does it look bad to be unavailable on one of the dates an employer suggests for an interview?

A reader writes:

On Monday, I got an unexpected call from an internal recruiter. We talked about next steps, and she indicated that if my resume was approved by another member of the firm, I’d get an interview. She said the interviews were on Thursday and Friday, and asked about my availability. I’d previously booked non-refundable (so non-flexible) travel with a friend for Friday, so I told the recruiter I’d be out of town on Friday and only able to interview Thursday. I didn’t think this was unreasonable, especially since I was available for one of the two days.

Someone else told me that this looks weird or bad, and that I should have been available, even on such a short notice, to interview both days (in order to show interest in the position). I’m having a panic attack now, that I’ve ruined a potential opportunity, just because of one day’s unavailability. I had no way of knowing about the potential interview when I booked the travel and wouldn’t have done so if I’d known it could conflict with one of their dates. Is it bad to tell the other person you’re unavailable certain days when you schedule an interview? Should I avoid scheduling commitments I can’t change during times when it’s possible I’d get an interview? Help!

No! That would mean that you couldn’t schedule anything the entire time you were job searching, which could be half a year or even longer. That would be ridiculous.

Decent employers know that candidates have lives outside of their job searches, and do not bristle when a candidate has a pre-existing commitment. The person who told you that you should cancel non-refundable travel in order to make yourself available at all possible times has a really messed up relationship with job hunting and/or power dynamics. That kind of kowtowing to employers will actually make you a less attractive candidate, not a more attractive candidate. (I would be appalled if I found out a candidate cancelled non-refundable travel — or any travel — rather than tell me that they couldn’t interview on a particular day. I’d also be concerned about their judgment.)

It is normal to have other things going on in your life, it is normal to have other commitments, it is normal to have times on your schedule that won’t work, and it’s normal to explain that to employers. Assuming you’re not making yourself impossible to schedule anything with, it would be a massive red flag if an employer bristled at the fact that you are a human with a life.

{ 88 comments… read them below }

  1. Stormfeather*

    Look at it this way: if they didn’t expect that you might be unavailable at given times/days, they wouldn’t ask if you were available on multiple days. They’d give you a day and a time, no negotiation. (Which would be ridiculous.)

    1. PersonalJeebus*

      This is a great point. OP, the answer to your question was right there in the initial conversation. The recruiter wasn’t trying to trap you, it wasn’t a trick question.

      I’m pretty stuck on the fact that the OP ended up listening to an uninformed “someone” in their life over their own initial judgment AND what the recruiter explicitly said to them. Not trying to be snarky–I want the OP to realize they had it right in the first place, and they were doing just fine without this person’s advice!

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yup. We get that people have lives and usually jobs – if we can’t find a time to interview someone for weeks, that may be problematic, but taking one of the two times offered it totally normal. I don’t even know, as a hiring manager who was available at which interview slots – I just get a calendar invite and resume from HR and show up when/where I’m supposed to. The only time I hear about scheduling is when HR can’t get a response from a preferred candidate or needs to ask me if there is any way to rearrange my schedule based on other interviewers’ more limited availability.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I once had a potential employer inform me of my interview date and time – a week ahead of time, for a full day interview, on the other side of the country. I suppose it would have been possible for me to attend, but I chose to decline because working with them as a candidate was so exhausting I could only imagine what it would be like to work there!

      1. Julia*

        I got a similar interview invitation- in a different country no less – and ended up working there. It was… not my favorite job.

  2. Snarkus Aurelius*

    “Someone else told me that this looks weird or bad, and that I should have been available, even on such a short notice, to interview both days (in order to show interest in the position).”

    Don’t worry. I’m sure you can find someone else who will tell you that being available on all the days an interviewer requests means that you’re an un-hireable loser because you don’t have interviews scheduled on every possible day.

    Much like dating advice, you could play this game all day.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Oh my god, yes. “I don’t think I’m dateable because I don’t have any dates,” is a real thought that I had when looking for dates. If I get asked out and I’m free, then I look like a loser who has nothing to do all the time!

