how much do I need to alter my own schedule for a job interview?

A reader writes:

I have been applying for other jobs and have had some success (thanks to your helpful tips for cover letters!)

I had a phone interview with a company last week and we are trying to schedule a time for me to come in to meet with several members of the hiring team in person.

My question is how much do I have to maneuver my own schedule to meet their needs? I am excited about the role and would like to get in for an interview as soon as I can. But the availability I gave (five full days over about a week and a half) didn’t work for most of the people I’d need to meet with. They asked me for my availability the following week, which is just not good at all. It’s a very busy time at my current job. I have several meetings with some higher-ups that are just very difficult to reschedule

I’m unsure about what to do here. If I give open availability to the interviewers, I risk needing to reschedule these meetings which would definitely raise a red flag to my current manager. But if I only give availability that works around my schedule, it leaves the new company with few options to meet the needs of their hiring team. I certainly don’t want to risk them rescinding the interview because I’m too difficult to schedule with! But I also think my current position is the one that’s paying me and the interview is no guarantee of a job, so why should I risk alerting my manager to my job search? Maybe I’m overthinking all this too and it’s not a huge deal one way or the other. Any advice would be helpful!

Ideally, interviewing scheduling allows for some back and forth. You say “I’m open on XYZ days,” they say “those won’t work for us, could you do ABC instead,” you say “I’m scheduled to teach an uncancellable class those days, are there any other options that would work,” and somehow in there you find a time that works for everyone.

The reality, though, is that sometimes schedules just don’t match up and someone will have to compromise. Sometimes that’s just because everyone involved has a packed calendar, sometimes it’s because the employer is being overly rigid about dates (like only offering one or two and refusing to consider others), and sometimes it’s because there’s a reason for that rigidity (like some interviewers are coming in from out of town and so all interviews have to be done in a three-day period).

A good employer will try to be flexible for a really strong candidate, but they’re going to be subject to the kind of restrictions I just mentioned.

A bad employer won’t even try to be flexible and will just announce a single date they expect you to show up, take it or leave it.

A good employer may get a little frustrated if they throw out a bunch of options and you don’t seem like you’re trying to make any of them work. They’ll reasonably expect that if it’s proving tough to get schedules to line up, you’ll give a little on your side to try to help that (just as they should on their side if they can).

So what does that mean for your situation? In your shoes, I’d give them a list of dates over the next three weeks that you absolutely cannot do and offer to make yourself available for anything outside of those, even if it means having to move things around. (And be judicious in composing that list; if you say you’re unavailable 75% of that time, you’re making it pretty hard for them.) And it’s fine to give some context, saying something like, “It’s an unusually busy time at my current job and I’m locked into quite a few commitments there, but as long as we can avoid these dates, I can find a way to make it work.”

If they come back and say, “sorry, we can only do (date you can’t do),” then at that point you have to decide if you’re willing to agree to that or not. But with a decent employer, it’s reasonable to explain your restrictions and ask if there’s a way to work around them.

{ 151 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Bea

    This is why I adore small businesses. We do interviews outside normal business hours knowing that most people are currently working. It stinks that interviewees are saddled with so much pressure to adjust when they tend to have so much more to lose :(

    I agree with all of the advice Alison is giving. It’ll really show you immediately if a place is unreasonable if they give you no options. It sucks but imagine what else there’s no flexibility there for!

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I work for a big business. I am always, always ready to schedule interviews after hours. Or in the early morning, though I don’t love it.

      and the HR folks here were willing to interview me after hours as well.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I used to work for a small business, and we had a big push in hiring. I offered– in a company meeting– to come in early or stay late if that was needed to work with candidates’ schedules. My co-workers and I had discussed this and we agreed. The CEO and HR balked because, as far as they were concerned, people who wanted to work for us would do what they could to make it happen, so no, we didn’t need to accommodate them. I was so put off by that, especially since we were so small– it wasn’t like people were beating down our doors to get their feet in.

      I had great experiences with large companies where I had early or late interviews. People were generally pretty flexible, especially when I was more junior. My field was known for not being great about PTO below manager level.

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Sounds like they’re related to the owners I dealt with who couldn’t keep a good employee to save their lives. We all bounced within 8 months. Not sorry.

        Our CEO is here after hours anyways. Unless they’re actually being messy because you were hourly and they’d have to pay you to stay late. Frugal failures are my favorite of all.

        Reply
        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Nope, salaried. They just sucked. The CEO often told us to call people before their start dates and ask them to do work because “they’re pretty eager to start”.

          Reply
          1. GovtConsulant

            Wait, to work before they started? For free? I mean it’s weird either way but I’m trying to figure out if it’s weird or egregious.

            Reply
    3. Dorothy Zbornak

      I was once scheduled for a 3rd in-person interview for a role and told the hiring manager I just couldn’t miss any more work at my current role to make the long drive and come in (I’d just been hired full-time from a temp job, so I didn’t have much wiggle room on time off). I said I’d be happy to schedule another phone interview that I could squeeze in on a lunch break, but other than that, an in-person interview would have to be outside normal business hours – I was pleasantly shocked when he said I could come in after the work day for it. I probably didn’t get to the interview till 6:15 or so, and we didn’t finish up until at least 7, but he didn’t mind staying at all. After I’d gotten the job and worked there for a while, I realized it really wasn’t normal for him to stay that late, so I appreciated him being so flexible!

      Reply
  2. Werqer

    I admit to finding it frustrating when I am trying to schedule a candidate and they are only available outside standard work hours – ie, before 9 am or after 6 pm. We do our best to be flexible, but it is tough to schedule them, and I often wonder how committed the candidate is to the job opportunity, as opposed to other candidates who can work with us on a more convenient time. Our interview process takes about 90 minutes and involves several employees.

    Reply
    1. Roscoe

      But I assume many candidates already have jobs right? So you think that they aren’t serious because they are prioritizing their sure thing money vs. your possible job? Unless you are only interviewing unemployed people, you should be more accomodating if you want the best candidate. Do you expect them to be only looking at your company? Because if every company was like you, then it would be extremely hard for them

      Reply
    2. SoCalHR

      But what you are missing from your calculation is the particular candidate’s situation. Maybe some candidates have flexible culture and/or bosses, and others don’t, which has nothing to do with the candidate’s commitment level. Its a gamble for them to risk their current job for the chance at a job with your company.

      This is one area that is REALLY difficult for job seekers to manage and reveals the power dynamic of interviews which favors the hiring company over the candidate. Unfortunately, for candidates in these difficult situations they have to result to some form of lying to make it happen without throwing up large red flags…I’m sick, I have a doctor’s appt, etc.

      Reply
    3. sheep of wall street

      I second it. Its funny how many candidates give you the list of time(s) they want to come in for an interview (usually after 5) with a take-it-or-leave-it stance.

      Reply
    4. Hey Karma, Over here.

      But the reason why they prefer to schedule outside of 9-5 could be very enlightening.
      It could be, like OP, a very busy time in their current company.
      It could also be that they do not like the idea of lying about an “appointment.”
      It could be an issue with time off, they may need to give a certain amount of notice or have to burn a half day if they are going to be an hour late.
      They could also be a super-rigid person who works from 8:30 to 5:30 and wouldn’t dream of taking time off for something personal. That’s it’s own issue right there.

