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I recently applied for a position somewhere I would really like to work. They have offered me an interview, but I am on holiday on the interview date.

I will be camping in the same country, about a 3 hour drive away and would prefer not to interrupt it with a 6 hour round trip. The interview date was in the job advert.

What should my approach here be? My thoughts are:

  • I say I am unavailable and ask if it would be possible to change the date. Comes across as inflexible, I think this is a bad idea, but maybe there's no harm in asking?

  • I just go anyway. This means getting up early and traveling a lot - I'm unlikely to perform my best in an interview like this (I find travelling quite stressful)

  • Ask if they can find an alternative date for the interview, but indicate that I'm willing to break up my holiday to do it if necessary. My gut feeling is that this is the right approach and could even paint me in a more favorable light, but I'm not sure. It could reflect badly on me since the interview date was listed in the job advert.

I've never worked in recruitment and don't have a very clear idea of how each of these would be viewed by a recruiter. Any advice or other suggestions would be welcome.

marked as duplicate by Draken, JasonJ, gnat, Joe, Mister Positive May 16 '17 at 22:10

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Why not go the night before, have a nice evening in the town, stay in a nice enough hotel (if you don't live there I suppose, but even then), get a nice breakfast, go ace the interview and then go back camping? :) If I really wanted to work somewhere, that would seem like a worthwhile change of holiday plans. – Dan Mašek May 16 '17 at 19:48
  • This is all about priorities. Do you want go camping or a new job? You can take your chance and re-schedule or bust your chance, what is more relevant to you? I'd reschedule my vacations, even when they can wait for me to be back, I would prefer to put the position in my pocket first – user49901 May 16 '17 at 22:49
  • @monchitos82 Rescheduling the holiday isn't an option - the camping is as part of a small festival I help organise. – Guy G May 17 '17 at 7:42
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    @GuyG That's important information. This isn't just a leisure trip, this is an out-of-town event that you are partly responsible for running. – David K May 17 '17 at 12:52
  • @David K - I didn't mention it since my organisational role is pretty much done with, it's more that it can't be rescheduled. – Guy G May 17 '17 at 18:06
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Either your first or last option is fine. These things happen, and any reasonable recruiter or HR person will understand. If you go with the first option, you can avoid looking inflexible by explaining that this trip was scheduled before you started job hunting.

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    I think it's also worth saying that you are "out of town" rather than just "unavailable". Trips are usually much more difficult to reschedule than day-to-day appointments, so I would think they will be more understanding of your inability to attend. – David K May 16 '17 at 17:07
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    Usually. But, seeing as "the interview date was in the job advert", if I were the interviewer it would immediately be a red flag to me that the OP didn't raise this issue up-front. Unless their materials provided heretofore were extremely impressive, I'd not be going out of my way to accommodate. – Lightness Races with Monica May 16 '17 at 19:16
  • @BoundaryImposition I would be more worried about an interviewer seeing up front that I can't attend the interview and throwing out my resume before they even read it. I would rather wait until I know they are interested in me so that there's at least a chance they'll make accommodations. – David K May 17 '17 at 12:22
  • @DavidK: Why not apply for jobs where you can attend the interview? Instead of expecting people to make accommodations for you right from T=0? – Lightness Races with Monica May 17 '17 at 12:26
  • @BoundaryImposition Why not apply to every job I want to get? There's a difference between expecting people to accommodate you and hoping they will. I'm not going to get mad and complain if they say they can't change their schedule, but if I don't apply at all, there's 0% chance I will get the job. If I do apply, even when there are obstacles, there is at least some chance I will. – David K May 17 '17 at 12:32
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Frankly, if you really want that position, you want to make it easy for them to hire you.

I guess you could ask for an alternative date, and probably they are nice enough to accommodate you - but if you really want that position, I would make the whole process as smooth and easy for them as you possibly can; no hiccups, ifs and buts.

In the concrete case, this means accepting their date and going. And if you are worried about performance, go an evening earlier, and stay there overnight. But only you know your priorities, so YMMV.

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Employers are usually looking to find whichever candidate they feel best suits their needs; it is reasonably common for interviewers to be flexible with their dates up to a point.

If they have already offered you the interview, then that means they're already interested in meeting you; asking for flexibility with the dates doesn't affect your potential suitability as a candidate. Of course, they may also have some perfectly valid reasons to decline as well.

For example:

  • If the employer is interviewing other candidates who they might realistically expect to make an offer to, then they will be aware that the "best" candidates might also take other job offers. Of course this isn't a problem if you are able to get an earlier interview, but if you get a later interview then you may put yourself at a disadvantage.

  • They might already be at the end of a very long interview period, in which case they may be committed to a decision date for all their other candidates.

  • They may have some other internal reason which prevents them being flexible - e.g. maybe the interviewer(s) are only available within a very narrow window of opportunity (remember they might have holidays or other commitments too.)

If they ask the reason, be honest. Having a pre-booked holiday is irrelevant as far as your suitability for the job is concerned. On the other hand, being cagey and/or secretive over something that they will perceive as a rather trivial matter simply looks unprofessional.

Remember that you are the one asking for flexibility from them; you don't need to immediately offer to interrupt your holiday. If you really do want the job however, you are going to need to decide whether you are willing to interrupt your holiday just in case they decline.

If they decline to be flexible and you are willing to interrupt your holiday then stay professional and don't make a big deal of it - you do not need to rattle out a long story about all the details of how disruptive it will be or how long it will take you to travel. Simply tell them that you understand they're not able to change the dates and this isn't a problem; you will be attending the interview at the previously arranged time, and you look forward to meeting them. That's all you really need to say in the conversation; anything extra is unnecessary (unless they ask out of politeness or curiousity of course).

If they do ask how disruptive it will be to your holiday; again, be honest but also don't dramatise it or make a big deal out of it. Your mindset at this point should be that you've already decided that you are really keen on the job and you are perfectly OK with the interruption.

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It's relatively rare for interview dates to be listed in job adverts, and it suggests they may have something specific planned for that day that they can't easily repeat on another date. For example someone from out of town doing the interviews, or some kind of assessment centre.

So I would go for your third option - ask, but phrase it hopefully rather than expectantly.

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