interview candidates have stopped giving me their availability when I ask for it

A reader writes:

I work in the public sector as a manager of a library. I’ve been in this position for a little over a year, but have had other library management jobs for the past 5-ish years. Due to the lower wages (above state minimum, but by only like a dollar) and mostly part-time positions that we offer, we tend to lose people quickly and that has only accelerated since the pandemic. I totally understand, and a lot of our folks usually get a full-time job at another library location or local government office in the county, so we don’t really “lose” them (we’re more of a “foot in” or a stepping stone for their career ambitions) but we do have pretty frequent part-time turnover. It’s part of the market right now, and it means that I’m having to hire 2-3 part-time people every 3 months. I do what I can to keep people — I have no control over wages since they’re set by the board/county government, but we offer flexible schedules and training opportunities, recommend folks to full-time jobs or higher paying jobs with the county library/government when those positions open, thank staff for jobs well done, buy people’s favorite candy/food/coffee for the break room, give clear feedback, and offer chances to do fun or interesting projects when they come up.

My question is a change that I have noticed from candidates and whether there’s anything I can do to minimize how frequently it happens. When I set up interviews with candidates, I send an email that has info on the position, what the phone screen looks like, what the process is, etc. Then I’ll say, “We are setting up phone interviews for X, Y and Z days next week. Please let me know your full availability for those 3 days and I will get back to you ASAP with the day and time of your phone screen.” Prior to the shifts in the job market, about 80% of the time people would send back their full availability, and 20% would be vague, ask for a specific time due to schedule constraints, or decide they didn’t want to go through with it. Within the past 6 months, maybe 1 or 2 candidates total in each pool will give me their availability. The rest will just pick a time and act as though they’re the ones scheduling the interview. One of the most recent examples was a candidate who said, “Thank you for reaching out to me. I’ll be glad to consider your offer and look forward to speaking with you at 9 am on Monday.” No context, no “oh my schedule is tight so I can only do this one slot,” just “I’m picking my time.”

This used to be rare but now it is all the time. The most recent pool, I sent out 10 phone screen requests and all of them “scheduled” themselves for 9 am on Monday apart from one, who on paper is the top candidate, so them following the availability directions has been another point in their favor.

Our pools tend to be people right out of high school/college. Is this, like, new career advice that’s being touted somewhere? Is the email that I send asking for availability not clear enough? How could I stress that I need someone’s full availability so I can do the calendar Tetris game to fit everyone in?

As of now, I’ve just been slotting the first person to get back with me with the time they “schedule” and responding to other emails with “Sorry, I already have filled that slot — please give me your full availability for X, Y and Z days and I will email you back with your interview day and time.” But even then, about half the people will just pick another specific date/time and do the same thing again! Apart from anything I can clarify or change to smooth the process, if I continue to get emails from candidates who don’t follow directions, is there any reason I can’t just say “thanks for your interest, but with these schedule restrictions, we’ll have to pass on this round — keep applying to future openings if they fit your experience and career goals” and remove them from our interview pool?

This is weird!

I do think, though, that you might be making this harder on yourself than it needs to be. Can you figure out all possible interview times on your end first and then just create an online calendar with those openings and let people book what works for them, thus eliminating the back and forth?

As for why it’s happening, my hunch is that it’s a combination of:

(a) dealing with people right out of school who don’t have much experience with business protocol yet, including basic stuff like interview scheduling — because this current crop of new grads has less experience on average than new grads previously, because pandemic restrictions mean they’ve had fewer in-office internships and other on-the-job training

(b) the low-wage, part-time nature of the job, which means the strongest candidates with the best options (who are more likely to read, process, and respond to an email effectively) aren’t in your pool at all, especially in this job market


(c) maybe some resistance to the set-up from candidates who feel it’s an inconvenience to them to have to send over full availability for multiple days and then hold those times open for who knows how long before they hear back … something that could be drawing more resistance in the current job market, where more candidates feel empowered to assert more control than previously.

I’d bet switching to an online booking system would solve it!

{ 430 comments… read them below }

  1. L-squared*

    I agree, and I’d bet option c is most likely it.

    Realistically, if you give me 3 days and a bunch of hours on each day, I’ll probably let you know the time that works best for me.

    As it stands now, that happens when I am trying to set up meetings with clients. I’ll say “I’m free Monday from 11-2 and Tuesday from 1-3, what works for you” and they tell me 1 time, and I book it. But you seem to be making this harder on both you and them.

    1. DarthVelma*

      Agreed on c being likely. If you told me 3 days next week, I could tell you my availability right now. But I can guarantee in an hour from now it will have changed as other people book me into meetings.

      1. Nesprin*

        Agreed- things fill up fast.

        This is 100% solvable with a program like Calendly which lets people see what’s available still and book out time on approved days.

        1. DragoCucina*

          Yes. I used to do all interview scheduling through Calendly. My husband uses it for his counseling appointments at church. It has saved hours of back and forth. It also sends a reminder to both parties of the appointment.

      2. Cj*

        Absolutely this. As someone who meets with clients, there is no way I could keep my current availability open until I heard from them a day or two (or more) later.

        Even with the high school kids she’s talking about, if they currently have a part-time job they might get their schedule for the following week that weekend. They would need to tell their scheduling supervisor right away when they need off the following week.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Particularly if they’re actively job hunting, and trying to set up multiple interviews at once.

      4. LittleMarshmallow*

        I get around that by giving smaller windows of available time and then holding them until I hear back. That way I’m not indefinitely holding a ton of time hostage but still providing some options. Then once it’s booked I open the other slots back up. This isn’t so much for interviewing as it’s how I handle my work calendar when trying to schedule with people that are external and can’t use the “scheduling assistant” in outlook to see my availability. My colleagues that can… I expect them to just look at my calendar and figure it out.

    2. Siege*

      That’s not 100% fair. I’ve run into situations recently where I’ve needed to meet with X Group and Y Coalition on the same day. I’ve found myself sending emails back to both groups using your suggested language and hoping for the best that they won’t both want 11 AM on Monday. So far it’s worked out, but it’s rapidly reaching a point that it’s obvious I’m going to have to start giving people different availabilities or else schedule sequentially, which doesn’t always work. Or, worse, once I give availability, someone internal books a meeting that takes that timeslot.

      I don’t have advice or an opinion (I would probably be mildly annoyed by being asked to schedule my own time on a digital calendar, but I just don’t care for them because they usually interface clunkily at best with my systems) but I do think managing multiple interviews is different from a 1-meeting scenario. Actually, OP, I do have a question – would it work to put language in your reply that says something like “due to the nature of our hiring process, I am hiring for multiple positions at this time and therefore have a larger candidate pool. Please use the calendar at X link to schedule yourself for a free time that works for you.” It’s a little rough, but maybe that would help? If people think there’s only a few candidates they may not realize the problem. And I definitely recall getting the advice to be the first candidate interviewed so that everyone is interviewing against your standard, not the other way around, but that was given to me in the 90s.

      1. Fowl is Fare*

        It doesn’t have to be 100% fair. Life isn’t. And sometimes it just can’t be. It seems like a simplified solution that works completely for the scheduler, and mostly for the interviewer.

        1. Siege*

          I meant it’s not 100% fair to act like the challenge of scheduling 1 meeting is the same as the challenge of scheduling 5 or 6 or 7. And yes, that does have to be fair, otherwise any advice given is useless because those aren’t the same kind of problem at all. That’s like recommending sedan tires to me when I’m looking for tires for my bulldozer.

          1. Liz T*

            But the candidates might well have to schedule multiple interviews–and/or they have to find a time when they can discreetly step away from work.

            1. Siege*

              Again, L-Squared presented advice that works if you are scheduling one meeting: hand the other party open blocks of time and let them pick. That’s not working, which is why OP wrote in, and also why I said it wasn’t fair to assert that advice for scheduling one meeting could be extrapolated to scheduling many meetings. I’m not sure why you think I said that candidates aren’t also scheduling many meetings, since I said nothing about what the candidates are doing.

            2. Yorick*

              Yes, they MIGHT have to. But the interviewer DEFINITELY DOES have to set up several different appointments.

              1. Liz T*

                But this is a question about why candidates are behaving the way they do. The attitude that employers have schedules with lots of moving parts but candidates don’t is part of why LW is having this issue.

          2. Ally*

            When I was interviewing (as a candidate), I wasn’t setting up just one meeting. My availability was constantly changing, multiple times per day. Luckily most folks used Calendly or something similar or had me call them to set a time. The few that asked for my full availability, I would write with the best time and state I was taking many interviews so could only hold one slot open at a time.

      2. Kella*

        If OP is using the shared calendar so the applicants can schedule their own slots, then that added language isn’t necessary. It *might* add something if OP was sticking with the method of giving large chunks of time and asking for full availability, but I think they’d need to add something else to connect the dots, like “The more potential times you can give me, the quicker I’ll be able to fit everyone in.”

      3. Meep*

        Why don’t you give them the option of an afternoon or a morning slot based on history with them? If you don’t have a history to know if they prefer mornings or afternoons ask and then find what day of the week works best with both your schedules. Seems pretty obvious to me.

      4. Clydesdales and Coconuts*

        Honestly, the problem might be the schedule of a phone screen. It probably feels like a waste of time to your applicants to do a screen that isn’t really an interview but a regurgitation of their application materials. Why not just send out a pre- screen email questionaire that can then be used to schedule actual interviews?

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I recently encountered a job application that had about 12 supplementary questions of the type I would expect to come up in a phone screen – asking me to describe many different facets of my professional history, behavioral questions (“tell me about your experience with X situation”), my style and approach for various work challenges. It was honestly WAY too much to put into writing for a job I knew very little about! I would 1000x rather had a 30 minute phone call to talk through the questions rather than write them all out, which took about an hour.

          I think you are right that phone screens should be more than just a regurgitation of a resume, but I would guess that the response rate for written screening questions is far less than phone screens. If I wasn’t super committed to a particular job and writing wasn’t my strong suit or I had a lot going on with school and activities, I would absolutely just not respond with answers to written prompts.

        2. anonymous73*

          How is scheduling a phone screen a waste of time? It’s purpose is to do the exact opposite. You can ask each other high level questions to see if you’re on the same page and it’s worth the time to move forward. You can’t always get everything you need from a job description as a candidate and a resume as a hiring manager.

        3. CR*

          I strongly disagree, as a job seeker I really value the phone screen so *I* can screen out potential employers!

        4. Language Lover*

          It depends. I hire for a similar level position and I can tell you that I don’t get cover letters. I understand why they don’t write cover letters for a small part time position but so often it’d be helpful to understand why they’re applying for the position.

          A phone screen helps determine who might be expecting more than we can pay (I’d love for us to advertise our range but they don’t), who might expect this to be a full-time job because they didn’t read the ad too much (this happens) and who expects that there will be growth opportunities to a higher level position (we’re small so it’s unlikely).

          That’s much better than bringing a good candidate on paper in only to find out that they misread the job ad or want more money.

        5. A*

          While I’m sure it depends on the line of work, for me at least – I would be hesitant to participate in an interview process that did not include a phone screen. Not only is that a two way dialogue allowing the candidate to ask questions as well, but it’s also the first opportunity to identify any fundamental mismatches. Job descriptions are often not comprehensive, and if we are on completely different pages I want to know as early on as possible. In my experience phone screens are less of a time sink / time imposition than traditional interviews, so it can be a valuable step in saving time for both parties.

          I would not continue with an application process if the first interview step was a questionnaire, unless it was a quick recap of certain skill sets I.E. check box of all programs you are familiar with etc. Even then, I’d be on the look out for other red flags as it could be indicative of an employer that is adverse to streamlining processes etc.

        6. LittleMarshmallow*

          As an interviewee I actually like having a phone screen. It gives me a chance to get a feel for them too and ask some questions without having to give up a bunch of my time for something that I could’ve realized early in the process wasn’t for me.

    3. RB*

      Yes, it is C, or some version thereof. This wouldn’t work well for me neither. I’d rather you just send me two or three times to choose from, then I’ll pick one. I don’t know how the more automated or online booking tools work, but you may not need to go that route if you tweak your technique.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        If you send suggested times to multiple people there is a good chance multiple people are going to choose the same time, resulting in another round of emails and confusion about which is the correct time. A scheduling system solves this problem: The person getting the invite sees only available times and picks one. Once they pick one, the next person doesn’t see it as available and cannot also choose it.

        I use this for meetings with clients (mostly phone or virtual) and it has dramatically cut down on the back-and-forth emails and calls, and reduced the no-shows. I include a link to my calendar in my email signature and clients are much more proactive in scheduling meetings with me when they have questions and so on.

        1. Bongofury*

          I feel like the easiest answer is to call them and ask them what time works, and schedule them over the phone? Yes I know it sucks to make 10 phone calls but getting and sending 10 schedule changes sucks too.

          1. whingedrinking*

            That only works if you can be reasonably sure the other person will actually answer.
            I can’t speak for everyone, but I almost always let my phone go to voicemail unless it’s a scheduled call. There’s a combination of factors – one is that I just can’t pick up pretty much at all between the hours of 8 and 3, another is that scam calls are a scourge in my area code – but a significant one is that I just really hate using the phone and prefer other methods of communication whenever it’s feasible. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way and the younger people are, the more likely it is that they’re disinclined to answer a ringing phone. So since it turns into asynchronous communication anyway, you might as well schedule the call by email.

          2. Loulou*

            I feel truly, 100% sure that people on this site would absolutely lose their minds if an LW said their practice was to call people to schedule an interview.

          3. Claire W*

            But if there’s any change that your candidates have a job already, this will likely be even worse. How many folks are going to be thrilled to answer an unexpected call from a potential employer while working at their current job? And that’s assuming they aren’t in a meeting or working somewhere that doesn’t have private spaces to take calls…

          4. Yorick*

            But then you’d have to schedule the phone call, and you’d have this problem twice

        2. ella*

          When I hired students, I solved this by only emailing 3-4 people at a time, instead of 10. That made it easier to shuffle time slots if I needed to.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          You don’t offer the same slots to multiple people, at least not until someone who was offered 3 has chosen one and now the other 2 slots are back in the pool.
          TBH I’ve never been asked for an interview and NOT been given 2-3 times to choose from, with a caveat that if none of those works we can look at others. Calendly is also a fine solution.
          I do think the whole “tell me everything that works for three days” even if it were causing the current problem – people not doing it right – is still a problem because people with options can opt out if the way the OP is going about this irks them.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        But the problem is, if OP says she can meet at 9, 9:30, or 10 on Monday, she’ll still have more than one of them asking for 9. The online calendar would show which slots have already been taken, which would solve the problem.

    4. No clever username*

      Completely agree. I guess I didn’t realize it was a faux pas (slash I still don’t think it’s that egregious) to respond to an email saying “we’re booking interviews Monday through Wednesday of next week” with “great, how about 9 am Monday?”

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Did you not read the entire message?

        “We are setting up phone interviews for X, Y and Z days next week. Please let me know your full availability for those 3 days and I will get back to you ASAP with the day and time of your phone screen.”

        That message makes it clear what the LW is asking for and it’s not a single time block that works for you. And it’s pretty obvious why if you and everyone goes that route it’s making scheduling harder on the person scheduling it thank it needs to be.

        If the request had been worded differently your response could be reasonable but your response does not answer the question the LW asked ie is not following directions.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          I think OP is asking a bad question though. At least, IMO. I remember being 22, juggling finals and a part-time job and some semblance of a social life and the occasional nap I convinced myself was a full night’s sleep. That’s the pool OP is hiring from. If I was asked for my full availability over three days, my email in reply would have been a novel. Do I mention that 30 minutes between classes? But if I do, then I can’t run to get food / that book / use the printer. Knowing that I can do 9am on Monday with certainty is an easier response on the candidate.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I agree that the question could be asked more clearly – I have been working for nearly 20 years and would still bristle a bit at “give me your full availability”. I’m much more used to either “we have spots on Friday after 11 and Monday from 9-1, please let me know when you’re available” or “can you let me know when you’re available Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon”?

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              This. I’m 45 and have been working professionally since I was 21, so I’m not the target group, but I’d also bristle at being asked for my full availability for three days. If I was a college student or high school student, like someone else said, it would be like looking at something from A Beautiful Mind. If I’m me, I’m questioning whether I want to work there.

              I’d much rather have the ability to sign myself up for a time, a choice of 2-3 times, with a “if neither work for you, please propose an alternative time,” or asked for my availability during blocks of time (ie Wednesday from 3-5, Thursday 9-12, and Friday 11-4).

            2. Galadriel's Garden*

              Ha yeah, I’m in my mid-30s and my work and personal calendars are quite a patchwork. My “full” availability over the span of something like three days would look like a full bullet-point page of 30-minute time slots; it would be incredibly obnoxious to both send and receive!

            1. Loulou*

              But they’re not auditing you! It seems like pretty basic common sense to only provide times that you would be able and willing to have an interview, rather than literally any time you don’t have something else scheduled.

              1. Vintage Lydia*

                But also these are teens and young adults who don’t have the experience that “common sense” would come from, esp in a pandemic where internships and jobs weren’t happening the way things typically were

                1. Loulou*

                  Sure, but surely they have made plans with a friend before? If a friend asks when you’re free they want to know *when you’re free to hang out with them.*

                  Cutting people who are new to the workforce slack? Yes! Acting like they can’t possibly think through something like this on their own is just infantilizing.

                2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  100% of the times I’ve made plans with my friends, the conversation has gone:
                  “Are you free [specific time range, like Saturday afternoon]?”
                  “Sure! Meet up at [clarifying specific time]?” or “Oh, I can’t, I’ve got a thing. Would [alternative specific time range] work?”

                  Which, if you think about it, is how folks are handling it – LW has given a range, though very broad, and they’ve suggested a specific start time. But it’s a very different dynamic than what’s LW is expecting.

                  And it’s worth considering that plans with a friend have an entirely different set of priorities than a job interview! You can safely assume your friend doesn’t want to inconvenience you and is willing to be flexible; that these plans are lower priority than work, school, or family commitments on both sides; and that if you can’t make the schedule work this time you’ll have another opportunity in the future. For a job interview, *none* of that is true – most jobs don’t really care what’s convenient for the interviewee: an interview potentially outranks any number of existing commitments; and if you can’t agree on a time within a very short negotiating window the opportunity may be gone forever. For my first job, if someone had asked me my “full” availability over three days, I would’ve said that I usually sleep 10 PM – 6 AM but I could interview whenever. With [redacted] years’ experience and some confidence in my own employability, I’d ignore the “full” and just give a few times that are convenient to me.

