I need to take a couple of days off for a job interview I need to fly to get there. What should I say at the "reason" part that won't make it too suspicious?

  • 9
    What you used to put when applying for leave?
    – smali
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 5:42
  • 121
    You need to give a reason for days off?
    – komodosp
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 8:57
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    @colmde: these might be days off without pay, and not vacations. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 10:27
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    "I have an appointment" worked for me. It's honest, and no one asks for further details for fear it could be medical, and thus private. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 14:47
  • 6
    "None of your business. Literally."
    – njzk2
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 15:17

3 Answers 3


This is precisely the reason you should never give any more details than absolutely necessary when asking for time off. Just say "personal time" for every request you make, and then you don't need to lie in this scenario, because you just put "personal time" again.

  • 149
    Strongly agree. You annual leave is your personal time, none of the employer's business.
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 1:11
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    I wouldn't recommend "yes, thank you". It sets you on a slippery slope where perhaps someone inquires for further details, and if you play it badly, you end up contradicting yourself. Better say: "It was okay, just some family (or personal) business I had to take care of." Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 9:19
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    @antipattern Often saying you had fun or enjoyed yourself is no more of a setup than implying you didn't. By implying it was okay, or you didn't enjoy your time off, leads to questions of "oh, is everything okay?" and just generally more questions. It's like when someone asks "how are you?", if you respond with something beyond "Good, how are you?" you're inviting more questions about why it was not good.
    – JMac
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 12:15
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    True, but then you can brush any further questions with "It's a personal thing I'd rather keep private.". At least here, I would get some weird looks if I said that after telling people I just went out for holidays. Might be a personal preference though. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 12:19
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    Reminds me of how I had to respond to people when I took a trip out to my grandfather's burial. I'd get, "did you have fun" or "did you have a good time" comments and I just ended up having to reply, "yes." Because the trip was worthwhile even though it wasn't for pleasure. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 13:18

The same advice as for every situation in life:

  • Don't lie.
  • Don't give away facts you don't want to give away.
  • Use "I" liberally, but never "you".

This leaves you with the reason "taking care of personal/private matters".

Do not say "family matters". Looking for a new job is a personal matter, and "personal matter" is open enough to include almost everything else you could possibly do. "Family matters" would be a lie.

If someone keeps nagging, stick with it but not so that it gets aggressive or defensive. "Which personal matters?" - "Well, personal ones!". If they do not get the point after that flippant answer, your next escalation would be "I really do wish to keep this private." Be friendly while delivering that line. Do not say something like "I do not want to tell you" (whenever you use the "you" word you open yourself up for attack, or sound overly defensive - invoking the impression that you have something to hide).

For me, it would be inconceivable that someone keeps nagging after that. You can repeat the last line ad nauseam if they do (well, obviously not..., but you get the gist). If they keep asking then there is something else going on and you are beyond the scope of a cookie cutter answer like this; you'll have to find out how to weasel out of it yourself. But what you said before does not put you in any attackable position.

  • 25
    First point is a great advice: even the smallest, childish, innocent and useless lie can bite you back ages from now. Just don't tell.
    – Paolo
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 13:52
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    @Paolo especially if you do not remember it, truth tends to stay longer in memory :)
    – PTwr
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 14:37
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    If someone keeps asking "which personal matters?", a better response is "why do you ask?" In other words, make them explain why you need to respond to their nosiness: put it back on them. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 15:31
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    @thursdaysgeek, it may just backfire, and in any case it prolongs the discussion (which the OP wants to cut as short as possible). I pondered whether to add your line to the answer, but will leave it as is.
    – AnoE
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 15:58
  • 1
    Personally, I use non-sequiturs to shut down these discussions. "What kind of personal leave?" "Thanks for asking." It's surprisingly easy to get away without actually providing an answer to the question. Just watch politicians in action :) Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 5:04

It may depend on the laws in your country. In germany the boss can simply deny you days off for a specific time period for a good reason. On the other hand he must give you days off if you need them for a job interview (even if you have used all vacation days for this year). In this case things get tricky and the only way seems to be telling him the real reason.

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