It can be hard to juggle job interviews when you’re working. Some employers may bring a candidate in for multiple rounds of interviews or conduct a series of lengthy interviews in a single day. There are a wide variety of formats for the interview process before reaching the final interview.
If you are going on lots of interviews, that can add up to a lot of time that you’ll need to take off from work—without the guarantee of having a new job to go to. In some cases, the first round or two are phone interviews which can make it easier to manage. In others, it’s more complicated.
It’s important to carefully manage the time you take to interview, so you don’t jeopardize the job you have. Here are tips for scheduling job interviews when you’re employed.
Options for Scheduling Interviews
Most prospective employers will understand your desire to keep your search confidential in the early stages, and they'll appreciate your dedication to your current job. So, it’s appropriate to ask about interview times when talking to recruiters and hiring managers.
What to Say
What's the best way to discuss your availability for interviews? You should begin your conversation about an interview by expressing your excitement about being selected. However, it is acceptable to explore options for interviewing which will not interfere with your current job or raise any suspicions on the part of your employer.
Inquire about early morning, late in the day, evening, or even weekend options, especially for initial or exploratory meetings with a limited number of representatives from your target employer. Phone, video, FaceTime, or Skype may be a possibility, depending on the job and the employer. Also, be sure to confirm your interview in advance.
Use Time Off or Shift Your Schedule
Another possibility is to save some vacation or other paid time off for your interviews. If you can schedule your interviews at the start or the end of the workday, or around your lunch hour, you won’t need to take the entire day off.
If you can shift your schedule, even by an hour or two, you could come in early or stay later to accommodate the time you need to interview. In some instances, unknown circumstances could come up and force you to reschedule your interview. Don't worry, your prospective employer should view your dedication to your current job as a strength and rescheduling shouldn't be too difficult.
Be Cognizant of Workflow
Whenever possible, try to arrange interview times on days you will be missed the least. Prepare for your absence by getting work done in advance, if feasible. Your absence will be tolerated more easily if your work is getting done.
Remember that at some point you will probably need a favorable reference from your current employer. Since a job search can take several months, you don't want to be viewed as a slacker during this time. Work some evenings or weekends, if necessary, to maintain your image as a strong contributor.
You don't have to accept every interview you're offered, especially if you're getting a lot of interest from prospective employers. If you're an in-demand candidate, it's appropriate to ask some questions before the interview to determine if the job is a good fit and if it's worth your time (and the hiring manager's time) to pursue the opportunity.
It's fine to decline a job interview if, after further consideration, you've decided this isn't the best job for you. It's more polite to cancel than to keep the process going when you know it's a position that you don't want. Plus, canceling will free up some time to interview for the jobs that you know you would love to get hired for.
Be Sure to Keep it Confidential
If you are concerned about maintaining secrecy, resist the temptation to share your interviewing news with colleagues, even those whom you trust the most. Making an excuse to cover your absence like a visit to a relative, caring for a parent, an appointment, or a trip to the beach might help deflect the curiosity of co-workers. Word gets around very quickly in the workplace. It's a good idea to keep your job search to yourself until you have a firm job offer in place, and you're ready to turn in your resignation.