    2. AnonEMoose*

      So much this. It’s like so many other issues in life: parenting, your love life, your finances…everyone has opinions and they are so very eager to share them. Never mind whether you actually asked for their input or whether they actually have any information of value to offer.

      It’s crazy making, for sure. When people offer unsolicited advice and opinions, feel free to heavily consider the source. Do you respect this person in general? Do they have work experience that’s in any way similar to yours?

      It’s completely ok to smile, nod, thank them for their opinion, and decide to dump said opinion into your mental round file.

    3. Justin*

      Imagine if you asked someone on a date for a specific day and time, and they had travel plans that day, and instead of giving you another time that they’re available, they just cancelled their trip to go on a date with you. I would find that alarming, like this person is overly accommodating or extremely desperate. Sort of the same idea as this making you a worse interview candidate than if you had just offered an alternate time.

  3. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    If they do bristle/renege the interview it is NOT somewhere you want to work.

    I had this happen once. The only time they had available was at noon the day before Thanksgiving. It was an hour away from my job and there was no way on Earth I could make that happen. Especially with such short notice. I offered up a slew of other availabilities….they held onto noon the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I even offered to come in during the morning or late afternoon. They then replied that since I was so inflexible, it would be best if we didn’t continue.

    I have since seen that position come up several times since. It was DEFINITELY a bullet dodged.

    1. Thornus67*

      Man, attempting to schedule interviews of any sort the week of Thanksgiving seems odd. Plenty of people take the whole week off or leave Tuesday or make all kinds of travel arrangements that day. Noon on the day before is especially odd since many employers make that day a half day, which means going through noon.

      1. Nanani*

        Plus even if you aren’t travelling, the fact that everyone else is makes getting places a lot more difficult than it would be on a normal week.

      2. Bea*

        I’ve never worked anywhere where people extended an already 4 day weekend. So I can understand attempting but you’ve got to be reasonable and accept that people won’t be available.

        This is why we tell everyone we would love if they start immediately but understand a notice period is necessary. Then we get a few people who are asked to leave early (like I was) and they slide in early. Then we rejoice and are happy but if it’s just a shot in the dark that goes unanswered, oh well, we tried.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’ve definitely worked places where people take the entire week or the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, especially if the day after isn’t a holiday for the company.

          Pretty sure I’ve told this story before. I can only think of one instance where I had scheduled an interview, strangely, on Christmas Eve – it was retail. The store then scrambled to find anyone to interview and kept asking ME why I had scheduled it that day. The awful scheduling system that they used listed that as the only day of availability in a 2-week block. Needless to say, I was happy not to get that job.

    2. Sheesh*

      Similar over here. For seasonal pt retail. Went on first round just bc I was desperate- what an awful experience from a company with a really progressive public face. Ha. If it looks like a flag parade…

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        I mean, I’m not terribly upset about it.

        This was also the place where the recruiter proudly told me that one of the fun activities they did was to mold playdough into the job they wanted. (Not my kind of thing, but there seemed to be enough pluses that I could overlook that initially.)

        1. Videogame Lurker*

          I’m curious as to how the playdough thing would work. Is it based on cultural references (apple for teaching, a house for construction, etc)?

    3. Snickerdoodle*

      Me too! I had to turn down an interview on the offered time/day, and they left me a snippy voicemail telling me that I’d have to let them know if I were even serious about the job.

      Surprise, I wasn’t.

    4. Turquoisecow*

      I’m surprised the hiring manager was even working that day. In my office experience, even though work is supposedly getting done Monday through Wednesday, work is not getting done. People who aren’t taking off are not really focusing on work. An old company didn’t give us Friday as a holiday, but we often got out early on Wednesday.

  4. PersonalJeebus*

    PSA to job seekers: Stop listening to overly generalized advice from random someones! The fact that the OP initially knew they were being reasonable, but then panicked because “someone said” they had messed up, makes me a bit worried for them. OP, if it’s not too big a distraction, maybe take a few minutes to consider why the person you talked to was able to make you do a one-eighty in your judgment and mood? Unless they’re an employment expert like Alison, they shouldn’t be able to have that big an impact on you. When it comes to common sense stuff like this, trust your instincts, because they seem to be working fine to me.

