The challenges of scheduling an interview

If you have a full-time job and are job hunting, one of the biggest challenges you are going to face is trying to find a time to interview that works for you and the employer.

What makes it difficult for jobseekers who are working, is that the employer often expects them to be able to take time off work for what could be a series of interviews over several days.

You would think that when they target employed workers, they would accommodate their schedules but sadly, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Unless you have the kind of job where you have flexibility to attend meetings at the drop of a hat, the interview process could be a big hurdle for you to the point where you might have to decline some of them.

You need a good interview strategy

If you can’t come up with some kind of interview strategy, then you are significantly reducing your job search success.

The more flexible you can be, the more you will boost your chances of landing your next job sooner than later. But being more flexible might pose a risk for you. How much risk are you willing to take to interview for a job that you might never get?

The answer might come back to the real reason you are looking for another job. The more compelling the reason, the more risk you should be willing to take to make those interviews happen.

For instance, if you’re just “looking to see what’s out there” and “might consider something if it’s the right opportunity” you my friend, are not ready to make a move because making a move will involve some risk that probably won’t be worth it.

However, if you are dying to leave your job for all the right reasons (beyond money), then this is where you need to decide how much risk you are willing to assume to move forward through the job search process.

So, here are your options.

Quit your current job

Yes, you read that correctly.

I know it might seem extreme, but it could be a great option depending on your personal situation.

I know candidates who quit their jobs and devoted all their time to the job search which got them better results, faster.  It was the only way they could make themselves available to interview.

Now, this worked for them because they had addressed the financial situation. Obviously you are NOT going to quit your job if it’s going to put you at financial risk.

The question you have to ask yourself is “How can I quit my job to find another AND still pay my bills?”

According to some experts, it can take about one month for every $10,000 you are looking to earn. So, if you are seeking $60K, it could take 6 months. Therefore, you would need to find a way to cover your living expenses for at least 6 months.

For instance, if you have a considerable amount of savings you can tap into without depleting it entirely, quitting your job might be an option. Once you land your job, you could then pay yourself back over time.

Or, if you are in a two-income household and your spouse earns enough money to cover off most or all of the living expenses, that might be a safer option.

The biggest risk with quitting your job is that you have no way of knowing how long it will take you to find your next position. It could be less than 6 months, or it could be much longer. 

Even if you are able to land something pretty quickly, there’s always a risk (although small) that it won’t work out and you’re back to square one.

Request interviews during “off hours”

I know it seems obvious to ask for interview times that work with your schedule, but a lot of people don’t do it. They feel awkward about asking and are afraid that the employer won’t accommodate them.

If you don’t ask, you won’t get, so you might as well ask.

If the employer doesn’t meet your request you have to ask yourself if you really want to work for someone who can’t be flexible knowing full well that when you take time off work, it poses a risk for you.

All you can do is be clear that you are working full-time during the week and are only available early in the morning or after work or on weekends and hope for the best.

Some recruiters and HR consultants will accommodate candidates who are working full-time but if they are not willing to do this, you might have no choice but to take yourself out of the running. That is the risk you run.

If you can negotiate an early morning or late afternoon appointment, you’ll have to give your employer a valid reason why you are arriving to work  later or leaving early, but this would be easier to explain and better than taking off an entire day.

Take a personal or vacation day

You could choose to take a personal or vacation day to interview. The risk here is that there is a good chance the interview will not go anywhere, especially if it’s the first one.

Whether you “wasted” this time is up to you.

You could look at each meeting as an opportunity to learn how to interview better so, if it doesn’t transpire into a job, you still got something out of it. Besides, the employer could contact you in the future about another job entirely which you would not have been considered for had you not met with them the first time.

If you’re going to take a personal or vacation day, it would be best to schedule as many interviews as you can that same day which will increase your chances of moving forward with at least one of them.

Create a more flexible work schedule

Before you start your job search, you could try to create more flexibility in your work schedule so that when you are not at work (because you are interviewing) it won’t look suspicious.

For instance, you could request to work from home one or more days a week and use some of those times to meet with a potential employer.

Or, maybe you could take some long “lunch breaks” outside of the office or “run some errands” and use those times to interview.

If you have a job that requires you to be out of the office for meetings, you could use some of that time to interview and it won’t sound any alarm bells.

Come up with good excuses

When all else fails, you might have to resort to fabricating stories about why you need to take time off work, especially if you have used up all your personal and vacation days.

This can get awkward and you could get caught in a lie, so you need to be very careful as to how much and what kind of information you share with your employer.

You could say you need to “deal with a family matter” or “have to deal with a sudden and unexpected emergency at home”.  I mean, emergencies do happen that would require you to leave.

Request to meet remotely

If you can’t take time off to go somewhere to interview, you could request a phone or video interview.

Many companies will conduct a meeting remotely for the first screening and some might be willing to do this for additional interviews although at some point, you will undoubtedly have to meet with the employer in person.

You could schedule a remote meeting during your break and do it in your car or another place where it’s quiet and you won’t be disturbed.

I’ve had clients who have done phone/video interviews in a meeting room or their office at their current place of employment. It’s not recommended, but if you are confident that there is no way you will be found out, it is an option.

While phone meetings are okay, asking for a video meeting can work in your favour by showing the employer that you are comfortable with technology which is what most companies are looking for in a candidate.

Demonstrating you know your way around Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or another platform is particularly important if you are an “older” worker because one of the top myths is that older workers are afraid of technology.

Be selective

Just because you are granted an interview doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

If you have a full-time job, you need to be selective and only take time off work if the opportunity is something you are genuinely excited about and something you have a good shot at.

Think of it this way – declining something that you’re not sure about means that you are freeing yourself up for a better opportunity, so you haven’t lost anything.

Plan your attack

The best strategy is to plan and prepare what your interview strategy is going to be BEFORE you start applying to jobs.

You can’t just wing it and hope for the best. You really need to think about the different scenarios and how you will address them.

Mom’s the word

Keep your job search confidential and don’t tell anyone at work – this kind of news can spread quickly throughout the office and wreck havoc.

The only people who should know about your search is your immediate family. Only after you have accepted a firm job offer and have resigned should you let co-workers know of your departure.

I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you with your job search and career marketing documents.  One wrong move can get you disqualified from the running. Feel free to contact me here.

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Hi! I’m Diana.

I draw from over 15 years recruitment, career/job search coaching, and sales/marketing experience to help all kinds of jobseekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired for their dream job.

Need help? That’s what I’m here for!

Are you in the midst of a job search and not getting the results you want? Or, are you employed and not actively looking but want to “get ready” in case your situation changes and you need to launch a job search?

Don’t get caught in the endless cycle of applying to jobs, hearing little to nothing, and becoming more frustrated.

I offer both “Done-For-You” and “DIY” options to help you overcome the obstacles and get you on the right track to accelerate your job landing success. You choose the level of service you feel you need that fits your budget.

Maybe all you need is a quick résumé critique. If your search is complicated, a more comprehensive package might be the solution. Or, it could be something in between. You’ve got options!

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