      Reply
    5. all aboard the anon train

      Wow. You do realize a lot of candidates have jobs they need to take time off for, and that not everyone has great PTO benefits? Even a 90 minute interview would require a half day off work. Maybe a full day depending on the commute time.

      Honestly, at the rate employers ghost people who come in for in-person interviews, I’m always wary of having to take a vacation or sick day to come in during work hours.

      Reply
      1. Werqer

        I do realize that, which is why I do my best to schedule in a way that works for the interviewee. It’s just difficult when you need to schedule someone after work with a manager who leaves every day at 5 pm.

        I should also add that we first do phone interviews, so the 90-minute interview is interview no. 2 or 3.

        Reply
        1. all aboard the anon train

          I don’t see why it matters that the 90 minute interview is interview 2 or 3. That’s still a lot of time. I’d still need to take off a half day if you were in my city, and a full day if you were outside the city.

          Also, if hiring someone is so important, why can’t the manager stay past five for ONE day? I’ve had managers who came in early or stayed late to accommodate interview schedules. I wouldn’t want to work for a manager who expected me to change my schedule for them, but would never do it for me.

          Reply
          1. Werqer

            The reason it matters is that it is a final interview before the decision is made. I do get that most of our candidates are already employed, but if one candidate can only interview before 8:30 am on two days and another one can do any time after 4 pm on most days, the more flexible candidate is going to be able to interview sooner, and likely for longer as well.

            Reply
            1. Jen in Oregon

              It also is possible that the candidates that are not as flexible are simply self-selecting out of the interview process at that point. If this keeps happening, especially if it happens again and again with your preferred candidate, it might be that they’re just not into you. (The company, not you personally.)

              Reply
            2. biobottt

              But why do you feel that candidates who have more flexible schedules are somehow more committed? You could also argue that those candidates with less flexible schedules are more committed to their jobs compared to someone who’s willing to blow off their current job to look for another one. Neither argument really makes sense without knowing the details of an individual’s situation and it’s strange that you’re leaning toward writing people off based on assumptions and limited knowledge.

              Reply
              1. Cordoba

                As a job applicant I’m happy to write prospective employers off if they are slow or inconvenient with their hiring process; I don’t really care about the details behind it. Unless the opportunity is absolutely stellar I’ll just move on to the next one.

                I don’t expect employers to behave any differently. Between several more-or-less equal candidates they’re probably going to go with the one who poses the fewest logistical challenges.

                Reply
            3. all aboard the anon train

              Yes, that’s usually how the interview process works. I still don’t see why it’s a big deal? It’s standard procedure. But your company is basically punishing people for having jobs and not being able to rearrange their schedules. It sounds like a pretty awful process because someone who is more flexible does not automatically mean they’ll be a better employee. It just means they might have a more flexible job that lets them leave whenever.

              Reply
              1. Stormfeather

                Or, as others have pointed out, that they’re less committed to their jobs in general. Which means quite possibly being less committed to YOUR job.

                Reply
          2. AdAgencyChick

            Because it’s probably not just ONE day that the manager is staying past 5 — if the manager has multiple candidates to interview, and several of them want odd-hours interviews, the manager is going to end up doing quite a lot of extra-hours work.

            (That being said, I think both hiring managers and candidates have to acknowledge the reality of supply and demand in their particular situations. If there’s a glut of candidates, then candidates need to recognize that they might have to be flexible, even if that means risking confidentiality; if there’s a dearth of candidates, then hiring managers might have to suck it up and accept some extra hours at the office.)

            Reply
    6. It's a German thing

      My job requires me to be available to customers during all business hours. Even taking 30 minutes for a phone interview in the middle of the day would be tricky because I’d have to ask someone to cover the phone for me, which would be very suspicious. To go to an in-person interview I would have to take PTO or call in “sick”. Many workplaces are flexible nowadays, but there are still many that aren’t and certain roles that are 9-5 butt-in-seat by necessity.

      Reply
      1. Tuesdayanon

        This. My last job was in insurance, so very much a customer service focused position. When I was interviewing I had to be so sneaky and get my one coworker to cover for me. The entire thing was incredibly stressful and I would have loved the opportunity to interview outside of normal business hours.

        Reply
      2. ssssssssssssssssssssssss

        Eons ago, I was at a job where I was the receptionist and therefore difficult to replace (in the eyes of this employer). I called in sick to go to an interview and made it in after lunch, still “feeling not too good.” I wasn’t crazy about doing it. Another time, I scheduled an interview during a lunch hour and arranged for a friend to pick me up and drive me back (that was cancelled at the last minute – I had to ask someone to cover me to “go to the bathroom” and run downstairs to tell my friend I no longer needed him (before cell phones!)).

        Another time, I had an “doctor’s appointment.” My supervisor didn’t trust me (which was why I was looking to leave) and demanded to have proof that I saw the doctor. So, after my interview, I actually walked into a walk-in clinic, saw a doctor and got a script (I forget for what) to show to her. And I didn’t even get that job. While still at that job, I arranged an interview for 7:30 a.m. – the HR person cheerily admitted it was early but she was willing to do so and then I caught a cab to rush back to my current job (halfway across town) and made into to work with five minutes to spare before start time.

        I don’t miss those days. I now have had several flexible employers that don’t freak out when I have appointments.

        Reply
    7. BF50

      90 minutes is a long time. Even if it’s right next to my current job, I’m still taking at a minimum 2 hours, but that’s really cutting it close. Probably, I would take a half day. I have plenty of flexibility in my job, but if I were job hunting, I’d be applying for multiple jobs and hedging my bets. Take a half day for a random appointment flies occasionally, but definitely looks suspicious when it’s happening frequently.

      Reply
    8. Kathleen_A

      I think you’re being a little unfair, Werqer. In every job I’ve ever had before this one (and I have a long employment history – ’cause I’m rapidly approaching senior citizen status – so that’s a fair number of jobs), I would have take a half day “sick” or “for a doctor’s appointment” in order to do justice to a 90-minute interview, unless I was being given enough lead time to take a vacation day. And I simply would not have done that except during a fairly quiet time, because that’s what I owed my actual employer. I like to think that demonstrates another kind of commitment, one of greater interest to potential employers, and that’s the commitment to do my job right, and to do right by my employers. Surely that’s a more important indicator of a quality employee than a flexible schedule?

      Reply
      1. Werqer

        I agree. At times I have tried to break up the interview over several days, or try to make it shorter, in order to accommodate the process. It’s just tough, because I know at least once the manager decided to make an offer to one of two candidates just because one had been able to complete the process much more quickly, though I had advised both candidates that we had a short timeline for the hire.

        Reply
        1. Kathleen_A

          Then I take some of my words back: *You’re* not being a little unfair but the manager certainly is. Ah, well.

          Reply
          1. Cordoba

            I don’t know that the manager is being unfair here.

            If I was job hunting and Company A got me through the process and gave me a real offer while Company B was still playing around with interview timing and paperwork that would certainly be a strong motivator to go with Company A. This would be the case regardless of why Company B was moving more slowly.

            Most people would not turn down a sure-thing opportunity for a maybe unless that maybe was dramatically better. I don’t expect hiring managers to behave any differently.

            Reply
            1. Kathleen_A

              It depends a LOT on how much “playing around” is going on – as well as the relative strengths of the candidates. If the stronger candidate is the one who is delaying the interview, if the reasons for that delay are reasonable, and/or if the delay is for a fairly short period of time, then I think the manager is making a big mistake in valuing expediency over quality. But if the candidate having the scheduling difficulties isn’t that strong of a candidate, or if the reasons make them seem flighty or uninterested, there’s probably not much harm done.

