do prospective employers expect me to take time off work for interviews?

A reader writes:

I am currently employed as a medical receptionist in a small outpatient mental health clinic, but I have applied for positions more in line with my long-term goal of becoming a physician. I recently had a phone interview for a scribe position at a urology practice. The job would allow me to scribe, do research, and shadow the doctor — everything medical schools look for.

Two days after the phone interview, the office manager (who I didn’t interview with) left a voice message asking me to come for an in-person interview with the doctor. He called while I was at work, so I returned the call the following day during business hours. I left a voice message and gave him the benefit of the doubt as we were heading into Labor Day weekend. Nobody returns my call on Tuesday, so I email my interviewer (who I would be replacing) asking her if there were issues with the phones or the office manager was out of office on Friday. Interviewer does not acknowledge my call or apologize for the delay. She just asks if I can come the next day at 9:30 am. I told her during the phone interview that I work full-time (four full days, one half day) and that unless the in-person interview is a Friday afternoon, I need to give at least a few days’ notice. I was also unable to come that day as my fellow receptionist has been on vacation and will be until next Wednesday. When I asked if I could come on Friday afternoon, she said she wanted to make a decision at that time. I reiterated that I work full-time and cannot drop work obligations on short notice.

As someone who works full-time, am I expected to take time off to accommodate a prospective employer’s schedule?

While my company requires two weeks notice for paid vacations, there are no rules regarding notice for non-medical appointments. In that case, can I tell the practice that I need at least two days notice so I can have enough time to tell my employer?

I read that sometimes interviewers will accommodate a working candidate’s schedule. Since the doctor is the owner of a small private practice, is it okay to ask if he would be willing to meet with me early in the evening (a lot of doctors stay after hours)?

When you’re interviewing, you’re usually going to be expected to take time off to accommodate your interviewer’s schedule. Most places with typical business hours (like 9-5 or 9-6) are going to conduct interviews during those hours. It’s possible you’ll find an interviewer who’s willing to meet with you at other times, but those are usually the exception; most interviewers don’t want to come in early or stay late any more than anyone else does, so if they’ve got other promising candidates who are available during business hours, you might be out of luck.

There are exceptions to this. Some interviewers will go out of their way to make scheduling easy on candidates. And if you’re an exceptionally strong candidate, more places will be willing to do that for you. But generally, assume you’ll probably be expected to interview during their work hours.

You can ask about options though! It’s fine to say, “It’s difficult for me to take time off from work without a lot of notice. Would it be possible to meet earlier in the morning, like 8 am, or after 5:30 pm?” Who knows, they might say yes. But if they say no, then at that point the question is whether you’re willing to make it work on your end or not.

But you shouldn’t be expected to make yourself available on a moment’s notice — at least not if the place you’re interviewing is reasonable. Good employers know that candidates have other things going on in their lives and won’t expect you to be available the very next day. Some good employers might ask if you can meet on short notice, but they’ll generally accompany it with something like “I know this is very late notice but we had a spot open up if you happen to be available” and will be willing to offer other times if you need them to. It should be fine to say, “I can’t do tomorrow but I’m available on Friday or most afternoons next week.”

If an employer tells you they’re moving quickly and need to talk with candidates in the next few days so they can make a decision by the end of the week … that’s such a fast and rigid timeline that it’s almost certainly a place that cares more about hiring quickly than hiring the best person. You might be fine with that — but make sure you’re taking note of it and adding to your other observations about it what it might be like to work there. At that point, though, you’d need to decide if you’re interested enough in the job to contort your schedule to make it work with theirs.

Sometimes all of this can be easier on you if you ask to meet at the very start or end of the employer’s business day. If you can schedule the interview for, say, 4:30, it can be easier to tell your employer you need to leave at 4 for an appointment rather than taking off a big chunk in the middle of the day.

But yes, it’s generally at least a bit of a pain.

{ 274 comments… read them below }

  1. Alli525*

    OP, if your employer requires two weeks advance notice for vacation time, that’s when you decide to take a sick day on interview days, or tell your boss you have a doctor’s appointment and will have to come in late/leave early. This is technically “lying,” but I think every single person who has ever applied for a FT job while currently employed has done it, including the boss you’ll be “lying” to, so it’s an acceptable lie.

    1. Filosofickle*

      I’ve seen commenters here be hard core about how it’s NEVER okay to lie about being sick or having a doctor’s appointment for an interview. I honestly don’t know how they’ve avoided it. Sometimes calling in sick was the only way to miss even an hour or two. I did not have other options.

      1. Former Church Lady in HR*

        I had a real air-conditioning emergency when I needed to take time off for an interview. My husband met the repairman while I went to the interview.

        More recently, I was asked on a Wednesday to come to an interview late on Friday afternoon. I already had plans to travel Friday morning for an evening event (already paid for) on Saturday/ They would not schedule another time. For me, driving late on Friday would have been very unsafe and driving on Saturday would have left me to tired to enjoy the event. It was a Federal job, so I surmised that they had an internal candidate pre-selected and did not care about external candidates.

      2. Friendly Comp Manager*

        I needed to travel for an interview for my current job, and the HR director I worked under was hardcore about not taking time off during like a 6 month time period (it was dumb, and that is a really long time to not allow PTO at all), so I literally had no other option than to lie and say I was sick for three days. I got the job (which I have now and I still love it!) and I have to say, good riddance from that other job, that boss was a controlling bully (I could write a book about other crap she pulled with me and other people).

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Ugh. Sounds like my former employer that sent out snotty emails about how we were only supposed to schedule doctors’ appointments after hours during our busy season. Which was 9 months out of the year. Gee, way to support those of us who need to see specialists or go to therapy.

      3. only acting normal*

        It’s not ok to use sick leave if you’re not sick *in the UK*. Employers can ask for evidence of drs appointments.
        But the gov guidelines on holiday also say you only need give 2x the notice for the duration you want off – so 2 days notice for one day off. And you get a legal minimum 20 days holiday (plus 8 public holidays) to take.
        So provided your employer isn’t an arse about it it’s easy enough to take a day off to go to an interview. (And if they are an arse, lie away and GTFO.)

    2. Sharrbe*

      Agree. Many of us with strict time-off policies and/or unreasonable managers wouldn’t be able to interview for jobs unless we came down with some “unexpected stomach issue” after lunch. This person seems unusually rigid in their thinking and that, along with the passive aggressive question about the phones being broken, would be potential red flags. I’m not saying that lying and deceit should be the norm, but leaving work under false pretenses to go to an interview is one of those necessary evils that most of us has to do at a certain point.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Also, having to lie about a sick day to get a little time off on short-ish notice is probably one of the reasons you’re job-hunting, no? It was definitely a factor in my eagerness to leave Old Job.

      1. Another HR manager*

        It seems naive to think employers will be fine with …. “I’m going for an interview”. If I know that someone on my staff is looking for a new job, I stop thinking of them for higher level work and long-term projects. Since I can’t run my team that way, I will likely initiate a discussion about an exit plan. So unless the staffer is ready for an exit plan, I much prefer that my employee “have a doc appointment” and that they give me standard notice if/when they land the job they want. It’s just how it works.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Another approach to employees who are flight risks is to try to retain them, maybe by giving them more higher level work and long-term projects.

          1. WellRed*

            +1. If they’re looking you may already be behind the 8 ball in helping employees grow and succeed and want to stay and not look in the first place. Your stance is … not great management.

          2. Laura*

            I have asked my boss multiple times for more work to no avail. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of opportunities for growth and promotion at a small outpatient clinic like the one where I work compared to a larger medical facility (Kaiser, Stamford, etc).

          3. Avasarala*

            I think at that point they’ve already decided to go and anything you do is too late. Like trying to work extra hard to impress a romantic partner after they’ve asked to “take a break”.

            1. Sparrow*

              Not necessarily true. Just because someone is exploring options does not mean they’re on the way out the door. It could be an unexpected opportunity that popped up that they’d be remiss not to explore, or it could be that they’re casually looking for other opportunities and expect to be in their current position potentially for months or even years more, if the ideal alternative doesn’t present itself. By cutting back on their opportunities or their projects, you just make leaving more appealing.

              And I’ve been there – yes, I was looking, but I was satisfied enough to stick around if the right opportunity didn’t present itself. Once they started penalizing me for looking, it suddenly became a priority to get out asap. Which was ultimately a loss for everyone – I was a very good employee and could’ve helped them significantly, even in the short term. Instead, I bailed for a less-than-ideal position (which did turn into something good, but I wouldn’t have taken it if I didn’t feel forced into it) and they replaced me with someone they had lots of issues with. It’s a bad attitude for employers to have.

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              That isn’t necessarily true. I’m low key looking right now because, as far as I can tell, I’ve gone as far as I can in this company and I really do need more challenge and money. That said, I do like my company, and if finding out that I was looking prompted them to offer what I was looking for I would stay in a minute.

              For the record, yes, I have told my manager several times what I would like. It’s always either ‘not in the budget’ or ‘we need to talk about that later.’ My manager has a lot of great qualities,but this has been a bit of a sticking point. Part of it is her hands are tied when it comes to making a lot of these decisions and part of it is, I think, having a remote manager means that she doesn’t necessarily get a full feel for the situation, even when I spell it out.

          4. MOAS*

            That sounds an awfully lot like a counteroffer and counteroffers are usually bad ideas.

            Real example—We actually did that — employee was about to leave and grandboss gave a counteroffer and decided to promote them to manager. That kept him for another 6 months until he found another opportunity. Good for him, but he left right before our major deadline and it had ripple effects lasting for months. If it were up to me, I’d do away with counteroffers and try harder to be ahead of the curve. For this person, it wasn’t that we were bad but he got an opportunity to do different kind of work.

            In most cases, if someone wants more higher level work, that should be brought up to the manager. If it’s not possible for whatever reason (company policy, manager didn’t get it, whatever), then they can consider leaving.

            As a manager, do your best to have a good working environment and be a good manager, but if it’s at the point that someone wants to leave, let them leave.

          5. NotAnotherManager!*

            This assumes that people are leaving because they are underchallenged. It makes no sense to give higher stakes/longer term projects to someone who is looking because they don’t enjoy the work, is looking for a shorter commute, or is looking at attending graduate professional school, which are the top three reasons I lose people (in reverse order).

            I also agree with Avasarala below – few people already down the pipe of actively looking (not just taking intriguing calls from a recruiter) for a new job are at a point of return.

            1. Close Bracket*

              No, all it assumes is that Another HR Manager’s strategy of making her employee’s job experience worse is not going to retain her flight risks. You are getting hung up on details, though, and on the impossibility of finding a single retention strategy that will work for every flight risk. The fact is that some flight risks can be convinced to stay, even if the problem is that their commute is too long or that they don’t enjoy the work or that they want to go to grad school. True, some people will leave regardless of what you do to retain them. That doesn’t make throwing up your hands and managing them out good management.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          And your way of thinking is exactly why employees feel the need to lie. A good manager should support their employees in their careers, even if that means they want to leave and pursue other opportunities. It’s part of supporting your team. Nobody wants their people to leave, but it’s reality.

    4. Llellayena*

      One thing to keep in mind is the OP works in a medical office. Her coworkers/boss are probably more attuned to people “out sick” and might push on the excuse (out of concern or medical interest) if it’s a “health related absence.” But “the plumber is coming tomorrow morning” is perfectly fine…

      1. ChimericalOne*

        “Just something I ate” is usually good for communicating “short-term, not contagious, nothing to worry about.” Barring that, you could go with the vague, “It’s just something that flares up from time to time, but I’m fine!” and change the subject. The vast majority of people won’t pry if you make it clear that you don’t want to talk about it (and that it won’t affect them).

      2. Jdc*

        In my so experience working for a medical office it’s the opposite. We got sick so often due to the patients being sick that it wasn’t even questioned.

      3. Mia_Mia*

        Not really. Those of us in health care also get colds, 24 hour viruses, etc. No one will question the occasional sick day.