              2. Gingerblue*

                Common sense just means your best judgement based on your life experiences. OP is hiring from a pool of people who are used to having to justify every single thing they do, say, and think to authority figures, and whose time has been entirely under the control of others for 18+ years. A lot of them are going to have a parent’s voice in the back of their mind whispering “Well, you’d tell them you were available over your lunch break if you REALLY wanted a job.” For these applicants, it is absolutely common sense to assume someone will potentially be judging them if they calculate their convenience into the scheduling process, because that’s been their experience of life so far.

                1. Drawer by trade*

                  I agree with this! I too would read these instructions as a trap, some kind of test, if I was fresh out of school. Maybe rephrasing it would help. “Full availability” sounds aggressive when you have no experience. I would probably ask for tree different time slots that would work for them, and go from there.

              3. Jake*

                Except you might be willing and able to have the interview at a less convenient time, but only if no other time will work. This is why an online calendar system is better. Maybe I don’t want to have an interview in the 30 minutes between classes if I can avoid it, but I’d rather do that than miss out on the job altogether. With a calendar system, I can see all the available times and choose the best one for me without a lot of complicated back and forth.

                1. boo bot*

                  Yeah, this is exactly why the “full availability” request would bother me; there are likely times that would absolutely be a problem for me (e.g., I would have to miss work, cancel plans with friends or family, or reschedule an appointment) but if it’s the only time available for a job I really want to apply to, I would do what I needed to do. I do not want to offer up those slots as a first choice!

                  At this point in my life, I would probably respond with a few potential times that would be convenient for me and add something like “I may be able to make time elsewhere in my schedule if none of these work,” but I would not have thought of that right out of high school. A calendar is much more likely to be helpful to everyone.

          2. Ellie*

            I agree, I think OP would get a better response if they bounded the time more closely themselves. But to be honest, whenever I’ve been scheduled for an interview, its been through a phone call. It only takes 5 minutes, they propose a time, ask if I’m available, and clearly have a list of times open in front of them for me to pick between if I’m not. Why not do it like that?

            I don’t really like the sound of an online scheduler, it feels like more work for the candidates.

            1. Lizzo*

              Actually, Calendly is super easy. It shows available time slots, you pick one that aligns with your own schedule, and you book it.

            2. BubbleTea*

              It’s really simple. You’re sent a link, it shows the possible slots, you click the one you want and put your details in. There’s no risk of accidentally mixing up the times, no copying the details down wrong, no trying to second-guess what they’ll think if you do or don’t offer enough availaibility.

              I’ve never been invited to interview in any other way than “we would like to interview you at X o’clock on Y day, please call us if this isn’t possible otherwise we will see you then” but if I were asked for availaibility, I’d far rather do it by calendar link.

        2. PB Bunny Watson*

          Which is insanely frustrating. Are people not bothering to read the instructions fully? Do they just think it’s unnecessary? I understand they may be busy and overwhelmed… but what do they think the librarian is? Just party and naps 24/7? It’s just as stressful for them to have to juggle everyone’s schedule and go back and forth with people who can’t follow directions. Honestly, after the third time of them not answering properly in a back and forth, just move on and kindly tell them to apply again in the future. If they can’t figure out why by that point, I have questions about how training them may go.

          1. The OTHER Other*

            I think the LW should do this differently, but I agree a large part of this is reading comprehension failure by the respondents. People are just not reading the email, or not comprehending it. One reason I started using an online calendar is the frustration of repeatedly saying “I am available Wednesday between 9-12, or Thursday between 9-12 or 2-5PM” and having someone say “Great, see you at 1”.

            Unfortunately, this is a low-paying, entry-level job and the job market is hot so LW may not have the luxury of tossing applications from people that don’t follow directions. Though it doesn’t bode well for how they will handle job responsibilities.

            1. Loulou*

              Yup! If I were OP I would handle scheduling differently for several reasons. Also, a lot of people are bad at reading carefully and thinking critically. Both can be true.

          2. Nanani*

            This is pretty unkind.
            People in LW’s pool, that is people with little to no work experience, actually DONT know how these things work and DONT know what the conventions are.

            It’s not malice, it’s not stupidity, it’s that they don’t know what “give me your availability” means in this sort of context.
            LW is asking for ways to make it easier, and since it happens a lot, that’s a worthy question to ask.

            Attacking the applicants is not it.

          3. YB*

            “what do they think the librarian is? Just party and naps 24/7?”
            As a librarian, can confirm that this is what I am. Possibly I am librarianing wrong.

          4. Marketing Newb*

            I didn’t know what a “phone screen” was without context and I’m gen X.

            I’m guessing the younger kids probably aren’t parsing it correctly either, especially in today’s skim-an-email world.

            Phone screen to me is the screen on my phone.

            And even if I did know what it is from the jump, “tell me your entire calendar for 3 whole days so that we can pick 5 minutes in there for us to possibly eliminate you from the running” doesn’t sound super enticing.

            And it sounds like a lot of extra work for the OP to mash all these availabilities together for each to end up with such a short appointment.

        3. Kella*

          But there *isn’t* a simple answer to that question, that’s the problem. Sure, there are times in your schedule that are busy and that’s non-negotiable, but there are other times you may technically be busy but could reschedule if you needed to, or you’d really prefer not to meet then but you *can*, or you actually did have full availability at the time you responded to the email but by the time the interviewer got back to you, you had to schedule something else for that time.

          Especially with that last issue it’s easy to end up in the same cycle, but reversed. Applicant sends full availability, interviewer sends their interviewer time, applicant says “Oh sorry, I had to schedule something for that time, here’s my updated availability” and the process repeats itself. An applicant can’t offer *all* those available times and hold them *all* open simultaneously. They are much more likely to be able to guarantee to keep one slot open.

          Also, while it’s unlikely that this is the case for *all* the applicants OP is encountering, for some people, “9am on Monday” might be their full availability for those three days.

          1. hbc*

            This isn’t some kind of test where they’re going to get dinged if they fail to include a time that might end up being free. “Best options for me are 9-11 Monday or 1-2 Wednesday. If those times don’t work I can potentially juggle on Monday afternoon, but I’d have to know as soon as possible.”

            Basically, don’t offer up more time than you’ve got a ~90% chance of being able to keep free.

            1. Kella*

              I agree that it makes sense to just offer a few chunks of time that are most likely to work, but that’s still not what the OP asked for. The three time chunks that work best for you is different than giving your full availability. If the question requires people to filter it and answer a different question that they think will be more effective in accomplishing their goals, then the original question isn’t a good or clear one, and it’s not surprising that people are interpreting it incorrectly.

        4. Hats Are Great*

          I spent February and March interviewing in a very hot job field, and recruiters hit me up literally every single day with “click on my calendar and pick a slot.” Which, no thank you. “Do you have any availability to talk on Thursday?” is fine or “Please call me and we’ll set up a time” is fine. But recruiters who are like “put yourself on MY busy schedule” … eh. I’m the one with the very full schedule of interviews; you are the one trying to convince me to join your company. You need to do the legwork. And it really felt like a lot of those recruiters were just desperately scattershotting for candidates and didn’t care about follow-up.

          And generally I noticed that the best companies in the field — and the ones actually doing hiring! — were having recruiters COURT the candidates. Other companies (who absolutely need people to perform this function, by law!) that were struggling to hire had recruiters who were acting like, “It’s a big favor of me to offer you this job opportunity, jobs are hard to get, you know!” Jobs are NOT hard to get right now for people in my field!

          It wasn’t really a “wealthy company vs poor company” or “hot new company vs staid old company” dichotomy either; some companies in the field have recognized it’s a job-seeker’s market (especially in our field) and are offering substantial pay packages and remote work options, and are working hard to court candidates. Other companies in the field are still acting like “you should BE so lucky as to work at Famous Corp!” and want people in the office, at pre-2020 payrates, with the recruiters expecting candidates to court THEM because it’s Famous Corp.

          It is not surprising that I and my peers are more interested in companies offering to pay us literally double, with recruiters who go out of their way to court us and to make our application process as smooth as possible. And then there are these other companies (some bigger, wealthier, and more famous!) who can’t staff the department because they’re still acting surprised that not everyone wants to work there, and acting like job-seekers should compete for their jobs and their recruiters should just be able to e-mail and be like “I work at Famous Corp, here’s all the hoops I want you to jump through.”

          OP’s situation is a bit different because libraries are a public service and a job a lot of people want. But it’s SUCH a job-seekers’ market right now; the more OP can do to make things easy for candidates, the better OP’s luck will be!

          1. takeachip*

            I’m not understanding where you’re coming from. I agree that OP is being too vague and asking too much of candidates. But with your example of what the recruiters are doing–to me it seems like offering someone the opportunity to see my calendar and choose any opening IS making the application process as smooth as possible. It’s a convenience. It eliminates guesswork (“is what’s good for me also good for you?”), wasting time emailing back and forth, and puts you as the candidate in the driver’s seat. I mean there is pretty much nothing more accommodating, from my point of view, than to give someone else control over time–both theirs and mine. What am I missing here?

            1. Your local password resetter*

              I agree. Having to call recruiters back or email back and forth just to start a conversation that they asked for in the first place? I’d rather just pick a time, that seems way easier and faster.

            2. Snuck*

              Missing a chance for human connection? There’s so very very many people who want to have a chance to connect with the recruiters, so this isn’t off base as a positive. It also gives both parties a chance to quickly feel each other out for style of communication and willingness to work together to a common goal (even if that goal is just to book an interview). More than once I’ve gotten off these calls and thought “hrm, that person is so utterly stand off ish, and I need a person who can be personable” or “wow that person seems incredibly organised and professional, it will be interesting to meet them”. The call for an interview is part of the process of ‘getting to know each other’ and email takes all that away. If you are friendly and clear in your communication in the call it’s helpful to see that.

              I understand for some people they just want email, but I hope that’s not for a people/person role! Some people just want to share their calendars… great! But I wouldn’t hire a person who isn’t prepared to take literally one minute on the phone with me to set up a time, but then my workspace still works predominantly with voice to voice people interaction

              1. Yorick*

                Even if it’s for a role that has to be personable, calling someone to set up an interview is a terrible way to evaluate them on anything. What if you play phone tag for half a day? What if you call when they’re in the middle of something and now you think they’re soooo standoffish? You should rethink this. If you like making the call, then keep doing it, but don’t consider it part of the interview process.

              2. Unaccountably*

                Okay, but… the human connection is in the interview, not setting up the interview. Setting up the interview is just a matter of logistics.

                I’m a hiring manager. I never set up my own interviews. HR does that for me. I’ve literally never worked anywhere where I, the hiring manager or a member of the hiring committee, had to call the candidate myself to set up an interview. Whether the candidate makes a “human connection” with HR has absolutely nothing to do with whether they have the skills I need or will be a good fit for my department, which is not HR. Granted, there’s a certain “were you rude to the admin” element that I guess you can glean from a phone conversation, but I couldn’t make a “human connection” to the candidate before the interview if I tried.

                1. Unaccountably*

                  I think I should explain that I put “human connection” in scare quotes because it so often seems to mean “Only technology I am familiar and comfortable with allows anyone to relate to others in a meaningful way. Everything else is dehumanizing.”

              3. Abit*

                How do you schedule the phone call with them then? Or are you just able to answer your phone 24/7?

          2. Claire W*

            This is wild to me because I’m the literal opposite. I also work in a field that’s very much a candidates’ market right now, and the absolute LAST thing I would want if I started job hunting is constant unexpected calls and being put on the spot and the person not recognizing that I do already have a job or a life and can’t just drop everything to answer their call and start checking my calendar then and there. When I was last jb hunting 7 monthss ago, the recruiters who called unexpectedly or insisted I give them answers to things while on the phone were the one I had no interest in working further with.

            The ones who say “Hey, when you get a moment please check this calendar and let me know which of the available slots works best for you” are far preferred over the “Hey I’m literally on the phone with you right now even though you could be in a meeting/at the GP/on holiday/etc and I need to know right now when you’re free nd it can’t change between this phonecall and when I add it to the calendar”. The calendar link has always felt faar more respectful of my time and boundaries than pushy phonecalls.

        5. Yorick*

          Exactly. I might say something like, “How about 9am on Monday? Or any time before noon on Monday or Tuesday would work.” And then they’d know I want 9am on Monday but also have backups.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        I personally think your “how about” phrasing is fine. Ditto something like “Would Monday morning work?” Those are suggestions as we work to find a mutually agreeable time. Something about the finality of “I looking forward to speaking with you at 9 on Monday” would probably prickle me, too.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          Okay, on reading Person from the Resume’s point above, in this case I suppose that’s not quite in the spirit of the directions and candidates should just give what’s asked for.

      3. Mockingjay*

        The way OP worded the request, it sounds like she has ALL those times open. My response would be the same: pick one slot within the period that works for me, and then we’re done! Time set!

        OP, if you rephrase slightly such as ThatGirl suggested, I think you’ll get better responses.

        1. Loulou*

          That’s not what OP’s message suggests, though — they explicitly say they will send the candidate the date and time once they know the candidate’s availability.

          I’m all for cutting the applicants a lot of slack, and nobody is born knowing business norms, but what they are saying really is very clear and explicit.

    5. Suzie SW*

      Agreed. This is just a bad setup. I have a job and other commitments…it would be a huge inconvenience to give you my full availability for 3 days and then have to avoid scheduling anything else on those 3 days until you confirm a time.

      This is why calendly needs to become a more normal thing. It’s SO convenient! No guessing or double-booking.

      1. Me...Just Me*

        I think its a bad request on the part of the OP, honestly. You want applicants to keep their calendars open for 3 whole days for one part-time interview? Yeah. I’d be super annoyed by that as a full-time applicant, but definitely wouldn’t be excited about a part-time job that had such a request from the get-go. I’d be wondering if they expect me to be available at unreasonable times/notice if I got the job, too. It’s kind of a red-flag. If I was really interested in the job, I would likely propose a definite time that worked well for me to see if that also worked for the recruiter rather than hold open 3 days of availability. I wouldn’t be so forward as to send the “I’ll see you at 9 a.m. on Monday”, but would likely propose a couple of times only, rather than my full-availability. Something along the lines, of “I could do Monday at 9 a.m. or Tuesday around 1p.m., if either of those times works for you.” If the intent is to actually schedule a phone interview with me, the most straightforward way to do that is to offer up a definite time or two. If the intent is to have me follow your directions, well, that is a different situation and probably needs to be reworded as an expressed desire.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I have seen a bunch of schools/groups start to also use a service called SignUp Genius. They email you a link as part of the email and then you pick your time, and it even sends you a link that puts the appointment and any other information the organizer needs you to have on your calendar.

    6. JSPA*

      Yup. If you can’t have an online calendar, ask them for “at least 5 half-hour time slots spread over at least 3 days, between [time] and [time], [date] and [date].”

      That should cut down on overlap. Sure, they’ll still pick 9 a.m. Monday, or noon every day… but you can work with that.

    7. Beth*

      Agreed. Even if I gave someone my entire current availability for next Monday and Tuesday, odds are something will change and some of those times will be filled by a few hours from now. I’m not going to hold entire days open until someone gets back to me; that’s not practical or feasible for me. Unless OP is prepared to reply and set a specific time slot immediately, this is a really inconvenient approach, and I’m not surprised they’re seeing people push back on it.

    8. Snuck*

      Agree. C) is the clincher for me, and there’s something about the wording that grates me a little too (but I’m Aussie and this might be a local thing?). If I am looking at high turnover, low pay, entry level work then there’s an absolute plethora of options, so you need to woo me a little – the days of the employer holding all the cards are not now, the employer actually needs to be a little more approachable than previously. (Not a bad thing frankly!)

      I can tell you what days I’ll be free and around when, but I’m a) much more organised than the average entry level person, and b) have a high degree of (self determined) flexibility in my day.

      A ‘nicer’ approach might be to say “We are scheduling interviews for next week, if you could please let me know a morning and an afternoon you are available Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or contact us back with another option if you cannot do these times and we’ll get back to you within a day to confirm the time with you.” Then you are clearly outlining that you want a range of time, and that you will get back to them fairly fast.

      But maybe instead of doing this via email you could do it via voice? It may just be an entry level job but how many people are you interviewing? Ten? Twelve? Do them the courtesy of a call, so you can sort it out. It’s a small effort in the world of highly competitive employment right now and worth it, if for no other reason than it means you can solve your 9am Monday issue immediately.

    9. Tiger Snake*

      C seems most likely to me as well, and I feel like asking someone to give their full avaliability for days on end, a week out, fails to recognise that the ‘new world’ where everything has moved to be online and remote has also resulted in schedules themselves being much less stable.

      We used to be able to assume major appointments would be booked a week in advance. Now, I’m seeing that both in work and in other personal commitments, those arrangements are being done a few hours beforehand. After all, you don’t need to worry about dressage and travel. That’s just how it goes now it seems.

      Give me a set of timeslots and ask me to pick one, and we can book it out solid. Anyone else asks for time and I can just say I’m busy. Ask me for my dates a week out, and I need to manage all of that time until whenever you get back to me with your set time – I have no idea when that’s going to be, trying to keep that much time free (especially if I’m interviewing for multiple places at once) is harder to do these days.

    10. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Your system works fine, because you don’t have as many clients as OP has applicants.
      Alison suggesting an online booking system, where OP can block off time when she can’t interview, and each slot gets blocked off when a candidate books it, is such a straightforward solution, there’s really nothing more to say.

  2. pcake*

    I suggest you ask each candidate for several times during those three days when they’ll be available. It sounds like they don’t understand what you want, and honestly, I couldn’t give you my full schedule for three days nor would I bother to do so.

    1. Murphy*

      That’s only a slight rephrasing of what they’re asking for (full availability versus several times) so I’m not sure that it would stop people providing only one time.

      1. Zelda*

        To my mind, it may be partly that phrase “full availability” that’s a culprit here, so yes, rephrasing could help.

        For a person not experienced in the carousel that is scheduling, they may not know that “full availability” means “send me a complete list of every single time that you are available,” rather than, say, “send me a time when you are fully available” as distinct from ‘partially available’ like, watching the baby but she’ll probably be napping, or doing laundry in the background. Or any number of other possible misunderstandings of the phrase.

        Teacher-me suggests that, if you’re not getting the response you expect, then repeating the same way of phrasing it has a low probability of success. Spelling out that you mean “complete list of all possible times” can indeed be useful. Pcake’s suggestion of asking for a choice of times, rather than expecting candidates to continue to hold everything open, both clarifies the meaning and better respects candidates’ time.

        1. karou*

          The use of “full availability” tripped me up, too — it sort of sounds like the candidates are being asked to be available at all times all three of those days until OP tells them the date and time of their interview. Perhaps simple rephrasing along the lines of “Please let me know which times on X, Y, and Z days would work for you” would help.