              As is so often the case, it all depends.

              Reply
              1. Cordoba

                Right, I would probably hold off on taking a good $80k job if I thought a great $120k job was in the pipeline but I sure wouldn’t do the reverse of that.

                It’s not doing job seekers any favors to pretend that this dynamic doesn’t work both ways.

                If you’re an in-demand applicant for a hard to fill job you probably have more leeway with the scheduling than if you’re entry-level or otherwise not really a standout from the rest of the applicant pool.

                If an employer already has a good candidate in the bag of course they’re not going to stop the hiring process because an unexceptional applicant wants to interview. This might sound cruel or unfair, but it’s the reality of job hunting.

                Reply
        2. Friday

          Sounds like your managers need to have more flexibility themselves, to get the best candidates. And possibly interview training. Schedule flexibility and proper valuing of candidates (experience vs. oh wow they made it through our process quicker than the other gal) are Interview 101 for hiring managers.

          Reply
    9. Tris Prior

      How would you feel if an employee of yours started suddenly taking more PTO on short notice, during times when you really needed them to be butt-in-seat for business reasons?

      I get that this is frustrating for interviewers. But sometimes I feel like there’s a double standard, where interviewers expect jobseekers to be deceptive or unavailable at their current jobs to accommodate interviews, in ways that they wouldn’t appreciate if it were their employee who suddenly had a lot of “personal appointments” or “sick days” taking him or her out of the office. Not all of us have flexible jobs – I’m fortunate to be in one now, but this was a real problem for me in the past.

      Reply
      1. 2horseygirls

        + 1,000 on this!

        I am in this position right now. I am considering a significant pay cut to get out of where I am currently employed, but when a staffing firm whom I was very transparent about contacting asks me to take off in 48 hours for a early afternoon interview an hour away from my current position for a 30 hour a week position, it makes me wonder if anything I said during our interview even registered ….

        Reply
      2. TardyTardis

        Oh, yes, at OldJob I could holler ‘Mike emergency! Be back as soon as I can!” but that was in the last year I worked there, that everyone knew was the last year I was working there *because* husband’s kidneys went caboom from chemo (snip exciting airlift to hospital out of town, etc. etc. etc.). And I would die before I would lie about that.

        Reply
    10. Mr. Cajun2core

      Further, some people may not be able to get off on a short notice. If someone says they want to interview you in the next day or two that may be very difficult for some people where a week or so may be able to work better.

      Reply
    11. Bea

      If they’re leaving a bad situation they’re possibly scared or unable to take time off.

      I was “sick” and had “appointments” while looking. Because that toxic hell was making me mentally unwell anyways.

      I do see the annoyance though, they’ll need to wiggle somewhere because many hiring processes seem to make it impossible to be outside hours. If they can’t get out early one day without trouble, they’re not yours to save, you know? My sympathies go only so far and I’ve been there.

      Reply
    12. McWhadden

      Do you guarantee that everyone who takes time off of their jobs (sometimes jeopardizing them) will get a job offer?

      Reply
      1. Yourethicsconfuseme

        Right!! I had a job that was strictly you work exactly your (20 or 40) hours every week or you’re fired; any call outs were write ups (we got PTO but it had to be requested and taken before schedules were up which was usually 2-4 weeks in advance). For the M-F 9-5 people, they had to get a shift covered, or take a write up just to interview and 3 write ups was fired. If these employees had three or more interviewers who were inflexible? They’d be fired just trying to get a new job.

        Maybe it indicates they aren’t interested if they aren’t flexible, sure. Maybe it’s becuse their current job is more interesting than your job or because you’re the last on their list of prospects. Or maybe you’re just the third company to offer an interview when they absolutely cannot accommodate any more time off during normally scheduled hours. They may be able to take off, get a shift covered, or call out but you’ll have to do one of three things at LEAST: give them plenty of notice (1-2 weeks or more) for an interview, give them plenty of time slots to choose from (hoping they have one of your normally scheduled operation hours free), or accommodate them outside of your normal hours. That’s how you’re going to get candidates who are great. The people who are committed to their current company and role and the people getting interviewed by multiple companies will be hardest to schedule with and may be the best prospects.

        Reply
      2. Yourethicsconfuseme

        I should clarify this mainly applies to: businesses that really need the best candidate, businesses that have a tough time filling or keeping positions filled (vs companies with more applicants than they’d ever need), and entry to mid level jobs (where people often have less flexibility, work hourly or have very strict leave requirements, and are more likely to get fired for offenses like job hunting; higher level managers and execs may be busier but have more freedom to take leave as they need and more of a right to privacy/less scruitiny/more autonomy and are generally very capable people that are somewhat expected to look for and accept better opportunities).

        Reply
    13. Old Biddy

      As an interviewee, I’ve had experiences that made me wonder how committed to filling the position some companies actually were. I once was contacted by a Silicon Valley startup company that wanted to do a phone interview but not schedule it in advance (during work hours) or do it after 5 PM. I was also at a startup at the time and was in an open office configuration and sat near my team members and was often in meetings with them or working together in the lab, so there was no way in hell a cold-call interview would be possible. I was also local so I could’ve easily come in for a short interview.

      Reply
    14. Jennifer Thneed

      The most flexible candidate is the one who is not currently working, but not currently working is a bad mark for too many interviewers.

      If your business is succeeding, great, more power to ya, but please do at least show awareness of the reality of our current job market.

      Reply
    15. SheLooksFamiliar

      ‘…I often wonder how committed the candidate is to the job opportunity, as opposed to other candidates who can work with us on a more convenient time. ‘

      Corporate staffing here, well over 30 years under my belt. Sorry, but this comment jumped out at me and not for a good reason. The candidate’s inability to interview during core business hours has no bearing on their commitment to a job search – specific word choice here. If they’re employed, they want to stay that way until they accept an offer. Their previous commitment to their employer trumps any interactions with you.

      Beyond that, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect anyone to be committed to your particular opportunity, no matter how wonderful it is. How can they be committed to the opportunity? They’re still exploring it! Please don’t penalize a candidate for lack of ‘commitment’ to your role.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        yes~

        It’s one thing to say, “well, if I can find a quality candidate who is flexible on availability, I won’t spend more time on an otherwise good candidate who can’t get in for an interview; after all, I don’t owe anything to the non-flexible candidate.” That’s basic logistical decision making.

        But to cast aspersions on their professionalism, and to make value judgments?

        Why should someone be “committed” to an *opportunity*? You have no return commitment to them; you might (rightfully) decide to hire someone else.
        Commitment goes both ways, and you have none.

        And especially when they’re demonstrating commitment to the people who have also made a commitment to them…

        Reply
    16. Gavin

      I think it’s about being flexible with the type of interview and advise the candidate they are serious contender. Maybe an interview on skype is ideal for candidates who can’t come in during core business hours, as they already work full time. The worst is when employees interview but still full at this stage. It’s rough for the candidates because they can’t continue to take days or half days off work for possibilities of jobs. This is why Skype might be ideal then the candidate can sneak this in somehow in the course of their workday.