        1. Autumnheart*

          “Occasional” being the operative word. Once in a blue moon is one thing, but not many employers will think highly of an employee who is suddenly “sick” 6 times in 2 months because they’re interviewing on the DL.

          Really puts job candidates between a rock and a hard place. Can’t get a new job without putting your current one at risk.

    5. Rebecca1*

      It wouldn’t be lying to say she has an appointment with a doctor! She just wouldn’t be mentioning what type of appointment it is.

    6. De Minimis*

      I didn’t like it, but I had a stretch of interviews with multiple employers over the course of three workdays, and I had to call in sick the entire time. I did end up doing to my doctor during one of the days so it wasn’t a complete fabrication. There was just no way around it though I guess I could have told my boss what was going on and arranged to take vacation time for that period.

    7. LunaLena*

      To be fair, though, since the OP is applying to work at a doctor’s office, saying it’s a doctor’s appointment isn’t technically a lie… just misleading about what kind of appointment it is. :D

    8. Quickbeam*

      Calling in sick was the only way I got my longest term job over the past 30 years. I would not have a pension nor would I have gotten the job without calling in sick. There was literally no way around it. I was not proud of it but my entire retirement plan would be catastrophic without what that one sick call meant for my career.

    9. Laura*

      Good points to all of the replies. Yes, my employer cannot ask why I have an “appointment.” However, if there are multiple days in a week (or few) when I’m leaving early/coming later due to an “appointment” that might seem suspicious.

      1. Alli525*

        I’ve gotten around this by telling coworkers I like to make all my appointments in big chunks when possible – I actually DO go to the eye doctor and gyno around the winter holidays every year – or by saying I’m dealing with something that might be chronic so I’m having several appointments around that one specific (but vague!) issue.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          I set all my annual appointments on the same couple of days right around the 4th of July. That way, not only do I not forget, I can get all the doc visits out of the way on one or two PTO days rather than having to burn extra days because they are spread out.

    10. A*

      Yup! I hate to admit this, but when I was moving on from my first employer I killed off multiple imaginary family members when I was interviewing elsewhere. My employer had caught wind that I was trying to leave, and rather than try and address the reasons – decided to try and trap me. Removed flex hours, required doctors notes for all sick time, vaca only if approved 2+ weeks in advance etc.

      It was such a horrible situation, and my mental health was suffering so much – that I did what I had to do to get out. Honestly, I think my maternal grandmother would have been tickled pink to find out I’d ‘killed her off’ several years after she passed in order to escape that place.

      1. TardyTardis*

        My paternal grandmother would have risen from the grave and held off the bad boss with her shotgun (she would have been polite enough to put only the rock salt in) for something like that.

  2. Colette*

    I see some unreasonableness on both sides here. Yes, they should be giving you more notice than “come in tomorrow at 9:30” and ideally be flexible enough that you can interview on the afternoon you already have off.

    On the other hand, you should avoid asking if their phones were broken because they didn’t call you back within a business day. That’s far enough out of line that I would drop you down at least a few notches in my view of how you’d be to work with.

    And yes, you may have to take time off to interview.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Yes, especially with the goal of being a physician.

        OP, the stereotype of the brusque attending MD who is allowed to behave like a jackass without consequence is thankfully going away. Doctors need to be able to work collaboratively and communicate respectfully.

    1. WellRed*

      “asking her if there were issues with the phones or the office manager was out of office on Friday.”
      My shoulders went up around my ears when I read that. Holy passive aggressiveness!
      Sorry OP they are in the power position, not you, and you need to find some flexibility in your schedule. And lots of places may work with you on this, and I would, but for me personally, the last thing I want do on Friday afternoon is schedule, well, pretty much anything.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Seriously, not going to lie about it. If someone spoke to us like that, we would already be halfway to writing them off. It’s really not an acceptable thing to say to anyone, if a customer did it, we’d have the same “who do you think you are?” kind of reaction.

        The response is to just say “I called in on Friday, looks like you may have missed my call due to the labor day weekend/busy Friday, whatever.” but asking if the phones are broken is so…rude.

      2. Laura*

        As a matter of fact, phone problems ARE some what common in the medical office where I work. There have been calls that have gone unreturned due to phone problems. I can see why this statement may come off as passive aggressive but as someone who already works in the field, this problem is not unheard of. And given this communication was the weekend before labor day, it’s certainly possible that the office manager was on vacation but he didn’t mention being out of office or asking me to call on Tuesday.

        For those of you who may say “it’s none of your business” – I didn’t need to know WHY he was out of the office, just IF. That was a simple yes/no question that the scribe who interviewed me should be able to answer. It’s not a HIPAA violation. If someone calls for an admin staff or clinician who is not in the office on a given day, I simply say “s/he is out of office, but will return on X day.”

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        Yeah, that was not a great way to phrase that. The day before a holiday is usually pretty busy for most offices, and, while hiring is important, taking care of patients and the running of the office is going to be the priority on those days.

        If you were really wondering if they got the message just go with a simple, “I called in on Friday, did you get the message? I know it was probably a busy day for you.” But “Are your phones broken or did your OM take a day off before a Federal Holiday?” is really pretty catty. I might not try all that hard to reschedule an interview with someone who said something like that, if I’m being honest. I would think that I probably wouldn’t want to deal with that kind of attitude day in and day out if I could avoid it.

      1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

        It’s not even ESH. The employer didn’t make a huge error in not returning the seeker’s call immediately. Sheesh.

        1. Kiwiii*

          Maybe, but they suck for asking to interview the next day/on such short notice and detailing basically that they weren’t flexible.

          1. Laura*

            After reading the comments, I can agree that maybe I did come off as passive aggressive. What I don’t see as passive aggressive was my being honest with my interviewer on the phone that I work full time and cannot come on short notice. Also, the office manager was not included in any of the emails after I emailed interviewer so my therapist said maybe the staff doesn’t communicate well with each other.

    2. Antilles*

      I’m glad you pointed that out, because that jumped out at me too. It appears OP called on Friday, then was irritated that they hadn’t gotten a call back one business day later (on Tuesday). That’s a completely unreasonable expectation for a holiday weekend.
      Even if the hiring manager and all applicable parties were working on the day prior to a holiday (no guarantee!), that would be a pretty quick turnaround to schedule a time that works for everybody. Especially for a doctor, where large chunks of his working day are already blocked off with patient appointments scheduled weeks or months in advance.

      1. MK*

        Frankly, I don’t understand why the OP didn’t get back to the office manager as soon as she could but waited for the next day.

        1. TootsNYC*

          maybe she can’t make calls from work?
          I think it’s reasonable to call the next day, but then don’t be pissy if you don’t get a call as fast as you like either.

          1. Laura*

            I can’t make personal calls outside my lunch hour, and that day there were tons of patients around so I couldn’t step into an empty office, close the door and call the office manager back. Where I work, we are not allowed to be on our phones in front of patients.

        2. Laura*

          I didn’t get the message from the office manager until after I got off work. Their office closed before mine does.

          1. CJ*

            Which is it? What do you state here about there office was closed by the time you got the message? For what you said in your comment right above this – that you couldn’t return the call that day because there wasn’t an empty office.

            And why would it take two days for you to have time to tell your employer? That should take 10 minutes.

        3. MommyMD*

          Me too. It kind of came off as a power thing to me. Really virtually everyone can sneak away for two minutes. Say it’s to use the bathroom. I’m also wondering if that plus her comments put them off her.

          If I want a job I’m not ignoring a call and putting it off to the next day.

          1. A*

            This. I really struggled with how to get around this when I was looking to move on from my first employer – and yes it is infuriated, no it isn’t fair – but it is what it is. I ended up running to the ladies room everytime I had to return a call in relation to my job hunt. Not ideal, but you do what you gotta do.

            I was in a customer facing / front desk role at the time, so I understand the challenges OP is under – but it is not impossible.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, I agree. Even when I was unemployed and pretty readily available most places at least give 3-4 business days’ notice for an interview; I’ve never, that I recall, had someone ask if I could come in the next day.

      But I also think the OP was a wee bit passive aggressive in asking what she did, and yes, you are definitely expected to be available during business hours for an interview.

      1. Alice*

        I’ve had a couple of companies asking me if I could come in the next day. Both acknowledged that it was a last minute thing and they suggested alternative dates in case I wasn’t available. I would have been more than a bit upset if they’d just told me to come in the next day — that’s way more unreasonable than expecting candidates to make time during business hours.

      2. Aurion*

        I’ve had people call me at 5:30 pm and ask me to come in the next morning. And expected me to call in the absence after hours on my boss’s voicemail/email.

        I pushed back and requested at least onebusiness day to request a day off. The company demurred and then ghosted me. Wasn’t a great loss. :P

      3. Kat in VA*

        I only had one like that once – I’d interviewed with the company two floors above mine (I was on a temp contract at the time) and told them I was available whenever. My current company knew I was interviewing because the contract was ending, so I ended up with a second interview with 20 minutes’ notice.

        But next day isn’t a great timeline.

        Another somewhat offputting tendency I’ve noticed lately is companies saying on Wednesday, “We’d like you to come in for a F2F on Friday at 2:00PM” without ever checking if, indeed, Friday is a good day for you.

        I understand that interviews can come with tight timelines (I’ve scheduled enough of them), but at least attempting to check availability is better than just throwing out a single date and time and figuring that’ll do. (I had to beg off that interview as I was in a division meeting for two days and there was no way I could break free.)

      4. Laura*

        At the time I sent my letter, I misunderstood that my company’s “two weeks notice policy” was for vacations and not appointments. Once I cleared that confusion up on my end, I emailed the interviewer and office manager and told them I’m still interested in the position but I work full time 8:30-5:30 Mon-Thurs and 8-12 Fri so if they want me to interview during those hours, I require two business day’s notice to make arrangements at work.

        Interestingly, when I interviewed for my current job, the HR director asked me to come for an in person interview the next day. I was working part time then so coming in the next day was not an issue. Knowing my HR person, I think she would have been accommodating if I couldn’t come the day she asked. I’ve never interviewed while working full time and a lot of my jobs have been contract positions, so this is new territory for me.

    4. Spargle*

      Also being miffed that there wasn’t an apology for the delay, when she herself didn’t return their call until the next day.

      1. MommyMD*

        Right. I would have definitely called back the same day. Everyone knows we are glued to our cells and she got the message. If I really wanted a job no way I’m returning that call the next day. Jobs fill.

      2. Laura*

        As a medical receptionist myself, I always return calls within 24 hours. If I don’t, I apologize for the delay. It’s not like I’m expecting the interviewer to apologize when I wouldn’t apologize if the tables were turned. I absolutely would! Maybe I should have given more turn around time given that we were heading into a holiday weekend.

        1. MommyMD*

          Are you the OP? :). The is your phone broken intimation is off-putting. Also if it’s a position I want I act interested. Twenty four hours later when they knew the message was received is too long imo.

    5. MommyMD*

      I also think she’s probably not on their top list. I’d move on if someone gave me any weird vibe. I also would have called back the same day and not the next.

    6. MommyMD*

      Personally after the call back being delayed by OP and “are your phones broken” email I’d have scratched this person off my list. All of it seems kind of entitled. There are candidates who did call back in a more timely manner and didn’t send a passive aggressive email. Who will be flexible about an interview.

  3. Amethystmoon*

    Some companies will do around or close to lunch hours. If you can take your break a bit earlier or later than normal, like 11 AM or 1 PM, you may be able to schedule an interview at that time.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Lunchtime interviews are definitely a thing – assuming the interview is short enough and the break long enough, this can work out really well.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      Our last hire came in the next day (we offered options – not just “come in tomorrow”) over lunch, though I did offer early and late times. She was pretty motivated to get out of her previous job, so I don’t think overstaying her lunch hour was a problem (though I think she made it back just fine).

      1. Laura*

        Unfortunately I was not offered options. I made it clear at the phone interview I needed more notice than “the next day.”