    PSA 2: If you’re going to talk to people in your life for job advice, stick to the specific topics in which they are well-versed (e.g. ask about their direct experiences with a particular individual, a specific company/industry, a software program).

    1. Bea*

      Also rarely does one person who is over the top in their reactions of OH HEAVENS NO YOU DONE EF’ED IT ALL UP!! have the best advice to give. If 95% of your circle says it’s all good, that random one is probably exhausting in other ways as well. What else do they freak out about that’s no big deal?

      I don’t blame the OP for panicking because it’s an involuntary reaction and she’s engaged in the job search which comes with these stressful potholes.

      Also Alison is fabulous with good advice BUT lots of quacks out there are “career advisors” and such. So even then, weigh your advice against other opinions.

    2. AMPG*

      Also, keep in mind that unemployment is quite low right now*, which gives job seekers more power than they’ve had in nearly a decade. It’s time to get out of the mindset of bending over backwards for an employer.

      *Obviously this will vary by region and career field, so take those factors into account.

    3. Empty Sky*

      Yes yes yes! I think job searching is second only to parenting in the amount of horrible and often unsolicited advice you will receive.

  5. Cat wrangler*

    You’re available for 50% of the time offered. That’s perfectly reasonable – it’s not as though you’ve refused all possible options which would make you Look Difficult. As a side matter, I’m not a fan of Friday interviews, particularly in the afternoon, as often one or more people are mentally checked out for the weekend.

    1. KTB*

      I’m usually not a fan of Friday interviews, but it does make it quite a bit easier to leave work early for an interview. When I interviewed for my current job a few months ago, I ended up with the 3-5PM block on a Friday to meet with four interviewers. And then I had plans to meet my best friend for drinks right after to debrief.

      And to the OP, I’ve never judged someone (or been judged, as far as I can tell), for being unavailable during an interview slot when there are other options. That’s why a decent hiring manager will give you multiple options!

  6. Green Cheese Moon*

    Our HR department requires us to do interviews within a tight time frame. Like at most we can schedule interviews for a given position over 2 days, but more often they are all one day. But within that tight time frame, we really do want people to have as much choice as possible when to interview. Those arrangements and any back and forth are strictly between HR and the candidates. The people on the actual interview panel have no information about how those arrangements came about (and we really don’t care; actually we do wish the process could have more flexible scheduling, but HR has a tight fist on this one). So long story short, no, there is no judgment over you preferring Thursday over Friday.

    1. Bea*

      This sounds like a weeding out procedure on their part then. Like the jobs you guys have get 300 applicants and you’ve got a tight formula for These Things Mean Interview. Then if they can’t fit in their interview into Day 1 or Day 2, automatically rejected. Which can work in the end but it seems very difficult to get the absolute best for each position.

      I offer a day I would prefer but then will schedule within a week. It they’re unavailable for for an entire week and not just “first thing next week will work though!”, then it’s a “sorry we couldn’t make this work.” But we don’t get hundreds of even marginally qualified resumes ever in this market.

      1. Green Cheese Moon*

        No, not a weeding out in this case, but I can see how that would apply in other situations.

        It’s just about HR wanting us to have exactly the same interview process for each applicant. So interviews are on X day, the same panel of 5-6 people conduct each interview, and all applicants are equally fresh in our memories when we are deciding who to hire. Though we may have a fair number of applications to start with (usually 60-80), we usually are only interested in interviewing 6-12 of those people. Then of those 6-12 who are invited, some decline because they are already pursuing other leads, and we might even lose 1-2 because they can’t travel on our schedule. I think it’s a shame to lose a good applicant that way. When we’re down to interviewing fewer than about six people, we end up with a good chance of not finding a good match at all. Then the process begins all over from the start (sigh).

  7. Mark A*

    They give several dates, because they understand arrangements may already have been made. Especially as one the days was a Friday IMHO.

