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I have a vacation coming up and I am in the process of interviewing with a company. I told them that I will be going on vacation and they said that it's fine, that I can continue the interview process (which consists of solving a certain task) when I get back from vacation.

However, I am scared that as I'm on vacation, someone else will move further on in the interview process and get accepted. I fear that when I come back from vacation, I'll receive an email that says that they hired someone else. I'm fine with them hiring someone else if they're better, but I'm not OK with them hiring someone else just because that person didn't plan their vacation when I did.

For reference, I'm talking about a software engineering related job from EU. The vacation lasts for ~8 work days.

So, recruiters of The Workplace, are my fears reasonable or not? Should I be scared of delaying the interview process for ~8 work days because someone else might move further along when I'm on vacation or no?

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    Do you increase the probability? Yes. Is it work worrying about? There are a lot of factors that go into it. Aug 4 at 7:13
  • What do you think will happen if in those 8 days a new very good wild candidate appears and completes the round of interviews? Anyway, it's possible that they might be ok hiring both of you in this case (at least, all the companies I know are looking for people to hire and they'd gladly take 2 instead of 1 right now...)
    – GACy20
    Aug 4 at 14:55
  • @JoeStrazzere, and whether that decision is a conscious or unconscious bias against someone on vacation doesn't really matter, the answer, as you said unfortunately is: yes, the probability rises the company will hire someone else. Aug 4 at 14:57

7 Answers 7

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Should I be scared of delaying the interview process for ~8 work days because someone else might move further along when I'm on vacation or no?

tl;dr:

It entirely depends on the company you are speaking with and who else is applying

As a hiring manager...

An 8 day delay wouldn't really put me off especially at this time of year when we are in peak holiday season, unless we happen to find a stellar candidate in the meantime and I feel I have to snap them up immediately. However I can't speak for every other hiring manager in the world, others may feel differently. Keep in mind that in many EU countries it is not unusual for vacation time already booked to be honoured by companies hiring new employees (although this is on a company-by-company basis), so this shouldn't be something which causes any manager surprise.

However...

What is the alternative?

Are you planning on delaying or cancelling your vacation so you don't have this 8 day delay? Keep in mind that while this would reduce the risk they may find someone else while you are on vacation, you are still not guaranteed to get the job. Therefore the risk becomes you cancel or delay your vacation for no reason.

Someone I respect once told me "Never do anything at the start of any relationship that you wouldn't be willing to keep doing for the rest of the relationship".

Basically, do you want to set the precedent with this company even before you start working for them that you're willing to cancel your vacation to accommodate them or their timescales? Is this something you would be willing to do for the rest of your time with this organisation? Is this an expectation you want to set at the very beginning of your working relationship with this company?

Now, some people are quite prepared to answer "yes" to those questions. You need to decide if you're one of those people.

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    "vacation time already booked must be honoured" what? How does that work? If I book a 30 day trip to Australia for next year because that is my yearly allowance at my old employer, and I apply for a new job, they must give me 30 days PTO because my old employer did? What if they offer only 25?
    – nvoigt
    Aug 4 at 11:00
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    It comes out of your annual leave allowance as agreed in your contract with us and any extra has to be taken as unpaid leave. The PTO is not what is guaranteed, however if you start with us and you let us know you already have a 30 day vacation to Australia booked, we can't make you cancel or shorten it, we have to accommodate it.
    – ThaRobster
    Aug 4 at 11:02
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    hm, that's interesting, is that a law? Who defines "vacation", what if I planned to sit on my balcony all summer instead of going to Australia? I'm curious to read about it, if you can provide a link.
    – nvoigt
    Aug 4 at 13:54
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    I want to upvote because of the "Alternative" section, but the first section is dependent on time frames, including snagging a great candidate as this answer admits. And that section also admits they can't speak for other managers, so the "no" answer there is not accurate or even supported by their other statements. Aug 4 at 15:02
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    @computercarguy I must admit I've re-read that section a few times and come to the came conclusion. "No" has been removed accordingly.
    – ThaRobster
    Aug 5 at 7:10
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but I'm not OK with them hiring someone else just because that person didn't plan their vacation when I did.

It's not up to you why they hire anyone. If you have plans that are more important than interviewing, then go ahead with them. Don't worry about things you cannot know.

Obviously if they do find someone suitable they may hire them, or they may wait for you. There's no way to tell.

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    This. All you can do is hope for the best and go on with your life. If you miss out there will be other job opportunities.
    – rooby
    Aug 4 at 23:45
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Nobody will hire a clearly inferior candidate over an 8 day waiting period.

Hiring and interview process times vary wildly between companies. Last time I sent out multiple applications at the same time, I had interviewed, had a two week medial leave and then started working for one of them, when the other decided to actually reply with a first invitation. There is no way for us to tell, whether 8 days is a lot or basically not noticable in your specific companies hiring process.