    3. Just Another Manic Millie*

      Lunchtime interviews were practically impossible for me, except when my supervisor was on vacation, because I always had to go to lunch when he went to lunch, which would be anywhere between noon and 1:30 PM. And I definitely would have gotten into trouble if the interview took too long and I got back to work late.

  4. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Employers that act like they’re entitled to have you interview on little to no notice will often also be the ones who insist you need to schedule all time off at least 3 weeks in advance….including sick days. And not see anything funny about it.

    I would consider it a bullet dodged, OP.

    1. Laura*

      I agree! I emailed the scribe (who interviews me) and office manger my scheduling expectations and they never responded. A friend and someone else in a LinkedIn group said I probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I think you have some unrealistic expectations and behavior around interviewing. Most interviewers are fielding multiple applicants on top of their regular work and wouldn’t respond to someone sending scheduling expectations. While I would give a little more flexibility than the next day, if there was only one afternoon you were providing as available (or suggesting after hours) I’d move on to the next people on the list. It’s also very typical for the hiring process to not return a call for a day or two. I think it would be a good idea to read more of Allison’s advise on job searching to get a better idea of the norms around it.

        1. Laura*

          I’ve been in the workforce for seven years since I graduated from college so I have been on a ton of interviews. What I will acknowledge is that interviewing while being employed full time is new territory for me. I have been able to be flexible with interviewers in the past because I was either not working or employed part time. The time I did offer after I sent the email to my interviewer was during business hours, but she wanted me to come in the morning (work hours on Friday, as I only work mornings that day) as they were “trying to make a decision by the end of the day.” I can see where your coming from that suggesting times outside of business hours could have moved me down from the list, but given that I made my full time employment status clear from the start, it wasn’t unreasonable for me to ask. If I was told no, I would have tried to find a time during business hours assuming those times/days were within two business day’s notice. And if that employer was not accommodating, I would just considered myself to have dodged a bullet as maybe that says something about them.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I think they’re just suggesting your expectations around response times from an employer, to calls and to emails, are pretty unreasonable. In this particular situation it sounds like they were also fairly unreasonable but if you continue on in your job search you really need to accept that it is extremely normal for them to not return your call right away and they may not respond to your emails at all if they have a ton of applicants. There are many, many letters here from people who try to follow up with prospective employers too soon and Alison’s advice is always the same.

  5. Quill*

    If they don’t give you 48 hours notice to make arrangements for an interview, I take it as a sign that they won’t be respectful of your time once hired, either.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Agreed! I’d consider that a small yellow flag (so not a deal breaker like a red flag, but something I should pay attention to)… and then I’d reply to ask about meeting in a couple days or next week – and see how they reply.

    2. MK*

      It’s possible the original call, which was on Thursday if I understand the timeline correctly, was to ask the OP to interview on the following Wednesday, but when she didn’t pick up, they moved on to the next candidate.

      1. iglwif*

        Yeah, that’s how I read the timeline too–they called Thursday, LW didn’t call back till Friday, they called back on Tuesday (which, taking the long weekend into account, is exactly the same time delay!) but the slot on offer was still the same one. Which is honestly not great–like, surely they have other interview slots later in the week?–but I confess that if a candidate was that passive-aggressive at me on the Tuesday after a long weekend I’d be pretty annoyed and not looking to cut them extra slack.

        1. iglwif*

          OK, I’m wrong, they didn’t respond on Tuesday until LW sent an email?

          I’m now wondering … why was it OK to have this email conversation from work on Tuesday but not to call them back on Thursday in the first place?

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Well it’s way easier to use your phone at your desk for most people than take a call.

            Which is why I always prefer to setup everything via email anyways. You email me any time during the day, I’ll probably respond within an hour or two. But if you call, I can’t scoot out to my car until there’s a true stoppage in my day where I can have time to speak to someone fluidly.

            All my arrangements when I got my last few jobs have been doing strictly over email unless there was a phone interview that was arranged.

            1. Laura*

              After back and forth messages with the office manager, he did email. Perhaps I should have been clear from the start that email is the best way to reach me for scheduling, and will do that with interviewers going forward.

            2. iglwif*

              I mean, yes, I also MASSIVELY prefer email for basically everything, and when I was a hiring manager I always, always did this stuff by email (everything except actual phone interviews and offering people jobs).

              I was just thinking, if it were me, I’d return the call during my lunch break or as soon as I picked up the message (which might mean leaving a voicemail that said “email is the best way to reach me, here’s my address again”), rather than waiting until the next business day to ring back.

        2. Trying a New Name*

          It’s possible it was the only time slot they had. Doctors have very difficult schedules, since they have pre-booked patient appointments, and also need to keep certain times blocked off for clinic, on-call times, emergencies, etc. It also sounds like OP was one of the last candidates, since they needed to make a decision by that Friday. It’s likely they had other candidates they needed to get back to, who were good enough that they were fine passing on OP if the schedules didn’t work out.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      This. Every decent company I’ve talked to had a “48 hours min, one week max” policy when trying to set an interview, even the ones that were desperate.

    4. Another HR manager*

      While I agree when interviewing outside of medical offices, doctor’s offices may be in a slightly different camp — both because their schedules are driven by appointments (so available times may be limited) and because they are used to calling the shots on their availability.

    5. Laura*

      Agree! I reread my employee handbook for my current job and the two weeks notice is only required for vacation. I told them I need two business days notice if they want me to come during work hours, which I also specified.

  6. JM60*

    How should one navigate this if you’ve already had a zillion doctor’s appointments recently? Or seems like job hunting is a lot easier if you’re relatively healthy/lucky, but if you’re not, it can be difficult to keep leaving work to look for another job.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      It’s actually easier, imo, if you’ve had a zillion appointments lately. It’s more likely to go unnoticed as “oh, just another one of JM60’s appointments” where if you went from zero appointments to a whole bunch your employer might get worried. (It happened to me. I went from no appointments to suddenly a lot while I interviewed and my boss was asking me if I was suddenly very ill or dealing with a chronic condition – out of a good place, but still.)

    2. 8DaysAWeek*

      It’s hard. I was pulling excuses out of my you-know-what. During one job search, I was planning my wedding from far away. I think one excuse I used was that I needed to meet with my florist and Tuesday was the only day my fiance, me and my parents would be around. However I think I did have a few days notice from my interviewer so it didn’t look entirely last minute.
      The other times I think I called in sick the morning of with a migraine. My interviews were over 2 hours away so I had to take off the whole day.
      Another time was a phone interview and I drove my car to a quieter area of the parking lot and interviewed in my car.

    3. VeryAnon*

      I don’t get why people think it’s a good idea to get a future employee to lie to a current employer.

      1. WellRed*

        Well then what do you suggest? They aren’t actually telling the employee to lie. It’s not their fault that if candidates work for companies that make it hard to take time off.

        1. JM60*

          Even if you do work for an employer who is very flexible, there typically comes a point at which appointments add up. It’s not currently a big issue for me because I’m not looking for a new job and my employer is very flexible (at least by American standards). However, I’ve had a lot of medical appointments this last year (which I’m expecting to decrease). I image that I would’ve self selected out of many potential jobs due to not wanting to take more time off of work when I’ve been taking off for so many appointments already.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        The alternative would be to schedule an in person interview during a time that doesn’t conflict with candidate’s work schedule. So I am not going to ask how the candidate managed to get to my office at 3 pm on a Wednesday if it means I don’t have to stay an hour after closing or come in an hour early, or even on a weekend to hold the interview.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s because we live in a world where we understand that not all other employers are reasonable.

        I just say “I need to come in late” or “I need to leave early!” and flex my schedule any such way I want. I don’t have to explain myself because my boss isn’t a tyrant who needs to know where I am or is fearful that I’m out running around on the company.

        But there are many places out that will fire a person for being known to job hunt. There are places out there that have a strict time off policy that makes it awful to even take time off with a few days notice. So people have to bend the truth and say “I have an appointment.” or call in sick when they’re not. It’s icky and unfair because we have a lot of jerks in management positions and management who likes to take things super personally, etc.

        1. WellRed*

          There’s a a comment further up that states if they find out someone is job searching, they will basically shut down all work opportunities and discuss an exit plan. No one wants to tell the boss they are interviewing, but bosses like that reap what they sow ( or fail to).

          1. Avasarala*

            To be fair, it’s a business decision on both sides. In that context the boss has an obligation to take care of their team and the ones who will remain–time to start cross training so you’re not left in the lurch when that person leaves.

        2. VeryAnon*

          Yeah, I get why it’s sometimes necessary. I was more critiquing the ‘come in tomorrow. Oh you’d rather book leave than lie to your employer? Not committed!’ Attitude.

          I just think it sucks. Also I get that in some places it’s hard enough to get time off for an *actual* doctors appointment.

      4. Avasarala*

        Right! We should encourage people to tell their bosses “Hey boss, I’m going to be out tomorrow so I can interview to work at another company.” That won’t make anything weird!

  7. Just Another Manic Millie*

    This is why I don’t agree with the premise that it’s easier to find a new job while you’re currently employed than if you were currently unemployed. I have had ten jobs. When my last company went out of business, I decided to retire. Of the other nine jobs, I gave notice and left six of them without having lined up another job. I always found it difficult to job hunt while employed. People generally don’t like to come in early or stay late to interview applicants. Lunch-time interviews were usually impossible, as I had to go to lunch when my supervisor went to lunch, and it could be anywhere from noon to 1:30 PM. But when I was unemployed and job-hunting, it was so easy! I was always available! Again, I do not see why it’s supposed to be so easy to find a new job while you’re currently employed.

    Someone once told me that I was lucky that companies took my word for it that I had quit my previous job (as opposed to having been fired), because he wouldn’t believe anyone who claimed that he had quit a previous job without having anything lined up and was on good terms with the previous company. That had never occurred to me!

    1. E*

      Yes. I can’t understand it at all! I am in a very non-flexible job and I commute an hour+ which means even if I was able to meet someone first thing in the morning for an interview it would mean at least a half of a day lost at my job. The only way I am going to be able to get out of here is to quit before I apply anywhere. Sigh.

    2. Filosofickle*

      What they mean is hiring managers perceive you as more desirable / employable if you are currently employed. I believe that is 100% true.

      But I agree that job hunting while employed is extremely hard. Hard to find the energy and time after work to create custom cover letters. Hard to furtively check personal email and make phone calls from work. Hard to get time off for interviews. Hard to have to lie about time off and hide things from coworkers you like.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        I disagree that it is 100% true, because when I was looking for a job while unemployed, I always said that I could start working at my new job tomorrow, unlike someone who had to give two weeks notice. One time, when I was job-hunting while employed, I was asked when I would be able to start working at the new company. I said, “It depends on when I’m hired. If you tell me right now that I have the job, I’ll give my company two weeks notice, and I’ll start working here two weeks from tomorrow.” I was told, “Sorry, we need someone who can start immediately. Good-bye.”

        1. Daisy*

          I can’t believe any job that wants you to literally start tomorrow could be better than the job you already had. That’s absolute bottom of the barrel. Even checkouts at Tesco don’t expect you to start tomorrow.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m with Daisy. A prospective employer who won’t even give you adequate time to wrap things up at your old job is probably going to be a not great employer in a whole host of other ways. Instead of framing it as “I missed out on a job because I was job hunting while employed and couldn’t start right away,” you should frame that as “I dodged a bullet with a potential employer who was not very likely to be respectful of my time and my work/life balance.”

          1. Laura*

            Exactly. I’m not upset that this employer wants me to interview during work hours but that the interviewer doesn’t respect my time when I was clear from the get go. If the employer didn’t like that I was employed, they shouldn’t have interviewed me in the first place!

    3. DJ*

      I think it’s less that it’s logistically easier and more that it’s easier because you won’t be desperate to get a new job as soon as possible. If you have the savings to make it possible to quit and then job hunt, that’s great, but most people won’t be able to do that. And if you are employed you can be more strategic about which positions you’re applying for and you can take your time without worrying about running out of money. Plus employers will probably respond more favorably to you if you’re currently employed whereas if you quit your job, they may wonder if you were actually fired or if you agreed to quit for some particular reason that you’re not giving them.