  8. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    I was recently asked to schedule an interview on a day that was part of a 2 day out of town trip for work. I just responded with that information and asked if we could make it for the day after I returned, and they were very accommodating. If they’d been the least bit shirty about it I would have taken it as a pretty big red flag.

  9. Hallowflame*

    Whoever told you your answer was in any way a problem doesn’t know whet they’re talking about. The only thing I might have done differently is, instead of saying “I’m not available Friday, I’ll be out of town.”, I would have said “I’m available Thursday, what times work for you?” Same message, just a different delivery.

  10. OfOtherWorlds*

    I wonder if the person who gave OP bad advice first started job hunting during the Great Recession? I recall that lots of employers and hiring managers became petty tyrants during that period of time. Some of them were gald for an opportunity to unleash their inner Caligula, while others were just using arbitrary methods to cut their candidate pool to a reasonable size, but the result was the same. Candidates that didn’t do things like cancel nonrefundable travel to make the employers schedule didn’t get jobs. And some of us have not realized that things are different in an economy where there are more jobs than candidates.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I was thinking the Great Depression. This kind of advice is usually from people who want you to drop off a typed resume on bond paper, offer to work for free for a week, say you have no hobbies, all that gumption crap that worked for one person one time 50 years ago. It’s playing off-off, broadway, “How to Succeed in Business by Really, Really Trying Too Damn Hard.”

    2. Bea*

      Having seen people job searching during that time, I’ve never heard of that level of tyranny. Granted they were already available and scurrying for crumbs and still not given jobs…they wouldn’t dare go out of town with their zero dollars.

  11. Bea*

    We ask about your availability and give a window because we know you’re not over there waiting for us to demand you show up on command!!! I’ve had people need another day completely and have hired them eventually and they are wonderful etc.

    This is up there with “show up at their desk with your resume and offer to work for free!” kind of advice.

    I’ve been able to jump into last minute squeezes for employers but it’s always met with excitement and relief. Even the weirdest people I’ve interviewed with haven’t been put out by having to work ground my preplanned schedule. Your friend is going to give me a panic attack over how batty that concept is.

  12. CupcakeCounter*

    Problem is that there are a lot of employers (or at least recruiters) that will look down on you for only being available one of the days. They are wrong but it seems to happen enough that there is a reason this type of advice is out there.

    1. Anna*

      I don’t think the advice is out there because it happens so frequently; I think it’s out there because there’s this belief that if you’re l0oking for a job, you have to accommodate every aspect of the job search. It about the belief that you need the employer more than the employer needs you and if you’re looking for a new job, clearly you really do need the employer or why would you be looking?

  13. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

    I think it’s totally acceptable to only give availability on one day of the two offered, especially because your lack of availability on the second day is due to travel. “I can’t interview on Friday because I like to spend my Fridays binge watching Law and Order SVU reruns and eating cereal straight from the box” is not an acceptable response to scheduling an interview, but being in an entirely different geographical area from the prospective job certainly is.

    1. Bea*

      Speak for yourself, I will hire a person who marathons SVU every Friday. Only if they make room on their couch for me though. I’ll bring my own cereal.

  14. C-Hawk*

    This friend of yours sounds like my wife’s father… He freaked out at us for going to a movie on Christmas Eve while she was job searching (she was employed, just looking for upward mobility as her company wasn’t promoting anyone or giving raises). He told her that if an interviewer calls and has to leave a message, they consider that a major red flag. Then, he said that if the phone call isn’t returned within 15 minutes, you’re guaranteed to be disqualified from the job… When my wife told him anyone that called her on Christmas Eve and was upset that she might not respond right away was not someone she wanted to work for, he trotted out the ridiculous claim that applicants have no right to make judgements about the company they are interviewing with.

    1. Bea*

      I’m so grateful my dad is from the timber industry. The worst thing he’s said was “they may just hire you on the spot!” aka “be ready to work that day”. And I have to remind him they usually need a little time to weigh their options but he’ll shake his head and insist that given my awesomeness they’ll drag me straight to a desk. Even after seeing his industry crumble he’s certain I can get any job I apply to.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        That’s parental bad advice that’s adorable. “Everyone MUST love you! Because I love you and you’re awesomesauce!”

