m quickly discovering that many people in the company is like that, so that individual is probably better off.

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