Working but have an interview? What’s the best excuse to give?

by | 06.10.22

When you are looking for a new job and you don’t want to make your current boss suspicious – what do you do? Doctor appointments are going to sound fishy after a while. But you will have to come up with some really good excuses as to why you need time off and you are all dressed up. Here are some tips that may help you:

See if you can get an early/late interview

It is worth explaining to a prospective employer that it is very difficult to get time off work and ask if it is possible to have an interview outside of working hours – you never know… If the employer can’t do outside normal working hours ask for the earliest appointment available. You will have to explain your absence to your boss but a good thing to say is you have an appointment and will be in late but will work through your lunch break to make the hours up.

Take a day’s holiday

If you are planning to leave your current role you may as well use up your holiday entitlement before you go. If you have the day off you will be able to attend the interview calmly and will not worry if the interview takes longer than scheduled. In order to do this though you will need have at least 3-4 days notice of the interview so that you can book the time off without alerting your boss to the fact that you may be looking for a new job.

Ask for a flexi day

Explain to your boss that you have a personal issue that you need to attend to (its not a lie) and can you start early and finish early on the day of the interview. If you put in the same hours there shouldn’t be a problem. In order for this to work you need to arrange the latest time possible for the interview but it’s a good way of getting the time off you need.

Ask the employer for a telephone or Skype interview

Rather than trying to sneak out of work why not ask the prospective employer if for the first interview this can be conducted either over the telephone or by Skype. That way it can be completed during your lunch time. This is more and more normal now anyway. Since Covid employers prefer an online or telephone interview in the first instance so making this request would not seem odd and most employers will understand your request.

Lay the groundworks

If you are attending interviews before or after work it could be obvious to your current employer if you go into work suited and booted. It’s a good idea to randomly dress up more than usual on days you don’t have an interview then your boss won’t be suspicious on the day you are actually going for a new job. At the end of the day you definitely don’t want your current boss to know you are looking around until you actually hand in your notice.

Try to build flexible working into your normal day

Everyone nowadays has the right to ask for flexible working hours, you won’t necessarily get them but you can ask, if your boss agrees this gives you the flexibility to go for interviews when you want providing you make the hours up. Make an appointment with your boss and explain that you need a better life balance and would like to have more time for yourself. You never know this may well suit your boss particularly if you are prepared to start early or work late.

Ask for time off but be vague

You don’t have to give a specific excuse if you ask to leave early – be vague, say you have an appointment but don’t say what the appointment is for, if pushed say it is a personal matter – this is not a lie. Doing this may act as a warning to your boss so it’s a risky strategy but if there is no other choice it’s a route you may have to go. If asked what the personal matter is just say you would rather not discuss it.

Book a long weekend

Again use your accrued holiday but this time plan it, book two long weekends, two weeks apart, on the two days you have off try to arrange as many interviews as possible, you should be able to attend three interviews in a day if they are all in the same area. This is fool proof if you can get the interviews as it allows you time to be prepared and not feel harassed at all. Hopefully after one of these long weekends you will be able to go into work and hand in your notice.

Call in sick

This is the last resort but if you can get an early morning interview you could call into work and say you have been sick at home and you will be in work later. When you do get to work don’t look too well and complain a bit about your stomach. No-one is going to question this if you don’t do it too often, you’ll probably get away with it once, trying it twice could ring huge warning bells so be careful.

Tell a fib

Doctor, dentist, hospital appointments are common excuses given if you are going to fib. We don’t endorse fibbing but if you really can’t get time off any other way it may be a route you will have to go – just remember fibs have a nasty way of being found out so be careful. Only do this if you have tried every other method possible to get time off and if the job you are going for is simply too good to miss. Fibbing is not nice and no-one likes to be fibbed to.

We hope that this helps you, it is never easy looking for a new job when you are employed, but it is possible if you do it right. Just remember to be fair to your current employer, at the end of the day you don’t want to fall out with them because you want them to provide your new employer with a glowing reference.


Good Luck!

Angela Burton