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        No super uncommon in blue collar jobs though. I milked cows at one point, I rang the dairy I’d heard was hiring and after a twenty minute “interview” was given directions and told to rock up at 4:30am the next day.
        Current Ag job had me start within about three days from dropping off my resume (they had no jobs posted but in good times are always hiring, turn over is high). I was basically hired pending medical from about three hours after submitting my resume. So I can kind of see why he’d think that if his career had been in high turnover, blue collar jobs where they have a constant need of bodies.

    2. pleaset*

      “applicants have no right to make judgements about the company they are interviewing with.”

      Frankly that guy sounds more like an #sshole beyond the bad advice.

      1. C-Hawk*

        Yeah, the dude is a total #sshole. Once you consider his blatant anti-Semitism (told my wife to stop me from having a menorah because “Jews need to keep their culture away from normal people”) and the fact that he actively supports assault (physical and sexual) against people of other backgrounds, the job search stuff doesn’t even register for me in determining that this is not someone I want my family exposed to.

    3. Not a Mere Device*

      Not only is that ridiculous in general, in this specific case your wife actively needed to make a judgment: “Is this employer better than the one I’m working for now?” Some people, sometimes, are desperate enough that it comes down to “is there a paycheck?” but what

  15. Anonymoosetracks*

    Oh my gosh, yes!

    We used to have a similar thing with people who insisted on flying (on their own dime) for our first-round interviews (which were more than screening interviews but still very much first-round) even after we offered/recommended Skype interviews and explained that these were quite early-stage talks. I think it was based on bad job search advice that coming in person would make them a more attractive candidate. In reality I think it made them look desperate and overly solicitous – like a judgement lapse.

  16. Wes*

    My husband had this happen in academia.

    Another professor in the department he applied for texted him (!) on Sunday (!) to ask if he would be able to fly out on Tuesday (!) to have an on-campus interview. My husband replied he had other obligations but could make any time after Thursday work. He ghosted after that and a few days later, my husband got a rejection by email.

    I can look back and laugh at it now as wildly unprofessional but it really hurt at the time.

  17. Who the eff is Hank?*

    OP, if it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t available for the entire WEEK that Current Job was interviewing due to a conference that I was organizing and had to be there in-person to run. I asked them if I could interview the following week. As you can see, I call them Current Job so it all worked out fine.

  18. CRM*

    I paid over $300 to cut a trip short and fly home for a first-round interview (after a phone screen) because the employer was unwilling to see me on any other day. They didn’t acknowledge or even seem to care about the trouble I went through to get to the interview, and I was ultimately turned down for the position. I later found out that I dodged a bullet; The company is now coming under fire for its unethical and illegal practices, and it does not appear to be a great place to work. I will never get over the fact that I burned so much money to interview with that place.

    Moral of the story: Please do not waste a second of your time or money on an employer who is inflexible about interview dates, particularly for an interview that is scheduled a week or less in advance. It’s probably a red flag.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Sorry that happened to you, but bullet dodged in your case.

      The only issue I have with this advice is that you don’t necessarily know what is coming from the recruiter and what is coming from the hiring manager. The senior people in my group travel a lot, and you might have two days per month where you could bring a candidate in and have them meet everyone who needed to be involved in the interview. The recruiter may seem inflexible because they have that scheduling headache to deal with, and they may not pass on the hoops you jumped through to the HM. I think we can be pretty bad at communicating with our candidates (as soon as everyone is lined out for next Tuesday, something changes & we don’t necessarily say why), but we’re nice to work for, and communicating with your manager is generally fine.

      1. Capt. Dunkirk*

        If the employer is inflexible because of reasons beyond their control (like constant travel that you mentioned) it can be mitigated by giving candidates as much advanced notice as possible.
        Saying you can only offer an interview slot on one specific day at one specific day two weeks from now is a whole lot different than offering one specific day at one specific time two *days* from now.

        Advanced notice is its own kind of flexibility.

