I recently had an interview with a company after an initial phone interview, things progressed quite quickly and well and I've been invited to a third interview which I think there's a good change I'll be successful in.

My main concern is that I told the company I'd be able to start in September - In reality on reflection I'd much rather start in December due to my wife taking a break from work.

If I do get offered the job how should I bring up that I prefer a later start date?

UPDATE: I've been offered the job and have declared my desire to start in December. I'm still waiting for a reply, which is better than an outright rejection!

  • Nearly two months seems like an extensive delay. Be honest about taking a break with your wife, but you may want to ask for less time. – user8365 Jun 10 '14 at 16:52

If your preference is a December start date, to the extent you would decline the job if it was only available in September, you don't need to tell them now. You can take a bit of a bet that if you reply to a written offer with another date, they would rather wait 3 months and get you than go through this whole process again to find someone else. If not, well, you had already decided you would decline a September start date.

If your preference is not that strong, then bring this up during the third interview. Say something like:

I know I had mentioned a September start date, but my family has been offered a great opportunity to [whatever your wife will be doing for that break] and I would like to be part of it. Do you think that starting in December is feasible?

On going back and forth you may be able to negotiate something like starting part time in October and switching to fulltime in December. If they won't budge from September, you will have a hard choice to make.

I know it's not fair, by the way, but the reason for the delay matters. If you are going to be a new father, if you wife is going to another country and you'd like to go with her, if you have a chance to be in a reality show, whatever, the actual reason will affect the flexibility the company shows. If it's more like "we are going to sit around our apartment and watch TV and read for a few months" you are less likely to find them amenable to it. So work on your one sentence pitch to explain the delay.

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Keep your lips zipped until you actually get the offer. At that point, confer with your wife and the two of you decide if it's more acceptable to fall back to the September start date rather than have the job offer expire on you. Then call your prospective employer, explain the situation to your prospective employer and ask for a December start date. Give your employer three options:

  1. the September start date

  2. the December start date

  3. a compromise start date.

Once, I was given a two-week start date. I asked for a six-week start date, and we compromised on a four-week start date - the reason I wanted the six-week start date is that I wanted to train staff to take over from me at my present employer.

Coming across as concerned, responsible, flexible and considerate to your prospective employer will be key to your success in negotiating what may at best be a compromise start date - Hey, if your prospective employer says that they need you now, they need you now :)

If by chance, your prospective employer is amenable to waiting until December - they might be if their plan were to hire someone in September and hire someone in September, then wait until two weeks before you officially start for your prospective employer before you give notice to your current employer - Three months is a long time, employers have been known to rescind job offers and you don't want to be caught in a situation where you have a rescinded job offer from your prospective employer after you gave notice to your current employer.

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  • 2
    Also - when an interview process gets long... you'll get closer and closer to the desired start date. – bethlakshmi Jun 10 '14 at 17:39

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