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I am a new graduate setting up interviews (in person and on site) and I'm fairly new to this. Whenever I get an email from HR asking when I am available, I generally say I'm available 5 days after I get asked the question. I don't say "5 days from now". What I mean is, if I get an email requesting an interview on Tuesday, I say I'm available this coming Monday and onwards. If I get asked on Monday, I say I'm available Friday and onwards.

I generally keep the 5-day gap because I normally have interviews and volunteer work to carry out in the middle, and I would like time to prepare as well so I can learn about the company, the people, and master the software the company requires. Note that I can say I'm available in two days, but that generally will require me to stress about the interview because I don't have too much time to research and prepare and my schedule will be packed, but it definitely is possible.

Is a 5-day gap normal? Is it not recommended or too long of a wait?

  • If you say you're available "Friday and onwards" I would clarify what you mean. Do you mean you want to be called Friday that week or on the weekend? Give several possibilities for scheduling the call, the fact that your available starts a few days after the email probably doesn't matter. – Brandin Sep 9 '15 at 6:56
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Is a 5 day gap normal? Is it not recommended / too long of a wait?

It's normal for candidates to have scheduling conflicts that mean they might not be immediately available. It's not so normal for candidates to say they're not available when that's not actually the case. If you do this for follow-up interviews as well they might notice the pattern and find it a bit peculiar, but it's unlikely to be a real concern for them.

The reason it's peculiar is that most people wouldn't expect a recent graduate's schedule to be so packed, unless you're currently employed or the volunteer work you mentioned practically counts as a full-time job and its nature is such that you can't skip a few hours or a day at short notice. If that's the case, just explain that when you reply with your availability. People might expect more flexibility for Skype interviews but if your volunteer work prevents you from being online or in a setting where you can conduct a quiet interview then they'll understand.

If you already have plans in those five days, just provide them with the days/hours that have not yet been scheduled. Those are the moments that you're still available after all. If you're fully booked with interviews or pre-existing engagements and won't have time to prepare, just give the first possible day, whether that's four, five or ten days from now. If you are available, there's no need to build in a buffer.

Preparing for an interview shouldn't take more than a few hours at most, they won't expect you to be able to cite their entire company history or identify the C-levels by their photo. And I'm assuming this was a typo but there's also no need to "master the software the company requires" as companies hiring new graduates don't expect them to hit the ground running.

One caveat: I don't know of any companies that would consider a candidate not being available within 5-10 days to be a problem but there could be some out there who are fast-tracking applications or who have pre-planned interview days (government positions come to mind) and not being available could be a deal-breaker there. But those companies generally won't ask you to provide your availability.


Executive summary: don't worry if you're not immediately available but don't build in an unnecessarily long buffer to do unnecessary amounts of prep.

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Is a 5 day gap normal? Is it not recommended / too long of a wait?

It seems reasonable, but you could do better.

Most HR reps or recruiters want to know a specific time when you could come in for an interview, so that they can schedule it with all the interviewers.

When you are specifically asked about your availability for a job you might want, you might want to consider not always specifying 5 days automatically.

If, for example, you are available a few times over the next few days, propose a few dates and times that would work for you (and be within the hiring company's office hours).

If you aren't available until next week, pick some days and times next week that work best for you, but indicate that you are flexible if the schedule doesn't work for them (assuming you are indeed flexible).

The more specific you can be, the better.

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Is a 5-day gap normal? Is it not recommended or too long of a wait?

There is no normal. But there may be some positions where this is too long. I have seen companies move quickly. They spend X days collecting applications, then one day evaluating them, and then one week on the interviews, and then they make a decision.

Always pushing out at a minimum X days may not work for some opportunities.

Why so fast? They may be a subcontractor on a project, they are told that the first subcontractor who can get a qualified person identified gets the the position. In two recent cases we went from contacting potential applicants to putting our number one choice in front of the prime customer in 3 business days. The customer was willing to wait for the two week notice period, but they wanted to fill the position today.

Another reason for companies to want to do this quickly is that they realize that applicants are actively looking at other opportunities. The longer time between when a person applies and when they make a hiring decision the more likely it is that some applicants have found positions elsewhere. They want to reduce wasted efforts on people that endup withdrawing because they are taking too long to pick a winner.

I would like time to prepare as well so I can learn about the company, the people, and master the software the company requires.

Those are great things to do. But if you focus on applying for positions that your already know the software or tool, then the prep time will be reduced. I am not sure anybody can master software in just a few days.

So yes make sure you fit the interviews with the rest of your commitments, but always delaying a minimum of 5 days may not work for all customers.

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I don't know that it's necessarily normal to have a standard lead time on when you make yourself available for an interview, but I don't think it's necessarily wrong either.

You should schedule the interview for when you are available. I do a little bit of research on a company prior to applying anyway, but you obviously want to buff up that knowledge and do the other things you mentioned to prepare for an interview. But you should look at each situation and give yourself the time you require. If you have a particularly light week and you'll be able to prepare the next day and be ready a day later, tell them you need two days. If you've got a lot of stuff going on, tell them you are very busy and that, to properly prepare, you'll need some time. But you're not the only one who has to fit the interview into their schedule; the representatives of the company have to make time for you as well.

The company won't expect you to be able to drop everything and have an interview an hour from when they contact you, but they may be at the end of their hiring process or interview slots may be filling up. The more flexible you are the better.

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I do a lot of interviewing for my company. Most of the interviews (Skype and In-person) that show up on my calendar are at least 5 days out. There are a couple of reasons why this turns out to be the case:

  1. The interviewers at the company are not sitting idle, and may not be available until then. Good interviewers will want time to review your resume/CV, portfolio, etc. (That's a good thing - it means they take you seriously.)

  2. Candidates are also not usually sitting idle, and may need time to arrange their schedules for the interview appointment.

  3. Some companies might send you a project/test to complete and submit as part of the interviewing process.

Being a new grad looking for work, there's no reason why you need 5 days arbitrarily, but it's not a deal breaker if you do. It would be equally appropriate for you to tell your contact at the company that, being a new grad looking for your first opportunity out of school, you could be ready for an interview as soon as tomorrow.

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