  19. Emelle*

    I had to reschedule a Dermatology appointment for an inflexible job interview time. HR scheduler “we can see you on the 1st at 1230 or 130.” Me, “Neither of those times are great for me. Can I go earlier or later or another day?” HR, (long silence) “so… You aren’t interested in the job anymore?” Me, “1230”
    I really wanted that job. I didn’t get it and had to wait 6 more months for my dermatology appointment.

    1. Airy*

      I wish it were both possible and ethical to magically transfer whatever skin problem you were having to the scheduler for those six months.

  20. Justin*

    I was recently in the job market and I didn’t encounter a single employer who wasn’t at least somewhat flexible with interview dates. Usually they’d offer a few time slots for me to choose from. And I got zero flak for saying I wasn’t available on certain dates or at certain times. I had a few cases were they’d try to schedule near the end of the week and I was always able to push it out to Monday of the next week if I needed to. I think the vast majority are going to understand that people aren’t just sitting around waiting for an employer to offer an interview.

    I think sometimes people go overboard at trying to seem like they’re excited and easy to work with when they’re in the job market.

  21. Marlene*

    I had an internal interview scheduled for a Friday. The interviewer emailed me a request to reschedule for the following Wednesday or Thursday. My daughter was having surgery on Tuesday, so I simply told the interviewer that Thursday would be better for me. It was no big deal at all.

  22. designbot*

    Also remember, *they* reached out to *you*. Unexpectedly even! You are in a power position here, as you’re not some nobody knocking on their door, you are someone that they have thought of and sought out due to your reputation. Even if (and I’m giving massive sideye here) it would be potentially not great normally, how could you have known to keep your schedule clear if you weren’t even looking?

  23. Random thought*

    I feel your pain OP. When I had my second interview for my job, the admin doing the scheduling TOLD me the date and time instead of asking my availability or asking if a specific time would work. And it didn’t! I totally panicked and cringed as I wrote back to say that I was very VERY sorry and was there any other time? And it was SO not a big deal

  24. It's not me*

    Our job ads have a closing date but we interview people as soon as they apply, because otherwise candidates get other jobs and we miss out. A few months ago, I emailed an applicant to set up a Skype interview. Crickets. A fortnight later, he emailed back to say he’d been off-grid in the mountains for the last fortnight. He thought it was safe to go off-grid because he assumed we’d wait till after the closing date before interviewing anyone. We interviewed him.

    I definitely don’t recommend going off-grid for a whole fortnight straight after applying for a job, but we’re an anecdata point of a company that’s prepared and able to be very flexible. We won’t be the only company like this.

  25. Sarah*

    I would deem that person to be overreacting, but maybe what they were responding to, a little, is that it was recreational travel. The nonrefundability changes the analysis, and there are definitely other reasons (“Sally’s going to deploy on Monday!”) that recreational travel might be more important than an interview, but just, “Eh, I already have plans with friends” by itself is a little casual if you actually want the job. I hope you were vague about your reasons.

    1. Nanani*

      Eh, it’s not a prospective employer’s business to judge how you spend your free time when you don’t even work for them yet. Some will anyway, but as many have said in this thread, it’s a red flag when they do.

  26. Bookworm*

    IF the hiring agent isn’t willing to work with you then I’d take that as a red flag. I’ve had this happen to me in some variations: an org wanted multiple times after asking for one (I had to hold firm to find out that it was a scheduling issue on their end…uh, heads up at first would have been nice!). In another an interviewer tried to get me to change and then became really pissy when I wouldn’t change (we had already agreed to the time). He offered me another interview down the line a few months later but then never responded to any of my follow-up messages: I suspect he needed a pool of candidates and/or he was being really petty.

    Of course that doesn’t mean a candidate shouldn’t be flexible but I’ve found that it’s all around more pleasant if there’s flexibility on both sides.