      Reply
    17. OP

      I completely understand that and would never try to schedule an interview outside working hours. I definitely understand part of the commitment on my part is giving hours during the work day. However, I gave this company 5 full work days over a period of 10 days and they couldn’t find any availability there, so they pushed me to the week which happened to be a busy week for me. I did my best to give availability that worked there within working hours, but it was difficult and I’m definitely putting a lot at risk by doing it.

      Reply
  3. 2 Years until Retirement

    Wondering what would happen if OP was ever sick. If she cannot miss work for an interview, can she ever miss work for illness?

    Reply
    1. Justme, The OG

      Being sick is normal. Taking a vacation is normal. But it’s not normal to have to tip off your current employer that you’re job searching because if scheduling.

      Reply
    2. A tester, not a developer

      I think there’s a difference between being ill and taking a day off for any personal reason – whether that is for an interview, an appointment, or just needing a day to kick back and relax. Your not going to come into work if you’re throwing up on people, no matter how important the meeting is, but you would probably hold off on taking a day to go see a movie and visit a museum until after a crunch period at work was over (or you’d adjust your schedule as much as possible, like OP is doing)..

      Reply
      1. TardyTardis

        At OldJob, it was said, ‘don’t call in sick during month end, don’t call dead during year end’–I saw one person sent home ill during year end, and she still wanted to say (but was hacking out germs like the Black Death).

        Reply
    3. Murphy

      And you can’t help if you’re sick, even if it’s the day of an important meeting. If I have to reschedule an important meeting in advance for next week and I won’t tell you why…that’s pretty odd.

      Reply
    4. irene adler

      But there’s only so many times illness or doctor appointment will work as an excuse before people get curious. And then they start to keep track of the days, times and reasons.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        Yep. You can’t be “under the weather” that many times, or have THAT many “dentist appointments,” before it becomes apparent what you’re doing.

        Reply
      2. Bea

        I had my bomb to drop of “I’ve been seeing a therapist…” if my old bosses started sniffing.

        They legally couldn’t though because the blessed sick leave law says mental health days count.

        Reply
        1. irene adler

          There ya go!
          Therapy often does require regular appointments.

          There’s only so many times I can visit the dentist, just saying.

          Reply
          1. Pollygrammer

            ^ That is one of those genius, useful, how-had-this-never-occured-to-me comments that I come here for. With sincerity: you genuinely just made my job-hunting lies a little easier and less stressful, thank you.
            <3

            Reply
      3. AnotherAlison

        Yes, one of my project team members has had “contractors coming to his house” all. the. time. He generally works online at home, so we can see if he’s “green”, but he could phone interview at home. For our type of work, it would be strange that he could get that many interviews, so an exorbitant number of contractors seems more likely. (And sometimes they don’t show, so he’ll be out a couple afternoons in a row.)

        Reply
    5. bonkerballs

      Those are two totally different things.

      The month before the High Holy Days are the busiest time for us where I work. I am not allowed to schedule a vacation for the two before them or during them. But if I’m sick, I’m absolutely not coming to work and our office supports that (because we don’t want the rest of getting sick).

      Reply
    6. Rusty Shackelford

      There’s a huge difference between “I’m sorry, I can’t make it for our meeting today, I have strep throat” and “I’m sorry, I need to reschedule our meeting next week, something came up.”

      Reply
    7. Breda

      I mean. OP already offered five days they could come in, so it’s not like they can NEVER miss work, it’s just that the next week is already packed full. (I’d think this would give them a little bit more leeway in the scheduling here, because they obviously made a good-faith effort and are not being difficult just to be difficult. But who knows!)

      Reply
    8. OP

      It’s less about the missing working and more about the rescheduling of meetings at work I’d need to do to get to the interview. If I didn’t have meetings scheduled back to back during that week, my employer definitely wouldn’t have an issue with a sick or vacation day. But since that week is so full of meetings, it’s going to come off pretty suspiciously if I have to reschedule three high-level meetings in one day. A vacation day would never get approved for that time period without very advanced notice. Not sure if this clarifies things for you.

      Reply
      1. 2horseygirls

        Which makes perfect sense, and is not only quite rational but an indicator of your work ethic and integrity in general.

        Reply
  4. Roscoe

    I will say, I always find it amazing how some companies expect you to be able to drop everything for an interview. As OP said, its just a chance to possibly get this job.

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      Also, can I lament (from a job-seekers perspective) a bit about *rescheduled* interviews?!?! I had a phone interview last week that was rescheduled twice – ‘luckily’ I was on vacation and didn’t have to move any work commitments, but it did kind of kill a portion of my vacation day.

      Reply
    2. all aboard the anon train

      Or companies who reschedule at the last minute after you’ve already taken time off from work for their interview.

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        Yes. A few years back, this happened 2-3 times for an in-person interview with the same company; I was taking the entire day off from a job where I was paid hourly, so it was a big inconvenience. I get that sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but definitely made me reconsider how much I wanted this particular job.

        Reply
        1. all aboard the anon train

          Yeah. I can understand it once because stuff does happen, but if you do it a second time, I’m withdrawing my candidacy because it’s putting a burden on me.

          Reply
  5. sheep of wall street

    “I risk needing to reschedule these meetings which would definitely raise a red flag to my current manager.”

    have you never had to reschedule meetings? red flags are raised for these kinds of things?

    Reply
    1. It's a German thing

      In my workplace, you better be on the brink of death if you ask to reschedule a meeting. The CEO is the only exception to that. I’m sure most workplaces aren’t that strict but they definitely exist.

      Reply
      1. sheep of wall street

        yeah my workplace is way different. Either reschedule or have someone else take my place. Its actually pretty much normal to have prob 1 in 3 meetings rescheduled due to material changes in circumstances, or another committment (multiple revenue drivers)

        Reply
        1. GovtConsulant

          Meetings with executives often have that dynamic – anyone junior needs to expect that the exec may be late, leave early, or reschedule; but the junior person better make that meeting.

          Reply
      2. pleaset

        “you better be on the brink of death if you ask to reschedule a meeting.”

        I don’t understand this. What about if something in the external environment comes up? Say, a good response from a potential donor or client that conflicts with a previously scheduled internal meeting.

        Or are you referring to only rescheduling for personal reasons is nearly forbidden?

        “1 in 3 meetings rescheduled due to material changes in circumstances, or another committment (multiple revenue drivers)”
        Yup. That is appropriate.

        Reply
        1. It's a German thing

          I meant rescheduling for personal reasons. Obviously if a huge client could only come in during a time when an internal meeting was scheduled then the internal meeting would be rescheduled. Trying to reschedule a meeting because “something came up”, “I have a doctor’s appointment”, “I’ll be in late that day”, etc. would not fly.

          Reply
      3. Amber T

        There are certain meetings that have been scheduled months in advance that certain people *cannot* miss. They won’t be rescheduled, everyone is too important, they cannot take vacation, and they better be siiiiiiiick. This happens once a quarter. I’m thrilled I’m not in that division.

        I have a standing once a week meeting that takes precedence – if I’m out of the office using a vacation day or a sick day, that’s one thing, but there’s no rescheduling or scheduling something over that (unless you’re the one in charge, then what you say goes). If I’m in the office, I’m at that meeting (or requesting time off).

        For the most part, my office and job are fairly flexible, but there are definitely meetings that cannot be missed/changed.

        Reply
    2. Rusty Shackelford

      I’ve honestly never forced a reschedule with people who are higher up than my direct supervisor.

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Same. I wouldn’t even attempt it unless it was something dire, especially if there are more than two people in the meeting.