        2. Koalafied*

          I agree. The semantic difference is small but significant. “Full availability” sounds like the kind of employer overstep that isn’t uncommon – let me look at your calendar and I’ll decide when you should interview. (Remember “show me your budget” boss, in response to a request fora raise?)

          “Several times that would work for you” communicates respect for the candidate’s agency to manage their own schedule and to identify times that will work for their schedule.

          And ultimately I think that is what LW thinks she’s asking for – she’s not expecting people to literally account for every window of time they don’t have a hard conflict, she’s expecting them to send her a complete list of times they’re willing to be interviewed. Switching to, “send me several options” is more accurate/precise and less likely to be misconstrued by people less experienced with professional scheduling interactions.

          1. KR*

            This was my read on it too. And also like, I can be available for several different times. Some are more convenient or better than others. I’d rather know up front that the interviewer is aiming for, Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning instead of feeling like I need to bend over backwards to say I’m available any time for the next few days. I would be worried if I said, oh well I’m only free these times, that the interviewer may pass me by because they aren’t free those times. But I would change my schedule around if I knew a specific time window was best for the interviewer.

        3. Cj*

          The phrase full availability would throw me too. The only way I could give someone my full availability is to actually send them my calendar. It’s not like I have all day Monday and Tuesday afternoon available. When meeting with clients it gets split up hourly as to when I’m available and not available.

          1. Beth*

            Yep, if I tried to list every time slot where I could be available for multiple days, 1. it would be a long list and 2. it would be outdated very quickly.

          2. Ele4phant*

            I will admit, I would be a bit perplexed and probably annoyed if an interviewer asked me to tell them ALL the times I’m available the next several days (because that is how I would interpret your email), and I would then need to keep all those times open until you confirmed.

            That said, I wouldn’t right back with one time – I’d probably pick two or three times I preferred and send them back to you.

            But presumably, you could *also* start with sending out some slots you know you are available and asking them to let you know which ones work for them. And if some times get double booked, just offer back some alternatives.

        4. Snuck*

          “Full availability” seems to be an Amercianism, and while I know what it means (I am Aussie, and we don’t use this at all, instead we’d say “your availability” or similar), it’s only through reading this site. If these are entry level positions, probably attracting people who haven’t necessarily worked before, then are they thinking they have to be fully available for the time (a different thing entirely!). (Full availability sounds super demanding to me “Give me your FULL AVAILABILITY RIGHT NOW” is the way it feels, it’s not a negotiation for free time that’s mutually agreed, it feels like “hand me your diary and I will fill it where it suits me”. If I’m making an appointment the conversation usually goes something like “Hrm, Can we do school hours please, because I have to collect my kids”, “Thursdays sound good, or Fridays….”, “I’m sorry that morning I have something on, how is early 9am or lunchtime-ish, or the following week?”.

          (Side note: Over the last six or seven years I’ve noticed increasingly a shift in American language use that has shifted it dramatically from where it was 10-15yrs ago, and further from the “Queen’s English” – I assume this is partly due to increased social media use, but it’s fascinating me.)

          1. Midwest Teacher*

            I’m American, and “full availability” isn’t common phrasing for me either. I’d ask for “your ability.” I agree that someone could misinterpret it to mean that they’re expected to have a 100% open schedule on those dates.

            1. Snuck*

              Off on my side tangent then… is this something that might be more geographical? Or more embedded in one group of people than another? There seems to be a few different quirks of speech I’ve heard and they generally fall into a couple of key buckets to me, but I could be really wrong. I’m curious though! There’s a frequent misuse of words in idioms that appear to be misheard or misunderstood, I haven’t got a clear example at hand, something like “I heard it on the grapevine” might become “I hurled it on the grapevine” (which radically alters the meaning of the saying), or “he dealed a bad hand” (instead of ‘he dealt a bad hand’ which is grammatically correct). Is this an education level thing? Is it a local slang thing? Curious! (Trust me, the Aussies has a fair bit of both going on too!)

              1. Midwest Teacher*

                Probably a bit of all of that. The US has a ton of variation in speech patterns, slang, dialect, and just the words we just for various items. The same way that various countries around the world speak English but with huge variation in word-use, we have that even within the US because we’re so huge and diverse. Plus, you have to take into account influence from other countries, especially now that the internet exists. There is a lot of phrasing I use only because I’ve picked things up organically from chatting with friends online in other countries.
                You also have to take into account disabilities and education level, especially when it comes to things like misusing idioms.

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        I think there’s a good chance it will help, especially if you put a concrete number on “several”. I think “full availability” is throwing people, and honestly it would give me pause, too. If I’m desperate for a job, do I say I’m available 100% of that time, because I would reschedule anything that conflicted – or does that sound like I’m just lying on the couch all day? If I say I’m only available in a few specific slots, does that sound arrogant? Are they going to decline my application because I chose time they were already booked and they’re assuming “full” availability means I don’t have flexibility? How do I tell them that there are some time that work best, some times that don’t work at all, and a whole gradation in between? It takes some work experience to learn how to handle that.

        I think an online booking system would be the best fix, but if that’s not feasible for budget or tech reasons then just asking for 3 (or 5, or whatever) ranked timeslots would save everyone a bunch of grief.

    2. Ope!*

      Librarian here, and I’ve been on both sides of these phone screens several times.

      The most successful model I’ve seen & used is to verify time with the interviewers, and create a list for the candidates to pick from.

      “We are conducting phone screens at the following times. Please pick a time slot that works for you. If none of these accommodate your schedule, please let me know you availability on these date and I will coordinate a new time with you ASAP:



      etc etc etc for whatever days you’ve picked

      1. giraffecat*

        The problem with that is you then have to wait for one person to respond and select a time slot before emailing the next person, so that two people don’t accidentally take the same time slot. I agree with Alison that an online scheduler such as Calendly is likely the way to go here.

      2. The OTHER Other*

        But without a calendar system, what do you do when 3 candidates pick Monday at 9AM, as happened to the LW?

        1. Ope!*

          We actually use a “pick three that work for you” but I forgot to add that, I’ve never encountered a situation where four people picked the same three, although I suppose I might one day.

          Is it a perfect solution? No. Most libraries are publicly funded in one way or another, and using external scheduling tools (like most suggested here) are not always an option. Sometimes you have to make due with what you can get!

          1. LP*

            Came here to say this! I’m interviewing with a really competitive company that asked me to list my top three times in order of preference, and it made everything SO much simpler on both our ends. And they offered upfront to interview during my lunchtime as well so I don’t have to take PTO or move anything around! Highly recommend :)

          2. MethodologyQueen*

            If cost is the only factor, the basic version of Calendly is free. I also like using When2Meet, which is also free.

            1. Lizzo*

              There are also Doodle polls, but those tend to be most helpful if you’re trying to coordinate the best meeting time across a large group of schedules, e.g. department meeting or board of directors meeting.

            2. BubbleTea*

              The next version up is super cheap, as in cheaper per month than the amount you’d be paying someone to send these scheduling emails for an hour.

      3. Joielle*

        I’d say “please send me your top three preferred time slots” or something like that – then you avoid having everyone pick the same one. I’ve had interviews scheduled that way (I think one asked for top five time slots) and it worked out well.

        1. Bibliophile8117*

          I second this! That’s the method I’ve used in the past for library interviews and it’s worked well.

        2. Washi*

          Yeah, this is usually how I do it! And honestly, sometimes people still pick a random time that wasn’t on the list with no explanation, but it would probably be a lot fewer.

        3. TK*

          I came to say this. This (sending a list of times and saying to pick 3) is exactly what I’ve done in a similar situation, and it works fine.

        4. Ope!*

          I realized I forgot to say that we do top three instead of one as well, glad someone else added it :)

      4. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I think this is the best option if it has to be through email. Except I would ask people to list three times they are available AND I would tell them I will send out a confirmation email by 5pm on x day so they know to respond before then and how long they have to hold the spots open.

        I know at my public library, we would not have been allowed to use any paid software for scheduling and we even needed EULAs for free software!! So in reality, we would not have been able to use an online tool.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Google docs could be shared, right? And Calendly has a free version.

      5. Green great dragon*

        I like the idea of listing out the slots! You could even ask them let you know which slots work for them – hopefully most will give you several.

        You could easily set this up as a tick box survey too, though at that point you probably might as well create a calendar for them to schedule into.

    3. Office Lobster DJ*

      I think this is the way, if you can’t just let the candidates book themselves. List some time slots that work for you, have them pick the top two or three, and you’ll schedule them from there.

      By making it sound like any time a three day span could be fair game and their availability is the priority, you may be coming across as too flexible. In that case, the candidates may not see an issue picking any old time that works for them.

      General “availability” sounds simple on paper, but it can be tougher than it seems. “Available” spans everything from a great time to talk, to a time that’s technically workable but less than ideal, to a time that should work as long as X Y and Z factors happen exactly as expected and nothing goes wrong.

    4. Laure001*

      Yes, the key here will be using the word “several.” “Give me several time slots where…” etc.

  3. municipal government jane*

    I wonder if the increased use of online scheduling systems is part of it, too? Less experienced candidates may have encountered more of that type of scheduling than people who have been in the workforce for a some time. My last round of job-seeking, 6/7 of the interviews I had used a “pick your slot” online system.

    1. Jora Malli*

      We use signup genius for hiring. We create the time slots and send the options to the candidates, and they choose their best option from the available times. It’s more work to set up than just saying “when are you available,” but it does alleviate a lot of back and forth negotiations.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My kids schools and sports use SignUp Genius. I really love the emailed calendar link – because then I can put that link on kids/husband’s calendar.

        I’ve even seen some of those links include phone numbers, physical addresses, and reminder lists of things to bring to an appointment.

    2. BethDH*

      I scrolled down to see whether someone had mentioned this. A ton of places that didn’t use scheduling systems before started using them during the pandemic, including a lot of the formal situations recent grads have been in like office hours.

  4. Egmont Apostrophe*

    I have a book project and I schedule interviews for it all the time.
    “I’m open all next week, pick a time and we can talk then”– almost never works.
    “How about Tuesday at noon”—result in a clear answer, either Tuesday at noon is great or “Can’t do that, maybe Wednesday?
    Too much choice and demanding too much info from them for one of probably 20 j0bs they’re applying for that week leads to getting no reply. Help lead them to an answer and you’ll get somewhere.

    1. Kella*

      Yes this! There’s a reason why scheduling is easiest to do either in real time over the phone or through a booking system like Alison recommended. It’s very inefficient to write down the full complexities of your availability like “I’d prefer 10am or later but if you really only have time before then on Monday I can do that, but not on Tuesday, and we’ll need to be done by noon on Wednesday….” etc.

      I think I would also be mildly turned off by “I will send you the day and time of your interview slot” because, as others have mentioned, schedules can change, so it seems courteous to offer a time and confirm that this still works for them rather than “This is when I’ll see you.” Scheduling is a negotiation. And certainly, the candidates OP mentioned are not treating it that way but it sounds like OP could stand to treat it a bit more like a negotiation too.

    2. goducks*

      Yes. I typically email candidates something like this:

      Which would you prefer? Tues at 1, or Wed at 9 or Thur at 11? If none of these work for you, is there a time on Tue-Thur that would work so I can see if I can make it work on our end?

      I find that starting with defined choices often gets better results than starting with an open question. Can’t eliminate all back and forth this way, but I think people tend to react better with solid options to choose from rather than being forced into guessing where they might end up.

      1. Casual Librarian*

        I was coming here to suggest something exactly like this.

        Either offer up 3-4 times and ask them to choose or offer another time OR ELSE you could ask them to send back 3 different timeslots that would work best for them. That gives them a more clear directive and if they have extra scheduling conflicts, gives them an easy entry for “I really only have one time.”

        1. elizelizeliz*

          Yes, this is what I was going to say–I have found in my scheduling with people that there are 3 options that really work for scheduling 1:1 meetings with several people over email:
          1) Use a self-scheduling tool (I have set up my Google Calendar to do this, which works well because it’s something people are often familiar with and can auto-populate on both of our calendars and take that time out of my available options);
          2) Choose 2-3 separate times to send to each person (I hate this one the most because i can end up with an erratic calendar that i could have avoided!) and tell them if none work to let me know 3 other times between date X and date Y; or
          3) Tell them the range of dates i could do and ask them to let me know 3 times they could do between day X and day Y, and then almost always people have at least SOMETHING that doesn’t overlap with everyone else!

          It still isn’t perfect, but it works like 80% of the time this way.

          Asking for someone’s full availability over a 3-day period though feels really extreme and would be such a turn-off or impossibility if someone asked me for that. Even if i figured it out, i could hold the entire time for maybe 15 minutes? Whereas if it’s just 3 30-minute chunks or something, i can keep those free for a couple of days while i wait to hear.

      2. Covered in Bees*

        Yes! Defined choices makes a huge difference. I’m a grad student with young children and a WFH spouse, so I have a lot of flexibility if needed, but there are times when I’d rather not interview, if at all possible. If I got OPs email, I’d wonder if I should include the inconvenient times or just hope my convenient times work.

    3. Meep*

      I think you hit the nail on the head on the problem OP and many others are missing.

      Give them a few options to choose from based on day and time results in less overlap in general and not everyone will have Monday at 9 AM as an option to begin with.

    4. SpaceySteph*

      Yes this is the same scheduling meetings with coworkers. I will be like, here’s 2 choices, if you can’t make either of those, feel free to propose something else. Just collecting flat availability is overwhelming.

    5. Loulou*

      Agreed, I find offering a few times works way better than asking someone when they’re free. Just make it clear that you can find another time if none of the times you suggest works.

    6. Meghan*

      Yes! I work in a hotel so I am always on property when I am at work, I never get to work from home, but my position is such that if we’re having a 15 minute screening convo or whatever, I can make that work at almost any time, as long as I know beforehand what time. And people familiar with my hotel job would know this, as well. I had a recruiter reach out last Friday to set a time for an initial conversation and asked what days/times I was available this week- I mean really, I can be available at almost any time because we’re pretty slow this week. My boss was supposed to be out of the office on Tuesday from 12PM-2PM (but then she wasn’t, rude) so I let the recruiter know “I have availability after 12PM on Tuesday, but if there is a time that works better for your schedule, just let me know and I can plan for that.”

      It’s just such a tricky thing to navigate when you both don’t know each other’s schedules. And truthfully, for me, first thing Monday morning would have worked best because I came into work later that day, but not knowing her availability, I didn’t feel comfortable saying “First thing Monday morning.” But it all worked out in the end and hopefully I will move on to the next step in the process.

    7. kiki*

      Yes, I find that this works better professionally and socially. Leaving things to open leads to unexpected outcomes and interpretations, in my experience.

    8. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      But the problem with saying “tuesday at noon” runs the risk of going back and forth with times if it doesn’t work. The OP should give a few options. “Any half hour on Tuesday from 1-3 or Wednesday 9-12” would work much better.

    9. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Yes! Giving my availability for three full work days, knowing that the library is usually open past 5 pm, is me giving you more than 30 hours of my schedule. That’s way too much.

      Self-schedule is the way to go, but if that’s not an option (previous job wouldn’t let me use Calendy), propose two times for them to choose from and if neither works, they can give availability for an alternative time.

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      When I need to schedule a meeting with someone and can’t use a booking system, then I send an email saying something like “I can meet at 3:30pm on Wednesday [specific date a week or two from now, depending on how far out I’m currently booked up] or 9:30am Thursday [specific date a week or two from now]. I can hold those times for you until [date maybe three days from now] but if I don’t hear back from you by then I may book something else for that time. If neither of those times work, please reply with 2-4 times at least a week out that work for your schedule.”

      However, this does mean holding twice the amount of time the meetings will actually take as open on my calendar (which is why I give a deadline), so to do it for something like phone screens you’d have to rank your candidates, send emails to roughly the top third, wait to hear back from enough of them that you had a decent chunk of open slots again, then email the next third, and so on until you run out of candidates or timeslots. It’d be a lot more work for the person booking the interviews than just using a sign-up system would be.

  5. Tiff*

    I recently went through a hiring round to bring on a new person for the team I manage and was set up to use calendly to do availability/scheduling. I have also been routed through that tool for a number of other scheduling processes and wonder if it and other similar tools are changing people’s perceptions of how scheduling should work as well.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Yes, Calendly has saved me soooooo much time when hiring. It used to be a nightmare to schedule– now I just say:
      – Please select a time from Calendly
      – If none of the times on Calendly work for you, please reach out via email and suggest two times that would work for you
      – If you haven’t scheduled via Calendly or emailed me for alternatives within five business days, I’ll assume you’re withdrawing from the process

      1. moonstone*

        Yep this is what I do. I schedule interviews both for jobs and research interviews and it works for both.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Calendly (or something similar) is definitely the way to go. Right now OP is juggling 3 variables: 1. interviewers’ time, 2. interviewee’s availability, 3. interview slots that get booked by other interviewees. 1 is include when you create the calendly event, so that interviewees can only book times where interviewers are available. Each interviewee then selects a time that works for them, taking care of 2. Calendly automatically handles 3. Done and dusted, with far less effort from OP and the interviewees.

  6. B*

    One solution that might make everyone happy? Some sort of calendar-scheduling tool like Google Calendar Office Hours or Calendly, that automatically lets you set up phone call slots. That way you can just go “Please select the time that works best for you for a phone interview,” which removes scheduling headaches for you and allows the candidates some autonomy.

    1. TCO*

      Doodle has a free tool like this, too. I used it recently to schedule interviews and it worked like a charm. It automatically sends calendar invites when the interview is scheduled and it even automatically created Google Meet links for each interview (they were virtual).

    2. joa*

      As a librarian who is occasionally in the same situation as OP, Calendly has saved so much annoyance. It has a free version that works fine if I’m just managing one hiring process at a time.

  7. CatCat*

    For me it would be (c). I agree an online booking system would be great and the most practical solution if you are trying to schedule a bunch of people. If that’s not an option, why not send them the available time slots and give them a deadline to respond? “We have the following dates/time available for an interview. Please le me know by 5:00 pm tomorrow, May 27, which slot will work for your schedule.” You may need to stagger your scheduling email a bit (e.g., email candidate 1 slots A, B, and C; email candidate 2 slots W, X, and Y; then after the deadline, email candidates 3 and 4 likewise, eliminating any slots that are no longer available).

    It should cut down on this and any back-and-forth other than situations where they aren’t available for those time slots.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I think this, but with a slight tweak. Send the available timeslots and ask for the candidates top 3 choices. In theory that should give enough to work around everyone wanting the 9am Monday slot and would cut down on the back and forth.

      1. Covered in Bees*

        OP mentioned they’re working with a pool of around 10 candidates, so you’d need way more skies and it could quickly get unweildly.