      This is also going to vary depending on your field and the area where you live and whether you’re willing to relocate. My field is pretty limited and I can’t move away from where I currently am, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to quit my job in order to find another one because the number of jobs posted at any given time is so limited. However, if you work in a field with tons of opportunities, quitting might make sense for you because you won’t have as much trouble finding another job.

      1. Laura*

        I can’t financially afford to quit without a job lined up. You’re right that it’s hard to explain quitting to a new employer as they might think you were fired.

    4. Antilles*

      It’s easier not in terms of logistics, but in terms of everything else – primarily finances, but also emotions and stress.
      If you’re already employed, you can be more choosy and careful about where you end up. You can afford to wait for the right opportunity rather than jumping at the first decent opportunity. You can be more emotionally detached when you get rejected because you’re not worried about impacts to your mortgage payment. And so forth.
      It’s awesome that you were financially able to quit a job six times with nothing else lined up and survive with no money coming in for weeks/months until you found something that suits you…but many people don’t have that luxury – and for them “it’s easier to job search while you’re employed and can be patient” is very good advice compared with “quit your job and start searching full-time”.

    5. Arielle*

      Out of curiosity, are you in the US? A lot of us are bound to our jobs by health insurance rather than income. I’ve actually never had all that much trouble finding a new job so I’d be pretty confident using your method if I really wanted to quit and spend a few weeks or months full-time job hunting, but I can’t risk a gap in insurance coverage.

      1. Midwest writer*

        My boss and I had that conversation many times at a previous job. Having universal health care would certainly make it easier for people to up and ditch bad jobs and have more flexibility to change jobs.

      2. Just Another Manic Millie*

        I’m in the United States. I was always hyper about having health insurance. Thanks to COBRA, I didn’t have to worry about gaps in insurance coverage.

      3. Laura*

        Yes, I’m in the US. I wish we had universal health insurance (but that’s a different discussion altogether) so we don’t have to choose between being employed a certain number of hours a week vs healthcare.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      I think you were very lucky!

      My spouse was laid off in the great recession, it took two years to get a job, and it ended up being retail despite having 2 degrees and successful grant writing experience.

      After trying for 4 years to get in the market again he left to be a stay at home, but all attempts to break back into any back office job have failed. We were very lucky that an employer gave him some feedback about why they didn’t hire it. It was all very much due to the gap. His references also reported to us that many employers asked why he was on the market so long, seeming to not take the references good review at face value.

      It sucks but as far as we can tell he is persona non grata from a professional back office POV. It got to the point where he was being passed over for entry level work for fresh grads and we knew it was just not in the cards for him.

      I made sure his resume and cover letter was stellar. He’s just one of the unfortunate casualties from the great recession. Somewhat fresh grads gets laid off then never breaks back in. It’s happened to many people our age.

      1. M*

        As a hiring manager if he tries in the future have him write in the cover letter he was staying at home as a parent or caregiver. Huge gaps in a resume are a flag to me (unless it’s around recession period… ugh). But if people explain the gaps in the cover letter it helps a ton and if they look to be a good fit they can get an interview. And maybe explain also he was laid off in the recession and couldn’t get a job and then decided to be a stay at home parent and those skills xyz will help him in his new career.

        Lots of people I know who hire give interviews to those who stayed at home to care for kids or parents or were sick etc. then it is up to you during the interview period to tell us why you’re a good fit. I am sorry that happened to your family. My husband and I were both out of work for a years during and after the recession. It was totally awful. We ended up doing retail work and he drove small delivery trucks and then we volunteered. The volunteer work led us to our careers. Good luck!

      2. WellRed*

        Don’t know his field or age, but sounds like he could be falling on the wrong side of the age divide, specially if it’s a “young” field.

        1. WellRed*

          Just reread your comment: is he applying for jobs at the right level instead of trying to compete for entry level with fresh grads?

    7. hbc*

      I’ve had fewer jobs, but yeah, everything about job searching is easier when you have tons of time to do it. I suppose there might have been places that didn’t interview me because of the gap, but I still got calls. In fact, I got more interest when I was unemployed, but that was probably due to being able to take the time to put together good application materials.

    8. LabTechNoMore*

      Speaking from experience, when you’re unemployed you get no flexibility from employers on job interviews or job starting dates – they expect you to start right this second if they offer the job. If I manage to line up another job, I’d like to actually enjoy a week or so of being able to relax for a bit (and get ready for the new role) without the housing and food insecurity hovering over me. On top of them bringing up the fact that you’re unemployed constantly, and badgering you on why you haven’t gotten a job yet.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        But I always wanted to start “right this second,” so that wasn’t a problem with me. If I wanted to take time off and relax before starting a new job, I took that time off and relaxed before I started job-hunting.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          It’s great that you’re able to relax before job hunting, but it’s the not having an income part that’s pretty nerve-wracking. Two weeks is standard, and if it’s truly mission critical that a person start that day the problem is with the business and not the prospective employee. Particularly when they take week or months to get back to you, then demand you start right this second.

          1. Just Another Manic Millie*

            The companies that were happy that I could start working there the following business day did NOT take weeks or months to get back to me.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      First it depends on your job. There are positions that are easy to get hired for once you have the right credentials in line, so it doesn’t matter if you’re working or not at the time.

      In my experience with having to recently listen to people spitball about the resumes for openings, many people are tossing resumes if the person hasn’t worked recently, let alone if they aren’t working to begin with. It’s ugly and unfortunate, it’s part of humans having their own special sorting systems when hiring and what they expect. There’s a misguided idea that’s huge among hiring managers who only hire irregularly that someone who is unemployed is not employable for some reason “what’s wrong with this person?” has been said within my ear shot way too many times over the years. And of course I respond with “Probably nothing, they’re probably just looking for a job that fits what they want and not desperate.” I haven’t changed any minds, despite trying to a lot. I have sat and tried to tell people to stop focusing on such random nonsense until they chat with someone but it’s an easy way to filter things for a lot of people and people love “easy” =(

      Most people don’t have the luxury to just quit their jobs without anything lined up. The health insurance point is good but in reality this world is full of people living paycheck to paycheck.

      1. AudreyParker*

        Of course this isn’t the first (or 100th) time I’ve heard this, but really does make me sick to my stomach. I’m starting to feel like I seriously will never work again because I got laid off (for business reasons) and not immediately re-employed, which means guess I’d better start learning about the resources for the homeless in my city… It’s unreal how a gap self-perpetuates — once you have one, everyone judges you for it, which just makes it bigger, which makes everyone judge harder etc etc. “Why are you living on the street?” “well, you see, I had this gap on my resume…”

        So yeah, can verify, between “unemployed? must be defective” and “resume gap? must be defective” can confirm it is NOT easier looking for work when you don’t have a job; I’d rather be lying about sick days.

    10. A*

      Personally, I find it difficult to job hunt from the streets. Which is where I’d be without full time employment & benefits.

  8. Oxford Comma*

    Generally, you don’t want to be THAT applicant. The one who keeps calling and calling and asking why no one has gotten back to you and complaining that no one will hire you. So in future, I would advise not ever asking if there was a problem with any potential employer’s phone system again.

    While I agree with others here that no notice is not good, I think you will need to be flexible and will have to come up with a game plan for interviewing during business hours. Maybe trying to see if they can interview on your lunch hour, beginning of the day, end of the day might be options. The other is that you call in sick or you take a vacation day.

    1. Laura*

      I don’t have enough PTO to take a vacation day and the commute from my office to theirs is 25-40 mins each way so I cannot pull that off along with a 30 min interview as a lunch break. If the office was a 10-15 min drive each way, a lunch hour interview would be possible.

      As someone who works in a medical office where we have had phone problems, asking about the phones being down is not unreasonable.

      1. WellRed*

        But it comes off poorly, compounded by asking if the manager was also off ( especially on Friday before Labor Day). It reads as very demanding and entitled. “Well, what’s your reason for not getting back to me? Don’t you know how busy I am? I have A Job.” Do you see how that sounds? PS. So do the other candidates have jobs.

        1. Laura*

          I cannot speak to the other candidates for this position. What I can speak to is that someone who is a medical scribe is typically in college or doing a gap year between college and medical school. Therefore, most people who scribe have never worked a full time job. So it could be possible that this practice is not used to hiring a non-traditional pre-med (starting post-bacc at UC Berkeley Extension in January) who works full time.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I have been on the hiring side of things. All I am saying is that if you sound pushy or entitled, that’s a massive mark against you.

        Is it common in most medical offices to have phone problems? Was it necessary for you to ask if they had experienced problems with theirs?

        1. Laura*

          I can’t speak for all medical offices, but I have witnessed delays in returning messages from my experience as a patient and medical staff member. Maybe phones were not the issue, but it’s not impossible.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            I think the key here is when you contact them, you not try to put the blame (deserved or not) on them for not getting in touch with you. I know it’s hard. I know it’s frustrating. I know it shouldn’t be happening. But if the person on the other end of the line decides to read your tone as negative or gets irked at you, it tanks your chances.

            Best of luck to you in your job search.

  9. Kyubey*

    I’m currently dealing with this; I’m actively job searching and am getting lots of calls for interviews, but nobody is willing to interview before or after business hours it seems (maybe it’s also because I’m fairly junior) I’m being laid off in 6 months so if my company realizes I’m interviewing it doesn’t matter much, and that’s the only reason I’m just taking whatever time off I need. When I left my last job I only did 1 or 2 interviews a month maybe (pretty much only agreed to interview with jobs I really wanted) and over 2 months I was lucky enough to find something.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve never had a job interview that was before or after hours. I always just fibbed about a last-minute doctor’s appointment or changed shifts with somebody.

      The thing is, the people who are doing the interviews are doing this as part of their jobs, not on their spare time. I’m not sure why we’d expect them to do this after hours.

      1. Washi*

        The one time I had a 6 pm interview it actually ended up being a bit of a red flag! When I left at 6:45, the office was still full of people busily working (and I knew from the interview this was start at 9 type of job and was also getting some workaholic hints) and I was not interested anymore!

        So yeah, I’m super sympathetic to interviewers not wanting to go far outside of 9-5 because I don’t want that to be expected of me if I start working there!

      2. Avasarala*

        I’m the opposite, I think if interviews are part of your job, it’s kind of unreasonable to be rigid and expect other working people to come to you between 9 and 5 only. Especially if you’re in a culture/industry that allows things like flex time, work from home, checking email after hours from home, global meetings at all hours, etc. It’s really unfair that candidates are expected to use all that to sneak out for meetings, but interviewers can’t use flex time to work late/early and come in the next day late, or treat it like working from home after hours.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah – speaking as someone who works nonstandard hours in low-paying jobs, it seems overly precious that hiring managers will rarely make this basic accommodation when most of them make a LOT more money and better benefits than most people who work nonstandard hours. Retail workers, warehouse and factory workers, waitstaff, night shift nurses, cleaning crew, gig workers like me… we all suck it up and make it work. It’s unfair that the applicant has to potentially risk their current employment so hiring managers (usually better paid and in a position of more power) get to work their nice “normal” hours.

          (I am writing this on the train home at almost 11 pm.)

    2. Alice*

      Not after hours but I’ve managed to schedule most of my interviews at the very start or end of business hours. Lunchtime interviews also work well.

    3. Samwise*

      Nobody is willing to interview before or after business hours because that means the interviewer will have to work before or after business hours: if my boss does not let me flex my time, I can’t interview before/after. If the building is locked before 8 am (for instance) and after 5 pm, you can’t get in and frankly, it may not be safe for me to let in some person I don’t know when I’m by myself. Or there’s a hiring committee and it’s hard to get everyone to the office before/after hours. Or we’ve been flexible in the past and gotten burned because we’ve been ghosted too many times and we’re just not going to bother any more. Or it’s next to impossible for the interviewer/s to get to the office early/leave late due to transportation problems. Or the interviewer/s have non-work obligations outside of office hours.

