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I would be graduating in December 2017 and have been interviewing with a couple of companies recently. I previously planned to graduate in August but due to some personal reasons I decided to graduate in December.

In one of my interviews, after couple of rounds, the recruiter asked me when I could start and if I could start at an early date? I told December 2017. I haven't heard back. Both my interview rounds went pretty well. Next rounds would be onsite rounds.

It's been a day. The recruiter typically replies immediately. Did I do the correct thing telling in advance my start date or should I have faked it until I had an actual job offer?

I am not sure about the recruiter but the person who interviewed me for the first round knew that I can join from Dec 2017 and NOT before. I just want to be sure for any other situation I might face in future.

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It's been a day. The recruiter typically replies immediately.

I would suggest waiting longer, maybe a week. The recruiter may typically reply immediately to typical queries, but this situation is a little less typical. The recruiter most certainly needs to talk to other people in the company about your "delayed" joining date, before he/she can decide how to deal with it.

It is also possible that the recruiter hasn't had the time to look into the matter, due to being on unplanned leave or other higher priority work, etc.

Did I do the correct thing telling in advance my start date?

I would say you did the correct thing, by communicating upfront about your delayed joining date. This is an important factor that would influence the hiring decision. Hiding it from them to tilt the odds in your favour would be unprofessional.

should I have faked it until I had an actual job offer?

No, you should never intentionally hide information that the recruiter would use to make a hiring decision. It only serves to ruin your reputation with the company, which is not an ideal start to your job. Disclosing your true joining date after receiving the offer means that they need to go through the paperwork again (along with all the process that precedes it), and they also need to revisit their project planning to see if/how they can accommodate your delayed joining date.

A good rule of thumb (or toe?) which usually works is to put the boot on the other foot. Suppose you accept the job offer and sign the agreement, and then they disclose that they have to delay your joining date by 4 months, you wouldn't be too happy with it, would you?

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