I am interviewing for a job where they want someone to start "immediately". My current employer has not treated me well and does not know that I am looking for another job. I have worked for them for 6 months. Where I live it is customary to give 2 weeks notice, but certainly not a legal requirement.

In the interview if they ask how soon am I available, how should I respond? It would be nice to give 2 weeks or as much notice as possible, but it is not something I will lose sleep over. As an aside, someone else was so fed up with management he just left with zero notice.

TL;DR how to tell the interviewer I am available to start immediately, but if it's all the same to them I would like to give my current employer 2 weeks notice.

  • 10
    You can ask them how soon do they expect you to start when the interviewer "tosses the ball" to you. Mention the two week notice period but state that you have flexibility to start immediately if necessary Aug 9, 2021 at 11:49
  • 66
    If they want to start you right away, without giving your current employer a notice period, I'd be very weary. It's a big indication they don't care at all about professional employer-employee relationships. Be prepared to be tossed away at a moments notice.
    – Abigail
    Aug 9, 2021 at 12:31
  • 9
    2 weeks are standard notice in all businesses. If they are looking to hire, they will accommodate you this time. I'd be highly surprised if they didn't. If they don't, then yeah, quit your current job without notice if this is the right move for you.
    – Issel
    Aug 9, 2021 at 20:01
  • 10
    Your occupation and industry would be helpful here? In office settings it's generally understood 'hire immediate' means start 2 weeks after signing. If you're a cook starting your first training shift immediately after shaking and signing would not be unusual...
    – Affe
    Aug 9, 2021 at 20:43
  • 16
    @Abigail "Wary": aware "weary": had a lot of wear Aug 10, 2021 at 4:18

10 Answers 10


In the US it isn't unusual to have employers to cut ties without the employee serving their full notice period. Given that reality I would say:

"As professional courtesy I would give my employer two weeks notice. Should they opt for a shorter period, I would be available sooner. I can keep you in the loop on how that conversation goes."

  • If my feelings towards old employer were like OPs and would like to bend a bit for prospective employer I'd add that it "might be possible to cut by a week", just to show willingness to adjust and flexibility. It's certainly bad idea to offer zero time, regardless of anything. Future employer might some time become a former employer and they care how one handles possible tie cutting.
    – luk32
    Aug 10, 2021 at 11:38
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    @luk32 When offering a courtesy (to the former employer) it's important to offer the full courtesy. An employer that's been a bad actor will be happy to comment "and they left without two weeks notice" in any channel they can do so without repercussion. And if the employer is a bad enough actor, they'll demand the full two weeks just to annoy the employee during the transition. So, I would be very careful about proposing to the new employer a shorter period before the old employer agrees to a shorter period. It sucks, but it's often the best way.
    – Edwin Buck
    Aug 10, 2021 at 16:53
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    Another thing is, if you tell the prospective employer you'd be willing to leave the current employer without 2 weeks' notice, you're telling the prospective employer you might do the same to them. Aug 10, 2021 at 18:27
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    @EdwinBuck And everything is negotiable. I basically said nothing you mention and the notice period is not really demandable as I understand it. Notice I said "might be possible" it shows willingness, flexibility, ability to communicate and no promise or commitment. It does not hurt to try and negotiate. I think you should consider proposing a mutual termination. For example when I was asked about my notice period and stuff I said it's 3 months and I can probably cut it to two but if my current employer demands it, I would not leave them earlier because I have a pretty responsible position.
    – luk32
    Aug 10, 2021 at 21:05
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    @DonBranson - I could never understand the shortsightedness of friends that started seeing someone that was still seeing someone else. None of them ever referred to that period later on and said that they should have seen it coming...
    – enhzflep
    Aug 12, 2021 at 9:41

Them: "How soon can you start?"

You: "I'd like to give my current employer two weeks notice."

In the USA, giving your current employer two weeks notice is common and is considered a professional courtesy. If your new employer bristles at the idea of you giving your current employer two weeks notice, that would be a big red flag to me.