      Basically, all the reasons you yourself might not want or be able to work outside usual hours.

      It’s frustrating, but the reality is, you will have to take time off of work. You may miss out on some jobs if you can’t make it to the interview times they have on offer.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I always, always, always offer to meet people before or after work.

      And when I was applying for my current job, the HR person suggested we meet after work. A lot of my interviews (the 6 of them) were scheduled after work.
      Now, in my industry people do often work late for deadlines.

      But I would never expect someone to have to take off work. Sure, I’m in the “power position,” but I could miss out on some good candidates if I’m only available to see them during the day.

      And, I know I’m going to ask a LOT from them if they come work for me. I want them to know that I’ll meet them halfway.

    5. Media Monkey*

      in my industry and in the UK, if we are hiring for anyone other than entry level (and even then if we like the look of their cv) we would always either get them to come in early or stay late. i would never expect anyone to take time out of work to interview. clearly this is quite weird!

      for my current role (been here 3 months nearly) i had a call with a recruiter after work (almost all roles are done via recruiters), then a phone interview during my lunch hour with my boss, then a before work second interview with a presentation to do with my boss and the chairman. so no time taken off for interviewing at all!

  10. LawBee*

    So you had a phone interview on Tuesday, they called Thursday and left a message, you returned the call Friday, and when they didn’t call you back on the first work day after – you called them and asked if their phones were broken. And expected an apology for the delay, although you didn’t say whether you apologized to them for waiting a day to return their call.

    Props to Alison for answering the question that was asked, but if you need them to recognize that you have time constraints, you need to give them the same consideration. Working interviews around your current job is tough, but you’re going to have to give a little as well – you can’t expect them to alter their hiring process to fit your schedule.

    1. Laura*

      I received the call after work hours and called back 24 hours later. In my voice message, I apologized for not answering the phone as I was at work. Sorry if this was unclear in the letter.

      1. LawBee*

        I think your plan above to request email only going forward is excellent – a lot of people do that when they’re working and looking, and it’s honestly better for the hiring manager as it provides a paper trail that can be checked. Really, the only thing that made me take a second look was the quick turnaround you expected from them. You’re busy, they’re busy, but hiring isn’t their #1 priority, right? Their patients are. So going forward (in cases you don’t get this job, which if you want it I surely hope you get it), give them more than a day to return your call before you contact them again.

        You remind me a bit of my BFF who always needs to know the WHY behind actions. She has a hard time when the WHY is nebulous or “just because” – she is also in the medical field, so maybe it’s a science-based personality thing!

        Best of luck to you. (I don’t know if you’ll even see this reply, lol)

  11. Ana Gram*

    Yeah, this is super normal. We schedule candidates for 2 full days of testing/interviewing that occur during the week. The vast majority of our applicants are employed so I assume they either take a vacation day or call out sick. You can ask for leeway (plenty of my applicants do) but you need to be prepared with a plan of that’s denied. Good luck in your job hunt!

    1. VeryAnon*

      Do you do that when you expect them to come in the next day? Because that is really unfair if so. I turned down an interview for a job that would have been a 10k raise because the guy insisted I had to come in the next day. Which, as a mid level employee I could not swing, because I had meetings scheduled Etc. I was senior enough to have responsibilities, but certainly not senior enough to sack them off on a whim. It made me think less of the guy that he would even ask.

    2. Loocas*

      Two days of testing and interviewing seems like a lot to ask of candidates. Is this the final stage? I think holding interviews during business hours is usual, but two straight days seems extreme.

      1. Ana Gram*

        I largely hire cops so 2 days is pretty standard- a couple interviews, polygraph, medical test, psych test, that kind of thing. But it’s 2 complete weekdays. Frankly, I don’t care what they tell their current employers but we can’t accommodate non weekdays, unfortunately. I assume it’s a mixture of vacation time, maybe calling out sick, and, heck, maybe being extremely honest with some explorers. I think the OP is surprised by something that’s very, very normal.

        1. Loocas*

          This seems fairly reasonable given the specific role and field. I would disagree with you that this is “very, very normal” more broadly. This would be outside of the norm for most office-based jobs in my field or the fields of most people I know (where, for instance, polygraphs and psych tests are not given).

        2. Loocas*

          That seems reasonable given the specific role. I would disagree with you that this is “very, very normal.” In most fields, I think this would be very much outside of the norm. For example, most jobs don’t require polygraphs, medical tests, or psych tests (and many don’t require any tests).

  12. VeryAnon*

    I think this can be really dependent on industry and seniority. Since I’ve reached mid level roles, prospective employers have been more flexible in terms of meeting me outside of work hours. I’ve also had better perks (flexitime etc) that make job interviews easier. But I think more employers need to recognise that unless the person does shift work / flexitime then they may need to give 2 weeks to a month’s notice for leave. If you demand a lower level employee meet you with less than 24 hour notice, you’re basically demanding they pull a sickie, which is an ethical dilemma, and an unfair one.

    1. TootsNYC*

      In my field, I actually assume that lower-level people have less flexibility. I would hate to ask them to give up wages or vacation days.

      So unless I *had* to interview them during the day, I’d absolutely be willing to stay and extra hour or two.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What really gets me is that the more junior the employee, the less leave they have, for the most part. As a senior-level exempt employee in a flexible office, I can take a few hours in the middle of the day and I’m not questioned, and if I need a day off I can usually take it. When I was way more junior, I couldn’t do that. I was once chastised by an HR rep trying to set up an interview when I asked to come in at 8:30 (before work) and she told me I would need to set aside a whole day. Couldn’t do it.

      However, she was an outlier. For the most part, I was able to schedule interviews either first thing or last thing. Sometimes I would have to tell work I had an early morning or early evening doctor’s appointment, but when I was super junior, a lot of interviewers were willing to hang around for an extra hour or so to interview me. It was pretty typical for my industry (big media).

      I used to work for a very small company that was hiring a bunch of roles, including junior ones. During a meeting where the HR manager was giving us an update on hiring, I said something about how I was willing to come in early and stay late if there was a great candidate who couldn’t make it during normal business hours. Several of my colleagues agreed. Our CEO shot that down, saying that if a candidate were “committed enough”, they would come in whenever we asked them to. I think that is highly unreasonable, especially if you have interviewers who are willing to be flexible.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and wouldn’t you hope that they’re actually committed to their current employer, at least while they still work there and are taking their coin?
        Because you’d want them to treat you the same way when it came time for them to job hunt again.

        And why would I be committed to a company that hasn’t made me an offer yet?
        I might be committed to my job hunt, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean anything to the company.

        I always regarded that as a positive sign, when someone said, “We’re in the middle of a deadline, so I hate to take off during the day.”

      2. 1234*

        I hate people with the mentality of that CEO. Yes, those candidates are “committed enough,” to their current responsibilities. You wouldn’t want them ditching those responsibilities and obligations to you, so why make them jerk around their current employer? *eyeroll*

      3. VeryAnon*

        AvonLady – yes exactly. Now, I can casually tell my boss i’ll be in a bit later. When I was more junior that would have been a complete no go.

    3. Laura*

      I think you are right. As an non traditional premed (29 yo), most people who scribe are in their early 20’s and do so part time in college or for a gap year. Interestingly enough, my interviewer said I seem more committed than a gap year/college student. So I think that employer was holding themselves to expectations of college students instead of working adults.

      1. WellRed*

        Ugh, I ran into that in the other direction. Older student (ancient 27) who had trouble fitting classes around a day job. One degree req was offered once per semester by one professor so also filled up. I believe lawsuits were threatened ( not by me).

        1. Laura*

          I’m starting a post-bacc at UC Berkeley Extension in January and they were the only program I considered that caters to working adults, not college students. Most if not all classes are offered evenings and weekends – this is not the case with the majority of post-baccs!

      2. Wanda*

        But remember that you are competing against those college students, and there are a lot of them. You might be the most amazing candidate, but if you cause them too much trouble during the interview process, they can find 10 college students who are pretty good and won’t cause them any trouble.

    4. MistOrMister*

      I can’t think of any job I’ve worked where 2 weeks to a month was necessary for leave. At least, not the type of leave needed for interviewing where you will probably only be off for a couple of hours. Other than retail where shifts are made in advance. Every office I’ve been in is more flexible than that even for junior employees.

  13. Jerk Store*

    A couple of things that I noticed:

    I could be wrong, but I got the impression that you thought it was weird or unusual that the Office Manager called to schedule the follow-up interview – that’s actually really standard that a busy physician would have her Office Manager set up interviews for her, and something you’d want to realize is normal if you want to have a career in the medical field.

    I would also suggest that you take time out of your day to during breaks or lunch to return interview requests the same day if you can.

    1. Laura*

      I received the call after my break and that day was especially busy at work so I couldn’t step away from my desk and patients. To be clear, I did not say it was weird or unusual for the office manager to call. It was weird that I returned the call during business hours on the next day (stated in the outgoing message) to not receive a timely response. When I reached out to my interviewer (different than OM), the OM called and said he didn’t receive my message.

  14. specialist*

    This is a urologist. Surgeons work odd hours and take call that requires them to work anytime. Ask to meet outside of regular business hours. I would be fine with that and I bet your urologist will as well.

    1. MK*

      Except this urologist very obviously wasn’t fine with that. Also, not a doctor, but I would assume that being available to your patients 24/7 (which not all doctors are willing to do) doesn’t mean you are always willing to stay late to accommodate an interview.

    2. Agnodike*

      I would 100% not be fine with an applicant asking to meet me outside of business hours. I schedule my clinic and administrative days super carefully so they don’t interfere with my call schedule and with all the other stuff in my life like, you know, my family and grocery shopping and whatnot. Giving an interview time the next day is definitely not ideal on the practice’s part, but for physicians and other on-call workers whose time is really tight, they’re probably offering you what time they can give you.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      But the interviewer isn’t the physician in this case it sounds like. It’s the former scribe. So it’s not even the doctor’s choice. This person is on their way out, they don’t want to be flexible because they probably have something else going on, like school or family, etc.

      1. Laura*

        That’s what I suspect was the issue. I think the urologist was pushing for the staff to hire someone quickly. He is a sole practitioner, not part of a large hospital or medical group. Which is why I was somewhat optimistic that he might be willing to meet outside of work (whereas a large hospital or medical group may not).

  15. Nah, I'm okay.*

    I’ve had 2 employers in the last few months make (what I consider) unreasonable requests.

    First, an email on Monday asking if I was available for an in person interview that Thursday afternoon. I had not had a phone screen with the organization and it would be about an hour drive from my current workplace. I emailed and said I could come Wednesday but not Thursday and they replied that if they decided to have interviews that day, they’d let me know.

    Second, after an initial phone screen, that I thought I did horrible on, I was asked to come in for 2 one-hours interviews together, and then take a 45 minute test of some sort. This needed to be done within the next couple days. I told them that I was not able to take that much time off work unexpectedly and never heard back from them.

  16. mcr-red*

    Yes, they expect you to take time off for interviews, and sometimes they will ask for multiple interviews. And it will sometimes be last minute as well.

    Which is why employers should get back to you when they say they will and not just ghost you, since you took time off to meet with them. However, that doesn’t always happen.

    1. ZS*

      Yes – the worst is when you clearly take leave from your job, possibly drive a long distance for a interview, only to be ghosted after you leave that day.

      1. Laura*

        Sounds awful! I had an interview in April at a different practice where the office manager took her lunch during the scheduled interview time, and was told by the reception staff that she “forgot” she scheduled the interview. I started filling out the paperwork but left realizing that I’m not going to waste time with someone who forgot an interview when I showed up on time. Of course I understand emergencies happen in a medical office, but it would have been courteous of that office manager to call and say, “I’m sorry but I have to take my lunch later than usual. Can you come an hour later (or whenever)?

  17. Wendy*

    If you don’t want to outright lie about an interview, just don’t specify what sort of appointment it is. If you say you have a doctor’s appointment, that’s a lie. If you say you have an appointment, it’s the truth and your conscience is clear. It’s not your fault if they assume it’s a doctor’s appointment – you never said it was!

