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How to get out of work when you have a job interview

By Amanda Augustine

Should you lie to your current boss when you’re interviewing for a new job?
Q: How do I get out of work for a job interview? What should I tell my current boss?
I just got an interview with a company I really like and I’m chuffed! But now I don’t know what to tell my boss. What should I do? – Jade H.

While it would be wonderful if everyone felt comfortable confiding in their boss about their job search, the reality is that few employees have that type of relationship with their manager. So, before you decide whether to tell your employer about your job search, consider what happened to the last colleague at your organisation who was caught job searching. Every company handles these situations differently, so you’ll need to give it some careful consideration.

You don’t want to jeopardise your current position before you’ve landed a new one, and you certainly are not obligated to tell your manager that you have an interview.

I recently spoke to Metro’s Laura Abernethy about these situations and whether you should take a risk and lie about why you need time off or be honest. You can read the full article here.

Should you decide to keep your job search confidential, here are six ways to keep your interview activities off your employer’s radar.

Do what you can to avoid needing to take time off for interviews
When the recruiter calls to schedule an interview, there’s no harm in asking whether the meeting can be held outside your working hours. After all, they should know that you are currently employed based on your CV and LinkedIn profile. While they may not be able to accommodate such a request, they should respect your commitment to your current employer.

Utilise your lunch break
If you’re unable to schedule the interview for a time when you’re off work, then try to arrange it to coincide with your typical lunch break. It doesn’t hurt to tell your manager that you’re meeting a friend for lunch. That way, if the interview runs over time, your boss may be more understanding when you arrive back at work later than usual.

Explore virtual options
If the distance between the prospective employer’s office and your current organisation makes it impossible to attend a mid-day, in-person interview, find out if the recruiter is open to conducting a virtual interview instead. Thanks to all the advances in technology, it is fairly easy to participate in a video interview using your laptop or smart device. All you need to do is pop out of the office and find a quiet place to talk. This option becomes all the better if you have the ability to work remotely on occasion.

Keep your request simple
If you need to request some time off work, don’t feel obligated to go into much detail. Simply state that you have an appointment. If your employer presses you for more information, then you may have to make up an excuse and say that you are seeing a dentist or doctor.

Take a day’s holiday
If the interview must take place during regular work hours and you have advanced notice of the meeting, then your best option is to take a day’s holiday. Not only will this allow you the proper time to prepare for the interview, but you can also take advantage of the rest of the day to focus on other job-search activities, such as submitting additional job applications, contacting recruiters and reaching out to other people in your network who could help advance your search.

Only pull a sickie as a last resort
Don’t pull a sickie unless you absolutely have to. Lying about why you need time off work can be quite risky. Bear in mind that most job offers aren’t extended after only one interview. While this lie might work for your first interview, you can’t continue to get ‘sick’ throughout the course of your job search. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie and jeopardise your current job before you’ve landed a new one.

Remember that you are entitled to search for a new job, just as your employer is entitled to sack you if they believe you’re no longer needed. You shouldn’t feel guilty about exploring other options for your career.

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