  • 33
    "In the USA, giving your current employer two weeks notice is common" It's so common that, to me, it's basically on the prospective employer to clarify during the interview process that they mean sooner than that
    – Kevin
    Aug 9, 2021 at 18:48
  • 47
    Yes, "immediately" really means "as soon as possible" not literally tomorrow. Aug 9, 2021 at 19:59
  • 2
    In certain fields of work, 30 day notices is common too. Aug 10, 2021 at 17:03
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    For me as an employer, a candidate showing zero interest on his/her current employer would also be a big reg flag. So anything in the line of "yeah, I'm currently employed, but screw them, I can start tomorrow" would really not be the best answer. Aug 11, 2021 at 10:42
  • I think it would depend on the reason they bristle over the 2 weeks notice. I have seen cases, for example, where they have some specialized training that is only offered once a quarter but it is happening on Monday and they want the candidate to start immediately to attend said training. If, however, they don't appear to have any reasonable logistical reason then I am sure there are other red flags that would tell the candidate to walk from the company.
    – rhoonah
    Dec 5, 2022 at 17:45

This might be a bit pedantic but:

Interviewing for position looking to immediately hire.

They're probably just looking for someone that can assure immediate commitment more-so than literally starting the next day.

In the interview if they ask how soon am I available, how should I respond?

You can say something like:

I can submit my two-week notice as quickly as I can sign a contract for employment with you. I can also inquire about a shortened notice period if that is preferable.

If the potential employer scoffs at the idea of a notice period then I would take that as a serious red flag.

They might not be overt about it either so watch out for things like:

We are really looking for someone that can start tomorrow; things are tight.

  • They may want you to start immediately or as soon as possible, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes there are delays on hiring on the company side, but if they have work they need done, why wouldn't they want you there as soon as possible? I don't know what you mean by "scoff at the idea of a notice period" - I'd hope that they'd want a new hire soon, would encourage you to come as soon as possible, but would be prepared to wait 2 weeks if they have to. Nonetheless, if they're keen for you to start sooner, IMO that's a good sign not a red flag. (Would you rather there was no work?)
    – Stuart F
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:15
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    @StuartF It's a BIG red flag if they're so rushed that having a new hire start 2 weeks sooner is important. How did they get to be so understaffed? Did a bunch of people quit (why would they do that?) or did they not hire enough staff in the first place? What will they do when you want to take 2 weeks off to go on vacation next year? If they're so panicked about hiring someone NOW, are they even trying to make a good decision about who to hire long term, or are they just taking any warm body to fill in temporarily and then they will fire you later on when they find someone they like more? Aug 10, 2021 at 14:37
  • @StuartF: Another part of the red flag is the technical capacity to being able to start immediately - if the job involves access to computing systems, such as a software development or another office related job, you'd expect they'd have to take some time from hiring notice to getting you network and email access. That and onboarding should be taking some time before you get actual work started and/or done in most positions. That's all stuff a 2-week period can be useful for them, if their team is aware of the work you'll need to be doing. Aug 11, 2021 at 7:19

In the interview if they ask how soon am I available, how should I respond?

When asked, you should explain that you feel as a professional you are obligated to give the customary 2 weeks notice.

Based on the response, you can decide if you wish to maintain your professional reputation or not.

  • Also, you could tell potential employer you are able to start in two weeks, and still quit immediately. Ask them for documentation to review before start, or you could find your own online courses that you believe are relevant to new position.
    – paulj
    Aug 11, 2021 at 14:40

Anything in the realm of employer-employee relations is governed solely by what is legal. What is "customary" does not matter, because, should the situation arise, the company would not hesitate to throw "customary" out the window if it is in their best business interest. If the company wanted you to give them 2 weeks notice, they would have put it in the contract. If they didn't put it in the contract, that means they don't need it.

It is the job of the employer, when they prepare the contract, to put in any and all provisions to protect themselves. If they are concerned about continuity vis a vis notice periods, it's their job to put that in your contract, that you need to give 2 weeks notice. If they didn't put that in the contract, it means they don't care about you giving 2 weeks notice and they are prepared to replace you immediately, or be short-staffed for a period. It's not your job, as an exiting employee, to ensure continuity of the company which you are leaving, beyond whatever you are required to do vis-a-vis preparing documentation and offboarding and so on (and even that is mostly voluntary, or "customary" if you prefer).

