You got the job interview … but it's during your work hours. Here's how to make it work!

You're ready for a change. You've scoured the job sites and found a number of intriguing opportunities. All good, right? Then you score a phone interview. Next, they want to talk to you in person next Wednesday at 3 p.m. You've done your research and you have insightful questions to ask during the interview. You even have a killer outfit that's stylish and professional. Great, right?

Yet, here's the problem. You already have a job, and you're expected to be there and working at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Now what? How are you going to come up with an excuse to leave work early for an interview? The last thing you want is to lose your current position before you've locked down a new one. So why not just call in sick?

Amanda Augustine, TopResume's career expert, told Metro news that job seekers should only call in sick as a last resort: “Lying about why you need time off work can be extremely 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.”

So if you can't call in sick, what should you do? Here are a few tips to help that don't involve creating unbelievable excuses to get out of work for an interview.

So if you can't call in sick, what should you do? Here are a few tips to help that don't involve creating unbelievable excuses to get out of work for a job interview.

1.) Try to schedule a better time

Before you try to get out of work using the side door to get to a midday interview, consider asking your prospective new employer to reschedule the talk during non-work hours.

“Do what you can to avoid needing to take time off,” said Augustine in Metro. “When your prospective employer calls to schedule the interview, there's no harm in asking if the meeting can be held outside of your working hours.”

Chances are they've had this request before. They may even respect you a little more for being so considerate to your current employer. If they get upset by this simple request, what does that say about them as an employer? You may want to reconsider.

2.) Work your flexible schedule

If your current role is OK with flexing some hours, that can be a great solution to your problem. If you can, take a morning or afternoon off to make it to your interview and then make up the hours in the evening or on the weekend. You get your interview, and you get your work done. It's an easy win-win.

3.) Burn a PTO day

Yes, PTO (paid time off or personal time off) days are precious. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most American workers only have 10–14 PTO days to burn after one year of work. But, consider the pros and cons here. If you really want this new job, you won't need all of those PTO days anyway. Here are a few more things to think about:

  • Do you have any PTO days to use? What are the odds you'll still be there in 3 months and need them?

  • Do you have enough lead time to put in the request? If not, you may want to try another option. If you need to try to push through a fast PTO request, try saying “Something's come up suddenly.” Don't offer any more information than you need to — don't lie, even a little white lie.

  • Is it bad timing? You don't want to leave your co-workers in a lurch if you're in the middle of a big project.

  • How good is the prospective job? Is it worth burning a PTO day?

It may not be what you want, but Augustine agrees that sometimes it's the best route. “You can take a day's leave or maybe work from home. If the interview must take place during regular work hours and you have advance notice of the meeting, then your best option is to just take the day off. Keep your request simple and avoid over-complicating your story.”

4.) Go to an “appointment”

OK. You've tried to play it by the book, but your hands are tied. You really want to go ace this interview! You don't want to outright lie to your boss, but you may need to dip into the gray area a little. While you're not legally required to tell your boss that you're going to a job interview, you may feel a bit guilty about asking to sneak away a couple hours off. 

When requesting the time, simply say that you have an appointment. For most people, a vague statement like that puts up enough social nicety that they won't ask any questions. It could be a court date for a traffic ticket, a family emergency, something medical related, or a dentist appointment.

5.) Build time into your schedule ahead of time

Do you have a lot of PTO to burn through before the end of the year? Great. You can do wonders for your job search by plotting out one day off per week for the next month or two. There are some big benefits to doing this if you are confident that you'll find a new job and are willing to use that PTO:

  • You can pick whatever day of the week is typically slowest for you at work so you're not making things hard on your colleagues.
  • You'll know ahead of time what day of the week you have off so you can use that for job interviews.
  • No interviews? Use your day off to apply to more jobs or brush up your resume or Linkedin page.

6.) Don't overshare

As tempting as it is to share your job-hunting stories with your friends at work, it's probably a bad idea. If a few of your co-workers know that you're on the hunt and you suddenly flex your schedule, take a PTO day, or, even worse, call in sick, over and over again, and the rumors about your absence could raise a red flag. It won't take long before your boss hears the whispers and your current job could be in trouble.

Play it safe and keep your job hunt to yourself. You can always talk about television shows or baseball with your co-workers, instead.

Stick to the high road when trying to get out of work for a job interview

When it comes to your career, every move you make can come back to haunt you or pay dividends. It's OK to make a career move while you're still employed — in fact, it's smart. But you don't want to burn any bridges by causing problems at your current job. You may not get the job you're interviewing for or, at the very least, you may need a few good references from your current workplace.

If you were hoping to read that it's OK to sneak out of work for a job interview, sorry. It's just not a good idea. Stick to the high road and treat your current employer with respect. Your prospective employer should only respect you more for that.

Still struggling to land the job offer once you've interviewed? Working with an interview coach can help.

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