        Reply
      2. Kathleen_A

        Agreed. It’s just not done. I mean, I’d do it if I had the flu or broke my leg because what other choice would I have? But I do have a choice when it comes to a job interview, and that choice is that my actual job – the one someone pays me to do – has to come first. So yes, I would take time off for an interview, but not if that meant postponing a meeting with the president or the COO or postponing a deadline. And no future employer should expect me to, really. Why would a good employer even consider hiring someone willing to do those things?

        Reply
        1. pleaset

          I do it. Or at least I ask, not “force.”

          People that high up typically have assistants handling their schedules, so I check with the assistant is a nearby time (within a day or so) is available and if it is we move it.

          Reply
    3. Lemon Sherbet

      I hardly ever organize a meeting, I’m just invited to them. There are precious few I’d ask to reschedule.

      Reply
    4. Bea

      Yeah…maybe it’s from always being one door (if there is even a door) from the “higher up” or just having a position where meetings are always no big deal, I don’t get it. If I’m like “yo, CEO, I need to reschedule…” he’s like “good. Me too. I’ll talk to you about it later and we’ll figure it out.”

      There are deadlines in my work. Those are hard and fast. But a meeting. No.

      Damn I’m glad I’m not in a collaborating position. I’ll go back to my 60hr weeks before I’m worry about rescheduling with anyone short of Marcus Lemoinis.

      Reply
    5. OP

      Typically rescheduling meetings is fine when it’s just members of my team or people at or around my same level. But the meetings I have are E-Suite level meetings that are scheduled weeks in advance around their busy schedules. I’m not in a place to just reschedule because I feel like it as I might be able to with other meetings.

      Reply
      1. Darren

        Yeah the only time I’ve attempted (and succeeded) in shifting a C-Suite meeting (CTO and CEO meeting with me and my team) it was because of a surge in market activity and we just couldn’t have everyone off the desk that week just in case something went wrong.

        They moved it without hesitation and moved a couple of other meetings they had on the same day whose managers hadn’t pre-emptively asked for it. That was an interesting day, best day of the year profit-wise but technically very little actual work got done (everyone was monitoring).

        Reply
  6. bonkerballs

    I think the “very important meeting with higher ups that are difficult to reschedule” kind of already explained the situation. It’s not rescheduling any and all meetings that would be a red flag. It’s these specific meetings with higher up during their extremely busy time.

    Reply
  7. Mary

    Gosh, UK/US differences! It would be incredibly unusual here for an employee to v be flexible about an interview. You get invited at a particular date and time and maaaaybe if you can’t make that they might offer an alternative time, but usually they’ll just interview the other candidates.

    Reply
      1. Jaded

        In my experience of job hunting in the UK what happens is you burn through all your annual leave in half days and then when you run out you either have to start telling lies or stop job hunting for a few months until you have some more time in the bank. It sucks.

        Reply
    1. Everdene

      Yep! I like to be helpful to potential applicants so I put the provisional interview date in the job ad. I have set an additional interview date for a strong applicant who wrote in her cover letter that she was abroad on the planned day. However I can’t get the panel together at odd times for every interview. We do it all in one (maybe 2) days then appoint.

      As an interviewee I’ve always gone to interviews on the date offered to me and just taken leave/flexi. Saying that, I’ll only take that leave if the job really seem worth it.

      Reply
    2. Mr. Cajun2core

      But doesn’t the UK have more annual leave at the very least? How do you handle it if you have a meeting and can’t take off of work or it is your son’s wedding or something. Do you just miss out on a job?

      Reply
      1. SarahKay

        Yes, the UK has a legal minimum of 28 days paid holiday for full-time workers. 8 of those days can be the UK public holidays, but that still leaves a minimum of 20 days paid leave that can (usually, industry dependant) be taken more or less when wished, although a certain amount of notice is often required.

        If you have a work meeting or a social engagement you really can’t skip, then yes, chances are you just miss out on that job.

        Reply
        1. Mr. Cajun2core

          Thank you for the quick reply. However, I did see that someone earlier did say that they post the provisional interview times in the job listing and I am sure that is very helpful.

          Reply
    3. Helena

      UK here too, and same! We publish the interview date with the job advert, and if the candidate can’t make it, we don’t interview them (though we would try to accommodate them early or late in the day). The only exception is if a candidate writes in their application that they’ll be away on the interview date, then we can sometimes plan to see them earlier.

      Reply
    4. BigGlasses

      Probably variable by all sorts of other factors — seniority, current market demands, personality of the people interviewing. I’m in the UK and during my last job search I arranged interviews with 3 potential employers and they were various levels of flexible — one not at all, one at a fixed time but my choice of day, and one basically at the time and day I requested it (I’m working at the last one and it’s probably not coincidence!)

      I remember interviewing for my first entry-level job and it seemed more ‘take it or leave it’, but I also was unemployed so didn’t have any reason to try and change the time and see if employers put up with that.

      Reply
    5. pleaset

      OMG something related to employee/employer relations where the US is actually better for the employee than a place in Europe!!!

      Woot woot, maybe hell has frozen over.

      Reply
      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

        Well, Europe consists of many countries that have different laws and different cultures. Probably each of them has some aspect of working life that is worse than the average US workplace.

        But I get your point.

        For my own home country I would say that in Finland there are interviews with very much flexibility and with very little flexibility, it’s not consistent. If I’m asked to come to an interview at a time that is bad for me, I would usually answer with something like “if that’s the only possible time then I’ll make it work, but if other times are possible then I would find it easier to come at x, y, z etc”. Quite often there is another possible time available, sometimes not, and sometimes the job ad already tells the interview day (but that usually happens only when a company hires several people for the same role, interviews a lot of them and possibly also does group interviews).

        Reply
    6. OP

      This is so interesting! I have interviewed at some companies where they give me a day and I’m just expected to be there, no negotiations. But I’m very much more used to a company asking for my availability and going from there. It must be really difficult to job search without that.

      Reply
    7. Miso

      Haha, I only had one “real” job search so far (besides retail “just walk into the store” type ones), and I was wondering if my completely different experience with interview dates was just because I was applying to government jobs (that’s the word even if it’s just governing a city, right…?), but I guess it was country specific after all.

      I actually had a job at the time where I didn’t have to hide I was looking for another job at all, and it was no problem taking a day off, but yeah, I got a letter with a date several weeks in advance, and that was it. Of course, since it was an apprenticeship, I also got hired like half a year before I started…

      Reply
  8. Another HR Person

    A main function of my job is scheduling interviews, so I definitely second Allison’s advice to list days you definitely CANNOT meet on, and offer to make yourself available on all other days. But from the employer side, there are a lot of reasons they can’t be flexible with dates and may request you come in on a day you have stated you can’t. It’s not that they are unreasonable, it could just be that the constraints of the team prevent them from being able to accommodate for a variety of reasons. Allison already mentioned the main ones, but to expand:
    1) The hiring team have packed schedules: This is a common difficulty, especially when there are multiple interviewers involved. There may be a day that works for most of the interviewers, but a key decision maker is unavailable. Additionally, what level are the hiring team? A lot of the time I’m scheduling interviews for MDs, directors, VPs, and execs, and their time is extremely limited, and often more important than a prospective candidates’ time (not to be rude, just factual).
    2) Timeline: A lot of the times when managers are rigid on interview times, it’s because they are looking to fill the position ASAP, either because of the workload, cross-training, etc., and they can’t afford to wait until a time the candidate is free, especially when they have other promising candidates in the pipeline.
    3) Vacation/time out of the office: related to the points above, sometimes managers will be rigid about times because they know they’ll be going on vacation for the next week and are booked when they return.
    4) Interviewers’ job functions limit schedule: Sometimes the nature of an interviewer’s job means they are only available certain days. They may work part-time, or off-site in a different office, or have standing client meetings, or (in my industry) have clinic or OR hours where they have 0 flexibility.