        1. Washi*

          I’ve worked with similar pools or more and it’s generally worked out ok, especially if you’re hiring on a rolling basis rather than trying to get every phone screen nailed down before proceeding to in person interviews. Sometimes someone would be really slow getting back to me and all the slots would be taken, so we’d need to reschedule, but that wasn’t super frequent.

    2. Bunny Watson*

      I am a librarian with the same problem and this is what I do. In this case if I had three days blocked of for interviews, I would offer Candidate 1 a choice of slot A, B, or C on Monday and to let me know if any of those don’t work. Candidate 2 gets choices D, E, F on Monday and then Candidate 3 gets choices G,H, and I on Tuesday, and so on until all of my slots have at least been offered. Give a deadline for response and then go back and offer open slots as I move down the list. It’s more work to track on my end, but usually results in one of the options being selected (assuming I get a response) with very little back and forth.

      1. goducks*

        Yes. That’s similar to what I do.
        The benefit is that when the candidate chooses a time, they can put it on their calendar immediately, and not have to worry about keeping other potential spots open for me until I respond. People seriously dislike stating the times they’re available and then having to keep that availability open like the LW’s system causes. They prefer to have a solid date and time in the first interaction.

      2. Jennifer in FL*

        Before I started using SignUp Genius, this is what I would do for my Parent-Teacher conferences at school. Keeping in mind what I knew about the parents’ schedules ahead of time (this parent is only available in the afternoon/this parent will bend over backward to make my life easier/etc) there was rarely any back-and-forth.

    3. anonymous73*

      I mean that IS what she’s doing, maybe worded poorly. If she’s available to meet with them any time in a certain few days, she’s asking for their availability. And she’s sending these emails to several people so to avoid conflicts she’s asking for available times. It’s not rocket science. And while I get these are people with little to no professional work experience, it boggles my mind that they can’t follow simple instructions. I had a phone screen last week and was asked the same question. So I pulled up my calendar and provided her with my free times within the specified days she asked about.

      1. Ope!*

        I can see why the candidates don’t like it. You say “I’m open Tuesday noon – 4” and then the next day someone else offers to interview you Tuesday at 2pm, but you’re stuck in limbo waiting to hear from OP because you stated the full afternoon.

        More experienced job searchers wouldn’t feel awkward about accepting the 2pm and updating OP, but a greener candidate might feel like it’s a faux-pas

  8. Critical Rolls*

    In the absence of an online scheduling tool, I’ve had luck breaking it down into times, then asking candidates to pick their 3 preferred times, and say we will do our best to accommodate them. Then I schedule by order of response. It’s been pretty effective.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yes – I was thinking of asking them to choose first, second, third choice. And then get back to them quickly.

    2. Velawciraptor*

      This tends to be my approach too. I send out scheduling emails all at the same time, but I make clear that slots will be assigned first come, first served. It’s worked pretty well for me over the last 5 years, even in this job market.

  9. Observer*

    If you are doing multiple screens, do the online calendar.

    If you are doing one or two at a time, offer a few specific slots and let them choose.

    What these young folks are doing is not ok. But you really are setting yourself up for this. Keep in mind that “full availability” may be a more complex question than you realize. Like “I know that I can make it on Monday at 9:00. Monday from 10:00-3:00 are almost certain, and so is Tuesday from 1:00 to 5:. Wednesday afternoon MIGHT be doable if you get back to me ASAP and I can switch some stuff up. I don’t know yet about Monday 3:00-5:00 or Tuesday 9:00 -11:00. Unless I missed something, I’m definitely not available the rest of the time.”

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      Omg this is me. I am way to literal to parse “full availability” without writing back a detailed breakdown of my daily schedule.

      Just give me a time slot or two and I’ll find a way to make it work…please? This back and forth where each successive email narrows the time window down slightly more feels like such a waste of time. :P

    2. Glen*

      Also, how many other potential employers may schedule a call with them in the time between the time they give their full availability and the time they get their interview time back? This whole approach is really overly demanding. I am studying full time as a mature age student right now and genuinely couldn’t give you my “full availability”. If I give my full availability I have to hold my entire goddamn schedule open for an unknown number of days until you get back to me. It’s ridiculous.

  10. Jessica*

    I sympathize, LW. So much. It makes me want to scream when people do this (in any context), and in your shoes it would make me want to just cross them off and hire someone who could pay attention and comprehend written instructions. But as that’s probably a luxury you do not have right now, I agree that the online appointment calendar would probably make it easier all around. I have used signupgenius (it’s free) successfully for stuff like this.

    1. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      I don’t think it’s fair to assume people don’t understand what you’re asking them. I would argue they simply don’t want to go through an unnecessarily laborious process when they have so many other options. The power differential has changed and I think employers are reacting to their discomfort with that by scolding people.

      1. L-squared*

        Yep. In a way, I love to see it. Employers have been so used to having all the power, that now that applicants are taking it back, they are getting angry. You don’t like them giving you 1 available time, but how often in the past have employers called/emailed and said “can you make an appointment friday at 2?”. But when the shoe is on the other foot, they think its disrespectful

        1. Generic Name*

          Yuuup. I remember my interview for my very first job in 2004. It was a position working for a City and I was contacted by someone (I can’t remember if it was email or by phone) saying, “We have scheduled your interview for Day and Time”. And I was like, oooookay, glad I happen to be available just then.

      2. Unaccountably*

        Isn’t that the truth, though. From “people just don’t want to work” to “hdu give me YOUR calendar” to “We know you’re not working when we don’t have a physical sightline to you at your desk,” the attempts to shame workers back into their place are relentless.

        I’ve always hired people with lots of options, or at least I assumed they had lots of options. We get fewer applicants now, but once we get candidates to the interview stage, the experience of hiring is the same for me now as it’s ever been. The people I’ve seen complaining about Candidates Nowadays are by and large people who have expectations that aren’t realistic in this labor market, and can’t be made realistic by appealing to the moral authority of the Protestant work ethic.

    2. anonymous73*

      Laborious? Really? It takes 5 minutes to look at your calendar, pick your available times over a specific time period and respond to an email.

      1. Observer*

        As others have noted, that’s not really the case. And the request for “full availability” goes even further. It the OP were asking for “please give me 3 slots” I bet that they would get a lot more response.

      2. Cj*

        You must not have a job where you meet with clients, or you would know that each of those three days could be broken up on the half hour or hour by multiple client appointments. And you can’t keep the available slots open until the potential employer gets back to you a few days later.

        1. Elsajeni*

          I appreciate that this wouldn’t work for everybody, including a lot of people who are currently employed, but I do think it’s worth keeping in mind that the OP is interviewing recent high school and college graduates for part-time work. Shooting down advice because it wouldn’t make sense if they were interviewing people with busy, client-facing, full-time jobs seems a bit silly.

      3. Glen*

        And then hold all that time in limbo until your potential employer gets back to you. “Laborious” may not be the best description but it’s absolutely unreasonable.

      4. Unaccountably*

        So, I’m employed. So are many, if not most, other job-seekers. And I don’t know where you work, but at my job, things come up. I get pulled into meetings at the last minute. There are fires that have to be put out. Things land on my desk and have to be dealt with. My calendar at the beginning of the week bears very little resemblance to my calendar at the end of the week. My email response might be out of date before I even send it, depending on how long it takes me to write it and how many times I get interrupted in the process.

        What kind of work do you do that you can count on having large chunks of working time over any specific time period stay empty until an interview is scheduled? It can’t be variable-schedule minimum-wage work, those people can’t rely on consistent break times. It can’t be management-level, because you’d be the person who has to deal with unexpected issues. Not any kind of work where you might get roped into working double shifts; not any sort of work where meetings run over or your boss needs your input on something right that minute.

        Unless you’re assuming that all job candidates are unemployed and the only schedule they have to work around is daytime talk shows, I can see that taking five minutes to check your calendar and have carved-in-stone availability.

  11. Fart Noise*

    you could set up something like calendly and send the link to your availability, which will update live as they choose their slots

  12. Anne Wentworth*

    I’m betting that young candidates are already so accustomed to using online booking/shared calendar apps now that that’s what they perceive when LW is asking about availability.

  13. Solitary Witch*

    I really dislike the “give me wide chunks of available time and wait” method. Even if I’m utterly enthralled with a possible opportunity, I have existing employment and am unable to hold chunks of tome open while waiting for a prospective employer to get back to me. My compromise is to pick a single day of from the options and provide my current availability. I do my best to hold that open as long as I can but sometimes have to pass on an interview if the prospective waits too long.

    1. anonymous73*

      If your time slots fill up quickly, it’s okay to say “These are my available times at the moment, but they may fill up quickly. Please confirm as soon as possible so I can block off the time needed.”

      1. Observer*

        Which is fine if you have experience with this stuff. But when you are dealing with inexperienced folks on low end, and part time jobs, it’s kind of self defeating to expect them to act with the poise and nuance of someone with decades in the workforce.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, I think it’s just not realistic to expect this level of finesse from someone who is looking for an entry level, near minimum wage part time job, and may literally never have scheduled a phone screen before. Unless the job involves a lot of scheduling over email, I would not judge people for not responding perfectly, especially in this job market!

        2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Yeah. 45 year old me knows to do this, but 17 year old me would not have.

  14. Don*

    You sent them a number of days and asked their availability. They’re telling you: at that specific time on that specific date.

    That’s a little snark, but only barely. You acknowledge that your compensation is barely above minimum required by law and that you’re at best filling “stepping stone” positions that folks can’t live on without additional employment.

    Yet you’re sending those folks – who if they have other employment will probably have to keep it! – about 20 working hours worth of slots and expecting them to tell you what they’re willing to commit to keeping open until you get back to them with your pick. Well, they’re telling you.

    1. Parenthesis Dude*

      I mean, when people ask me what times I have available for an interview, they understand if something comes up. Like, if a meeting is suddenly scheduled during one of those times, I simply tell them and we set up a different time. It’s not like you have to commit 20 working hours worth of slots free.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah, the only difference between “I’ll see you at 9 on Monday” and “would 9 on Monday work?” is the sense of entitlement/rudeness (and omg it’s SO rude to phrase it that way lol). No, they shouldn’t respond like that, but the way it’s currently set up sounds obnoxious for them and like it’s creating a lot of extra work for the LW! Are they waiting for everyone to respond and then manually comparing availability to try to create the schedule??

    3. KateM*

      See, and I was thinking that I’d need to give my availability for all 72 hours. I don’t see where OP specified any time range for those screens…

    4. MiamiBeachDarling*

      “Well, they’re telling you.”

      Yeah, telling you they’re poor applicants. Any applicant going into an interview with the same bad attitude this comment has is not worth keeping around! If you are unwilling to accept the wage, don’t take the job. The wage doesn’t somehow make rude behavior acceptable though.

      If an applicant can genuinely only make one slot due to scheduling constraints, they need to acknowledge that the LW requested full availability but that there’s only one time that works for them, not completely ignore the question and decide their own time. It’s very disrespectful to schedule a meeting without any regard for the other party’s availability. It reeks of entitlement.

      1. Scheduler*

        I agree with the commenter, the OP is being super vague and is getting clear answers that they are reading way too far into and getting offended about. That’s an OP issue. I wouldn’t want to work for or with someone who comes an attitude about “entitlement” when they don’t get an response they expect. My job is scheduling meetings for others, “Here are the times/dates that are available, please let me know which may work for you.” Is standard practice.

  15. Rose*

    If you can’t switch to an online scheduling system, why not ask them to provide their 3 preferred time slots?

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      I’d be curious to see if that works. If giving a set number to provide actually prompts them to provide the information. Maybe they find it overwhelming and don’t realize they could just offer 3 time slots to begin with.

      1. Rose*

        This is what I am thinking, Either it is overwhelming (especially if she is giving lots of days/times), they don’t understand, or they just don’t want to “hold” a bunch of time slots. 3 is manageable. Yes, OP may end up having to recontact people if everyone requests the same slots… but such is life.

  16. HelloHello*

    I’ll admit that I’ve gotten so used to using calendar apps at this point (having been in the workforce for 10+ years) that if someone asked me to “send my full availability” without a calendar app included I’d be momentarily confused about what they were asking for. It took me a moment of thought to realize you meant “all the times you are available during these days”, and I can see someone feeling similarly confused and translating it as “a specific time you are available during these days.”

    At minimum, rewording it to say “please provide a range of times you are available on these days” might avoid confusion. Ultimately it might make it easier for everyone involved if you just send out a calendar with reservable time slots and let people pick a time that works best for them. There are apps available to do so like Calendly, mixmax, or even just Google calendar (I believe), and it will probably solve your problem for you.

  17. NikkiM*

    Interesting….I have seen this exact same shift as well in my profession as a college professor. If students request a meeting, I respond back exactly as the OP does with, “please let me know all of your available times on X day,” and about 1/2 the time now, the student responds back telling me when we will meet instead. So…this change in behavior is happening either at or before college. I try to push back (and provide a learning opportunity?) by asking again for all available times, at which point I usually get the answer I was originally looking for. I have wondered where this change comes from too. All of which is to say that what you are seeing is real (and pretty frustrating, I agree!).

    1. K*

      I find this provide all your availability odd. I also work in academia and usually the most senior, important or time-constrained person will offer a few times when they are available and the rest us will choose from those times. Sometimes the VIP will just pick a time and it’s up to us to speak up if it does not work. This way feels less burdensome to everyone involved.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        I think it’s an effort to be as accommodating as possible, which hasn’t been a concern in the past. Now, unfortunately, you have people who are being rude (or just unaware) in their response with a single time… I guess I’m just confused at how annoyed so many people in the comments seem to be by this. The scheduler’s effort to try to give you a convenient time is being seen as presumptuous and burdensome… which is so odd. If someone feels they might have something pop up in that time slot before the person gets back to them… don’t include it!

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          I’d push back on your idea that somehow the candidates are rude, but the scheduler is being accommodating. That’s already setting up a weird power dynamic.

          I think this is in the realm of “choice overload”. Too many choices actually leads to people feeling overwhelmed rather than accommodated. Give me all your availability for 3 whole days! Well, Monday from 9-10, 11-11:45, 12:30-1:20, 2:00-3:00, 3:25-4:00… then do that all again for 2 more days?! If they have a lot going on, they probably want to get this over with by picking the first option rather than back-and-forthing.

          1. Cj*

            Yes, I don’t understand why it is rude for the candidate not to want to give their full availability, when the interviewer isn’t giving their full availability right off the bat.

            Sure, it might be the interview’s availability at this moment, and those slot might film up. But it’s the same for the job candidate. Maybe not so much for someone right out of high school, but it certainly is for those of us who meet with clients.

            1. Loulou*

              It seems like the interviewer *is* giving their full availability, though — the days they mentioned, within working hours. The candidate can name any times within that frame that work for them, and then the interviewer will select one time.

        2. KateM*

          But something can pop up in any time slot I have. If I tell one recruiter my full availability for three days next week, and an hour later another recruiter asks for my full availability for those three days, am I supposed to say I am all booked, or to give the same availability?

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Right? And exactly how soon is “ASAP”, anyway? I’d want to know how long I’ll have question marks in my schedule and when I can make other plans for that time.

        3. Glen*

          But any range of time that people make known to you is now a range of time they have to hold in limbo until you respond – and who knows how long that will take, at my institution it’s up to two working days, but some profs have definitely let it go on longer. That’s not accommodating, it’s burdensome.

        4. Glen*

          It’s not accommodating to ask someone to block out all their free time for three days until you get back to them. It’s demanding and inappropriate.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        +1 don’t you have office hours? It’s useless for them to give you their entire schedule for the day if you’re in classes or meetings most of the time! Just tell them what timeframe works for YOU.

        1. Budgie Buddy*

          I know right? Just be a bit rude*, Profs & Employers! Tell me one or two slots that work for you and I’ll arrange my schedule around that.

          *by Rude I mean “Direct.” :P please, just tell me what you want

    2. giraffecat*

      I am also a college professor. I find it odd to ask anyone for their ‘full availability’ as that takes too much time to type out. If someone asked that of me, I’d be a bit annoyed also and not want to type out my full availability for them. Usually if a student is requesting a meeting, I’ll send them a link to my appointment scheduler (Calendly) to have them select a time that works for them. That’s usually worked out well for everyone. Otherwise, I’ll send them 2-3 options that I’m available and see if that works for them. If not, then we can find another time.

    3. Jennifer in FL*

      Are Office Hours not a thing anymore? It’s been a long time since I was in college, but if I needed to me with a professor the response was, “Here are my office hours. When would you like to come in?” If they had asked for all of my availability so they could *then get back to me* my head would have exploded trying to figure out all of the moving pieces of my life.

      And why would you ask AGAIN for the “full available times” rather than just saying “See you then.” or ‘That time doesn’t work for me. Here are you choices.”?? How is just repeating the question helpful to you or the student?

      1. Vintage Lydia*

        They certainly are with my professors! Even the adjuncts that teach one class one night a week has at minimum a zoom link open or something similar at particular times.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Why aren’t you giving them your available times? Don’t you keep office hours?

      I think the shift is that young people don’t have set availability with fixed times that they will definitely be free.

      Look at it one way, they have zero availability because their school and work demands expand to fill all time allotted. Or from the opposite perspective, they have 100 percent availability because nearly anything can be flexed.

      Somebody has to name an actual time slot for the conversation to move forward. By naming one, they will get a substantive answer, yes or no.

    5. Claire W*

      It’s because if I ask to meet with you, I want to know when suits you and block out that time asap. I am not looking to give you the entire breakdown of my week so you get to take your time perusing and picking a slot that works, and in the meantime I can’t schedule literally anything with anyone else unless I want the entire process to start all over with a new set of ‘full availability’. It’s not up to you to know my full schedule, you’re presumably the busy one and saying “send me your full availability” doesn’t feel so much courteous as it feels entitled, like, you want as much freedom as possible to pick your ideal time in my day and I can’t schedule anything else until you do that.

    6. Unaccountably*

      This is weird to me. To begin with, most professors have office hours. The “please let me know all your available times” is… not generally how it works.

      Second, if I say to a student, “Please let me know when you’re available on Tuesday,” the implication is that I will also be available all day Tuesday. If not, I’d have said something like “I’m available Tuesday between 10 and 12 and again between 3 and 5, when is good for you?”

      So when a student says “I’ll be by at 10:00 AM on Tuesday,” when I’ve already implied that I’d be available all day Tuesday, why would I not just meet with them then? What’s the “learning opportunity” here? That power differentials must be respected, and as a college professor I am the one who gets to set the meeting time? That even if 10:00 is, in fact, the best time for me, that it’s now Not Okay just because the student told me that was when they’d be by, and I think they’re being rude and presumptuous by setting an appointment when I told them I had appointments available?

