It comes up time and time again over most people’s careers: in order to get a new job, they need to interview while still employed at their current job. Generally, people don’t want their bosses and colleagues to know about their job search, so they need to make excuses to get out of work for a short time. Consider the following example.
Sara stood attentively at the office printer. She swiftly snatched up her freshly printed document and whistled to herself as she put it neatly in her binder. She checked the clock again: 1:23pm. It was almost “go” time. She quietly put her computer to sleep and called attention to the room as she stood up from behind her desk.
“Yes, everyone, as I mentioned earlier, it’s time to go to the old dentist, yessir,” Sara said. “Three cavities to be filled. When I get back here, you can all be assured my mouth will be mighty numbed up! Yep, that’s where I’m heading alright. I hate that I have to burn vacation time on the yucky dentist!”
As Sarah exited the building, her co-workers turned to each other. “Anyone else buy that phony dentist story?” Meg asked.
“Oh my god, I know, right?” Deb replied. “And when’s the last time she showed up to work looking presentable? I’ve literally never seen her hair look that nice before.”
“Yep,” said Abby. “She left a copy of her resume here on the printer too.”
Jeff walked over to Sara’s computer and wiggled the mouse, waking the computer. “Yeah. And there are directions up on Google Maps to a Caribou Coffee near an office park in Uptown. There’s no dentist in sight.”
The gang stood and walked to the window, where they saw Sara in her van feverishly changing into a business suit.
Don’t be like Sara! If you’re going to leave during the work day to go to interview for a different job, play it smart by following a few simple tips.
- If at all possible, schedule the interview at a time when your absence will be least noticeable, whether that is a long lunch break, first thing in the morning, or last thing in the afternoon.
- Better yet, if you have the time to burn, take the whole day off so your comings and goings can’t be tracked.
- Sara was at least wise to use the dentist as an excuse. Unlike saying she was going to the doctor, she doesn’t have to fake being sick. Being gone to the dentist should take about the same time as going to an interview. The cadence of dentist appointments also closely aligns with the cadence of job interviews. For instance, an initial dentist checkup could lead to the follow-up appointment for fillings the next week, just as a phone interview could lead to an in-person interview a week later.
- If the dentist isn’t your style, your kids or even beloved pets (if you have them) make great excuses to leave work abruptly. “Oh no, you guys, I just got a call from my neighbor that my dog is out running around the neighborhood! I’ll be right back.”
- If you return to the office after your interview, be sure to have answers to potential questions co-workers may ask. If you use the dentist excuse, make sure the timeline fits, know exactly what you had worked on, which dentist you were at, and if necessary, pretend your mouth is still numb!
- If you can’t come up with a believable excuse, just disappearing is better than a bad excuse. There’s a chance no one will ever notice you were gone.
- Don’t use any company equipment to prepare, print, or copy anything related to your hopeful new job. IT departments can track your every move.
- Don’t dress or appear any differently than you would any other day. Drive off-site somewhere to change, if you don’t have enough time to go all the way home first.
- Act normal at work too. Being distracted prior to leaving could be a tell-tale sign you’ve got something cooked up.
- Leading up to the interview, continue to talk to your co-workers about long-term projects or plans. “I’m thinking of signing up now for the conference in December and getting the early-bird rate.” Who would ever suspect you have intentions of leaving if you’re openly discussing long-term plans?
- If someone does call you out for going to a job interview, jokingly admit to it. “Yep, you caught me! Here I go to an interview! It’s been fun working with you guys.”
- You could tell the truth about going to an interview, but lie about the specifics. If you say it’s an interview with something amazingly cool like working for a pro sports team or something you’re know to be very passionate about, your company may not fault you for trying. “I’m sorry, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t try,” you could say.
- Or you could just be blatantly honest about the whole thing. Maybe it could actually work in your favor. If your boss knows you’re looking to jump ship, it’s conceivable that they might try to entice you to stay by offering a promotion or raise. Or maybe it would at least open the door for a dialogue about why you’re planning to leave in the first place and if there’s anything that can be addressed.
- Consider what the results might be if you were caught interviewing elsewhere? Will your company actually care? Who expects you to stay at one job forever? It’s unlikely you’d get fired from most jobs for interviewing elsewhere, but it could make things awkward around the office if you don’t get the job.
Got any other great tips for sneaking out of work to interview for another job? Leave them in the comments!
My Hot Take:
I’ve had to leave work a few times in the past to interview for other jobs. When I left my first job in Minnesota to come to my new job in Texas, I was pretty open with management about the fact that it was a huge opportunity and a dream of mine to work in a particular industry, and they weren’t about to stop me from pursuing it. Later, when switching jobs in Texas, I was able to use a friendly work-from-home policy to my advantage.
If you have to leave work to interview for a job somewhere else, come up with a solid excuse and be ready to answer any follow-up questions when you return.