    Reply
    1. Werqer

      Yes, one of our key decision-makers has a very active travel schedule, so it’s often difficult to coordinate when she is making a hire. I understand that my company may be just one of several potential opportunities, but I would suggest that people interviewing actively for a new position be prepared to leave early/take a half-day etc. at least once or twice for top choices.

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        From the other end of that street – perhaps key decision maker needs to significantly tone down traveling while hiring for a role they need to be available as an interviewer for. Or maybe some of the other people don’t need to actually be involved in this process if it is so hard to coordinate their schedules with the key decision makers.

        Freeing up YOUR availability helps you match the best candidate for the job vs the best available who could make your very limited schedule work at this precise moment in time. And frankly, if you’re not going to prioritize doing that, you can’t really complain much when candidates can’t/won’t either. Especially when you are on the end which can actively plan for some flexibility without jeopardizing anyone’s job/livelihood/etc.

        If a lot of people are stumbling over the time slot/length, maybe it’s time to look at your hiring process and at what point you’re asking for someone to take off a significant amount of time. If it’s the initial round of in-person interviews, you’re probably expecting too much. If it’s the final round of interviews and the field is narrowed down to ≤5 people – if you’re not giving people that info, you should. Because it will help them weigh their risk/benefit ratio for taking off *this time* for *this* interview.

        The fact that it’s difficult to schedule all those people together means that rather than accepting that as the way it is, you should be re-evaluating what you actually need in order to get a broader candidate pool that can get through your entire interview scheduling needs.

        Because when it comes to taking off a half day, I am absolutely positive that most serious candidates are willing to take that time off for top choices. IF they can. And particularly if they’re far enough along in the process to have a realistic shot at it.

        Reply
        1. GovtConsulant

          “From the other end of that street – perhaps key decision maker needs to significantly tone down traveling while hiring for a role they need to be available as an interviewer for.”

          I’m sorry, this sounds very naive. If they need help enough to hire, they’re likely up to their eyeballs already. And decision-makers often have many balls to juggle and it’s kind of odd to expect that one hiring decision (meant to ease their life) to be higher priority than everything else.

          Reply
    2. Jennifer Thneed

      Coupla reactions: like animaniactoo mentions, it’s worth asking if ALL the people need to be in the interview process, and if they ALL need to be there in person.

      But this: “and their time is extremely limited, and often more important than a prospective candidates’ time (not to be rude, just factual).”

      Well, no. Everyone’s time is important to them. Senior executives’ time is more EXPENSIVE than the time of people lower in the org but it’s not more important. And of course it’s more expensive than that of the candidate, because the candidate’s time is absolutely FREE to your organization during the interview process. Please don’t mistake free for worthless.

      Reply
      1. Another HR Person

        “perhaps key decision maker needs to significantly tone down traveling while hiring for a role they need to be available as an interviewer for. Or maybe some of the other people don’t need to actually be involved in this process if it is so hard to coordinate their schedules with the key decision makers.”

        Agreed, but sometimes this is just not feasible. Some peoples’ core job functions require travel, or external facing meetings with clients/stakeholders/patients that take priority, and others have conferences, time off, health appointments, etc., that have been scheduled way before they knew they needed to interview candidates. And even with limited travel, they are still going to have stricter time constraints for the times when they do need to travel.

        As for asking if all people need to be included in an interview – absolutely agree! Unfortunately, it is still up the hiring manager who exactly they want on the panel, and as we all know, managers aren’t always reasonable/flexible about this. I’ve had to schedule interviews where I felt the candidate was meeting with way too many people (5 people for an entry level role, each person meeting with the candidate for 30 minutes), but the manager/department INSISTED that they needed to meet with everyone, and I’m not in a position where I can give pushback or determine interview lineups.

        “Everyone’s time is important to them. Senior executives’ time is more EXPENSIVE than the time of people lower in the org but it’s not more important. ”
        Apologies, I phrased that incorrectly. I meant that from an organization’s standpoint, a senior exec’s time is more important to them than a candidate. Of course everyone’s time is important to them and should be respected, but if my CEO lays out a certain time period for interviews, I’m going to prioritize her time over a candidate’s because a) she is performing job functions vital to the operations of our organization, b) she is very busy and she (or rather her admin) has specifically reserved this time for interviews, at the expense of other meetings, and c) I’m not in a position where it would be feasible to say “you need to make this work or you will lose the candidate.”

        Reply
        1. Darren

          ‘ c) I’m not in a position where it would be feasible to say “you need to make this work or you will lose the candidate.” ‘

          So wait does that mean if you had only one stellar candidate who had a clash with this reserved block of time and regretfully had to apologise that she couldn’t make this work you wouldn’t go to the hiring manager (or CEO) and tell them this?

          Literally it would be exactly the time we you would be using something very similar to that wording (maybe a bit more diplomatic, but maybe not if they were the only stellar candidate) since in that circumstance yes they would have to make it work or they will lose the candidate because they have already apologised and are pulling out of the process due to not being able to make the scheduling work.

          I understand that CEOs are busy people, but I would say it is definitely your place to as HR to provide this information to the relevant parties to ensure that the CEO is aware of the situation, after all if you don’t tell them who will?

          Reply
          1. Another HR Person

            We definitely would communicate to the manager/relevant parties that the candidate is unable to make that time work, and sometimes they are willing to push out the interview. However, when this happens, the interview can sometimes take place a full month (!) after the initial communication with the candidate because that is the only space the team has available.

            I think context is also important here. My organization has over 10,000 employees, and we also have a very large candidate pool, and rarely ever have just *one* viable candidate for any given position. Naturally when extremely hard to fill positions come up, managers will accommodate, but those positions are usually only 10 out of over 700 roles. So usually when these things happen, they usually just pass on the candidate and go for the others who can make the interview times work.

            Reply
    3. OP

      I have to say, I would take some issue with an employer who told me they couldn’t give me flexible interview times because my time is not as important as the people who are interviewing me. It would be a huge red flag. Especially considering here the reason I’m having a tough time with scheduling this interview is because I’m being asked to move meetings with higher ups at my own company, the one that’s paying me. Luckily I do not think this company is implying that about my time or the time of those on their team. They’ve actually been very flexible and understanding. All that being said, I appreciate your advice regarding timeline. It helps me understand what might be happening behind the scenes.

      Reply
      1. Another HR Person

        I’d just like to clarify – I’m not saying that anyone should be saying to candidates “our executives’ time is more important than yours”! Rather I just want to help set expectations about why employers may have to be rigid about interview timeframes, and why they’re going to defer to their own team’s timeline/preferences, and not a candidate’s.