      What am I missing here?

  18. Shawna*

    I occasionally find myself in situations where I’m scheduling lots of interviews (of the journalist type, not the hiring type), and I find that it’s much faster to just suggest a time and find a new one if the first option doesn’t work. Otherwise there’s a lot of back and forth. (When are you free next week? You’re free Tuesday? When on Tuesday? In the afternoon? Does 1 pm work? Etc.)

    1. Jora Malli*

      Right. Treat it like making an appointment at the doctor’s office. “Our first available time slot is Monday at 11, will that work for you? No? What about Tuesday at 9:30?”

      1. Jennifer in FL*

        EXACTLY. It seems to me that this should be just like scheduling a doctor’s appointment. The scheduler makes the opening offer, then go from there.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I sometimes back-up the scheduling Dept at the hospital system I work for. I’ll tell patients we have openings on Mon, Wed, and Thurs, which is best for you. Then I go to times on the day they prefer that we have available.

  19. daffodil*

    Another option if you don’t want to set up a booking system is to just assign each applicant a time and then reschedule as requested. “We’d like to talk to you on the phone about the position. Is Monday at 11 am workable for you?”

    1. QuickerBooks*

      This is what I’d go with. The truth is most job-seekers’ days are not in fact jam packed all day with solid back-to-back activities, even though they may sometimes feel that way. So the chances of hitting a workable time within one or two tries is probably pretty high.

      1. fine tipped pen afficionado*

        Don’t know that I agree. When I was in the part-time game, everyone had 2-3 part-time gigs they were working to make ends meet. If these folks are willing to consider a part-time job at only $1 above minimum wage, I think it’s fair to guess that plenty of them may already have another part-time gig too.

      2. Just Another Zebra*

        Jumping off of that, if there are a ton of scheduling conflicts, most people will come back to the first offer with something like “My schedule is crazy right now. The only time I reasonably have free is X”. And then you move on from there.

      3. goducks*

        I disagree. Job seekers are just as likely to have existing work, school and family conflicts as anybody else. More even, perhaps, because they’re job seeking on top of all the other activities we’d all be doing.

      4. Observer*

        The truth is most job-seekers’ days are not in fact jam packed all day with solid back-to-back activities,

        And your basis for that is?

        Lets start with the fact that mots job seekers actually have a life. They may have existing jobs, they may be in school, they may have family obligations, they may have obligations that interface with the obligations of other people.

        If this is the assumption you use when dealing with hiring, realize that you are probably cutting down your pool because there are going to be a lot of people who are busy and either unable or unwilling to deal with people who assume that they have nothing else going on in their lives.

      5. Unaccountably*

        That’s a strange assumption. Are you assuming that all job-seekers are unemployed, despite the fact that basically every career advice source on the planet says not to leave a job until you have another one lined up? Or are you just assuming that they have jobs where they don’t do a whole lot of work?

    2. talos*

      I don’t really like this as a candidate, because if 11 on Monday works but badly (e.g. I would have to skip a meeting for my current job that’s important but not critical), I don’t know if 11 on Monday was your only time or if I can negotiate to find a better time (and even if I can, we’re going to wind up in an extended back-and-forth, which is such a pain). So I’m probably going to suck it up and take this time that’s bad for me and maybe even resent you a little bit for it.

    3. Lady Blerd*

      That is my MO as well. Luckily I’ve never had more then one or two applicants for the jobs I post plus it’s easier for me to adjust to the applicant schedule unless there’s a major roadblock.

  20. Everdene*

    For me it would be option C. Getting my personal and work diary coordinated to tell you my ‘full availability’ would be hard work, I don’t know how early or late you run, how long I need to keep all potential slots free, how long you expect the interview to be. I am a big fan of the online appointment bookers from both sides. As a hiring manager I get to set the times I’d like to interview people, send out the link and then let candidates suit themselves. If they can’t make any of the available slots then I expect they would contact you and you could work something out. Your current method sounds like hard work for everyone.

  21. No Sleep Till Hippo*

    I used to run into this a lot too, before the applicant tracking system we used introduced a calendar integration. I found I had a fair amount of success with something like: “We’d like to schedule a 60-minute interview with you between [X Date] and [Y Date]. Please send me 2-3 dates and times within that window that would be most convenient for you, and I’ll write back to confirm.”

    Then, even when a handful of people inevitably gave me only one slot, I at least had some flexibility with the other candidates who gave me multiple options, so the Calendar Jenga/Tetris was a bit less challenging. I suspect the specificity of the instructions also helped people process what it was I wanted from them, so it reduced the likelihood I’d get a single-slot response (at least, not without explanation). I also think it addresses Alison’s point c) above: it’s much easier to contemplate holding open 2-3 hours over the next several days than trying to keep your full schedule open just in case.

    But overall I agree that a self-schedule option will make your life so very much easier. Something like Calendly should work if you don’t have options built in to your systems, and I think there’s a free version?

    Good luck!

  22. Habitrail*

    OP is offering too many choices and candidates don’t want to do the back and forth. Either give them a tighter range (I would like to schedule an interview on Tuesday between 1 and 4) or set it up so candidates can book themselves into a slot according to the OP’s availability. Much more straightforward.

    1. Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein*


      The internal recruiters at my company send a list of 6-10 open time slots and ask for a preferred and backup choice — I’ve found that pretty straightforward and easy to work with. If none of the slots work, the candidate can ask for something else.

    2. Loulou*

      I think a lot of people would have a problem with “Tuesday between 1 and 4” though — that’s pretty narrow. There is a sweet spot.

  23. WiscoJo*

    I schedule interviews for recruiters and totally have this same thing happen. Another one of my pet peeves is when people request a same or next day interview—I always try to give the recruiters (and the candidates) at least 24 hours notice to prepare. usually candidates are really kind and open when I let them know what the turnaround time is to schedule things, but it does end up being a lot of back and forth…

    1. Jennifer in FL*

      But if you are the one scheduling the interview, why aren’t you saying from the outset that interviews will begin on X day and go through Y day? Isn’t is just setting yourself up for back-and-forth NOT to set them limits at the very beginning of the process?

      1. WiscoJo*

        Oh I should have clarified, I usually do note something along the lines of “Please let me know a few day/time options that would work best for you either this week or next week, starting x day.” I have a feeling my dilemma might get back to the not reading emails thoroughly option…

  24. CCC*

    The “calendar Tetris game” just isn’t as hard as it used to be, and people don’t want to play. If you can’t do an online scheduling system, I’d do something like offer each candidate 2-3 days/times, and you hold those on their calendar. This just isn’t a great way to schedule something, and probably with so many employment choices out there candidates are less willing to deal with it by holding their calendar for 3 full days while they wait to hear back from you.

  25. J*

    Asking for full availability for three days comes off as inconsiderate and disrespectful of the person’s time. People feel like they have to hold this time for you. They are also likely applying other places and getting other requests for interviews, which they are trying to fit into their schedule. Offer a few different times instead and let the candidate choose.

    1. J*

      Of note, this may be a cultural shift. The health care system associated with my doctor’s office often schedules appointments without consulting patients. Have a referral for a specialist? You’ll just get a notice of when the appointment is. It’s up to you to reschedule if it does not work. You’ll need a follow-up, but it’s beyond the current scheduling window? One day you’ll get a notice with the appointment time.

      1. Unaccountably*

        It’s like jury duty in that respect, and with the same power differential. The message is “You will appear before me when I summon you, and not at any other time, and if you don’t then I have the power to punish you for it in some way.”

        A cultural shift away from a power differential that stark between employees and employers benefits everyone. The Triangle Shirtwaist model of employer-employee relations benefits no one.

    2. EBStarr*

      Yes! It would be much more polite to ask them for, say, 3 slots (and then another set of 3 if those don’t work) rather than expecting them to hold giant chunks of time open for you.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah, it kind of feels like the professional equivalent of “oh we should totally hang out sometime” but never actually suggesting a time or activity. You’re putting too much of the burden on the other person to make a plan, and then getting mad when they’re decisive and specific instead of taking just one baby step toward a long back-and-forth.

  26. fine tipped pen afficionado*

    Just reinforcing the online scheduling tool idea! Picking out every half hour I might be available in a 3 day window is tedious and something I would only do for a job I really, really wanted (or if I had no other options, which is not true for anyone in this market).

    If I received that email, I would also let you know that you can call me at X time or not at all (not in those words lol). I know it’s not your fault but when you advertise work that’s $1 above an already criminally low minimum wage, you’re signaling how much you care about that position and shouldn’t expect potential employees to care about it more than you (the royal you, not you personally) do.

    Way too many parentheticals for me to say: you get what you pay for and removing obstacles is the best way to get the results you want.

  27. Other Alice*

    Feels like we’ve had a bunch of questions about scheduling meetings recently, and the answer is always “use a scheduling tool” or “get the people who don’t want to use the scheduling tool on board”…

    Personally I wish I’d done that as a young graduate. Well maybe not just book myself for 9am on Monday, but given them just 2-3 times that worked for me. Giving my full availability was always such a headache as I was juggling a bunch of interviews, and a few times it resulted in them replying several days later and by then I’d already booked something else for the time & day they wanted. As I type that, maybe that’s the answer if you don’t want to use a scheduling tool: ask them for 2-3 slots, it’s much easier to find 3 free hours than to keep free 3 entire days!

  28. NeedRain47*

    If you have a full time job already, your availability for interviews may technically be Never. I will always have to take off time for an interview and if someone asked me for my availability, I’m not sure how I would explain that. (I wouldn’t, but if these are young people without much experience, it may confuse them.)

    Also, it’s just easier for people not to have to make open ended decisions. So offer them three specific times, then say “if none of those work for you get in touch.”

    1. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Yes for scheduling time off. If it’s a position I’m ultra excited about and the straw align for a slow week at work, I’ll be more than happy to work with a request for a large, open ended chunk of time. If not, trying to figure out exactly how much spare time I theoretically have and trying to coordinate the possibilities (ex ok, if I go in early I can add an extra 15 minutes to lunch and that might be enough time to have an interview if nothing goes wrong all week) I’m just going to throw in the towel or tell you my one easy time.

      Also, I’m mildly amused that everyone is wanting Monday at 9am.

    2. Don*

      The fact that LW’s provided examples are consistently at the start of the work week at the start of the day pretty well shows that’s the case here.

  29. NinjaMonkey*

    I also highly recommend the online booking system. In the absence of booking, there are also a bunch of schedule coordination sites, like needtomeet, where you could collect all the of their availability within your time window without them necessarily picking spots.

    I can tell you as a parent of someone looking for a first job, it’s also very likely your question is not being understood by younger folks. “Full availability” probably means nothing to the kid whose Mom has been handling the family schedule. I probably would word it:

    “We are setting up phone interviews for X, Y and Z days next week. Please let me know if you are availability at the following times for those 3 days and I will get back to you ASAP with the day and time of your phone screen.

    X 9am Y 9am Z 9am
    X 10am Y 9am Z 10am

  30. Just Another Zebra*

    OP, I think the response you’re getting has much to do with your candidate pool. These are students – a group of people who are notoriously overscheduled. If I received your email, I’d probably do the same as they are – pick a date and time that works for me within your broader parameters. I’m not going to tell you that I have some time between 3:25 and 4:15 on Monday, but Tuesday I can squeeze you in anytime between 10 and 12, but then not again til 6, and only until 7:25 and on Wednesday… It’s exhausting. Go with an online booking system or, in lieu of that, give each candidate 3 options to pick from.

    1. Unaccountably*

      If reading AAM has taught me anything, it’s that students are also a group of people who are being bombarded from all sides – or at least by their parents – with pressure to display Gumption.* Scheduling an interview at 9:00 AM on Monday demonstrates Gumption and sets you apart from the pack of other candidates who, um, are also scheduling for 9:00 AM on Monday in an attempt to demonstrate Gumption.

      *I remain salty that there is not a Gumption tag on this site, though to be fair I wouldn’t want to have to re-tag that number of posts either.

  31. animaniactoo*

    I am willing to bet that switching to an online booking calendar will NOT solve this, and the only thing that will is narrowing the choices AND addressing the “how long they’re supposed to hold the time available for”.

    Please mark the time slots below that you are available for and I will e-mail you back within 24 hours to advise you of your interview time:


    9 -10:30

    1. Raboot*

      How would an online scheduling system NOT solve what this email is doing? If those are the available slots, those are the only ones OP would make available in the system, and the candidate could choose one or email back if none work. Literally everything your email suggestion accomplishes with no chance of two candidates choosing the same time.

      1. animaniactoo*

        The reason I don’t think it will not solve this is that despite the convenience of online scheduling, a surprising number of people really don’t like it, complain, and will otherwise try to find a way to NOT use it.

        It’s not about the functionality of the tool, it’s about the adoption/adaptation.

        1. elsie*

          I work an in industry where online scheduling isn’t widespread. I’ve never heard of most of these scheduling tools, have no idea how to use them, and would assume I’d need to sign up for an account with one of these places. If I’m job searching, I’m skipping an interview that requires me to jump through all these hoops and start a new account with some service I’ve never heard of. I’d happily take the interview from people who are willing to use methods that are more standard.

          1. Unaccountably*

            Well, you could, but you could also find yourself working for a company that’s too entrenched in its technological and procedural comfort zone to keep pace with technology or with their industry. If that’s your thing, then it’ll be a good match; but if you’re looking to work at a company that won’t make itself obsolete in five years, it might be better to consider keeping up with available productivity tools.

    2. NeedRain47*

      You seem to be mistaken about how booking using an online calendar works. How it actually works is, the employer lists available interview times. Once a candidate selects a time slot, their interview is scheduled for that time. Neither the candidate nor the employer has to hold any extra time open, nor is there a chance that someone else could book the same time. It does in fact solve all the problems.

    3. Don*

      Is there a point to that other than a power play? “Here’s some times, tell me which ones you’d like and I’ll make final decision which one you /actually/ get.” Send some blocks of time and commit to making them available. Give them a “let me know by X” deadline and honor it.

      Any other move is just to assert dominance and refuse to allow some candidate agency. Maybe you can get away with that if you have a highly desirable position, but LW has made it clear they have to find alternative motivating factors. Well, here’s an opportunity to provide one right from go: showing you view the candidate’s time and choices as equally valid to your own.

  32. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    I just wanna say dude, instead of hiring 2-3 part time folks, hire ONE full time person. Much easier to find a good candidate.

    1. Library_Lady*

      Yeah…. but budgets. Part-timers cost less because no benefits. Been there, fought that, didn’t even get a t-shirt.

      1. Jora Malli*

        We’re in the process of converting a chunk of our part time jobs to full time jobs, but because benefits cost extra, we have to give up 60 hours of part time staff to get one 40 hour position. On the one hand, we’re hopeful that the turnover will decrease if more staff have benefits and paid time off, but on the other hand, we’re losing a lot of staffing hours and losing one employee is a bigger blow to the schedule than it used to be. It’s a really annoying tightrope to walk.

    2. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      I expect the hours they need part time help for will not feasibly fit into one person’s 8 hour day. Also, when you have multiple staff it’s easier to find coverage if someone goes out on short-term disability or some such. I would prefer if all staff could be full time and fully benefited but there are real obstacles within the framework of needs and budgets you find in municipalities.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I was in the position of hiring lots of part timers because we needed a lot of staff coverage at multiple sites from 9-2, but there wasn’t work to do the rest of the day for that many people. If you wanted full time, it wasn’t a good gig but it worked well for a lot of parents with school-age children!

    3. Library Availability LW*

      Feel free to go to the uber-conservative folks that run the county government and convince them change their minds about how many FTEs I’m allowed to hire. Sorry for the sarcasm, but also. There’s lots about the world that sucks and that we can try to change, but also. I’m an underpaid middle manager that has very little input or control over the policies set by the county government. I push back when I can, but it’s not going to change everything immediately.

      1. Generic Name*

        I get that this is more work for you, but I wonder if you tracked how much time you spent on hiring for these revolving door positions and presented that in dollars spent and compared it to the cost of benefits for a full-time hire. Of course, this assumes that conservative elected officials care about data and actually saving money.

        1. Loulou*

          I don’t think this would work in OP’s favor. Creating a new full time position is almost certainly more expensive than having an existing employee use their time ineffectively.

          1. Generic Name*

            Ha, fair. And I get that often government budgets for a full-time person’s salary and that’s a fixed cost that comes out of one pot of money that is often different than the pot of money allocated for stuff like benefits.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’m wondering the same. I feel like our entire economy is predicated on the oligarchs at the top profiting on a sub-class of part-time workers who work 2 or 3 part time jobs (for no benefits of course!) just to make ends meet. Yes, benefits cost money, but I wonder how much money all this turnover is costing.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        At my old city library position, all the managers (who do all the hiring) are exempt so the extra work to do the hiring does not really cost the city anything but does stress the hiring manager.

        We are moving to an all part-time staff run by an all exempt, full-time management team. This saves the city money on benefits for PT and overtime for FT managers and they don’t care if there is a ton of turnover on the staff.

  33. Library_Lady*

    Librarian here!!! Same-ish problems in my corner of the world, though it’s a bit more no-reply-at-all here. Regardless, I have been using (because it’s free) to schedule time slots for both phone screenings and interviews. I edit the generic invite that SignUp generates, send it from my work email, and then go off the slots that the candidates pick on SignUp. Didn’t pick a slot? Candidate just removed themselves from consideration.
    I have had to make accommodations once or twice for a candidate who couldn’t fit any of the slots into their schedule, but that has been the exception not the rule. And there are other software options out there – I’m not shilling for SignUp or any other software; use what you like.

  34. Hannahnannah*

    I highly recommend the service “”. The basic model is free, and gets the job done. You can offer time slots to candidates (based on YOUR availability), and they can select a time slot that matches THEIR availability. It has been a tremendous help during interview processes for my organization.

  35. Middle Name Danger*

    C seems incredibly likely. Especially depending on what days and times you’re offering. A lot of jobs I’ve applied for want me to come in within a day or two, and/or only during business hours. I just can’t drop everything at my current job for that.

  36. sassafras*

    In addition to just holding the time free, candidates may need to actually get that time approved by someone else, like a teacher/professor/current manager/etc. If the interview is next week, they may be coming up on customary deadlines for notifying that person(s).