Looking at the other side of the medal, how would you feel as the potential other candidate, that has X time to solve the task, when your competitor gets 8 days more than you got because they claimed they are on vacation?

And the third side of the medal, from the employers perspective, if the other candidate has everything they need and is willing to sign tomorrow, but has other offers and does not want to wait a week for the decision, would you tell them to sign somewhere else because you still have the mystery candidate in the queue that you don't know if they are what you are looking for?

The short answer is: yes, any delay can make them hire another candidate. But so could bad weather, a forgotten key or their favorite team winning a championship. Life happens while you apply for jobs, it's not a linear line of events, it's chaos, you cannot change that. No point to worry about it if you cannot influence it. Enjoy your vacation. See the positive side in everything: If the other candidate gets the job, guess what, they will not be applying for the job you will be applying for next time. Because now that they got a job, there is one less competitor out there.

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I disagree fully with ThaRobster's answer premise but I agree with the conclusion. Yes, it will increase the probability of they hiring someone better but it probably doesn't matter.

While you are on vacation they will interview other people, if any of those complete the assignment and it is good enough for the position they will be hired. No hiring manager will hold a position open when they have a valid candidate in the off chance than a candidate that went on vacation will turn out to be a better candidate.

The truth is, at this point, you are an unknown. The company will not judge if the candidate is better or worse than you, they will judge first if they are good enough for the job and for the salary and second compare to other candidates. With the current market situation, if that is a positive, there will be a hire and you will be told so when you are back.

However, and this is an important however. It may not matter. You don't know when you entered the pool. So those 8 days are relative. Maybe they interviewed already another 50 candidate and none fit the bill, maybe they are in a rush to hire or maybe they do not even need the position urgently, maybe they have just received the perfect resolution to the task and have already made up their mind to go with another candidate by the time you complete the assignment.

The bottom line is, while it will definitively decrease the probability of you being hired, it can range from a 50% reduction on chances to a 0.01% reduction, you can't know and worrying about it won't change it. Doing the task on your vacation period is your personal choice and ultimately your decision however it will very likely not improve or hit your chances that much in the overall.

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  • We can only really say it doesn't matter if we understand how desperate the OP is for the job. Aug 5 at 6:52
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It's certainly possible. Hiring is difficult, and all else being equal, a company will prefer the candidate that's available sooner. Depending on how their interview process works (for instance, are there predetermined "rounds" or does every candidate get a hire / no hire / more evaluation needed decision after their own interview), you could be running the risk that someone else would be chosen ahead of you.

On the other hand, you have the company's word that they are willing to interview you after the vacation, which is a positive sign. If they had a bunch of candidates lined up and thought that they might make a decision on one during your vacation, they would have been more likely to say something like "contact us when you get back and we'll go from there". Most positions don't have very many qualified applicants banging down the door right now.

Incidentally, in the future, if you want to give yourself just a little psychological advantage, the phrase to use is "I'm sorry, I will be out of the country until the 14th, could we schedule something after that?" (subtext: I'm interested in you, but I have a pre-existing commitment that can't be changed — now express your commitment to me by offering to work around it, and become invested in me), not "I have a vacation planned" (subtext: I'm going to go relax instead of taking you seriously — or am I? Maybe you can convince me to cancel my plan).

Lastly, the question to ask yourself is: do you believe in your own skills? Do you believe that you deserve the job? If so, then go on vacation with the confidence that this company will recognize your skills even after a delay of a couple weeks, and if they don't, the next one will.

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It could increase your chances of being hired.

Suppose one person on the team is driving to work when they are tragically hit by a bus and killed. Now they have two openings instead of one, your chances have doubled! If you are really lucky, it might even be a team carpool that gets hit by a bus...

More likely, and on a less tragic note, it could be that the hiring budget increases while you are on vacation and they are able to increase the number of positions.

Or it could be that they can't schedule an interview right away when you get back and in the mean time you get an even better job offer and now you are no longer interested in them.

Of course, it could also be that they find someone else who's an acceptable candidate and hire them without waiting to interview you, or that the funding for the position dries up entirely so no one gets the job, or maybe the office is hit by a meteor.

Lots of things can happen. Enjoy your vacation.

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  • This doesn't make any sense to me. Aug 5 at 6:54
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Or it can improve your chance of being hired.

If the company is actively considering other people, they are actively rejecting other people. At the end of the process, they will hire someone who hasn't been rejected. If you've managed to avoid being rejected by avoiding the rejection process, you are still in with a chance.

Sometimes there is an outstanding candidate. Other times they just need to hire someone, and the last person in the door is most likely candidate.

I've been on both sides of the process. Your best indication is the information you have: you were told it doesn't matter.

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  • Some hiring managers do eventually burn out trying to find the perfect candidate or recognize they need to make adjustments to their flawed interview process, but that usually takes months. 8 days isn't going to change anything.
    – selbie
    Aug 5 at 6:48

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