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How to get time off for a job interview

Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview and could soon be taking the next exciting step in your career. But there’s a problem. The interview is scheduled at 3pm – exactly the same time as an important client meeting – a meeting you’ve spent weeks preparing for.

Even though many interviews are now increasingly being conducted remotely, it suddenly dawns on you that you’ll need to somehow manoeuvre getting time off to attend the interview and potentially reorganise your work schedule completely.

So, what do you do?

Four things to consider when trying to get time off work for a job interview

Although this may indeed feel like a tricky situation, it is one that many jobseekers will inevitably face. Once you’ve secured an interview, the next immediate conundrum is how to get the time off work so that you can attend it.

If you work flexible hours, or often work remotely, getting time off to attend an interview is usually relatively straightforward. However, if you are primarily office-based or if you are required to be in the office on the very same day as your scheduled job interview, it might be trickier to book the time in without worrying about the ramifications of doing so.

To ease any natural anxieties you might be experiencing, and to allow you to focus fully on preparing for your interview, we’ve put together several simple pointers that could help you arrange the time off required for your job interview.

1. Try to avoid scheduling the interview during working hours, if possible.

First thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or even after work are the preferable times to arrange an interview – although it might be easier said than done. So, if your interview is scheduled for a time that could be particularly difficult for you to attend, let your recruiter or the hiring manager know as early as possible.

Explain the situation – including the fact that you have that all-important client meeting scheduled – and request some alternative dates and times. Most employers understand that it can be difficult to attend interviews during normal working hours, and so should be as flexible on dates and times as much as they can.

Plus, by asking to rearrange to a more convenient time, outside of standard business hours, you show the employer that you are a loyal and honest employee who does not want to let their colleagues or clients down, which can only ever be a positive thing.

2. Book a day’s annual leave on the day of the interview.

Often, the best approach is to book the day of the interview off as holiday. If this isn’t possible, could you ask for a half-day? This way, your anxieties will be significantly diminished. It will also allow you to focus solely on your upcoming interview rather than the current projects you have on or deadlines you’re working towards.

If you’re actively and regularly job searching, it might be a good idea to schedule a couple of interviews on one day, in order to use your time most effectively.

At this point you may ask, what if I need to book time off for a job interview at short notice? Often, interviews are scheduled with relatively short notice, so holiday requests will need to be submitted at short notice too. However, it’s important to remember that you are making proactive steps to better your career, which everyone is expected to do at some point. So, if you’ve booked time off to attend an interview that could help you do that, even at short notice, you’re doing absolutely nothing wrong.

3. Don’t lie or sneak around.

If you have been unable to move the interview time, it can understandably be tempting to manufacture a mythical doctor’s appointment or even call in sick on the day. However, we do not recommend this tack. If you nevertheless decide to do this, it is better to be vague and say that you have a personal appointment you simply must attend rather than lie and compromise your integrity. Ultimately, this can be a very difficult situation, but it’s not worth getting caught out in a lie.

Should I tell my boss that I’m looking for a new job?

In today’s world of work – a world in which we’re all living and working longer – it’s becoming more and more common for organisations to adopt an open and honest culture around career paths with their employees. More managers now feel comfortable having these conversations with their employees – even if it does lead to the realisation that a member or members of their team may be at risk of leaving for another job.

If you’ve already had a similar discussion with your boss, you may feel that it’s appropriate to tell them you have an interview scheduled. However, if you haven’t begun to have these conversations with your manager, it’s best not to divulge any such information until you’ve been offered the job and have the contract in your hand.

If you’ve followed this advice, you’ve helped to put yourself in the mindset for your upcoming interview. Without the anxiety that can come from sneaking around and worrying about what everyone from your manager to your colleagues will think if they find out about your job search, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to perform at your very best.

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