    1. Mimmy*

      That’s how I usually do it too. An “appointment” could be anything, though most probably would assume it’s a medical appointment since that’s the most common.

  18. Would also like to go to med school*

    I rarely comment, but as someone who also wants to go to med school, I felt compelled to do so. Just some quick background: I finally decided to wanted to go to med school in my late 20s and have returned to school to get my science prereqs out of the way. Not going to lie, it is rough because I have to relearn how to be a student and make sure to get the research, volunteer, shadowing etc experience that med schools love. I also needed to find a part-time job that offered benefits. But, I also learned a lot along the way.

    As someone who has applied to several medical offices/hospitals/scribe positions, etc, it usually is a mixed bag when it comes to interviews. There was places that were willing to work with me and others…not so much. But as someone who has had several toxic jobs, I have come to realize that places that aren’t willing to work with your schedule and don’t offer an explanation, usually do not care about life-work balance and will nickel and dime you for any time off.

    I once had a provider forget about an interview and I politely sent her an email and let her know my availability if she wanted to reschedule. End result: I got a second-round interview and was a top-finalist. However, I declined because the pay was a little low. And the job? It was to train to be a vision therapist. The reason she forgot? A patient had an emergency. If it comes between an interview and any patient related activity, providers will always choose their patients, hands down, as they should. So I am a little curious on why you jumped from mistakes on their end and not assuming the delay was patient-related.

    Not going to lie, OP, you probably ruined your chances with the constant back and forth and the weird passive aggressive language. I don’t know if it because the practice you work in operate a certain type of way and they have strict follow-up measures, but not every place will operate like the clinic you work in. And if you take those habits to other places or project that to other clinical practices, you will not be doing yourself any favors.

    Going forward, I would try to be as flexible as possible and effectively communicate any blackout days. So if you couldn’t take the time off because of the other receptionist being out on vacation, communicate that to them and again be flexible. For example, “I love to come in for an interview; unfortunately, the other receptionist is out on vacation and I can’t take any time off as I am providing coverage. But, does X time on X date work? I am also available at 8 AM (or whatever) or 5:30 PM (or whatever) if those times aren’t too early or too late in the afternoon.” Or whatever language as long as it is polite and professional.

    As Alison mentioned some places do have a fast hiring timeline. I don’t want to get into too much details, but I was just hired by a medical device/tissue processing company and will learn how to dissect tissue. For me, it is a dream come true as I am interested in surgery and the job is part-time hours but they offer full-time benefits. My hiring timeline was a month; however, HR communicated that to me and they were flexible when I had emergency oral surgery and was unable to come in for the final interview. The company is hiring for similar positions and I have heard some talk and honestly, what ruins folks’ chances of being hired are mostly personality quirks, if you will. Being too arrogant, mumbling through their answers and not having stories of when they faced any challenges. But the most damning is not coming across as flexible and professional.

    I would suggest branching out in your search, OP. Don’t get pigeonholed in believing scribing is the only way. Before I returned to school I worked on a research study and helped train some of the incoming research assistants and honestly? Almost all of them wanted to go to med school, but never had any patient interaction before or they came off as rude and arrogant when they worked with research participant. I am not saying that is you OP, but it was common enough that it was shocking. Just make sure to watch out for that moving forward and good luck on your med school application!

    1. Former Scheduler*

      Several good points!

      First – on if a place is willing to work with you. I once was in charge of scheduling interviews at a high turnover healthcare facility. The directors were particularly unreasonable about scheduling interviews – setting strict limits on when to come in, missing interviews entirely or canceling at the last minute (for non-patient related reasons – once it was because we were getting chicken-fried steak for lunch and the director didn’t want to miss out). I was waving red flags all over the place. Of course, the directors always wondered why they never had good candidates.

      Also a good point – OP likely did sabotage the chance at this role. But OP, learn from this and move on. There’s a lot of other options out there!

    2. Maria Lopez*

      Retired surgeon here. Working in a medical office as a receptionist or being a scribe and doing research (although what research you would be doing in a private practice I don’t know) will have almost zero influence on your getting accepted to medical school. What counts are your grades, especially in the science prerequisites, and your MCAT scores, in addition to excellent letters of recommendation from professors in your sciences or from physicians who are alumna of the school you are applying to.
      The vast majority of med students have no previous medical experience unless they were nurses or paramedics or techs in the medical field, and other than having a familiarity with the medical language they were at no better advantage than the medical “virgins”.
      Take the job with the best pay and benefits is what I am saying, and if that is the job you are currently in, keep it.
      And work on the passive-aggressive thing.

      1. Also an MD*

        I think these are excellent points, though I would slightly disagree about med schools being indifferent to any extent of healthcare job experience besides being an RN or EMT. I do think that for “traditional” applicants (read: those applying to med school right out of or a few years after undergrad), having some nominal healthcare work or volunteer experience on one’s CV (scribe, translator in a hospital, etc.) serves as a checkbox that helps differentiate these candidates from their direct peers who don’t have any meaningful healthcare experience. But for older/non-traditional candidates, I think lived experience, advanced degrees, meaningful job experience — and obviously the stellar letters of recommendation and grades and test scores that lend evidence that they won’t have difficultly passing USMLE and specialty board exams in the future — matter a lot more. I’ve known MDs who entered the medical field following successful careers as biotechnology entrepreneurs, scientists, and even Olympic-caliber athletes.

        OP, I know this is tangential at most to your initial question, but I will point out that you do already have healthcare-related experience through your work as a medical office receptionist which has probably taught you a lot about the practical humanistic aspects of medicine, so I would think carefully about what added benefits working as a scribe would add to your med school application. If it’s a job you truly want, go for it, but if you’re just hoping for another line on your CV and a letter of rec from the MD you’d be scribing for, maybe it’d be good to consider other options as well. If you haven’t already, it would also be a good idea to meet with someone who can give you an accurate assessment of your candidacy based on undergraduate grades, MCAT score (if you’ve taken it already), etc.

      2. Specialist*

        Well written and thoughtful, this is great advice. I am a mid career surgeon. I don’t have a scribe, although my friends keep telling me to get one. I do have students asking to shadow me as med schools want people with some experience. I think that may be an attempt to reduce the drop out rate.

    3. DontExpectFreeWillInMedSchool*

      I think it’s important to note for everyone here that scribe positions are typically aimed at college students that are pre-med. Most of which don’t have jobs already. That’s who they’re advertised heavily to at colleges, and that’s usually who they get. That’s important for two reasons: first, they’re used to having high influx of applicants with little understanding of norms, and few other obligations. We really dedicate our whole lives to medicine and they kind of own us. Second, the person with two degrees and over ten years of schooling will always have higher priority than you. Even in med school. The physicians time is always more valuable than yours and you’ll have to get used to that. So yeah, in medicine you’re going to have to work around their availability, and they don’t have much availability for interviewing. Scribes are usually short term positions for people that will be moving on quickly, so they don’t usually care about the best candidate, just the quickest one.

      Signed, currently in Med School and they literally own your whole life

      1. Laura*

        My interviewer mentioned exactly what you said, and when I asked about why my application stood out, she said my level of commitment. She thought that I seemed like someone who wanted to learn and grow in the role, instead of stay for a year and leave. My post bacc will take two years given that I need to work full time.

    4. Laura*

      Thanks for sharing your experience and nice to hear from someone on a similar path! You make a good point that the office manager’s delay in calling me back could have been a patient emergency. Maybe he planned to check with the doctor about accommodating my work schedule but a patient emergency meant that did not happen. I’m not sure offhand if I mentioned the other receptionist, but that might have made a difference. Besides scribing, I have applied to research positions and even receptionist positions at larger medical facilities like Kaiser, Sutter, and Stanford. Sadly, I have not gotten any responses. Maybe the lack of response for the research positions is not surprising given I don’t have a science degree and worked in education. However, I’m surprised that the above organizations are not calling me back for receptionist/admin asst positions given I have over a year’s worth of relevant experience (been at my current job for a little over a year, but held admin positions elsewhere). I have read and heard from a friend who is in the same post-bacc that scribing is overrated – though opinions seem to differ on this matter.

      1. Also wants to go to med school*

        Tbh, it is mixed bag. I had the same experience and applied basically everywhere in my area. I actually got my last research position because I played up my past social work background. I would look at research positions that aren’t so tied up with having a science degree. For example, if a job highly preferred having wet lab experience well I knew better than to apply and focused on more research interviewer positions. Where I live the main medical school actually prefers to hire their own graduates so even though I have gotten to the final round interview, the job goes to their graduate. I would keep trying and applying broadly. I actually applied to be a lab tech at the company that just hired me but didn’t get an interview. Instead, I kept checking their website and applied once I saw my position opened. I would suggest looking at lab tech companies in your area. That may not be something you are interested in or have direct experience in but it at least helps you locate such companies and you can keep looking at their jobs listing until something comes along more in line to what you are looking for. I too have heard scribing is a mixed bag and it really depends on the providers and company.

      2. Would also like to go to med school*

        Forgot to mention but if you do get research assistant interviews make sure to ask about professional development opportunities. Meaning is the PI willing to write a letter of rec or offer opportunities to present the research at a conference or any opportunities to write a paper or be listed at least. I ask because they know most applicants are applying to med school and usually offer some support. Beware the projects or PI who don’t. The last study I worked at the PI was difficult to say the least and basically used her staff to butter up her credentials while refusing to offer any opportunities for the team. And she knew most folks wanted to get research experience and apply to med school which made her a nightmare to work for. Again good luck on your job search and med school applications!

  19. Shay*

    ” … I email my interviewer (who I would be replacing) asking her if there were issues with the phones or the office manager was out of office on Friday.”

    What?? It can only be one of these two reasons why your call was not returned last Friday?

  20. blink14*

    It was really tough to find interview times when I was trying to leave my old job. I had 7 sick/personal days per year, all of which had towards me being sick at some point, as I have chronic health issues. In some instances I was able to push for a first round phone interview on a lunch break or just before or after my office hours. I had to be really judicious about what interviews it made sense to go, and which ones didn’t, based on job description, company reviews, etc.

    I got pretty far into the interview stage with a particular company that was interviewing me in a satellite office that was a brutal drive from where I live. Even though I left extra time for both in person interviews, I was a little bit late to both (and I HATE being late). Looking back, I shouldn’t have pursued the job because of the location of the main office anyway, but I was getting desperate to get out of a bad work situation.

    I was able to get an after hours phone first round interview for my current job, and based on that, I was able to swing a half day for “doctor’s appointments” and gambled on it. Fortunately I got the job and was able to get out of my previous hellhole of a work environment.

      1. blink14*

        Agreed! And what was even worse, every year the amount of sick vs. personal in that bank would change -a few years it was 2 personal days, one year I think it was 3, etc. Apparently there was an employee handbook at the home office, the location I worked at was a small office for a one off property in a different state, which my former boss happened to “find” in her files just after I left. Turns out, I was also screwed out of vacation time the final year I was there.

        Now I have an unbelievable amount of sick time – like far, far more than most – and I’m so grateful for it. It’s worth seeking out a new job if the benefits aren’t working for you!

  21. Phoenix Programmer*

    You mention you want to be a Physician so some friendly advice. Running a practice or working in a hospital is not like House.

    You will get fired with an attitude of accomodate and apologize to me but don’t expect me to accommodate you.

    Hospitals do not tolerate that crap from new Drs. Patients increasingly will not tolerate that from their physicians either so even if you build a profitable private practice (harder now then ever btw) then your patients will leave you high and dry.

    Don’t be like the coat stain intern fired and bemoaning why his prestigious MBA program didn’t tell him that being rude on a public train could get you fired.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      I commented above something similar, but yes, this. You’d better believe I let the chief or residency program director know when there is a resident in need of an attitude adjustment. Disrespectful treatment of interdisciplinary team members isn’t going to fly.