  27. Kate*

    My partner had a similar experience recently with a recruiter, the recruiter said because he was going to other job interviews and not being available the only time they gave he was not serious about the role. I don’t actually think the company he was interviewing at knew the recruiter was representing them like that. He was then offered the job and the recruiter said if he didn’t accept within 24 hours they would pass on him and offer to other applicants. He accepted another position partly based on the recruiters behaviour. I don’t think the company had any idea they were being represented like that, and they didn’t seem that inflexible from the interview feedback, it was all the recruiter.

  28. nnn*

    If, for whatever reason, you are reluctant to say you’re unavailable on Friday, you can always lead with “Thursday would be perfect!”

  29. Greg NY*

    Basically it boils down to the interviewer having the same flexibility that they expect of you. That’s the only fair way an interview can be conducted.

  30. Chocolate Teapot*

    I was once in the application process for a job and was told that the next stage was an in-person interview.

    Great! I thought. And the recruiter asked me if there were any days coming up where I couldn’t make it. I thought this was a good sign, and explained I had some pre-arranged commitments at the end of a week (Wednesday-Friday)

    The next thing I knew, the recruiter informed me my interview was scheduled for the Thursday. I politely explained that I was unavailable (and had told the recruiter so) and then got a lecture on how the interviewer was so big and important, that this was the only day that would work.

    The recruiter then came back to me to reschedule, with plenty of “It was really difficult, but they have made an exception for you”. And after all that, I was rejected during the interview.

  31. Nico m*

    The candidates time and convenience, regardless of rank, is always more important than the interviewers’ , because they aren’t getting paid for it.

  32. Lily*

    I had this rather funny call from a company last week. For context, standard notice periods in my country are 3 months, per contract. I’m job seeking so I can manage shorter.
    “We are interested in you and we want you to work a day on short notice to see if it is a fit” (Working a day sadly isn’t unheard of in my field. You see their meetings and work places and get time to talk to the team and ask them questions. Normally you don’t actually do any relevant work. Though this company sounded like they wanted me to work-work. And, more importantly, normally “could you come in for a day to meet the team?” happens AFTER the interview, not without ever having talked to me.)
    Me, internal dialogue: “They want me to *work one day* before even interviewing me?!” Me, loud, not wanting to burn a bridge: “okay, let’s see. The next two weeks are pretty swamped (with other interviews and related stuff, which I didn’t tell them), how about the first week of october?”
    they: “Oh, that’s bad, we hoped to find someone who could start in october already!”
    Yes, my resumee said that I could start as early as october, but it’s been some time since I sent it, and obviously I thought that if someone wanted me for october they’d call a bit earlier. Also 2) they would have been an interstate move for me – normally no problem but slightly affects the start date, 3) they were clear about not covering travel cost to the interview, which is industry standard but travelling on short notice is generally pretty pricey here as opposed to weeks in advance, and 4) the whole no interview before trial working stuff.
    Also, this was for that kind of highly-educated and needed job where if you needed to find a job quickly you’d have one within two weeks and five sent resumes. Just because I took my time to choose a good one doesn’t mean I’m jumping through their hoops.^^ (And, for the record, they are not that kind of company that everyone talks about and wants to work for, either.)

  33. boop the first*

    Aaah! It’s so painful to read letters that include lines like “someone else told me” (which doesn’t sound like an important person to even listen to if they don’t have a relationship to you) or “but my parents think…”

    I have nothing useful to add, it’s just that there are SO MANY. So many like this. Why do people have to gift others with insecurities? Why do so many like to play the “but what if” game? What’s with all the creepy roleplaying in comment sections that play out Worst Case Scenarios as if they’re likely to happen? Why not congratulate your friends for booking interviews or standing up for themselves or asking for what they wanted, instead of kicking them down?

  34. OP*

    Quick update of sorts!

    The person who told me I should be making myself as available as possible was my mother, so there’s a whole dynamic at play there that didn’t seem worth getting into in my question. I think she meant to be helpful and not to lecture/cause panic, but going forward, I’m not going to share as much job-hunting info with her, just for everyone’s sanity.

    The real update is that this turned out to be a non-issue! I followed up with the recruiter the day before interviews were supposed to take place, and she said they hadn’t decided who they wanted to interview yet. I went on my trip guilt-free, and just today got an email asking me to confirm what times I wanted to interview THIS week. I’ll be doing my first-round interview on Friday and am feeling so much better after reading what Alison and you lot all had to say!