    Less likely with a short phone screen – that seems to fall into plausible “last-minute doctor’s appointment/errand” territory – but this situation reminded me of having to find, hold, and get approved a 4 hour block with less than a week’s notice without tipping off anyone that I was job hunting…

    1. SomebodyElse*

      But isn’t that just life when you are interviewing? I’m not sure how that can be avoided. I’ve always told my internal recruiter I can be flexible with interview times if a candidate wants a late afternoon (after 4 or 5) or early morning interview, but beyond that I’m not going to set up an 8pm interview with a candidate. Then add to the fact that people want interview processes to go quick, how am I supposed to be quick and offer a lot of time for a candidate to juggle their schedule.

      This is what dentist, doctor, vet, and car mechanic ‘appointments’ are for. I guess what I’m trying to say is interviewing and scheduling sucks for everyone, including the hiring manager.

      1. Vintage Lydia*

        Outside of emergencies, those appointments (doctor etc) can and often are scheduled way further in advance than interviewing appointments

  37. Library Availability LW*

    Thanks for publishing this so quickly! I had thought of using a calendar set-up but had been told during the training we go through on how to hire that it wasn’t permitted by HR due to privacy concerns. I had pushed back on it and after this most recent round of difficult scheduling, I was able to present how much time I was spending playing this scheduling game with candidates and have been given permission to pilot an appointment registration program that HR got a trial for, so hopefully that all works out!

    For the few folks think it’s an undertaking to give detailed availability….having been through plenty of interviews myself I don’t think it’s particularly hard to say “hey I’m not available on Thursday but any time before noon on Friday works!” …..that’s how scheduling for meetings/check-ins/appointments generally works in small-to-mid-sized businesses and non-profits. But hopefully using this new appointment registration system will work out and I’ll never have to stress about this again!

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      I sympathize with the slow wheels of bureaucracy. In the meantime, it may make sense to include an example like the one above when you ask people to send you their availability.

    2. talos*

      Detailed availability isn’t always that simple. I mean…this is literally an interview availability block I emailed a recruiter yesterday (request was for “availability this week and next week”):

      – Thursday 5/26: 10:00-1:30; 2:30 or later
      – Friday 5/27: before 12:00; 1:30 or later
      – Wednesday 6/1: before 9:00; 11:30-2:00; 3:30 or later
      – Thursday 6/2: before 9:00; 10:00-11:30; 3:00 or later

      That’s gross for me. It’s gross for you. Particularly those Thursday slots. My availability has already changed, because someone put a meeting on my calendar, because I didn’t block this time, because people would start asking questions if I blocked off 15 hours per week.

      1. FormerInternalRecruiter*

        Yeah I agree, I never asked for full availability when I was a recruiter scheduling phone screens. I would give the candidate a few options and ask to tell me their preferred time. It worked well that way.

        1. Corrvin (they/them)*

          I’m in agreement with your idea of just suggesting two or three spots.

          Also, one can avoid the “candidates picking the same spot” by offering different spots to each candidate– e.g. “Alice, can you come at Monday 9am, Tuesday 10am, Wednesday 11am?” “Bruce, can you come at Monday 10am, Tuesday 11am…?” and then they can choose from those options or respond with their own.

      2. Loulou*

        I say this as someone who truly hates scheduling: this really seems fine and not a big deal? Again, I HATE going through my calendar and writing down my free time, but like…there’s your availability, there’s plenty of it, I’m sure LW would be able to find a few 30 minutes slots that would work for a phone interview.

        1. Decidedly Me*

          Yea, seems fine to me, too. I’ve given lists like this for meetings, as I’m typically meeting with a slew of other very busy folks and we catch what we can get lol!

        2. talos*

          I mean, it took me 15 minutes to write that (also checking that I *truly wasn’t* available Mon, Tues, or Fri next week). Which is kind of a long time when you multiply through like 4 or 5 interview stages which each need one of these, which is extremely common in my field (I realize probably not an issue for LW), and by the number of jobs I’m applying for. And the recruiter still hasn’t gotten back to me so I’m still accumulating meetings in slots they might want to use, which will make for a fun extra back-and-forth if they pick wrong.

          1. talos*

            Also I just noticed a typo in there, which is a hazard when I type like 10 different slots

        3. BadCultureFit*

          Yeah, the pushback OP is getting here is baffling to me. Sharing your full availability is a completely common process (source: I’ve been working in NYC in various industries, from finance to publishing to nonprofits, for 20 years) and I am genuinely confused by the sharp opinions about it here. Sigh.

          1. Alex*

            Well, depending on what I’m currently doing, my “full availability” during business hours is “none”, as I’m… *drumroll* working my current job.

            I would need to excuse myself from work to attend an interview (even if it is virtual), make up an excuse for my current employer, make sure nobody tries to call me during this time and/or schedules a meeting in my “open” calendar slot in my work calendar as I can’t block off vast parts of it without a good reason… the list goes on.

            It really is common courtesy to give a few suggestions to lead the candidate into a manageable position – especially since I don’t know how soon you’ll be answer my “full availability” – it might have changed 10 minutes after I sent you the mail.

            1. Loulou*

              Then obviously the “available times” you’d give would be times you can plausibly get away from work, i.e. times you are not in a meeting or otherwise scheduled to do something. How to then avoid interruptions during this slot is up to you.

              Everyone is talking about the job applicants who have no work experience and don’t know what to do in this situation, but if you already have a full time job, I just can’t believe you don’t know. You can say OP should schedule things a different way without pretending this is somehow incomprehensible.

      3. MiamiBeachDarling*

        Wouldn’t it be easier to say

        Thursday 5/26: Available from 10-1:30 or after 2:30
        Friday 5/27: Meeting at 12-1:30 but otherwise free
        Wednesday 6/1: Available between 11:30-2 or after 3:30**
        Thursday 6/2: Available from 10-11:30 or after 3**
        **Can meet before 9 if necessary.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      FWIW, your example is not what I would think was expected if someone asked me for my FULL availability on 3 separate days.

      1. Loulou*

        What would be your definition of full availability? OP was probably clarifying, but that’s about what I would picture in context — they want to know when within business hours you are free for a phone interview, they’re not asking for a complete accounting of your time.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I would think they wanted something like Talos posted listing an hour-by-hour breakdown of every single day they requested. It seems like they’re wanting the candidates to do all the work of figuring out availability with none of the power to actually choose a time, which doesn’t make a great impression.

            1. Dark Macadamia*

              If they said “full availability” and not “a few times that work for you”? Yes.

            2. Kitty*

              That’s what “full availability” sounds like to me– all of the times that you are available.

              1. Allonge*

                But how would they know? Seriously, pick three time ranges that are feasible and stop there.

                1. A*

                  That’s how I would do it now – having been in the work force for over a decade – but as a new graduate I would have interpreted it more literally. And I had the benefit of having far more exposure to these kinds of things than many of the upcoming new grads thanks to the pandemic. I think it’s important to keep in perspective the demographic this is in relation to, and why Alison’s point A is so important.

          1. MiamiBeachDarling*

            Full availability generally just means a range of times you’re available (and willing) to meet, not an hour by hour breakdown of your day. If you’ve got meetings from 9:30-11:30 and 2-4, your availability could just be 12-2 on that day. It doesn’t mean literally minute every minute of the day you’re available.

            When an applicant schedules themselves for a particular time without any acknowledgment that full availability was asked of them or that they have very limited availability, it comes across as if they’re available but unwilling to meet at any time other than their preferred time. It’s makes them look like they don’t care whether or not the time was mutually suitable for both parties.

            1. Loulou*

              Yes, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record this does seem like common sense, even if you have limited work experience. If a friend asks when you’re free tomorrow you would say “I’m having lunch at noon but I’m free any time after one.” It does not need to be said that you could meet at one, or two, or three, or four…

              1. A*

                Except social events typically occur outside of business hours, so availability is a lot easier when discussing say the weekend rather than M-F 9-5. And I’d also venture to guess most people aren’t having that same convo with numerous friends at once. This would be a non issue if both parties were only scheduling with each other – but the interviewer has multiple folks they are scheduling with, and candidate often do as well. When I was graduating I was often in talks with between 6-12 employers as once.

                I’m not saying you’re wrong, there’s definitely validity to what you are saying – but I also think it’s a bit of a harsh take to overlook the impact of the pandemic on these kinds of things in re: to upcoming new grads. Especially since many folks also haven’t been socializing as much, so chances are even lower that they’d run into these kind of scheduling conflicts. I think this is an example of when it is in everyone’s best interest to be kind and understanding about the extenuating circumstances and times, and if not shift the target demographic accordingly.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I would think something like what Talos posted.
        What would you think was expected?

        I have definitely learned to say, I’m busy from 1:30-2:30 on Mon and Tues, and have limited availability Thursday and Friday but am free after 3pm.

        But for interviews, I always worry that I am not being flexible enough!

    4. Jora Malli*

      That’s great! I hope the system works out well enough to become standard practice for you!

    5. Observer*

      don’t think it’s particularly hard to say “hey I’m not available on Thursday but any time before noon on Friday works!” …

      Except that for a lot of people it’s just not that simple! If you want to get decent candidates within the very narrow parameters you are stuck with, you really need to be open to realizing that things work very differently for a lot of people.

      The calendar thing is the best bet for you. If it does not work out, do what others have said and ask for 3 preferred slots and get back to people really quickly.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Especially if what you’re looking for is a 30-60 minute virtual meeting. I have lots of times for that I can squeeze in, but if I type out my schedule for three days, you’re going to have an entire essay, and chances are in the next 4 hours I’m going to have another meeting request taking up some of that time – which inevitably seems to be the time that always gets picked. Just send me *your* available time slots and I’ll see which can work and hold those 2-3 hours, not 15 hours.

        I have had this question and sent back that within those 3 days, I can hold 2-3 hours one morning/afternoon if that would work, and otherwise my schedule is pretty erratic with project meetings.

      2. Unaccountably*

        Especially at this pay level.

        Candidate: “I’m available before noon on Friday.”
        Candidate: *gets called in to work Friday at 6:30 PM on Thursday*

        Sure, it’s not hard to say. Nothing’s hard to say. Hard to commit to without having to turn down a shift and risk the job you have now? That’s something else altogether.

        It sounds like OP wants to hire from a different population that the people who would actually be willing to take the job.

    6. Glen*

      It’s not hard to say that. It’s hard as a student who is already likely overworked to make sure elthat stays true for who knows how long before you get back to me.

      It’s demanding and gross and fortunately workers don’t need to put up with that kind of poor treatment right now.

    7. Arthenonyma*

      So just as a small point of feedback – if you asked me (late 30s) for “full availability” that would NOT translate in my head to a response like “any time before noon on Friday”. I would be trying to figure out if you wanted my schedule or a calendar link or what. I have also been thoroughly trained at this point that in social contexts, when someone says “let’s do a thing, when are you free next week?” the quickest and best way to respond is to suggest a specific day and time rather than back-and-forthing trying to narrow down overlap. Just pushing back a little on the idea that these responses are weird or super rude.

    8. liz*

      Not sure why you’re pushing back on the many people who are pointing out this is an inconvenient way to do this. You’re clearly having a problem with this strategy and people are telling you what might be the cause of it. Noted that you don’t find it “particularly hard” but you’re hiring for an underpaid, undesirable job, so practically speaking you might need to be a bit more accommodating than you would in a different professional situation. Good luck.

  38. NYC Taxi*

    I get where the candidates are coming from. Expecting people to give their full availability for 3 days is a bit extra. People generally have random blocks of their days free, and it’s annoying to have to list those all out, and not worth the hassle to have to hold up everything to see which block the interviewer decides to choose, especially for lower level jobs. Fully agree that an online booking system is the way to go.

    1. Properlike*

      I run into this even with scheduling health care appointments. They ask “what’s your schedule like during the week?” and I always have to reply “it depends on the day.” And it doesn’t mean this week’s Monday availability will be the same as next week’s Monday availability! My pet peeve is offices that want me to give a preference on their online scheduling system, but will “call me back” to confirm. I’m not doing that. There are too many other things to schedule.

      The “three days of availability” assumes that the interviewee’s schedule is stable. Stability comes only with a fixed class schedule and/or a full-time job. Stability goes out the window if you freelance, have multiple jobs, and/or have children whose schedules you must also work around.

      1. Nanani*

        I dont know how many times I’ve had to tell certain offices not to “call to confirm” – email me and follow the appointment time scheduled BY EMAIL.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m someone who tends to take everything super literally, but if I were asked for my “full availability” I would respond with the times that are actually convenient for me, and not a full accounting of every moment not currently booked with something else. I schedule lots of meetings with outside folks, and I try to give chunks of time (“before noon”, 2-5) rather than listing every open hour or half hour I have for a given time period.

  39. talos*

    When people ask for just my availability, I do send it…but I really appreciate online booking systems, or when the recruiter sends a list of available times and has me pick one. That lets me pick the *best* time for me instead of giving you all the times that can maybe I guess work (and possibly having to adjust like 2 weeks of my availability for time zone and so on). It also, as Alison mentioned, saves me from having to keep all those times open (which is especially a pain when trying to schedule phone screens and video interviews around meetings that I need to be at for my current job).

  40. 100%thatLizzofan*

    When I have this exact phone screen scenario, I just calendly and let the candidates the pick the time that works best for them! Then both parties get an invite for a call.

  41. LadyAmalthea*

    My husband has had a lot of interviews in the past year, and in nearly all of them the interviewer emails him with a time and he is asked to confirm if he is available or suggest a different time within a narrow time frame. When I used to schedule interviews for my manager, I used to do something similar. For him, he’s looking at management level jobs in the public sector or academia in Ireland and I used to schedule for slightly above minimum wage jobs in retail in the US, so it seems to be a reasonably universal practice for the past few years.

  42. Avril Ludgateau*

    It’s (C) and I don’t find anything weird or implicitly inexperienced about it. Same as when it was a buyer’s market re: labor and the employer had the upper hand for scheduling an interview – “we’d like to meet with you Friday at 9:00 pm,” and requesting something more convenient hurt your chances – now we have labor asserting their ownership of their own time. Asking for full availability over three days is asking for too much, especially when you’re advertising your opening as one that allows for flexibility. Intentionally or not you are requesting priority of their time for three days, before they are even employed and paid (and, from the applicants’ perspectives, putting them in a position where they can arbitrarily be seen as too available OR too booked up with personal obligations, at the mercy of the scheduler).

    In fact I just had something like this come up, albeit scheduling a meeting, not an interview, so the power dynamic is a little different. Manager reached out and said he needed to schedule a meeting with me and several others, and he wanted to know what my openings were for three specific, consecutive days. Truth told I don’t have any major conflicts on any of those days but I answered back with my preferred “bleven PM on Fernday is best, thanks!” and a moment later I (and several others) got a calendar invite for bleven PM on Fernday. No harm, no foul.

    It’s not a thing unless you choose to make it a thing.

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      But how do you know that all the other people aren’t now doing a time that’s difficult for them just because they think the scheduling was even harder for you, when you could just as well have made it a time which was ideal for them and perfectly adequate for you?

      That’s my problem with answers like the ones in the original post, or even the ‘claim a slot’ kind of scheduling tool – it’s not the employer’s job you’re making difficult, because they’ve already offered all these times, it’s the other people in the same situation as you. If you (generic) jump in and claim 9am on Monday just because you think it makes you look good, the person who could genuinely only do 9am on Monday can’t interview at all.

      (I’m generally scheduling things like student presentations, where no one is being disqualified, but I still don’t think forcing your competitors out of the game is the best way to go about finding a job!)

      1. Avril Ludgateau*

        If you (generic) jump in and claim 9am on Monday just because you think it makes you look good, the person who could genuinely only do 9am on Monday can’t interview at all.

        I mean this in the most respectful way, but given that interviewing is inherently competitive, it’s not in any candidate’s interest to account for the needs of other candidates. It isn’t “forcing your competitors out of the game” to prioritize your own schedule. And, again, if you (also general) as an employer truly value flexibility, you will be flexible for the candidates that have more restricted schedules.

        If I say 9 AM Monday, and I responded first, I would hope the employer would honor that. But I would also be flexible and amenable, myself, to the extend I could, if the employer got back to me and said “shoot, something unexpectedly came up Monday at 9:00 – can we do 10:00 instead?” or similar.

        Another option (besides the doodle polls and calendly suggestions, which I’m personally in favor of) is to take charge and offer the candidate several discrete and defined options. “I have the following interview slots available: Monday at 10:00, Tuesday at 10:00, Tuesday at 1:00, and Thursday at 9:00. Let me know if any of them work for you or if we need to work something else out.”

        It feels like making something into a problem that really isn’t, and I hate to say but I’m reading a tinge of “kids these days” behind it. As if the problem isn’t the actual lack of availability disclosure but the gall of the candidates to be so particular.

  43. Bacu1a*

    I’ve had this problem hiring as well! I reserve all my time slots, then offer each candidate a different selection for them. For example, the first interviewee I email gets options 1, 2, and 3. The second gets options 2, 3, and 4. If someone can’t make any of the options on their part of the list, I then open up some of the other free ones.

    People are generally awful about reading emails and following directions (especially if you ask more than one question), so I don’t think this is that different.

  44. MariontheLibrarian*

    Sorry if this is off topic OP but to help with retention might be a good idea (if possible within the scope of the job description) to expand your candidate pool to stay at home parents/retirees. My SAHM mom (who has a law degree) would have loved part time job at the library!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Lol yes, I’m a SAHM and was like ooh, I should look for this type of job

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I don’t see how those folks aren’t part of the current pool – since they can apply like any other person. OP just mentioned that their pool tends to be students.

      1. Gnome*

        Lots of SAHMs don’t actively look for work even if they would be interested, especially if they have an advanced degree. We are told (in society) that work is almost exclusively full time. I never even thought to look at a library. Especially since I always hear that library jobs are hard to get. I didn’t consider the part time aspect. Although, FWIW, there is a wait list to volunteer at our library, so maybe there’s a regional thing or something.

        1. Unaccountably*

          But if they aren’t actively looking for work, they’re not going to come across a job ad for a position at the library or any other position. So either they’re part of the job-searching pool, in which case they can apply like anyone else, or they’re not, in which case they’re irrelevant to anyone’s hiring practices. So the whole thing is a moot point.

  45. Agent Diane*

    Just use an online tool. You’re making your candidates do loads of work which doesn’t actually help you because you then have to work through a heap of emails to work out who can do when. Set up a bunch of slots in a tool like doodlepoll and watch as they do all the scheduling work for you.

  46. Decidedly Me*

    I have a hard time believing A is the culprit. Starting to look for a job for the first time is unlikely to be the first time you’ve ever been asked for your availability and “full availability” doesn’t feel like a phrase that’s only understandable in a specific work context.

    I think C is most likely or…they’re just not reading what you wrote (so B too, I guess). What’s your subject line? Does that mention an ask for availability?

