Take Time Off for an Interview

Scheduling a job interview can be very tricky when you are currently employed. It can be quite stressful when you have to juggle between meeting your regular responsibilities and asking for time off for job interviews. Most employers require you to meet regular working hours and don't provide you with much flexibility. However, there are ways of dealing with this situation that will keep everyone happy - you, your current employer and the company you're interviewing with.


Asking for Time Off

  1. Determine if you need to take a full day or a half day off. You can either ask for a complete day off or simply go for a half day off. This is dependent on the time slot for which your interview is scheduled. If the potential employer leaves you no choice and asks you to interview at a fixed time, then it’s a wise move to take more time off.
  2. Pass on selective information. When asking for time off for an interview, don’t explain to your supervisor at length. The idea is to be truthful yet vague. A good manager is not going to probe you for more details if you give them an appropriate reason. You may say:
    • "I need time off from work this coming Tuesday from 2 pm onwards. There is a personal matter that I have to take care of. I tried arranging it outside of work hours but that’s not feasible. Could you please allow me time off?"
    • Remember that carrying out a job hunt is not wrong in any case. You are entitled to keep it private and if you successfully land on the new job, your boss will ultimately know the reason behind these off days.
  3. Calculate your paid time off. Before you put in any request to take time off for your interview, check how much paid time off you have. You can easily check this through the company’s information system or ask the relevant person in human resources to confirm it for you.
    • Once you have these details, you can request to take one of your paid holidays and then see if you can schedule your interview for this specific day.
  4. Check out your company’s flexible working hours. Similarly to calculating your paid time off, you should check your company’s flexible hours policy. If this exists, you can put in a request to your boss for a temporary schedule modification.
    • For example, instead of working your normal 9 to 5 hours, you could ask your boss if you could work 11 to 7 on a given day instead. Then you can schedule your interview for 9 am, but still get a full days work in.
  5. Request vacation time. In case the interview times requested by the hiring manager cannot be arranged for before or after work, consider taking a day off from work.
    • You can submit a request for vacation time to attend one interview or multiple interviews if possible.
    • If the company’s policy allows for personal days, you can request these irrespective of the purpose.
  6. Examine outplacement assistance. There are many companies who offer outplacement assistance for employees who get laid off as a result of project or business closure. If you happen to fall into this category, examine the terms of this placement opportunity.
    • If your company is offering such assistance, you can openly inform your manager and human resource department that you have an interview scheduled.
    • This is perhaps the only case where you can be candid about your job search and hence schedule interviews at any time

Working with Your Potential Employer to Change the Interview Time

  1. Negotiate your interview time slot. The most workable method is to negotiate for a fair time slot that suits both of you.
    • Instead of simply accepting the time you're given, you can talk to the potential employer and ask to schedule your interview earlier or later in the day. Explain that your existing work responsibilities do not allow you to take time off during the work day.
    • Your potential employer should understand your situation and make an effort to arrange an appropriate time slot for you.
  2. Discuss the difficulties of getting time off. Depending upon the information you receive in regard to paid time off and flexible hours; ask for a specific time slot from your potential employer.
    • If your time off policies don’t allow you to appear in an interview during working hours, seek an alternate time arrangement for the interview from the potential employer.
    • Don't just take the time off without asking. It’s not a good idea to assume that your absence will not be noticed and you can simply disappear during the work day and then appear later on once your interview is done.
  3. Share your concern with your recruiter. Share your concern with your recruiter or hiring manager and they should help you find a way to interview at a time that works for everyone. They will definitely appreciate your sense of loyalty and commitment towards your existing job, so this should leave a good impression on them.
  4. Consider scheduling the interview during lunch hours. If the company about to interview you is in close proximity to your existing office, you could consider scheduling an interview during lunch hours. This is most suitable if you get a one hour lunch break.
    • Although a lunchtime interview may sound appealing, interviews often extend beyond the prescribed time and you cannot leave halfway through.
    • If it's very important that you be back at work at an exact time, such time limits may become nerve wracking.


  • Don’t use a lie that involves your family members. It’s not good to involve your family members because in this time of hyper connectivity, people tend to find about you and your family one way or the other and you could get caught out in a lie, which will reflect badly on you.
  • The further you get into the interviewing process, the more time your interview will demand. Therefore it might be best to take a complete day off from work rather than juggling yourself between different time slots.
  • Be vague and selective in your communication with your existing employer. Most of the time there is no need to give details.