How do you get time off for an interview?

If you’re currently in a full time role but you want to jump ship, it can often be difficult to come up with a reason to attend a job interview. Obviously you don’t want to make your boss mad by telling them you are looking for other work, and jeopardising your current position is not the right move.

Looking for a new job whilst juggling your old one is a tricky situation to be in. You don’t want to quit your current job and lose out on wages for a few weeks until you get a new position. But trying to get out of work to attend job interviews is a hard one to explain if you don’t want your boss to know.

Here are 6 great tips on how to get out of work to attend a job interview:

Extend your lunch break 

Depending on how far away the interview is, you may be able to get an extended dinner break so you can sneak it in. Be careful not to be late for the interview though, and only consider this option if you are certain that your lunch break will be at the right time.

Calculate the journey to the second so you are not late for the interview, or late back to work. If you have to give a reason for wanting an extra hour or two for your break, you could say that you have to be home to let the plumber in to fix your toilet. A white lie would be fine, as long as you get your story straight and remember the reason you gave for later.

Make up a story 

Telling a white lie to get away from the office could work if you stick to your story. Having to rush home to let the plumber or the electrician in, a family emergency, or any other reason should help you to get out of the office without raising any suspicion.

However, we would always recommend trying to stick to a story that’s believable and one which you can easily remember. You don’t want your white lie to come back and bite you on the bum, so plan out what you are going to say before you ask for the time off.

A co-worker or your manager may ask you how it went when you get back (‘did the toilet get fixed?’). If you forget the reason you gave for wanting to leave the office for a few hours, you are going to give the game away.

Preparing for a job interview is crucial if you want to have confidence in answering the questions. If you want to know more about how to get ready for a job interview, here’s a great article called – How to prepare for a job interview.

Work from home 

Obviously this option may not be available to everyone. But if you do occasionally work from home or feel that your boss would allow it for a couple of times, then this could be a good option to consider.

Remember that your boss may know your schedule to the minute, and recognise when you haven’t done as much work as you usually would. This means that you need to catch up on the work you’ve missed later in the evening to avoid any issues.

Working from home has other advantages when it comes to attending job interviews. You can also communicate freely without anyone listening in. Emailing an employer or making phone calls to arrange interviews is much easier, and will make your more accessible when waiting for callbacks.

“The larger trends over the last five to ten years all show remote work, on the whole, increasing. We partnered with Global Workplace Analytics this year to produce a report on the state of telecommuting in 2017, which shows that telecommuting by employees has grown by 115% in 10 years. In 2016, 43% of U.S. workers worked remotely at least occasionally, up from 9% in 2007.”

~Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of Flexjobs.

Arrange the interview for out of working hours 

If it’s just not possible to attend an interview during your working hours, you will have to try and arrange it outside. Although this may seem like you’re making things difficult for the employer, you are actually demonstrating your commitment to your current job.

If you are currently in the middle of a large project or have a deadline fast approaching, consider explaining this in brief detail to the employer to further show your current commitment and work ethic. You are obviously a valued member of the team, and taking time off would clearly have a negative impact.

When it comes to attending an interview outside of your working hours, this could be tricky to negotiate with the employer as they may also work similar hours. If this becomes an issue for attending any future interviews, you could consider this next tip…

Use holidays 

Using your holiday allowance is probably the best way to attend a job interview. You don’t have to give a reason for your absence, although you should bear in mind that a co-worker may ask you if you’re doing anything – going on holiday for example. So if it’s just for a day or two you could probably just say you are relaxing at home, hitting the gym, or playing a few rounds of golf.

The only downside to using your holiday is if you have more than one job interview to attend and they are staggered throughout the week or month. Most people take holidays in weekly or fortnightly blocks to go away to Spain and drink cocktails. So it’s possible this could raise suspicion.

There’s also the notice you may have to give when you request a holiday, and if you have to attend an interview quite quickly, you could be struggling to get it approved in time. Knowing the flexibility of your holidays is going to help you decide if this is the best option.

Tell your boss – be honest 

Usually this is not the best approach if you can avoid it. But depending on the role, you may be better off letting your boss know you have an interview you’d like to attend.

If you have always been open and honest from the start about your career goals, then your boss will likely not be surprised that you are looking elsewhere. A good example of this is an entry level retail position. The company will expect a high turnover in staff, and regularly hire school leavers or young people.

Working in a coffee shop or clothes store is likely to be a stop gap for younger employees, and if you have a friendly relationship with your boss then it could work in your favour to be honest about your plans for the future.

“After working together for six-plus years, my team lead/assistant/angel told me she wanted to change careers and work as a skin care therapist. I was disappointed to know she was shopping her resume around, but was happy to support her growth and shared some of my contacts with her. To this day, we still keep in touch and are very close. She even freelances for my company when she is available for events.”

~ Shakira Johnson, President of Johnson PR & Events.

More job interview help:

2 thoughts on “How do you get time off for an interview?”

    • Understandable Sara, there will only be a VERY limited range of circumstances where telling your boss would be the best option.


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