    Something like Calendly is the best solution here, but if that’s not possible, I’d try something like, “Can you give me X times on *day* that work for a phone screener?” I would put X at 2 or 3. People may still only give 1, but it’s a more concrete ask.

    1. Nanani*

      It easily could be.
      Availability in a school context usually means something like class schedule, but how to translate that to a time that isn’t during school year isn’t immediately obvious.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        School isn’t the only thing either, though. Appts (doctors, etc), hanging out with friends, activities, etc. I’ve had to give availability for all of these things throughout life.

  47. SpaceySteph*

    I’ve been on a number of interviews lately, with different scheduling methods. The one I like least is when they ask for your full availability because on a usual workday for me that means I have to send back “9-10am, 11:30-2pm, 3pm-end of day,” etc. and its just such a long list if we’re talking about 3+ days worth of options. (I mean I still provide it, it just seems really inefficient.)

    By far my favorite is when they send a list of slots and ask for availability just for those slots. This is easier on you also because trying to do the jigsaw puzzle of everyone’s availability is a pain. In the middle is when I’m just flat assigned a slot, which is great if I can make it because it eliminates back and forth, and still fine if they work with me when I write back and say “I cannot make this time, can we do X, Y, or Z instead?”

  48. Engineering Manager*

    I think c is what’s happening as well. Imagine being a job searcher trying to schedule several phone screeners and interviews and having to hold open 3 days of time until some future date when you know which 1 hour block a company has actually booked for you? From that perspective, what you’re asking for really does seem inconvenient for the interviewer and in an employee market, that’s not going to work well.

  49. I Just Like Interviewing lol*

    I’d bet money that (c) is what’s happening. People eager to find jobs will be trying to schedule multiple interviews for themselves, when I was job hunting a couple of years ago I was doing several interviews a day, some organized the day prior to the interview. If I got an email asking to send over a detailed day plan for multiple days the following week and just to hold multiple days open until I got a response, I probably wouldn’t have continued with that interview. On top of that, yes, the recent grads have received less job hunting/training because of the pandemic, and I would assume they are all picking Monday at 9am to try and make a positive impression on you being the first to interview, eager to interview, etc. They don’t quite realize yet that scheduling is basically an art form.
    Break it down into time slots – “I am conducting interviews on Monday and Tuesday at 9am, 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. Please respond with your top 2-3 preferred time slots and I will do my best to accommodate. Interviews will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and I will confirm your interview slot.” This will be less work for you and your candidates in the long run and probably encourage more people to interview with you.

  50. AndreaC*

    I’m having this problem, too, and it’s not for entry-level positions. I explicitly state that I’d like them to rank the times I’ve listed, leaving off any times where they’re just not available. I get one single time as a response most of the time.

    1. Avril Ludgateau*

      Per your instructions, those candidate are signaling that they are not available at the times they’ve left off.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yeah… I have a lot of meetings. A lot. I need to be at the majority of them. If you send me 5 times, and only 1 of them would be doable, and your instructions say “tell me which ones work”….. the one I sent back is what works. I didn’t pick my favorite time, I just followed your instructions. You really can’t fault them for doing exactly as you say.

    2. A*

      I don’t think it’s fair to fault candidates for following your instructions. If offered limited slots, and only one works for them – and you’ve asked them to note which ones work for them – than the answer is that one time slot.

    3. Unaccountably*

      It sounds like they’re following your instructions and you’re assuming that they’re not? Or that they’re playing some sort of game?

      What exactly is the problem with this? They sent you the time they’re available. It might be four of the times, or two, or just one. The more senior the position you’re hiring for, the more likely that their time during work hours will already be spoken for. What outcome, for you, would be the best one? Is it for people in mid-career or senior positions to make themselves available to you at any time? Because I’m not sure that’s a reasonable expectation.

    4. moonstone*

      The candidates aren’t doing anything wrong. And ranking?? Seriously? Just give them a list of times and tell them to choose one! If it needs to be rescheduled later then reschedule. Why make the process so complicated???

  51. Clueingforlooks724*

    I list out all the times and then ask that they let me know any and all times they are available for. Then they get to respond with a yes/no, just delete out the ones that don’t work, highlight whatever to make it easier for them.

    Otherwise it’s how early can I start, well, I can possibly find 30 minutes here if x can do y but I’ll have to check first. Do I offer 8pm, if I offer 8pm are they going to expect me to work at that time. Can I offer times outside of normal hours at all or do I have to figure out a way to step away?

    11am pst
    1130am pst

  52. Gnome*

    If I’m asked for all my availability on three days… Well, that means I have to find a way to hold it all open, which is challenging.

    If I’m told the same thing but with something like, “I will get back to you with your time within one business day” then i know I don’t have to worry so much. Also, if the times are all very soon, like it’s Thursday and you are asking about next week, that’s harder to keep a lot of slots open for a lot of people.

    Also, maybe just ask for “at least three one-hour time slots” or “between 8 and 6” the reason for this is last one is that it lets people know how early/late they can go, and the start and ends of days tend to be easier to keep open for a lot of people.

    1. Gnome*

      Forgot to say:. All this communicates understanding as an employer. You respect their time, etc. So it is to your benefit even if people still don’t follow directions.

  53. Not Elizabeth*

    I would find the LW’s approach — I tell you all the times I’m available and you summon me for the time of your choosing — kind of off-putting. And I’m in my 50s and have been working most of my adult life, not some kid, and not particularly accustomed to online scheduling platforms. What I am accustomed to is working with the interviewer to find a mutually agreeable time. (Even though that probably means talking to them on the phone, ye gods.)

    1. mreasy*

      I agree. My concern would be that it would take some time to schedule, but by then I’d have made other plans already. Sharing “full availability” can be tough if you have some floating errands or projects that you could schedule around an appt but not around an unscheduled possible appt.

  54. Crazyoboe*

    Instead of asking for full availability, why not something like “Please let me know three time slots you would be available next week for a phone interview. I will try to accommodate your first request.” Might help with the tetris-ing at least.

  55. Michelle Smith*

    I agree with the people suggesting Calendly. I don’t know how much it costs or if it’s free/low cost for governments and non-profits. But if you can use it, do. I seriously love it. I have used it to pick times for interviews, for meetings with my professors, etc. It’s so much easier than even receiving proposed times that I then have to reject because I’m working those times and then it takes at least 3 or 4 emails to set up the interview. With Calendly I pull up your calendar on one screen, my calendar on my other screen, and then just pick a time that works for me. If I need to reschedule, I can do that in there as well (although I personally wouldn’t do that without also reaching out directly). This *could* solve your problem.

  56. Esmeralda*

    My students (college) used to do this before we had an appointment app.

    “Tell me as many times as will work from the following days/times. If you only tell me one time, you may not get it “

    “I will meet you on Monday at 4:30!” [not one of the options lol]

    The problem with the online appt app is that they can also cancel. Ordinarily that’s good, but when it’s very busy it’s exasperating when a couple kids cancel out multiple times only an hour before the appt. I can’t fill it by then. So then other students can’t get on my calendar. Just a heads up …

    1. Decidedly Me*

      How is that any different from setting times manually, though? People can still choose to cancel, it’s just less convenient to notify the person it’s happened.

    2. Llama Wrangler*

      On calendly, at least, having a cancellation link is optional; I think without a link people aren’t more likely to cancel via a booking form than any other way of scheduling. So I turn off the cancellation link and include in the confirmation email something along the lines of “Please contact me if you need to make any changes to your scheduled interview.”

  57. She of Many Hats*

    I would look into apps that sync with your calendar and you can create slots for availability and it provides a link or you can insert into the emails. These apps usually auto-fill the slots as your pool of candidates choose their time.

  58. Emm*

    Asking for full availability is not as accommodating to job seekers’ schedules as some might think. It’s a lot to ask someone to parse out three full days for periods of time when they may or may not be free and block off that time until the interview is actually confirmed. In my experience, when I got this request as a candidate and followed through according to the directions, the interviewer often wasn’t available at any of the times I listed anyway and had to follow up several times, consulting their busy schedule to let me know when they’d be available. If your schedule’s so busy, maybe it’s more efficient for you to pick the time! I also think I’m not alone in finding it easier to choose between a few solid options than having to manage a ton of different possibilities.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      But we don’t know that the Op’s schedule is super busy or not. I think the Op should clarify the Full Availability. I would be put off if I got asked my full availability for 3 days. That’s a lot.

      What I would suggest besides using a calendar system is to ask for specific time and days. When I’ve been a part of hiring we have emailed candidates we’ved done the following.

      We would like to have a brief phone interview with you. This shouldn’t take more that 30 minutes. We have the following times available. Tuesday 12-3 or Monday 9-11. Please choose a time and we will confirm,

      1. Emm*

        That’s true! I wasn’t necessarily saying that in regards to OP, just sharing an example of one way this kind of scheduling is inefficient. That happened to me several times during my recent job search, so it often seemed like it would’ve been easier for everyone if the interviewer offered times instead of leaving it up to me. I’m sure there are instances when the reverse is true.

  59. Zellie*

    I just went through this as a candidate. Full availability for three days is a lot to ask. Calendly or something similar would be good. What my interviewer sent me was a list of dates and times. I simply put available or not available next to them and then waited to hear which date and time I was scheduled for. And, yes, I had their response the same day, so no need to worry about something else grabbing that time slot.

    I can’t imagine that there aren’t parameters on when you are available those three days. There has to be time for lunch, meetings, etc. So, if not something like Calendly, send specific dates and times, if you aren’t already. If you are doing this, I agree with others, there is a lack of reading comprehension.

  60. Mehitabel*

    Yep, try Calendly.

    My emails used to say something along the lines of

    “Please advise of your availability for the following time slots:
    Monday 1 pm
    Monday 2 pm
    We are juggling multiple candidates and multiple interviews, so the greater your flexibility, the better chance of us finding a mutually acceptable time. Time slots are scheduled on a first-come, first served basis, so if you have any particular preferences, please so indicate.”

    Using a scheduler like Calendly is easier.

  61. Llama Wrangler*

    Agree with the above comments that 3 days of full availability is a lot to ask for, and the recommendation of using a booking tool (it’s made my life hiring so much easier). But if for some reason you can’t do that, why not say:
    Please email me 3-5 times over the next three days that you’d be available for 30 minute interview (note our hours are 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
    Then at least they’re giving you multiple options, and the chance of everyone providing the same window is lower.

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      @Mehitabel’s comment above is also a reasonable solution if you can’t use calendly or another booking tool.

  62. HufferWare*

    I think the wording could be tweaked and, like others have said, this method is different than most current calendar assistants in which you pick a specific (available) slot, as opposed to giving a range and waiting to hear if that’s good. I strongly suggest using a calendar assistant that allows people to pick a specific time instead of the back-and-forth of trying to make something work yourself. They are picking specific slots because the likely don’t have a huge block of available time to keep open waiting to hear back from you.

  63. Dark Macadamia*

    One thing I haven’t seen anyone mention yet is how this could be disproportionately frustrating for some candidates. “Full availability for 3 days” makes it much harder to arrange things like childcare or transportation in advance. If I know my interview will be sometime between 1-5 on Wednesday, I can start figuring out who will watch my kids before the interview is finalized… but if it could be literally any time Monday to Wednesday, I can’t really hire a babysitter or ask family if they’re free until the time is confirmed, and then I might end up needing to reschedule if I don’t get enough notice.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      But the OP wasn’t assuming full availability they were asking for you to provide all the times you are available. If on Wednesday you can be available between 1-5 then that’s what you say. If you have childcare obligations at on Wed, then you give your availability between 1-3.

      1. Gnome*

        I think you maybe missed the point. If you are caring for a child, say as a stay at home parent, and looking for work, you will always have childcare obligations and people need a certain amount of time to arrange otherwise. You might know there’s no way Tuesday would work, but you can’t look for help for all of Wed and Thursday. However, if you know that it’s either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday between 10 and 1, you can get options going much more easily.

        This all is less of an issue the further out people schedule, but often it’s just a few business days away. Heck, I once got a call in the morning and interviewed in-person in the early afternoon that same day!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yep. In terms of formally scheduled commitments I only have maybe an hour per day where I’m “not available” but I literally always have a kid to take care of, so my full availability to interview is… never? unless I can arrange childcare. This wouldn’t be an egregious red flag or anything but would make me view the job less favorably than ones that let me schedule online or choose from a couple options.

    2. Observer*

      This is one of the scenarios I was thinking about when I said “might be able to make it work”.

  64. sookie st james*

    Re the question at the end… “is there any reason I can’t just say “thanks for your interest, but with these schedule restrictions, we’ll have to pass on this round” – I think that’s premature. I understand being annoyed at people seemingly not following a simple instruction, but as the comments indicate, people have wildly different interpretations of exactly what your availability request means. I’d also be annoyed at 10 people expecting 9am on a monday, but consider that your wording has led them to believe that *you* are available for that time – they might think they’re cutting out a couple emails’ worth of back and forth by just suggesting a time, or they misread the question, or they really could only be available at monday at 9am, as unlikely as it may seem. It’s an oversight for them not to realise you’re also having the exact same convo with other applicants, but not so egregious you should reject them.

  65. Luna*

    As someone who was very free while looking for work, my ‘availability’ would have been practically the entire time. It was much simpler for the interviewer, who likely had a less-open calender/schedule than I did, to suggest a time and for me, with my ample free time, to mold to fit into that specific time. Higher chance for it to work out than for me to give a time-frame and hear that it wasn’t good for the interviewer.

    And since I had so much free time, it was also easier to be told “Alright, then we’ll call you on Thursday at 2PM” and then able to move anything else I might want to do that day around that. (Be it going to a doctor or heading out for grocery shopping)

    1. Observer*

      The thing is that most of the people who are responding to the OP’s ads are probably NOT in your situation, though. And it would be a big mistake on their part to act as though your set up is the most common. Because it’s not.

      1. Luna*

        Oh, absolutely.

        But I do think that being suggested a time from the employer, which is a time convenient for them, I dunno, it feels a bit better to me. Not be asked, “Hey, what are your (current) plans for the next THREE DAYS and I’ll just throw a dart at the time table and we’ll see where it lands?” which feels… very weird. Like, I know the attempt is likely to not seem too rigid, and suddenly say you’ll get a call tomorrow, so the candidate can mentally prepare and all. But such a large time span… I dunno, give me some options that are convenient for you, and I’ll see if those are fitting with my (current) plans.

  66. Llama Wrangler*

    I’m retired, not a college student. Telling you my full availability for three days, and then holding all of those spots open while waiting for you to get back to me at an unspecified time would be a hard No.
    The online scheduling calendar would be my first choice. It’s really the only method that’s not going to eat up a lot of your (and the applicants’) time with the back and forth.

    1. LMB*

      Or honestly just sending each candidate one date/time and as the default and then have them follow up if they *can’t* make it. Or just two calendar invite options or something. Limit their choices and make it clear you are the one scheduling not them.

    2. Glen*

      Yes, I appreciate they’re trying to do the right thing by the applicants and it’s not deliberate but I find their approach downright rude.

  67. Bonkers*

    I’m on the opposite side of the interview scheduling problem. Two different companies in the last week have set interview times and just not shown up–multiple times! I’ve rescheduled over and over, but it looks like they’re just not that in to me. This job market is bonkers. I feel bad for LW, but hopefully things will turn out soon for ’em.

  68. LMB*

    I would honestly just send them one specific date and time for the interview (either as a calendar invite or in the email) and say “if you are unable to attend at this time please do x,y, z.” You’ll still get some percentage of people who try to set their own time, but I think most will either just accept the given time or drop out altogether.

  69. River*

    I feel like if you offered specific times rather than having the applicants list a wide open window that they are available, you’d get a better response. Everyone is different and with this next batch of grads, they may be used to a more “rigid” or traditional scheduling system where they are offered a specific set of times or maybe just want to be asked for example, “We have phone interviews at 10am on Monday, 3pm on Tuesday, 11am on Wednesday, etc etc. Which of these can you do?” Then at that point, its set in stone. If an employer were to ask me when I am available, my mind would start to race and I would think maybe it’s a test to see how dedicated or studious I am from the get-go or if I give an afternoon availability, then they think I don’t want to work mornings, etc. Or something that that extent. Leaving things too vague or broad for interpretation isn’t good such as this.
    Also, when you contact the applicants, you may want to make it clear that the interview time is not set in stone until they hear back confirmation from you. You may want to clean up or include any language that may send mixed messages.
    Have you considered calling the applicants? For me, in the moment, I can tell them which slots are free and which are taken, so as to I am not constantly emailing back and forth and taking care of an issue in minutes instead or hours or depending on how long they take to reply back. Overall, I personally wouldn’t reply back with my full availability. Just tell me what time slots you have open, I pick one, and that’s it. On to the interview!

  70. hiring librarian*

    As a librarian who’s been on both sides of the hiring table a few times in the past few years: I’ve never been asked or asked someone for their *full* availability. I went back into my email to see how I worded it a few months ago when hiring a paraprofessional. We only had a handful of interviews to do, so I proposed a specific time to each candidate. I then opened it up to other options as a politeness/equity thing.

    >>>”Please reply directly to this email to let me know if you are still interested in the position, and if so, if you are available for an interview on Monday, November 1 at 10am. If that time does not work for you, please let me know if there is a different date or time that you need. We will attempt to schedule an interview for a time that works for you.”

    I think when I’ve been interviewed I’m generally told something general like “we’re scheduling interviews on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Let us know what times work for you,” and I’ve interpreted that to mean I can say “Tuesday between 1-3 work best for me, but I can also be available Thursday if needed.” I’ve never listed out all of my availability over multiple days of possible time slots. I’d definitely recommend something as simple as a Doodle poll if it’s super Tetris-y.

  71. Ness*

    Is it just me, or is “I’ll be glad to consider your offer” a bizarrely presumptuous thing to say when scheduling an interview?

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      All of the wording LW gave us is on the stiff side.

  72. Elsie Nope*

    Agree with several of the other commenters here — the wording could be improved significantly (assuming LW doesn’t want to use a calendar or scheduling app).

    If I received that email, I’d probably reply to clarify what “full availability” means. If it means “all times for which I’d be available for a phone screen”, then that would lead to another reply to clarify how long the time slots are. By the time I have all the information I need to send over a list of available times, I’d probably be down to 1-2 interview slots that I can hold open until the time of the interview.

    It’d be way faster, easier, and more convenient for both parties if the recruiter just led with “Please send me 3-4 times over the next week when you’d be available for a 30-minute phone call with (hiring manager), and I’ll email you by (Tuesday) to confirm the date and time of your call.” Then I could reply back with those time slots, or if my schedule is tight I could explain I only really have one slot free but the following week I should be more available, etc. Easier for both parties and significantly faster.

