I am a relatively recent college graduate, and this will be my first time finding a new job while working full-time.

My past interviews usually followed this process: HR phone call -> engineer phone call (quiz) -> in person interview.

How can I interview when I work from 9-5? I believe I could do the phone calls during lunch hour, but how can I manage in person interviews? Can I plan an after-hours meeting? What about weekend interviews? Is every company different, and I should plan with HR what's best for them?

I am worried that because of my circumstances, I will end up wasting PTO days for unattainable job interviews. Can anyone offer advice on how I should approach this?

  • 2
    Can't formulate this into a full answer, but you have to weigh the value of the time off versus the potential value of the job. Screen candidate companies carefully and don't waste time on the ones that aren't worth taking the time off.
    – Blrfl
    Jan 25, 2014 at 20:27
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    FWIW, if you're being called in to an in-person interview, it usually means you're one of a small number of candidates. It is certainly worth a PTO day or two to take that time. Most employers won't waste time bringing in candidates for hours of interviews with multiple people if they're not seriously considering all of the final candidates.
    – Angelo
    Jan 25, 2014 at 22:38
  • 1
    How far away are these interviews? Would it be possible to do in approx. 2 hours? Leave work early, start later, take an extended lunch break?
    – user8365
    Jan 27, 2014 at 20:38

8 Answers 8


Most interviews are not on non-business hours. The reason is simple, everybody wants to have his/her own personal time on non-business hours. You are afraid you'll be wasting your PTO, they are worried that they are wasting their personal time for you.

You either take PTO or take Leave Without Pay for your own job interviews.

Don't miss job interviews just because it may be waste of your time. You never know. Maybe it's a great opportunity? You won't know until you do it. Even if it's a so-so one, you learn something.

  • 1
    Agreed. What's the harm of letting go of one day? (Unless of course, you hold a very important position.) Jan 25, 2014 at 9:12
  • Another point to this: what if you require manager approval at your current job for paid time off? And in particular, what if it's a busy season at work and your manager is very skeptical about all PTO requests? This happens in my company right after folks take their holiday vacations. In the first few months of the year, it would be very difficult to get time off during the work day, unless you had planned it with your manager months in advance.
    – user12818
    Jan 27, 2014 at 14:11
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    I've had companies interview me after hours. I think this is the price sometimes of considering candidates who are not unemployed. Jan 28, 2014 at 20:46
  • @AmyBlankenship I have also done after hours interviews at short notice and in the end both I and the agent thought this showed desperation on the part on the employer - so can go both ways
    – Pepone
    Nov 22, 2014 at 21:46

Some companies allow employees to work extra hours on other days during the pay period to make up for appointments that take them away for a few hours. If you schedule the interviews in the morning, or in the afternoon you may be able to adjust your work schedule the rest of the week to make up for it. If you come to work early or stay late to cover the time lost to the interview, the net impact for your time is the same.

If you are keeping current management from knowing about your job search then you should not be juggling too many opportunities, therefore an appointment every few weeks shouldn't be hard to conceal.

If you are searching for a job because you know that the contract will be ending, and management knows you are looking, don't bother trying to conceal the search. Just ask for permission to work non-standard hours.


From personal experience, I've done this a lot, having maybe done 12 interviews while working full time in 2013.

You can do an interview in 3 different ways without using a PTO day:

Beginning of the day (Starting your day by heading to the interview, then going to work)

This one is easy enough. Ask for the interview to be booked as early as possible. For work, say you have a personal matter and will be in later than expected. You can stay that same amount later, if you wish, to balance the hours.

During and as an extension of Lunch

This involves letting your supervisor know you will be running a few errands over lunch. Just leave for your lunch break, and cruise over to the interview location. This is much more effective if the interview is close.

After your day is complete

Booking your meeting for the end of the day is usually the best strategy if you don't want to miss a lot of work. Most interviewers will accomodate - and remember, CEOs and other entrepreneurs work very long hours. The majority I've known are still at work at 7pm.

Actually, it's amazing you have PTO days to even do interviews. Generally, as a contractor, you don't get paid a cent for interview time.

Also, it is completely reasonable to expect to do an interview after, or before, work. I've done many interviews around 5pm, 6pm, etc.


Potential workplaces are managed by professionals who understand you have important engagements with your time. At the point of scheduling the follow interview, all you have to say is, "That is great. I am very excited. I would need to come in sometime in the late afternoon, as I currently have obligations to my existing client."

About 95% of the time they will gladly accommodate you. The remaining 5%, what you are asking will actually not be possible, but they will probably have a number of other alternatives.

To close, you shouldn't jump too quickly at the chance for an interview. If an interviewer asks you to skip a day of work to come speak to them, and you do, what does that really say? It says that you would do the same thing while employed by them.


Since you mentioned an engineer phone call, I'm going to assume you're in the tech industry. If this is your first job hunt since college, get the book Land the Tech Job You Love. Here's a quote from that book:

“Don't apply for every job you see that might fit. Instead, focus on the ones that matter, and put everything you can into them.”