        I may not be expressing myself the best either, as I’ve had a week of back and forth with trying to accommodate a candidate with a difficult department and I’m at wits’ end with everyone! (I realize my comments don’t reflect this, but I always do take candidates’ schedules and timing requests into consideration and do my best to accommodate. It just gets very frustrating when they AND the hiring team just respond “I can’t do that time” with no context, and then I have a candidate and department who are both angry at me for something that’s not my fault. Which is just my long-winded way of saying please be nice to the person scheduling your interview! They’re likely doing the best they can, and may have little power over the timeline)

        Reply
  9. Payroll Lady

    I had this happen many years ago with a rather large well known company. The position they were trying to get me to come in for had already been filled 3 times in the prior year, so I was leery anyway but thought I would at least interview since the job was within 5 miles of my home. When speaking with the recruiter, he was giving me all mid-day times. When I explained that was impossible, I need either first thing in the AM or as late in the day as possible as I was a working manager. (Same as the job to interview for). He told me that he guessed I really didn’t want the job since I would NOT commit to their time. I told him to go back to HR and ask them if they would appreciate and employee taking a full day or leaving in the middle of a processing day? I knew they wouldn’t but passed due to their rigidness…. 10 years and atleast 5 managers later, they are recently went out of business… I guess they ran the whole company like that!

    Reply
    1. Tangerina

      I mean, it’s flibbity payroll for goodness sake! I would be a little bit concerned if a payroll manager DIDN’T have specific days she couldn’t come in to interview.

      Good on you :)

      Reply
      1. sheep of wall street

        …and then CEO started a new business and became a billionaire. Love those stories too!

        Reply
        1. Bea

          Well most billionaire execs have a ton of failures under their belt. So yeah, it’s great when that happens. It’s all about getting the right idea, on the ground at the right time and having the solid core team.

          Reply
  10. egor

    In the industry I work in (which doesn’t sound like this article since the company countered with some other days and seem willing to take a counter-suggestion), if you can’t accommodate the few times provided, we generally move on.

    Its not about being nice, its just the reality of the competition. Theres another 10 or so qualified people who apply for the same job (out of hundreds) and there’s no reason to bend over backwards. Prospective interviewees just need us more than the company needs them

    Reply
    1. Sarah Simpson

      Agreed – we get dozens of applicants – we’ll work with someone, but in the organization I’m in, there is no way we’re scheduling interviews outside of normal working hours, so not making yourself available just means not getting the opportunity.

      Reply
    2. sheep of wall street

      Agreed. Sounds like my field. Plus the one other thing is we generally have panel interviews (5+) and sometimes VPs and Directors, so its not appropriate to schedule sometime after business hours. Always someone else who can accommodate.

      And there isn’t a stigma regarding interviewing elsewhere. Everyone knows everyone does it. If you haven’t moved up in a year or two, odds are you are looking outside.

      Reply
    3. Lando

      That seems like a great way to pass over on the best candidates (the ones who won’t just screw over their work because of a potential job.)

      Reply
      1. HeatherT

        Sometimes there are a lot of “best candidates” or at least enough candidates who will be outstanding that accommodations just don’t make sense. Decisions are made to serve the business and being flexible in the absence of a need to do so isn’t serving the business. Few jobs need be filled with the mythical perfect candidate.

        Reply
    4. Lemon Bars

      We do the same thing if a candidate can’t interview within a 2 week period then we have to assume that our position is not a high priority for them so they will not be the best fit for our position.

      Reply
      1. biobottt

        While it’s certainly your company’s prerogative to only interview within a very specific window, assuming that someone isn’t prioritizing the position just because they can’t fit that into their schedule exactly as you wish is bizarre.

        Reply
        1. sheep of wall street

          no, its not bizarre at all. 2 weeks seems like a pretty standard period unless the person is a C-level exec if the company needs someone right away or if all other candidates have a similar interview timeframe

          Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        yeah, the “not a high priority” thing has a judgmental tinge that I dislike.

        Saying, “we don’t want to wait more than 2 weeks, so we’ll go with what we can get in that timeframe; we’re confident we’ll find someone good, and we’re entitled to serve our own interests here,” that’s fine.

        But “you won’t be the best fit because you don’t give us a high enough priority” seems a little like “investing an offense on their part so I can have an excuse for my rejection.” You don’t need the excuse.

        Reply
  11. EA in CA

    My VP is one of the busiest people in our company, primarily as she is the most public facing executive aside from the CEO. We are currently scheduling interviews for an open management position that requires her to interview the candidate. We only have 2 days available in which to interview candidates because we had to schedule her at minimum 3 weeks out in order to have the time available in her calendar. This is a case where being inflexible is due to a key person’s availability. Ultimately, we will try, if possible, to work with the interviewee’s schedule as much as we can, but not guarantees that the VP would even be in town or available for alternate dates over the following week or two.

    Reply
  12. AdAgencyChick

    Supply and demand.

    Copywriting of the type that I do is a pretty tight labor market, so when I’m job hunting, I often ask for — and get — an early-morning interview that allows me to arrive at work only a little late. I also recognize that when I’m interviewing candidates, I’m probably going to have to do it at 5 or even 6 PM, maybe quite a few times in a two- or three-week period if I’m trying to hire a whole team and not just one writer. (For whatever reason, candidates who are junior to me tend to prefer evening to morning, which is fine with me since I like to work out in the morning.)

    If there were hundreds of qualified applicants for every job in my field, or even tens of them, I’d probably be more flexible as an interviewee and less flexible as an interviewer. Just as job candidates don’t want to have to make excuses for stepping out two or three times a week, I don’t want to be hanging out at work after hours several times a week because EVERY candidate wants to do that. So if I had a lot of resumes to choose from (ha! never in my world!), I’d probably limit after-hours availability for interviews to 2 days a week, and reserve those two days for candidates who look really good on paper.

    Reply
    1. LuckySophia

      Yes to this! Companies (and interviewees) who ignore the supply-and-demand reality are likely to be missing out on good candidates and/or job opportunities. That said, many interviewees are faced with the equally hard reality that they may be risking their livelihoods if their job search is discovered.

      At one small agency, designer interviews were scheduled, not just “after 5” but “after dark.” Because those candidates were employed by other local (literally, down-the-street) competitors. Carrying a portfolio into a competing agency during daylight hours? No, the local grapevine was far too active to risk that!

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Omg I’m imaging these designers going through alleys into secret backdoors while in cloaks to not be seen now.

        Reply
        1. GovtConsulant

          Sticking their portfolios into a garbage can, which is a decoy and actually a vacuum tube down to a secret lair for interviews, which they get to through the local Panera bread bathroom.

          Reply
  13. Bones

    I’m currently dealing with this now, and my shitty current job gives us basically no sick hours/vacation time, and I can’t really afford to leave my office unless it’s for a good reason. My current job sucks so much it’s keeping me out of the running for better jobs! Ugh!

    Reply
  14. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow

    I travel for my current job. There are many times I can’t attend an interview because I’m on the other side of the country. Most employers in my industry get this and so are flexible. The employers that aren’t flexible and can’t understand this job constraint I’ve concluded aren’t worth the time to interview.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      yeah, I really don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t recognize reality and isn’t flexible enough to roll with things.

      And part of their unwillingness to bend their schedule may be that I’m not their strongest candidate. That’s cool with me–I’d rather not waste my time then. So they should just say, “I don’t think the timing is going to work out.” But they shouldn’t decide what that means about my attitude.