      You do NOT want to be on your PDs radar for bad behavior.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yep. Our major system staffed with [lovely, I love them] residents are all surveyed on bedside manner now, they literally send out surveys! They also have signs in their waiting areas about their mission and information about how to report issues. They take it extra seriously. And if any doctors want to give me an attitude like my jerk of a pediatrician years ago [called me a liar, to my face…until the blood work came back, I just cannot], I’m not a scared kid anymore, I’ll run it up the flagpole as far as it’ll go and then some more.

      We’re also the review era, they have review sites for doctors. You will not be very successful when many people don’t trust doctors, fear them and research the crud outta their providers!

      And that’s just after medical school itself. That attitude from a student would get you removed from a program at some places.

    3. caffe latte*

      Yep. My brother made it into & through med school. But as an intern he totally had an arrogant attitude and was told not to return.

    4. Perpal*

      As a doctor, House was fun to watch for a while because it was everything wrong to do. Even the medical conundrums were often silly

      1. wittyrepartee*

        the whole “patients always lie” thing made me laugh (I’m a public health person), because it’s like “no man, they just lie to you because you’re super judgmental!”.

    5. Laura*

      I do not have the attitude of House at ALL. I am complimented by MANY patients for my excellent service and care for their well being. Some know I want to be a doctor and they tell me I’d be amazing at it. And believe me, providing excellent service and care is not easy to come by from a medical receptionist. I go out of my way to make patients feel comfortable because if the receptionist is rude, patients won’t want to come to the practice. I am a veteran patient who has dealt with many receptionists who are rude or don’t seem to put the patient first.

      Nobody in my personal or professional (even my boss) would describe me as arrogant.

      It’s unfair for this poster to have the “accommodate and apologize to me but don’t expect me to accommodate you.” When I left the voice message within 24 hours of receiving the call, I APOLOGIZED for not being able to answer the call the same day. As I commented above, I go out of my way to return unanswered calls within one business day. If that is not possible. I ALWAYS apologize for the delay. However, these people who I interacted with seemed to have an “I could care less attitude” about this matter.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I think one thing to take away from this is to not always expect a call back immediately. The person who left the message for you very well could have been out sick, on vacation, or incredibly busy and not able to get back to you right away. I’m not sure I would have called back so quickly after not getting an answer to my message. But when you do call to follow up, I would not ask why they haven’t called you back. That’s the part that comes off rude/entitled/arrogant/whatever. It’s enough to say “I left a message with X on Y day but haven’t heard back so I wanted to check in to confirm he got it” or something along those lines. But asking them if the guy was off or their phone lines were down gives the impression that you think your time is more valuable than theirs, whether or not you feel that way.

        Also, unless there is a lot more than was in your letter and comments, it feels like you’re taking this too personally. The comment about them having the I could care less attitude jumped out at me. A job seeker is almost always more invested in a position than the people doing the hiring. They just usually are not going to fall all over themselves for you.

        One suggestion, there is nothing wrong with calling and leaving someone a voicemail. If you get a message and can’t respond during work hours, it is perfectly acceptable to call as soon as you get off and leave a message then rather than waiting until business hours the next day to call back. You might have been able to get a call back on the Friday if you’d done it that way. By waiting until afternoon the afternoon on a Friday before a holiday weekend, you potentially caught them at a busy time.

        But yeah, most places expect you to interview during the day. There is usually some flexibility though. You just need to work with the people. Even if you don’t get a lot of leave or have to schedule vacation time in advance, you can look into doing flex time. I generally interview first thing or last thing in the day and make up those hours at work during tye week, so maybe that would be a possibility for you. But, you do need to try to be flexible and not quick to be offended.

  22. Jellybean*

    I have a good employer: The first sign was when management offered schedule interviews from 6-8AM or 6-8PM, so it would not conflict with our current job schedule. I’ve had a good flexible schedule ever since.

    I agree with Alison that it’s common to hire during working hours, but also look out for clues that give you a sense of how an employer might treat you.

    1. Laura*

      A friend pointed out that if I told a prospective employer that I have a full time job and need X days notice and they don’t accommodate, I might not want to work for that employer.

  23. CC*

    It seems like they called you on Thursday, before your half-day off on Friday, but you didn’t return their call until the next day. I wonder if you’d returned the call on the same day, if they would have been able to accommodate you on Friday afternoon.

    I’ll be honest, given your limited availability, you should endeavor to return calls as soon as possible, even if it means taking a 15 minute break to touch base and set a callback time.

    1. Laura*

      The OM called me two days after the phone interview and he called after my lunch break. As a receptionist, I can’t always return a call outside my lunch break at work since I have to attend to patients, phone, or other duties. I wasn’t expecting him to call that soon as I was told I’d hear back about the next steps the next week. Maybe they would have accommodated me if I called the same day, maybe they wouldn’t – I’m not sure. That day was busy so I could not step out for 15 mins.

  24. Perfectly Cromulent Name*

    When I was last looking for a job, I had an hour and half commute to where I was working, and I was looking at jobs closer to home. I had to have “appointments” (I never say what they are, even when they are legit Dr/Dentist type stuff) and had to take a few sick days. I get occasional migraines, so it was not suspicious for me to stay home “sick” a time or two. It’s HARD to look while you are working! Doubly so if you have a job where it’s difficult to get away. I feel the struggle, but it’s the system we have, so we have to do what we have to do.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I blamed one job interview absence on the post office. I was working pretty far from home at the time, and it was well known in the office that I tended to use my lunch break to run errands so I wouldn’t have to stop on the way home. So when I got a lunch time job interview, I “remembered” that I needed to mail a birthday present to a family member and complained about how long the line always is at the local post office. It got the job done.

  25. Jessica Fletcher*

    When my team was hiring earlier this year, I was shocked that none of the candidates we wanted to interview wanted to come in during regular business hours. What the heck. These were all adults, all over 40, not for an entry level job. Not a good first impression!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think it’s often less about “want” and more about “can’t.” What time were they asking to come in? If they’re asking to come in early (say, 8:30) or slightly later (say, 5:30 or 6), then I don’t think that’s crazy. 7am or 8pm is a little much. Also depends on how long you expect the interviews to take.

      I also think it’s unfair to form a bad impression of someone if they ask for a time outside of business hours. If you say that’s not possible and they get angry or huffy, then sure. But if you say that’s not possible and they either try to work something out or they drop out of the running, then that’s just business.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have responsibility to my current employer. I would always ask if extended hour interviews are possible– because i care about issues that my absence might cause.
      If you refuse to interview me because of it, you’ve lost out on someone who gives a damn even about a job she’s outgrown.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yes, that’s actually the reasoning behind why we’re flexible with interview times frequently. Just like there’s going to be a lot of awkward uncomfortable looks if someone who is currently employed says they can start immediately. We want everyone to give notice! We add in a “If they ask you to leave early, we can use you immediately but we want you to take care of your obligations with your current employer first!” [Since we are like “We don’t want you just quitting without notice here either, bro.”]

        So I don’t mind when people ask or find it weird but sometimes it’s not possible and we all have to cut our losses sadly.

    3. Autumnheart*

      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Adults over 40 know that they aren’t going to risk the gainful employment they already have, just to get a shot at a job at, apparently, an unreasonable company who doesn’t understand that they’re not the only company in the world that works during work hours.

      1. Laura*

        I’m 29 yet a bit on the older side for that position. Honestly I don’t think that practice knows how to work with non-traditional students.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      Very often, I didn’t have the tiniest problem going to an interview during regular business hours, but that’s because most of the time, I quit and gave a company two weeks notice without having a new job lined up, so I had all the time in the world. Yet people still say that it’s better to look for a new job while still employed. I don’t get it.

      1. Ella bee bee*

        Many people don’t have the financial means to quit a job without another one lined up. People say it’s better to look for a job while still employed in order to avoid a long stressful period of not getting paid, and also to avoid resume gaps.

      2. WellRed*

        “All the time in the world.” Good for you. I suspect your blessed financial status is part of why you are having trouble grasping this concept.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Well, that’s probably because they have a job and their first responsibility is to their employer. I’m 45, definitely not entry-level, and am a manager. I would still ask for a bit of flexibility since I have a department to manage and usually have lots of meetings to work around; I can’t just cancel them. An employer who isn’t willing to have a bit of flexibility in scheduling interviews is one I probably wouldn’t want to work for. If it’s matter of them not being able to be flexible, that’s different. It happens, either because it’s a short hiring timeline, or they need to coordinate multiple schedules, etc.

  26. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    We’re one of those places that will come in early/late for a job interview. If it’s an important position that’s hard to fill but if we have tons of good candidates, then there’s less likelihood that we’d be as accommodating. This sounds like a job that has a pretty good chance of having a lot of applications to go through, so the search isn’t going to be kicked into being super-accommodating gear.

    As someone who works in a medical office, you should know their structure a lot better. You should know that things get so busy that calls aren’t always returned the same day, especially if they’re not related to a patient. I know that your job right now is to answer phones and stay on top of that, most office managers are dealing with more than just phones at any given time.

    The passive aggressive snapbacks to the interviewer is a bad way to try to get anyone to do any favors. I would advise that you never ever do that again. Especially when you’re looking for ways to get into doors to get closer to your goals. Honey, not vinegar, just remember that.

    1. Laura*

      As mentioned in an earlier comment, it is possible that a patient emergency did come up. I recognize the shortfall on my part of not acknowledging that when I emailed the interviewer asking why the office manager didn’t return my call even though it was during business hours. Not sure how much of a difference it would have made since I eventually got the impression they were trying to hire quickly as opposed to the best candidate, though might have made a little.

  27. MonteCristo85*

    I’ve just landed on the hiring side of this equation, and as I work through this process with my bosses and H.R., it is becoming apparently to me that we tend to forget about other people’s time and trouble. Not on purpose, but just tend to not think about it. For example, we set up a lunch with a prospective applicant, and the first thought on our team was to set up the lunch in our town, rather than the applicant’s town (30 minutes away), which would have necessitated them to somehow manage to take a 2.5 hours lunch without raising eyebrows. Once I pointed out the difficulty for them, we ended up switching it, but nobody had immediately thought about the applicants trouble.

    I do think it is important that the employer focus on these types of things, because candidates may not feel they have the standing to point it out, for fear of being rejected.

    1. Kimmybear*

      Yup. I also hate lunch interviews (both as an interviewer and an interviewee) because the food gets in the way of the conversation or you leave hungry. I think the only time they make sense is if lunch meetings are a common thing the position requires and you are honestly seeing how they handle them.

      1. MonteCristo85*

        It wasn’t so much the lunch interview that I objected to, but the time requirement we were asking of the applicant.

        This was a pre-interview more than anything, and was something they wanted to “try out.” IDK if we will do it again.

  28. Lurker*

    I am responsible to scheduling interviews for my company. I try to give candidates options that might match up with “appointments”: morning, lunch time, late afternoon. I also try to give options that are at least 3-4 days away, but sometimes that’s not possible (due to the person who is conducting the interview). In that case, I always acknowledge that it’s short notice and ask if it would work. If they write back it doesn’t then I try to work with them to find a different time. Occasionally we’ll do an interview slightly before our office opens, or one that will run past closing time. But as has been mentioned multiple times, our employees want to go home too! (Or not have to come in early.) I think that if the employer is being reasonable about notice and times, the candidate needs to be flexible and, yes, that means they will have to interview during business hours.

    1. Laura*

      now that I’m aware of my company’s policy, I would have had no issue coming in during business hours with 2 business day’s notice. I was unaware when I wrote the letter. However, I don’t think it was right that they expected me to come less than a day’s notice when they knew I have a full time job. Maybe going forward I will give specific days and times I’m available.