For your PTO concerns, that means you conserve your PTO by only pursuing the openings you really want. But when you get an in-person interview for one of those openings, take the whole day off. If you can make it up with extra hours on a different day, fine, but don't try to squeeze work in before or after the interview. And if you're doing a phone interview, give yourself at least a half-hour before for prep and another half-hour after in case it runs long and to organize your notes (because you're asking questions in these interviews, right?).

Seriously, get a copy of the book I mentioned. I don't have any relation to the author or publisher, but it was very helpful when I was in your situation.

  • +1 for "give yourself at least a half-hour before for prep and another half-hour after in case it runs long and to organize your notes (because you're asking questions in these interviews, right?)." - and book May 5, 2014 at 23:44

In my experience, pretty much no employers will interview you out of business hours. If you're unwilling to take PTO or fear running out, most reasonable bosses wouldn't mind you working after hours the rest of the week to compensate taking a morning off (so long as they don't know it's for an interview)

Of course, if you're applying to many positions at one time, maybe you'd want to make sure you're both qualified for the opening you're applying for and that you'd actually WANT to work there before applying, instead of doing like most people who are in college and sending applications everywhere so as not to put 'all the eggs in the same basket'. Since you already have a job, the pressure on you for putting in many applications is a bit lower.


Like others have said you're going to have to do one of two things.

  1. Take personal time
  2. Hope your employer allows flex time and make up the gap over the rest of the pay period.

If you have the time and can swing it use a combo of #1 and #2. Flex some time, and then take a half-day. Use this time to go home and change into a suit (if you don't normally wear one to work) and get to the interview.

If your place of employment permits jeans & a polo and you show up in a suit and mysteriously disappear, people will put 2 and 2 together.


You should discuss and just arrive at an agreement with the HR Personnel you are speaking to. Just agree on one date where the both of you can meet. If weekends are not possible, then just be honest and tell them that you are available after 5 PM.

All in all, just NEVER miss an interview that the both of you have scheduled, and you should be fine.

  • My main concern is the anxiety onset by the fact that I have a limited number of PTO in which I can make in person interviews. How can I manage my nerves when I know that I'm using limited resources to find a new job?
    – user13482
    Jan 25, 2014 at 7:12
  • maybe you should also consider scaaahu's answer Jan 25, 2014 at 9:10
  • @user13482 if you have a job interview that takes half a day of time, can't you just make up for that time in the weekend? Jan 25, 2014 at 13:40
  • You run the risk of missing out on the opportunity if you say you are only available after 5pm. Why should the people currently employed there have to work late to accommodate you? There are many candidates that CAN interview during the work day as is traditional. Employers are more likely to be accommodating if you say before 10 or after 4. Jan 27, 2014 at 2:14
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    @Malky.Kid I certainly agree that an interview could occur after office hours. In the United States, they tend not to. Jan 27, 2014 at 4:06

I think that if you are working full time you have to schedule your interviews smart.

First of all ask for the recruiters\HR or any other guys who like to call or meet with you in the first phase your communication channel is the e-mail\SMS\Viber\Skype\LinkedIn..... You can explain that the messaging is more comfortable for you and after that you clear the opportunity you could step forward in the process.

If you like the role ask for the calls\meetings before\after your time, it is a ordinary topic.

If I were you I don't waste my PTO because of the employer would like to draft probation days the PTO will more useful.

Regarding the weekend interviews I faced a lot of meeting on Saturday or Sunday if the company wants to hire you they will accept your request.

In a nutshell the employer will defer to your demands if they believe in you could be a valuable placement.

  • 3
    The OP is a recent college graduate. With all due respect to recent college graduates, I suspect there are very few people in that position that can dictate interview terms to potential employers in the way you describe. This is going to be especially apparent in the case of a panel or group interview scenario, where a business would have to ask a large number of people to come in at the weekend to interview one person.
    – Rob Moir
    Jan 26, 2014 at 10:21
  • I can't agree with you but I believe in your view works in some industries nevertheless if we give the technology field a look you recognize an unbalanced conditions. This is a candidate driven market with an enormous demand regarding candidates and with skimpy resources. This is the reason why recruiters are looking for developers world-wide. So if the HR\recruiter are inflexible with the candidates I think s\he will lost several well trained guys in the future.
    – user7522
    Jan 26, 2014 at 12:41
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    This is a candidate driven market with an enormous demand regarding candidates and with skimpy resources some types of candidates, yes. I've seen demand for experienced candidates with particular skills that might support a candidate who wishes to take this approach, but again, not as a general rule for recent college graduates. I appreciate that in different geographical areas what you say could well apply to less experienced candidates but there's no indication of location in the post. I've worked in the 'technology field' for over 20 years, btw.
    – Rob Moir
    Jan 26, 2014 at 13:29
  • you are right, and probably I have a little experience to make general decision. In addition I am working on a specialized market as well so after red your extended view I am agre with you.
    – user7522
    Jan 26, 2014 at 13:42
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    Be careful how you phrase that. "I'm more comfortable over messaging" sounds like you have a communication problem. Or you might have someone with you to "help." Jan 27, 2014 at 2:15

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