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I'm trying to tell someone when I'd be available for an interview.

Seems easy, right?

I'm available 8-11 AM on the 1st and 3-5 PM on the 2nd.

But this seems ambiguous in that "8-11" could mean either I'm available ending at 11, or the latest I can start the interview is 11.

Or I could just say: (e.g. for an hour interview)

I'm available starting at any point between 8 and 10 AM on the 1st and 3 and 4 PM on the 2nd.

But this would only work when I know the duration of the interview (which I don't).

I will ask how long the interview will be, but I'd like to also give my availability in the same email, to avoid the additional unnecessary back-and-forth.

Of course I can also just explain what the end time means:

I'm available from 8 AM onward ending no later than 11 AM on the 1st.

But this would get very clunky when trying to specify multiple time ranges.

How can I unambiguously and briefly give my availability in the form of time ranges?

  • "I'm busy from 11am, so could be available between 8-11am." Honestly this happens with pretty much every interview that gets scheduled so don't worry too much. If you ask a question by email then just try to anticipate the answers to avoid an additional round. – JonathanS Mar 8 '18 at 19:41
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    I'm not sure why you think it's ambiguous. Your first statement seems pretty clear to me. I would assume your "8-11am" means you would need to leave by 11am. – David K Mar 8 '18 at 20:15
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    Making it way more complicated than it needs to be. I hope this isn't how you ask in an email, otherwise they are just going to NEXT! you. – SiXandSeven8ths Mar 8 '18 at 20:28
  • @DavidK Because "I'm available at 8" means "I'm available from 8 until the end of the interview". And I see "I'm available at 8" as "I'm available 8-8", which would make the end time the latest start, not the latest end. And needing to subtract the duration of the interview to be able to tell you when it starts / should start seems like a confusing step. Although I understand the reasoning of the other side. – NotThatGuy Mar 8 '18 at 20:32
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    @NotThatGuy you're... wrong? "I'm available at 8" means the interview should start at 8. "I'm available from 8-11" means you're free anytime between 8 & 11, and you will leave at 11. Your second example is really confusing, nobody gives times in ranges of when they can start, don't do that. Your third example is clunky AF. Just stick with the first and clarify should the person on the other end somehow get confused. Which they won't. – bharal Mar 8 '18 at 20:38
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EDITED/REVISED

I'm available as early as 8:00 AM, but I have a hard-stop at 11:00Am, so the earlier the better...

Or something like that, but you want to be clear that you have an obligation to end at 11.

  • As mentioned in my question, I'd ideally like to avoid this additional back-and-forth. I'll see if someone else can come up with a preferable alternative, otherwise I'll accept that this is probably the best solution. – NotThatGuy Mar 8 '18 at 19:35
  • @NotThatGuy It's about as brief as you can get, unless you guess, which isn't really productive. – Retired Codger Mar 8 '18 at 19:37
  • Doesn't this have the same problem as what I said? Isn't "I'm available from {time} to {time}" ambiguous? – NotThatGuy Mar 8 '18 at 19:55
  • @NotThatGuy I revised it. – Retired Codger Mar 8 '18 at 19:58
  • @NotThatGuy mate there's nothing ambiguous about a range, you need to stop fighting that notion. – bharal Mar 8 '18 at 20:44
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Gosh.

Just stick with "I'm available between 8-11am on the 1st, and 3-5pm on the 3rd".

The use of the word "between" implies that there is a hard cap at 11am. The hyphens are used because that is idiomatic when specifying time ranges.

Your second and third examples, and all the other weird and wonderful wordings you might see, will just signify you as someone with a very awkward communication style.

You generally don't want to show that when you go for interviews. Stick with the simplest, commonest forms.

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I'm trying to tell someone when I'd be available for an interview. - Seems easy, right?

I'm available 8-11 AM. - But this seems ambiguous ...

But this would only work when I know the duration of the interview (which I don't).

I am available between 8 and 11am, with long interviews to start by 9.

That seems fairly obvious that you won't be able to arrive before 8am and not only does it open up inquiring about the duration but makes it quite clear that you want to be on your way prior to the last minute.

I always ask about number of interviews and their structure if it's not clear that it's casual (meet the people and we'll let you know soon) vs. comparators and looky-lous (we can't tell you or you'll have to wait to ask).

Don't leave them with the impression that your time is unimportant or that you'll jump through hoops at the drop of a hat, unless it's your first job and you need to be flexible over other considerations.

  • If a 2-hour interview starts at 9, that's no problem for me, although this suggestion might make it seem like it is a problem. And this seems similar to what I said, in that it doesn't really make it clear that I cannot have it continue (much) past 11. – NotThatGuy Mar 8 '18 at 19:53
  • @NotThatGuy - Fixed⁉ – Rob Mar 8 '18 at 20:00
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I ended up using "from X until Y".

I'm available from 8 until 11 AM on the 1st and from 3 until 5 PM on the 2nd.

"Until" seems to more clearly than "to" imply that's the latest the interview should end.

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