      Reply
  15. PersephoneUnderground

    There’s lots of discussion of rigidity in the comments, but I did want to highlight that the OP in this question appears to have offered very good availability upfront, so it’s the company that’s being on the rigid side here by pushing it into times where she isn’t as able to be flexible. “the availability I gave (five full days over about a week and a half)…” her initial availability was very open, sounds like 5 out of the next 7 or 8 business days she was available. None of those 5 days worked, so it looks more like the employer is making this needlessly complicated, such as trying to get 6 different people who all work wildly different schedules to sit in on a single interview.

    Reply
  16. Buu

    I hate having to lie about time off for interviews, having a flexible interview policy is great. As a candidate I can attend with no risk and I don’t have to lie. Anecdotally the more flexible a company has been about interview times the better time I’ve had at that company.

    Reply
  17. AnotherAlison

    Here’s one thing NOT to do:

    We had a candidate fly in from out of state for an interview, and at the same time, his current employer was commissioning a solar power plant that he was the project manager for and he was on call (by phone only). So, the work he was doing was definitely not something he could reschedule, and something he should have been there for. Instead, he took calls during the interview. I was part of a 3-person panel for a 1 hr time slot, and he had 2 calls, which he took, and a text during my hour. Others reported more calls in other time slots, too.

    While I appreciated the support of his current job, and his willingness to come interview with us, it led to a bad interview that left a bad impression and was hard to overlook. You can’t imagine that he may have done better without distractions; you can only evaluate how he actually came across. He also badmouthed his employer and complained a lot, so I don’t think he would have been recommended for hire regardless.

    Reply
    1. Bea

      Ouch. I think seeing him overworked like that would be one thing to understand why he wanted to leave. His boundaries are super blurred given the bad mouthing and multiple calls.

      I can only assume if it went to voicemail it meant more hell to pay. He’s in a vicious cycle.

      I feel for him but I’m not hiring him either. Sigh. How sad all around.

      Reply
  18. MissDisplaced

    This is always understandably difficult when you’re currently employed and double when you’re in a busy season.
    But you can find a way!
    I’ve had some luck suggesting a few times outside of typical mormal business hours, such as 7am or 6pm or even a web meeting if schedules with out-of-town interviewers didn’t mesh.
    And of course you can try to plan a whole day, and call in sick or use a PTO day. I’d just let them know that ahead if time so they can try to fit in as many people you need to meet with as possible.

    Reply
  19. Minhag

    One thing interviewers seem to forget is that, as an applicant, I have no idea when I might hear back about a job, let alone need to make time for an interview. Thus, I have no way to plan my upcoming days, weeks, or months to fit in an interview. I might get “the call” in a few days, a few months, or absolutely never.

    Plus, to avoid obsessing about whether or not I’ll get a response, I try to forget about my application and go ahead and take on that new project or fill my calendar with meetings or go on vacation.

    So it can be alarming when a potential employer calls and says “We’re ready for you… Now! Hop to, the clock is ticking!” When employers get annoyed I’m not instantly available, it’s like they’re implying I should have been at home, waiting by the phone, planning my foreseeable future around their completely unknown timeline.

    Reply
  20. cncx

    The absolute worst train wreck of a job i ever had was really weird about scheduling interviews. first, i had a million; and second, they were completely inflexible. They basically told me the times i could come. I let it go because i would have been reporting to the CFO and i get that senior managers have special constraints. The job was three hours away and she made me come up two days in a row once because the first day she wasn’t available.

    I would see this as a yellow or orange flag at the interview stage. When i actually took the job i found out my boss had a similar disrespect for my time (she expected me to stay up one night prepping for a meeting, then get on an airplane at five am, then she complained that i wasn’t bright and alert and peppy enough at the meeting which dragged on until 3pm).

    Reply
  21. MsSolo

    Do you ever get the thing in the US where the interview dates are included in the job advert? It’s becoming more common in certain industries in the UK, and I find it pretty handy – it’s easier to keep an eye on your calendar while you’re waiting to find out if you’re going to be called for interview, and manage your time (as much as possible) accordingly. I don’t work in an industry where you get phone screens, so it tends to be one and done with interviews until you reach the higher levels in the organisation, where things get more flexible as more stages are introduced.

    Reply
  22. Drama Llama

    I’m in a situation where the managers I interview with work totally different schedules to me/each other. So unfortunately we end up with a narrow time frame of available interview times. (I explain this politely and apologetically – there’s not much I can do about it). In my experience the serious applicants will make time, no matter how inconvenient. And those who are rigid about their schedules almost always turned out to be uninterested or trying to use a job offer to leverage a pay raise with their current employer. So based on that experience I’m wary of anyone who’s inflexible about interview dates, or insists on meeting at weird times like 7am or during weekends or public holidays.

    OP you mentioned “But I also think my current position is the one that’s paying me and the interview is no guarantee of a job, so why should I risk alerting my manager to my job search?” From the employer’s perspective, an interview is no guarantee of meeting a perfect candidate, so why should they go out of their way to try and meet with you at a time that’s ideal only for you? Job searching while you’re employed full time is a pain. It’s always going to be inconvenient to attend interviews during work hours. Of course you don’t need to jump on the first available interview session they offer – but if you are especially difficult and unavailable for all of the dates they suggest repeatedly, it’s likely to come up as a red flag.

    Reply
  23. UK worker

    ‘A bad employer won’t even try to be flexible and will just announce a single date they expect you to show up, take it or leave it.’

    Not true. As another poster has said, this is very common in the UK. The interview date is often included in the job advertisement. I’m in the UK and have never had an issue attending an interview organised in this way.

    Reply
  24. Carlie

    It’s not possible for the interview to be both vitally important for the exec to be there for and also so unimportant that it can’t knock anything else off their schedule for. I agree that it’s important to try to accommodate all the schedules for a hiring committee, especially execs, but they have to be given the open time to match. When you’re doing interviews, it has to have a priority level above “random single free space currently left that we can force the candidate into”. If the company feels it’s crucial for person X to interview, then they have to prioritize that scheduling over other things X is currently doing to allow the candidate some flexibility too. If they don’t, that indicates the company is unable to appropriately allocate resources to get desired outcomes (won’t give the exec the time), or the exec is a micromanager to the extent they’re willing to lose good candidates rather than delegate hiring control.

    Reply
  25. Jacki

    This reminds me of something that occurred recently with a recruiter on LinkedIn. She reached out to me to see if I was interested in the job and the title did, so I asked for more information and she sent it to which I said I’d be interested in interviewing (this took maybe two days).

    Over a week later (and I had assumed she found someone better), she messages me back and asks to do a phone interview that afternoon. I didn’t prepare and I was working, not sure when I was available next, so I waited until I got home from work to send her my availability for the next week. Another few days go by past the days which I was available, and she messages me again asking to interview asking what my availability was, and I gave her some more days and times being a little more flexible, and she replies the same day (finally!) that she was completely booked on the first of the days but could do the next day without specifying a time, and I said that was fine and asked for a time and waited, even blocking out some of the day I figured would be most reasonable for her to call.

    No call.

    She messages again asking about my availability, stating that we could even do late in the after hours if need be (?). I replied that wouldn’t work for me (and probably not for her) since I work until 8pm most nights, and after I restated my availability, I never heard from her again.

    I was originally interested in the position and almost reached out again since it would’ve been more responsibility. But if this said anything about the company organization or communication structure, I had to stop. And it’s not even a small, unknown business. Was so frustrating. I just wish there was something else I could’ve done to secure it if the issue was just with the one HR rep.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site's commenting rules.
You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS