I'm in a situation now where I'm currently employed, but basically fed up with my current employer. One big issue of contention is the schedule I work, for lack of a better term. My current employer is extremely insistent on me (and the rest of my colleagues) being at the office between 08:00 and 17:00, and even what hours, specifically, we take our lunch hours. This is not so unusual, in my understanding, except for the fact that my colleagues and I are salaried IT professionals, and are routinely required to work off-hours and weekends to fix issues, perform maintenance and generally do our jobs when there's no user impact. Regardless of hours worked, however, my employer insists on us being in the office between 08:00 and 17:00, and will basically not give comp time off either.

On a related note, we're also not allowed to take half-days off, which would be how I normally schedule interviews - take a half day off for my interviews. To me, that seems like the most professional way to handle it, but here, it's a whole day off, or nothing off. (And generally time off needs to be scheduled out well in advance, which is another problem for scheduling interviews.)

Given this scheduling rigidity, is there any particularly good, professional way to go about interviewing for a new job, considering that the vast majority of interviews are conducted during those same hours I'm expected to be at the office? I'm hoping someone has a better idea than having a rash of "doctor's appointments" and "dentist appointments" or whatever other lie would excuse me from the office for a couple hours.


6 Answers 6


Approach it exactly as you would a doctor's or dentist's appointment, but only say "appointment." For example:

I will be in late on Tuesday because I have a short-notice appointment in the morning. I expect I'll arrive by 11.

And don't say any more than that. Possibly mention that you'll make up the time by staying late, but don't volunteer what the appointment is for.

Of course, you'll be asked "What kind of appointment?" but you don't need to answer. Practice saying "it's personal, and I can't miss it." Practice saying "I know it's inconvenient. I can't move it." [Notice the absence of but in these sentences - say them with and without but out loud and observe how much more powerful they are without it.] Consider saying "it was inconvenient for me to come in last Saturday but I did; I'd appreciate a little flexibility here." Stand your ground and go to your appointment. I sincerely doubt that you will come in at 11 to find you have been fired.

Will people suspect it's a job interview? Almost certainly, though it could as easily be a marriage-counselling appointment, a meeting with your parole or probation officer, or a trip to the divorce lawyer's office. There are plenty of things for them to suspect. If they think it's a job interview, will they take that into account when promoting or reviewing you? Yup, though it might have a good or a bad effect in those cases, and besides you don't plan to be around long enough to get a promotion or even a review. Will you be given a terrible reference for no reason other than you (without lying) took personal time for a job interview? No. Not at any place whose references are of any value.

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    +1 for avoiding the word "but". It really makes an impact with how your message is perceived.
    – Brandon
    Mar 26, 2014 at 1:53
  • +1 the mentioning of "probation officer" always stops this line of questioning. can also be used to refuse alcoholic beverages at parties or to leave early (gotta be home before curfew) Aug 26, 2014 at 10:12

Well you could be economical with your interviews and do two or more per day. Alternatively ask the interviewing party if they are willing to do so very early morning or late evening.

I don't see you have very many other choices.


How much holiday entitlement do you have left?

You will probably have to try and schedule interviews for the same day and take the complete day off as a holiday. If you are actively looking to leave your current employer, taking a day off to interview (even for 1 interview) is a worthwhile investment

I am not sure what your problem with the "dentist appointment" idea is though. It is a tried and trusted method. Especially if your employer does not allow you to take half day holidays

  • Aside from being an outright lie , the dentist appointment is fine. Taking a day off allows you to prepare and dress as you should. Mar 25, 2014 at 16:25
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    Honestly, I was really just looking for a better approach, as opposed to having a problem with lying about appointments or whatever. Having said that, saying I need time off for X, when I'm really out doing Y is a lie, and I try to avoid lying when at all possible, because it's just too easy, too... slippery of a slope. If I'm gonna lie for a couple hours off, why not just say I'm sick and take the whole day off? Or a couple days? I find it better to avoid the temptation at all and just not start down that path. As a bonus, it's more professional and virtuous/principled/whatever to not lie. Mar 25, 2014 at 17:27
  • @HopelessN00b assuming this is in the US, you shouldn't have to tell them why you want time off.
    – Codeman
    Mar 26, 2014 at 0:53
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    @HopelessN00b - I completely understand your reluctance and reasons not to want to lie. Following on from Pheonixblade9's comment, simply say you have an "appointment". You really don't have to elaborate much further on that and if your boss pushes and pushes for details, just say it is personal. Still not lying!
    – Mike
    Mar 26, 2014 at 9:30
  • @Pheonixblade9: if this is the US, are they obliged to give you the time off? "I've got an appointment", "Oh right, what?", "It's personal", "We require you to be in work that day", "I won't be in work that day and I don't expect to be paid for it", "You're fired", "FMLA?", "Are you or a family member sick?", "It's a personal appointment", "Then you're still fired". An employer that can require you to come in weekends can require you to come in weekdays, no? Sep 18, 2014 at 2:37

I normally take these calls off-hours (when possible) or I just take a sick day and line them all up on that day. This has worked great for me.

You might have more success doing this than trying to not get caught on an interview while at work which could potentially make things worse.

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    Slightly better: Take a vacation day rather than a sick day (unless your employer pools the two together). That avoids any question of using your current employer's time.
    – keshlam
    Mar 25, 2014 at 20:56
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    @keshlam: the difference being that sick days can (by their nature) be taken at short notice, vacation days apparently not. But depending how sick days work per your contract and jurisdiction, claiming one of when you're not sick of course might be fraudulent. Not that you'd likely be prosecuted if caught, just summarily fired. Sep 18, 2014 at 2:32
  • From my point of view, the object of the game is "to be as honest as the law permits" -- so I would not cheat on sick days. But I've also generally been able to arrange single vacation days (or flex days) on fairly short notice as long as everyone else who could handle an emergency hasn't run away first. I grant that not everyone has that luxury, and some will have to cheat... but I'm not comfortable recommending they do so. Your mileage will, of course, vary.
    – keshlam
    Sep 18, 2014 at 2:42

You can ask if it is possible for the interview to take place through skype or any other similar way because of your fully packed schedule. It would be much easier than having to meet the person and taking the risk of being late.

Lots of people who can't fly to a certain country in a specific moment do that.

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    That's... not a bad idea, thanks. Obviously, I can't do a Skype interview from the office, (someone would be sure to notice that) but it might make it easier to schedule a proper interview right before or after work, without there being any travel time for Skyping. Mar 25, 2014 at 17:29

Dentist appointment is fine if you really go to the dentist, for example in the morning and have the interview with shiny teeth in the afternoon. ;-)

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    This seems to be more of a cute comment than a real answer to the question, as it probably wouldn't work for a series of different interviews. If it's intended to be an earnest answer, would you mind explaining why this would be fine and would solve the problem in question?
    – CMW
    Mar 25, 2014 at 23:27
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    @CMW: I think the dentist comment meant that he wouldn't be lying if he actually went to the dentist that day.
    – MPW
    Mar 26, 2014 at 2:10
  • That's not unlikely but I'd rather see the answer expanded to clarify this and maybe explain some more, than guessing about the idea behind it.
    – CMW
    Mar 26, 2014 at 6:47

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