  73. learnedthehardway*

    It’s a total pain to type out what your full availability is. And in a candidate’s market, it’s one more hoop that people are going to opt out of, if they have anything better to do.

    Could you instead send a link and have people choose times out of your calendar that work for them? That’s much easier.

  74. Ginger Pet Lady*

    “You tell me EVERYTHING in your schedule for three days and I’ll pick” is super annoying. Stop doing that. Plans are made and shifted all the time, so if I type out my availability Tuesday morning, within a couple hours things might change dramatically. I could get asked to cover a shift at my job, I could schedule another job interview, I could make plans with a friend to go to lunch. In the last 2 hours, I’ve made plans for three things in the next two days. So my “full availability” at 10 am is no longer accurate. You don’t have the right to expect them to keep their “full availability” open until you get around to picking a time. THAT is what is disrespectful and rude here.
    What they’re doing is not rude, it’s them being decisive and proactive. The fact that you view it as rude is pretty telling.

    1. Broadway Duchess*

      This is where I land, too. A scheduling app would significantly cut down on this, but I think LW would have better outcomes with a perspective shift. The candidates are interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them. It comes off as if you think you’re doing them a kindness by informing them of your determination of the best time. I’d be really put off by that.

    2. BadCultureFit*

      Put OP *isnt* asking them to tell her everything in their schedules! She’s asking for what’s free. That’s what ‘available’ means. I feel like people are not understanding the word availability?!?

      And no one has to block off the time once they give it, lol. If you offer times and one of them then gets taken by something else, you communicate that to the interviewer.

      This is a wild thread!

      1. Observer*

        Put OP *isnt* asking them to tell her everything in their schedules! She’s asking for what’s free. That’s what ‘available’ means.

        But availability shifts! Often significantly. If a candidate has a commitment, then they can work around that shift or push back. But when it’s a broad “any time in this three day span and I’ll let you know in two days” it becomes very difficult to maintain all of the availability you thought you had. So by the time the interviewer gets back to you that one slot they picked is no longer available, but you the interviewer has you slotted in. And in many cases is going to get huffy because they ASKED.

      2. A*

        This heavily depends on the individual and their circumstances. The example you gave predicates on the assumption that even if their availability changes, there will still be some. For me, both when I was entering into the workforce and now, that is extremely unlikely to happen. I have limited availability with the only time slots available during traditional business hours being those that open up close to the date due to cancellations (assuming we aren’t discussing booking out 1-2 months in advance). Those typically fill up within a few hours. I can sometimes keep a block open, but can’t guarantee it.

        It might be helpful to look at it as people having different circumstances, rather than those speaking to a different experience than you as ‘just not understanding’ etc. But I could certainly be wrong. I would never assume my experience is representative of others.

    3. AnonymousReader*

      ““You tell me EVERYTHING in your schedule for three days and I’ll pick” is super annoying. Stop doing that… What they’re doing is not rude, it’s them being decisive and proactive. The fact that you view it as rude is pretty telling.”

      This! I don’t understand why OP feels they must be given ALL of the available times and then cherry picking whatever time works best for them? Does OP also ask their doctor/dentist/etc. for all available time slots for the next three days every time OP schedules an appointment and cherry picks what works best for them? The asking for avails email is a waste of time! It makes me think that it’s not the candidates but OP that is new to email scheduling / etiquette and that’s why OP has a hard time scheduling.

  75. RagingADHD*

    I don’t understand why you’d ask candidates for their “full availability” at all. Just tell them when the interviews are! Don’t you know *your own* schedule?

    “We are scheduling interviews on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week. Is a morning or afternoon slot better for you?”

    I’ve interviewed for a lot of jobs, and scheduled a metric ton of meetings, and nobody has ever needed my full availability for every potential day. It’s a very weird way of going about it, and I’m not surprised people are just not cooperating — especially for a part time, minimum wage job.

  76. GiGi*

    I agree with several of the commenters here that listing out full availability for multiple days would be a hassle, and it makes scheduling more of a back-and-forth for both parties. It would be much easier to know a time slot ASAP and plan around it than to keep as much open as possible just in case.

    I’d also like to add, as someone that works with recruiters, I’ve noticed lately they now tell job applicants that, if given a time window, to proactively pick a date/time to save the employer the trouble of that back and forth. I’m not sure if that’s a universal trend, but if LW is noticing it across the board, that may be the advice many new job hunters are getting.

  77. Anonymous Librarian*

    First, I’m a librarian, too. Just sharing my sympathy. lol.
    I know I’m not the first to mention it, but seriously: Calendly. If someone emails me a response to my Calendly request with “I’d like to meet x day at y time,” I honestly respond with, “Great, thanks for getting back to me! You can check the calendar link I sent you, and if it’s still available, go ahead and sign up. You’ll receive an automatic confirmation afterwards. If you’re having issues with the link, please let me know.” I stopped messing with the back-and-forth of interview scheduling a long time ago.

  78. Delta Delta*

    Definitely agreeing with the idea to do online scheduling. I (and i imagine many other people) can’t really respond with multiple blocks of time very effectively. But if Tuesday at 2:30 is free and so am I, I’ll take it and mark it in my calendar. Heavens, I have a friend who messaged me yesterday about meeting up and said “what’s your availability?” And I’m overwhelmed with the idea of telling her all my availability. And this is someone I *want* to see!

  79. voluptuousfire*

    Set up a Calendly profile with your work calendar. Saves you all the trouble.

  80. AnonymousReader*

    As someone who schedules tons of meetings with externals, asking for availability is a nightmare.

    I think those telling you “I can do Monday at 9AM” or some other specific time-slot in the window you provided are doing exactly what I would want them to do to avoid the dreaded back and forth. I think the real issue would be if they pick a day/time out of thin air (for example, you told them Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and they want to schedule for a Friday without stating that they can’t do the first three days for X reason).

    The best thing OP can do (if software is not in the budget), is to start with specific timelots in the initial email. Give them 3 timelots on different days and times (for example: Monday 9AM, Tuesday 2PM, Wednesday 5PM). If they can’t make none of the previously mentioned then you can negotiate. But I genuinely don’t understand why candidates giving you a specific timeslot is a problem if it falls within the set parameters.

  81. Cathy Gilmore*

    Another library manager who does a good bit of hiring. Our pay is better but still part-time jobs so we do have turnover. I do offer candidates time blocks of 2-3 hours, not full days, and send emails out on a rolling basis. Everybody gets offered a daytime, evening or weekend appointment. And once I hear back from my top 2-3 candidates, I schedule the next batch of emails to go out. It does mean I can’t get it all done in one fell swoop, which is what I expect you’re hoping to do. I love the idea of calendaring software though, and may give that a try next go-round!

  82. Monica*

    A job candidate, even one for part time, temporary, near minimum wage job is interviewing your every bit as much as you’re interviewing them. To me being asked to provide availability over 3 full days just to be Tetris-ed into an interview is off putting. How long will a be a on standby and do I need to keep those days open? For a job that claims to be flexible, the way this process and these email exchanges are described it all feels very inflexible. I can’t imagine there really needs to be 10 interviews given every time a position opens. And if there have been 10 people interviewed as often as this job appears to reopen, why not do a quick check in with past candidates to see if they may be available and if this is a fit?

  83. Caitlin*

    As someone who’s recently done a bunch of job interviews, I find this is way easier to do over the phone than back and forth via email. Call the candidates to offer them an interview, and then suggest a time range (eg, “are you available for an interview on Tuesday or Wednesday?”), let them propose their best, and negotiate/schedule from there. If they don’t answer, you can leave a voicemail and send an email, asking them to contact you to schedule an interview time.

    The online system would also work, but a simple phone call is not that hard to do and significantly reduces the email back and forth.

  84. Laura D*

    I solve this by creating an interview doodle with all of the interview slots that I am prepared to offer (about twice as many slots as candidates), and then set it up so that only one person is allowed to select each slot, and each person can only choose one slot.

  85. cappucino girl*

    By the way, I think we should be kind to OP for two reasons.
    First of all, the salary is outside of OP’s control (although if they have a way to say to the higher ups that the salary should be raised, they should say it.) Secondly, I think even in this (allegedly good) job market, there are very few jobs that actually bother to train anyone, including minimum wage jobs. For some reason, every company wants at least two years of experience for an entry level job, or they want a PhD sorting mail.

    When I had just graduated college and was applying for jobs, I was living with my parents and had a ton of free time. I was always afraid that if I admitted how much free time I had the hiring manager would think less of me, so I would suggest blocks of time – in other words, 3-5 on Tuesday and Wednesday, or something like that. Plus, I’m not a morning person, so it’s like, yeah, TECHNICALLY I could do 9am, but not if I want to get the job. But it was always a very harrowing part of the experience and I always spent a ton of time obsessing over it. It was always easiest when someone said can you do after 3pm on Wednesday, or before noon on Thursday, or something like that. And I was afraid that if I picked the wrong times, they would be like no…we can’t do that time, so we’re not interviewing you. The job market is different now for people graduating college, so some of them might be less terrified.

    (Commenters have pointed out that some job applicants have jam-packed schedules; so I want to be clear I am only speaking to my experience!)

  86. Evvie*

    “Give me your entire availability and I’ll tell you a time” sets a tone that you probably don’t want to set. It implies a lack of ANY control over scheduling at their *part time jobs.* “You said you were available open to close these days, so you’re working until close this day and opening the next, period.” That’s what I would read here.

    Most times I’ve been offered a screening, I’ve been sent a signup form or offered a set of times.

    They’re interviewing you as much as they’re being interviewed.

  87. Justin*

    This isn’t weird at all. You’re setting this up wrong. What if someone emailed you and said “yeah give me your entire week’s schedule and don’t change anything until I get my time slot.”

  88. Cocafonix*

    To me it looks like a symptom of employers conveniencing themselves at the expense of candidates and now they are dismayed to find the shoe is on the other foot in this market. Candidates are being sought after in some markets and you’ll just have to court them. They can be more entitled now, as employers typically, infuriatingly have been for so long. You’ve been given lots of tips to do that (calendar app) and more on why it doesn’t work for candidates. I’ve been on both ends in the last year. I’ve been able to be very particular in my negotiations with salary, benefits and perks when I’ve been looking. There is a ton of interest in my industry. And in hiring, flexibility and openness to meeting good candidates’ needs is key. Hopefully we can use this time to have better balance of power going forward.

  89. nnn*

    It’s interesting how the clear solution to the problem in this letter is a system where candidates can schedule their own interview time, but, at the same time, we’ve had previous letters where people strongly dislike being asked to schedule their interview time. There’s a sociology paper in there somewhere!

    1. Jeff*

      Even in this comment section, there’s the odd commentor saying, they wouldn’t want to schedule their own interview and would prefer the vague block of time approach. But they are a tiny minority and I wouldn’t put too much stock into catering to them

    2. Autumnheart*

      There’s a difference between a hiring manager scheduling an interview, and e.g. a recruiter doing it, though. If I’m dealing with the hiring manager, I’ve already applied and started the process. But if a recruiter, who is coming to ME with a potential job opening and then says, “Great! Now do all this legwork so I can submit you as a candidate!” …no. YOU asked ME. You do the legwork.

  90. nnn*

    Also, as a low-cost experiment, what if you tried departing from the “full availability” script? Maybe something like “We are setting up phone interviews for X, Y and Z days next week. Could you let us know what times of day you will be available on each of these three days?”

    As others have mentioned, the phrase “full availability” sounds kind of demanding. “What times of day” makes it sound less like you’re demanding their full schedule and leaves more room for something like “I can take a call any time after 4” or “I’m free all day Wednesday but in classes on Tuesday and Thursday”. I’m thinking the “each of these three days” phrasing might emphasize that you want multiple potential slots rather than just glomming onto 9 am Monday. But, as ever, the script can always be adjusted.

  91. Gilgongo*

    I’m so irritated by the “send me your availability” people! I have to write back weird stuff like:
    Monday: 11am – 2pm and 4pm -5pm
    Tuesday: 9am-10am

    And so on. About 80% of the time, they get back to me with a completely different day/time than I offered. Just use Calendly & let me pick out a time they works for me! I’m busy! I’m interviewing a lot and also working a full time job! Also, it just looks very unprofessional to not have some sort of actual booking system.

    1. moonstone*

      Or if OP doesn’t want to use Calendly for whatever reason, she can just sent the time slots herself and have the candidate choose from them. This is what other interviewers have done for me when I was job hunting. I’ve never in my life had an interviewer “ask me for my availability”.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah even in the new world where employees have a little more power the employer is still the party who is offering a job, so it’s still OK for the employer to set the terms of the interview and let the candidates either accept or decline what’s available.

  92. Rigamaroll*

    I haven’t had a chance to read all responses so far, so apologies if this was already suggested.
    If you aren’t inclined to use an online scheduling system. What about asking for their top 3 time slots on X, Y, and Z day next week? That way it gives you more flexibility than their current singular suggestions but also isn’t asking them to hold open time for multiple days? Obviously there is still the risk that they would choose the same but seems less likely people would choose the same exact 3 time slots.

  93. Caroline Bowman*

    A way around it would be to be narrower and more specific re when you’ll confirm a date / time, so ”we’re interviewing between 9-12 Monday, Tuesday next week. Please indicate up to two 30 min slots during that time frame that you’d be available and I will confirm in writing within a business day at the latest”.

    Or something a bit more succinct, but that’s what I mean!

  94. Freelance Anything*

    I’d recommend using an app like Calendly for booking your interviews. You have really fine control over the slots and you can sync it with a calendar so it automatically blocks out when you’re busy.

    And people can just pick what works for them without you having to do anything or anyone clashing

  95. Policy Wonk*

    Asking me for three full days of availability wouldn’t work. My availability may be far too complicated to give you in that big of a window as I have slots already taken. (Granted, I am currently working at a full time job, but even those who are not may have dentist appointments, kids to pick up from school, gig work or other part time jobs.) I’d recommend you give each candidate a much smaller window (e.g. offer two of them Monday afternoon, two Tuesday morning), or suggest one or two time slots that work for you and ask that if those don’t work they offer a couple of times that do.

  96. Anonymouse*

    Calendy or a program like that is your friend here OP. Set the schedule.. send the link to your prospective candidate pool and voila they scheduled themselves. Best thing is it’s free and integrates into most calender program

  97. Puzzler*

    This has a very easy solution. “We are scheduling interviews during X period of time. Please share 2-3 30-minute time slots that will work for you during this period. If we can’t find a time to sync up, we’ll look into time slots during Y next period.”

    There you go, hope it helps!

  98. Veryanon*

    Library letter: By all means, start using some kind of online calendaring app, send your candidates the link, and then they can schedule themselves for whatever date/time you’ve marked as available. I am not super familiar with how they work, but I don’t think it’s difficult to do.

  99. Mill Miker*

    When you ask for the full availability over 3 days like that, it implies that other than slotting in the other candidates, you (as the interviewer) don’t have any other fixed obligations or other restrictions in that time. I’d feel fairly confident that that’s not really true, though.
    I see a lot of people suggesting that “full availability” means pick a handful of the most convenient slots, but with the question about rejecting candidates due to scheduling restrictions, I’d be afraid not to err on the side of listing every possible time that could work.
    As a candidate, I’d be really annoyed to send in a list of times, and then be told that none of them work. To me that says you clearly have your own known restrictions on the time, and could have saved a couple of steps by including the vague blocks that you cannot make work. As I said above, I have to assume these exist. If they don’t say so in the email.
    I’d also be curious what the course of action would be if, after doing schedule tetris, you send a candidate their slot and get an email back that it’s no longer available. Do you have to re-do all the tetris? Is that candidate out of luck? Do you have spare slots you could offer?
    If you, as the interview, can send even a list of times that absolutely do not work for you, that at least gives the candidate “safe zones” to schedule the rest of their life in while they wait.
    (And that’s not even getting into the fact that for me, at that time in my life, the answer would have been “technically no availability, but plenty of flexibility, suggest something”)

  100. George Pig*

    This is the simplest question ever on this site. The reason for the down tick in people agreeing to do this is that it is incredibly rude to ask a non-employee to give you their entire schedule for three days and potential employees now have enough leverage to push back on this intrusion

  101. More dopamine, please*

    I’d be put off by the intrusive request also, and many people wouldn’t know what “full availability” even means. Here’s how I would phrase this:

    “Please reply back to me with two or three 30-minute windows on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday when you could be available for a phone screen, and I’ll confirm a time on our end.”

    And as others have said, setting up online scheduling for phone screens in Calendly would be even easier for your busy candidates. :)

  102. moonstone*

    Not sure what caused the change, but this is not how I would go about setting up interviews. Don’t ask them for their whole availability; instead, provide a few time slots throughout the week for them to choose from.

    If they are bad at communicating, that is an automatic self-selection process. Don’t create more work for yourself.

  103. Heffalump*

    If the LW switches to an online calendar app, then the following is moot. But let’s assume that they switch to, “Give me 3 time slots that work for you, and I will email you with the day and time of your phone screen.” But I wonder what would happen if they also said the following:

    “Some past applicants have interpreted our instructions to mean that they could unilaterally choose a time slot. It doesn’t work that way. We will choose a time slot from the 3 possible time slots that you send us. If those 3 time slots are already taken, we will ask you to submit additional time slots.”

    The above is off the top of my head, and the final version would be less blunt, but that’s the idea.

  104. Heather*

    Can you guys switch over to something like Calendly?

    I’ve found that even scheduling group meetings has become impossible now a days. So I just make a calendly, make my team connect their calendars that auto update if time doesn’t free up, and then set the parameters for groups I need to sign up for a time to meet / interview. Only way I get them to sign up these days that they see the exact times available and then the person gets to pick from that the times THEY are available.

    Otherwise, I can’t get anyone to compromise on times.

  105. Lauren*

    I work as a school psychologist and schedule special education meetings regularly. This requires considering anywhere from 4 to 20 people schedules. There are different ways to so scheduling but I find only using email or phone is often not enough. There are different systems that can help. Others have mentioned Calendly, there is also DoodlePoll, and Google. At my work we use Google Calendar and I also have used Google Docs to help with scheduling. I communicate options with families. For conferences we use SignUp Genius so people can choose a time from our availability without it conflicting with other families choices.

    Also think the issue is option C. If you ask people for their entire availability for whole day, or several days, without a clear system, they will often not respond. I don’t like answering that request either. It’s too much and too variable. People need to choose from a handful of options given to them or to use a system like Google Calendar SignUp Genius to see a large number of options. With schedules often changing frequently that’ s just how it is.

  106. items*

    I dealt with college students in my previous job and they are terrible at communicating about their schedules. Even giving them guidelines like “Pick your top three times” or “When are you NOT free tomorrow?” didn’t help.

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