All of this is a long way of saying: When the new company asks you how soon you are available, if your contract does not stipulate a notice period, the answer is "when would you like me to start?". That's how soon you are available. Two weeks notice or not, your priority can't be both to your old company and to your new company. Look forward, not back; give the new company every reason to give you an offer and no reasons (as few as possible) to not do so.

  • 8
    Keep in mind that the interviewer may think something along the lines of "if this candidate is so willing to throw their current employer under the bus by leaving without notice to come with for us, they'll probably be just as willing to do it to us when they leave here." It's certainly not necessary to do what's "customary" if there's a good reason to do otherwise, but advertising your willingness to break industry norms may not be the best move in a job interview. Aug 10, 2021 at 2:26
  • 1
    For some companies, "customary" can actually be a factor.
    – toolforger
    Aug 10, 2021 at 7:19
  • 2
    Small companies don't have the resources to make cover-it-all-contracts, so for these, I'd still want to be careful not to damage them beyond the loss of a developer.
    – toolforger
    Aug 10, 2021 at 10:40
  • 1
    Given that the question is about an employer who wasn't treating the employee well, I guess neither factor is particularly relevant to the OP :-)
    – toolforger
    Aug 10, 2021 at 10:40
  • 4
    @Ertai87 Why would you want to work for a company which can't plan ahead by at least two weeks? If they can't figure that one out, what other planning failures are they going to have? "I need you to build Rome. Oh, btw, we need to deliver it tomorrow, do you think you could work late tonight?" Aug 10, 2021 at 18:23

Your new employer is looking for someone immediately. If you leave the choice to them, you can be pretty sure about what that choice will be.

In the interview if they ask how soon am I available, how should I respond? It would be nice to give 2 weeks or as much notice as possible, but it is not something I will lose sleep over. As an aside, someone else was so fed up with management he just left with zero notice.

The first thing you need to do is decide what you want. Then tell your new employer what that decision is: Either to start immediately, or to give two weeks notice.


I had this exact scenario a few years ago, and I replied something to the effect of, "I'd like to at least give my job one week's notice, then. I'm sure you would want the same if you were on the other end, right?" After a moment of thought, they agreed to it. When giving notice, I gave a small apology that it was only one week and nicely explained that the new job wanted me immediately, but I had talked them into a week so I could at least give some notice. In the end, everything worked out fine.


I think the term "looking to hire immediately" factors in a common 2 week notice. They are basically saying that they are not interested in candidates that are stuck in a contract where they cannot start for 3 months or a candidate that is expecting a large bonus in 2 months, or a candidate that requires a Visa, etc. Basically anything that will prevent a candidate from starting within a 2 to 3 week period is what they are trying to avoid.

If that doesn't end up being the case, then do what is best for you. We would all like to be professional but if the current company hasn't treated you well then don't lose a potentially good opportunity to offer professional courtesies for a company to which you never plan on returning.


I recommend that you look to the long term: "Your reputation precedes you." Yes, there are certain "courtesies" in the business world.

Even if an employer wants to "hire immediately," that new employer will fully understand the business courtesy of "notice," and you can expect them to be willing to wait.

Once you accept the new job, you should give your former employer notice, and be prepared to work those full two weeks. (Also be mindful that your new employer will know whether you did or not.)

If your present employer declines your offer or requires less time, that is entirely up to them.


Keep in mind that giving two weeks notice is just a courtesy. It is unlikely your employer would expect let alone desire you to work those last two weeks now that you are off their leash. It is like when someone asks, "Hey, how are you doing?" You are thinking "not so good, got this allergy, and car trouble, ..." but you respond, "Great, how are you!"

  • It's a courtesy for a reason. Most employers I know will gladly use that time to get you to document anything you know or help train a colleague that will take over from you. Aug 12, 2021 at 16:00

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