  35. Nonyme*

    I’m currently looking for a new job. Annoyingly, my schedule is wide open because former employer found out I was job hunting, changed the locks, and walked me out the door. They’re now telling people I was “fired for cause” and that’s cost me at least one job offer, too, and potentially my unemployment. That’s a whole ‘nother rant. (Former boss dredged up something I didn’t do, but was accused of, and which I thought was cleared up a month ago, and used that as the excuse to fire me because I’m sure HR wouldn’t have gone along with “we’re firing her because she’s job hunting.” Unfortunately, I can’t prove I didn’t do The Thing, for reasons of everybody at that work place throwing each other under the bus to avoid being fired over The Thing, but at the time The Thing happened I was told I was in the clear.)

    I am looking to relocate to a big city three hours away. Because of the behavior of former employer, I am probably going to have to take a less desirable job than what I would have qualified for ordinarily, and relocate to the big city where there are more job openings and less competition, and employers are more willing to hire someone who was just “fired for cause” per the background check.

    However … I also just eliminated a recruiting agency from consideration — they found my resume on Indeed, and wanted me to interview in person THAT DAY (last Friday) for a potential start the following Monday. Call center position, in a field that requires skilled workers.

    1) They contacted me at 4 pm for a 7pm interview, noting that I should be able to make the drive in that time. Well, yes. I could. They were technically three-ish hours away, though I’d have to exceed the speed limit to make it, and run out the door that second, and my interview clothes were actually in the washing machine when they called.

    2) The recruiter refused to state which company they were recruiting for — which was problematic, because given the general location of the work site it could be a another former employer that I have zero desire to ever work for again, for reasons of 70 hour work weeks for ten months straight, followed by being voluntold to take unpaid “vacations” to avoid layoffs, and a habit of hiring large numbers of barely-qualified people and then eliminating half of them within six months. (I handled customer service escalations for fifteen years there; having large numbers of barely-qualified and extremely overworked CSRs taking first line calls was exasperating, for obvious reasons.) There were plenty of other issues, too, like insane metrics, insane quality standards, and really high insurance premiums.

    The recruiter offered a reasonable pay (which would not be reasonable if it was my old employer and they were still charging outrageous premiums for crappy insurance), but refused to say who the employer was or if this was contract, permanent, temp or temp-to-hire. They said I could “discuss everything” in person — but they were very! excited! about! my! resume! (the recruiter liked exclamation points) and they were “sure once we spoke face to face I would be excited about this opportunity.”

    So, yeah, I noped out. I wasn’t going to drop everything that second, get dressed in wet interview clothes (I only have one really nice outfit, but at least it’s wash-and-wear), hope they dried by the time I got there, speed the whole way, skip dinner, for a 7pm appt for a monday start the following week, for an unknown employer, unknown benefits, and unknown location of work beyond “it’s in the south part of the big city.”

    And if they did offer me the job, how the heck was I supposed to arrange housing that quick? Just plan on staying in a hotel? Somehow rent an apartment and move over the weekend? Commute three hours each way?

    Yeah, no.

    1. Nonyme*

      (ETA — I suspect the recruiter had a training class of 30-40 people to fill and was desperate to meet her quota of warm bodies, hence the demand that I show up at 7 PM. She was probably working late. If they are with my former employer from several years ago, about 75% of those will make them it the four week training class, half will be gone by the eight week mark, and of the rest, only a handful will still be there in six months. It was the same recruiting agency, though they are huge aqnd recruit for a lot of companies. I am pretty sure, despite “official” critieria, they would hire anything with a pulse, the ability to provide clean pee — not necessarily the applicant’s own — and enough English literacy to read the directions to find the building on day one. Buuuut if she’s recruiting for who I think she’s recruiting for, even if I get it, there’s no reason why, when I said I couldn’t make it, she couldn’t have offered to interview me for the next class. They’ll be doing training classes every four weeks through January .)

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