  29. Asenath*

    Applicants very often do have to do interviews during working hours, although as mentioned above you can sometimes politely request something early in the morning or late in the afternoon or over the lunch hour. Unless there’s very little competition for the job, you are going to have to be accommodating, and if you can’t get off at all for most of the week (you’re covering for someone, and apparently there’s no one else to cover for you for even an hour or two), you’re probably going to be out of luck for this particular job. And yes, a day’s notice is not much. I really don’t think asking to meet the surgeon after his working hours (in the evening) is going to work. Most surgeons work extremely long hours and take evening or night call as it is, and would prefer to schedule non-medical things at some point in their working day, not afterwards. They often start work at ungodly hours in the morning, too, which means by they end of office hours, they have a LOT of time put in. You’re going to have to work around his, and the other interviewer’s, schedule; they won’t be able to be very flexible. It’s frustrating, but sometimes the timing just can’t be worked out, especially if they have other, more flexible, applicants and want to hire someone fast.

    1. Laura*

      I certainly got the impression that they wanted to hire someone fast after I proposed a time/day that would work for me (during THEIR business hours, might I add). Since the surgeon is a sole practitioner in private practice, he may have the flexibility that a surgeon in a large hospital/medical group does not (though not assuming anything – just throwing that possibility on the table). Also, a urologist is different from other surgeons as they provide both medical AND surgical treatment, so their time is not exclusively in the OR.

  30. Leela*

    You will almost always be expected to interview during working hours! No interviewer or especially hiring manager will usually be willing to stay late unless it’s maybe a second or third interview and they really think that you’re a knockout candidate and no one else even comes close. In reality, it’s usually down to several equally good candidates that you have to whittle down with very little reason to cut, and “can’t interview during working hours” would definitely be a reason to not make the cut!

    Having said that, it does sound like they’re handling this very strangely with how quickly they’re moving, but for the future, for almost any job you find I’d be surprised if you weren’t expected to interview during business hours!

    1. Laura*

      Since I only work mornings on Fridays (and that practice was open 9-5 on Fridays), I DID offer Friday afternoon times. This interview would have been the second, as I already had the phone interview. I’ve found a phone interview is pretty standard before an in person interview. I might have been willing to accommodate them a little more if there was not a phone interview. I can’t think of too many jobs I accepted or applied for where there were more than one in person interview. The norm in my experience is one phone and one in person interview – but ever industry is different so maybe the above poster is not in healthcare.

      1. MistOrMister*

        It seems like you’re not taking into account that this is a business and these people have other duties besides merely hiring. (I would say this would be especially true if you’d be interviewing with the doctor). You actually offered a very small slot of times. Generally if you can’t make a suggested date, you offer another couple of days that could work for you. You ONLY offered them Fridays in the afternoon which is really restrictive. Just because they’re open Monday through Friday does not mean they are free to interview on Friday afternoons. They might have certain things that have to be done from lunch time on and can’t fit in interviews.

        Also, an in person interview after a phone interview is not going to count as your second interview as far as people being willing to make extra accomodations for you. You still have to work with them to get the first in person interview scheduled.

  31. LilySparrow*

    Wait, so you got called on a Thursday, didn’t call back until Friday, and then emailed late on Tuesday and got asked to come in Wednesday? Or emailed on Wednesday and got asked to come in on Thursday?

    Either way, you would have had nearly a weeks notice if you’d returned the call in a timely fashion. The time crunch here isn’t on them. The interviewer already filled all the slots, and was working you in.

    When you’re job hunting, it behooves you to check your messages frequently, if you aren’t able to answer your phone at work.

    I don’t read the interviewer as being rigid, but as being unenthusiastic about seeing you. I think your email about “something wrong with the phone system” probably gave a bad impression. It sounds pretty snarky.

    If you’re following up, just say “Im following up on Xs message about scheduling an in-person interview.”

    1. Laura*

      Monday during that week was Labor Day so the office was closed. I returned the call within 24 hours of receiving it.

    2. Laura*

      To clarify, office manager called on a Thursday afternoon. I returned the call on a Friday afternoon (during business hours within the 24 hour window). No response on Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend. I did not have the office manager’s email which was why I could not email him directly.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        You have entirely missed the point. Of course it all seemed perfectly reasonable to you at the time. That’s not the issue.

        The issue is that the job market is competitive. Desirable jobs aren’t sitting around waiting to be filled by magical unicorns who may or may not wander by at the right moment. Employers who need a role filled are going to move the process forward as soon as they have a reasonable selection of candidates booked for second round, and make hiring decisions as soon as they have 1-3 qualified candidates to choose from.

        There is no obligation on employers – particularly when the senior decisionmaker has a demanding schedule – to delay their hiring decisions just in case a candidate who looked pretty good in the phone screen *might* decide to get back to them.

        Doctor clears a day for interviews. Office manager or HR person fills those slots. That’s it.

        If you want to land a desirable job, then you have to put yourself out and deal with some inconvenience. Not because employers are being unreasonable, but because there are *other candidates competing with you.*

  32. MissDisplaced*

    This is always a difficult!
    If they’re asking for a phone call with a days notice, you should probably try to fit it in.

    But it’s understandable that you might not be able to take off work with a days notice. Of course, they probably do expect that you’ll call in sick in in order to interview, but many people either don’t get paid sick days or still can’t call in sick and lose the pay to make time for interviews. It really kind of sucks because you may lose money trying to get a better job.

    The best you can do is ask to meet early, like at 8am or at 4pm to try to bookend the days. But some places unfortunately won’t be flexible.

  33. ElizabethS*

    You don’t sound super open to feedback based on your responses to the comments here, but I’ll try anyway. It sounds like you were a little rude and passive aggressive to them. Asking if the phones broke when they didn’t call you back in one business day, when it took you a business day to return their call? That’s pretty offputting. Their behavior doesn’t sound off to me- yours does. They might have been more flexible if you’d been a more appealing candidate.

    1. Laura*

      I’m sorry if I came off the wrong way to you, but I’m stating facts. Everything I have stated is an actual account of what happened. I have saved emails and taken screen shots of incoming and outgoing calls. Maybe you did not see a comment I earlier, but I cannot be on my phone when patients are around and that particular day was busy. As a veteran patient myself, I would not want the receptionist at my doctor’s office to be on their cell phone. Even though I am looking for a job, I am still loyal to my current employer because and burning bridges with them as opposed to a future employer is worse in my opinion, since a current/former employer CAN give a bad reference.

  34. Ray*

    In hindsight, would it have been impossible to have snuck outside for a few minutes right after they called and left the voicemail? A quick, hey, “I’m at work and can’t talk long” kind of thing. It’s not like a work email, 24 hours response time isn’t exactly the threshold. After a phone interview and in anticipation of an in person interview, I think your response time was a little laissez faire. Exacerbated given that it was pre-holiday weekend. And then the passive aggressive email was a poor choice. If I’m the hiring manager, I’ve now decided that you aren’t worth the effort, without having ever met you.

    1. Laura*

      As I posted in a previous comment, that particular day was busy with patients and I was unable to check my phone when the office manager called until I left work. On the days that were not busy, I have snuck out from my desk and into an empty office to answer the phone when I have my phone nearby. If that were the case, I would have said, “Thank you for calling. I’m at work so I can’t talk long. Can I give you my email address so you can send me some available times to interview?” I do see your point and if I was able to check my phone/take the call, I would have.

      1. Ray*

        I think the idea that you were so overwhelmingly busy that you could not make time for a quick call is a very tough sell. You’re intimating that at no point in the day were you able to take 5 minutes for something other than a patient need. I think most will find this difficult to believe.

        1. Lurker*

          Right. If that’s really the case, perhaps the scribe/office manager or whomever had the same type of day on Tuesday. I do the interview scheduling for my company; but that is only a small fraction of my job. Some days I am putting out little fires everywhere on top of my regular job on top of trying to deal with last minute whatever. There doesn’t seem to be any acquiescence from the OP that the person on the other end might be just as busy, or have just as inflexible of an employer as OP.

  35. WS*

    Some professions (and medical doctors are definitely one) have severe constraints on their time, and if you want to work in that industry, it’s on you to be as flexible as possible for meeting with them. It does make it more difficult for you to schedule an interview while you already work, but unfortunately limited interviewing hours are very common for obvious reasons.

  36. londonedit*

    It’s always kind of awkward, but yes, certainly where I live/in my industry you’re expected to interview during office hours, and most people will need to take time off work for that. Most prospective employers will be understanding and will have a few 9am/4pm interview slots available, so then it’s just a case of saying ‘I’ll be in a little late – I have an appointment’ or ‘I have to leave at 3.30 – I’ve got someone coming to fix the boiler’ or whatever. If you can’t get a start/end of day slot, then it might be a case of taking the afternoon off or calling in sick. Of course, sometimes managers will get a bit suspicious if someone has a couple of ‘appointments’ within a week or so, but there’s a bit of ‘playing the game’ on both sides really.

  37. Anon for this one*

    I was a ‘hiring manager’ at a previous company and we had a lot of interviewees/applicants who couldn’t take time off during the work day at short notice. It was considered part of our “duty of care” to the employer to get the best person for the job even if that meant we had to work outside normal hours to carry out the interviews.

    That makes a certain amount of sense as you’re (generic you) limiting the pool of applicants otherwise to people not currently working / working flexible hours that they can disappear at short notice / are willing to lie to their employers about where they are. (I had a colleague who would ask in interviews “where does your boss think you are right now?” and I never asked that but it’s an interesting question? I wonder what sort of responses she got… I didn’t ask.)

  38. cncx*

    Late to the game on this but i just want to say interview flexibility goes both ways, I’m happy to take off to an extent. However, it is a big red flag for me if i can only get an interview at the very last minute, or, as in the case of my worst job ever, i was cancelled on when i walked in on an interview three hours away and asked to come back the next day. I think it’s important for companies to try, whenever possible, to schedule first-round interviews early in the morning, around lunch, or after say 430. I got burned once with a company’s bad interviewing process, it means either HR or hiring manager is a hot mess and I don’t need that kind of drama in my life.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I had an interview where I had to schlep to the city, which all told probably took an hour or more. When i got there my interviewer was not the person who would have been my manager as planned. I was told she was busy and they had me interview with some random person. It was clear as day that it wasn’t a serious interview and I was so disgusted that they didn’t inform me in advance to cancel. It wa a huge waste of time that I didn’t appreciate in the least.

  39. MistOrMister*

    If they were trying to set up an interview for Wednesday with the idea that they would have made their hiring decision by Friday, I would assume OP might have been among their later applicants. It’s possible that they really needed to be making an offer by Friday and had decent candidates but wanted to talk to OP on the strength of their experience. We can’t assume that this office would be a horrible place to work that doesn’t respect the employee’s time. They MIGHT be, but they might not.

  40. boop the first*

    What a nightmare. This is why I cringe at “it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job.” Like, I get the sentiment about desperation and all, but “easier” seems like the wrong word entirely. I’ve only gotten a new job while already working once, and it was the WORST job transition I’ve ever had. I went to the interview just before my usual shift started (luckily, they were neighbouring buildings), it went ok, and thus began two weeks of working two jobs at once (well 3, including side business) because no company wants to wait out a notice period.

    I get that a person’s inherent value is what they can offer to capitalists so just do what they say, but holy crap does employment feels incredibly one-sided. It’s really obnoxious to expect interviewees to flake out on their jobs, and then turn around and not let their own employees also come and go as they need.

  41. SnapCrackleSloth*

    I’m a bit late to the game, but I haven’t seen it mentioned yet that oftentimes interviews are with multiple people at once, so you’re not only trying to fit into one person’s schedule, but juggling many schedules for people with varied roles and responsibilities. I also saw it mentioned that if ‘part of your job is hiring,’ you should be willing to do that outside of hours. That makes sense if you’re interviewing with someone in HR, whose job actually IS hiring, but for the most part, you’ll also be interviewing with regular team members and hiring managers… hiring is only one facet of our job, and not a regular one at that. My advice is to be as flexible as possible and try not to feel guilty over ‘lying’ about an appointment–it’s less a lie than just the way the game’s played.

  42. KC where's my band*

    I give candidates the option as far as times go. The worst though is when someone comes to interview and is clearly still on the clock at their current job. I was interviewing one guy, and his phone kept ringing. He finally said it was his current boss looking for him. Way to show your level of integrity right out of the gate.

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