We can speculate on the thousand reasons why a worker feels the need to take a fake sick day, but the most common is certainly that of a job interview at another company.
After the first moment of euphoria after receiving the call from the recruiter to schedule the interview, one of the first concerns you will have will be: “What do I tell my boss to take time off work?”
In this article, I’m going to review the best ways to take time off work for an interview without arousing suspicion. You will know how to behave with your employer, colleagues, how to organize an interview with the recruiter, and how to avoid making the most common mistakes at this stage.
Time off for an interview
Taking time off work, for a limited time, to take an interview is easy if you have flexible working hours, where you are allowed to decide the start and end times of your working day, or even, on which days to work.
If you don’t have this kind of time flexibility, however, the best solution is to schedule the interview with the recruiter at strategic times of the day: early in the morning or at the end of the day.
If the interview takes place in a place not far from your office, you could organize the meeting during lunchtime.
You can agree with your manager or with the person in charge of a slight change in time for the day of the interview. For example, you can show up for work an hour later and recover that hour at the end of the day.
Another solution could be to carry out extra activities that compensate for the hours you will be absent for the interview, activities such as participation in events, meetings, conferences that take place outside working hours and on weekends.
Then, you’ll use those extra hours to go off and do the interview.
Take the whole day
If you have the opportunity to schedule multiple interviews in one day, which would be ideal, you can request permission for a full day.
The advantage of asking for leave for a whole day is that you don’t have to worry about justifying any delays in case the interview takes longer than expected.
Furthermore, if in your current job you have the obligation to wear a uniform or a particular outfit, you will avoid having difficulty in changing quickly before and after the interview.
This way, you won’t arouse suspicions that could arise among your colleagues if instead of the usual pair of sneakers you wear every day they see you in a pair of elegant shoes.
It can be difficult to juggle scheduling interviews when you have a job. Many recruiters call the candidate for a series of interviews on different days. There are, in fact, several steps in the selection process that precede the final interview.
If you need to undergo multiple interviews, this will take the time that you will have to take away from work, without the guarantee of being hired at the end of the selection.
In some cases, the first step involves a cognitive interview via telephone, which is easily manageable. In other cases, the situation is more complicated.
Most recruiters understand your desire to keep the search for a new job confidential, at least in the early stages of recruiting and appreciate your dedication to your current job. Precisely for this reason, it is correct to ask the recruiter what the timing and the different steps of the selection process will be.
How to manage absence from work
Discuss availability for the interview
If you have been called to sit for an interview, start by expressing your enthusiasm for being contacted by the recruiter. When you are asked for availability, explore different options for scheduling the interview on days or times that do not interfere with your work, or that do not arouse suspicion from your employer.
Try asking the recruiter if it is possible to take the interview early in the morning or at the end of the day, or if there is an option for the weekend. Also, remember to confirm the appointment well in advance, so that you have plenty of time to notify the employer of your absence.
You can be forced to change the time of the interview, for example, due to an unexpected situation at work. In that case, don’t worry, the recruiter will see how dedicated you are to your work and that you know how to take responsibility for your role, your strength.
Rescheduling the interview will not be a problem.
Be aware of your workflow
It’s important to carefully manage the time you take away from work to take interviews, so you don’t jeopardize your current job.
Whenever possible, try to fix the day and time of the interviews at times when you know your absence will not cause problems.
Also, you can try to get ahead by finishing some tasks early. Your absence will be “tolerated” more easily if your manager sees that you are well advanced with the tasks you need to complete.
Remember that you may need a positive reference from your current employer and finding a new job very often takes months; you don’t want to be seen as a slacker during the time of your search.
So, go out of your way to get on with work, even on weekends if necessary, to maintain your image as a good co-worker/employee.
You don’t necessarily have to accept every job interview that is offered to you, especially if you are contacted by many recruiters.
If you are a highly sought-after candidate, it is common to ask the recruiter a few questions before deciding to take the interview, to understand if the position offered is a good opportunity that is worth your time, and that of the recruiter himself.
Declining an interview proposal isn’t wrong if you’ve made the right consideration and decided it’s not the right job for you. It’s much more polite to cancel an appointment or not make it than to go through the selection process when you know this isn’t the job you want.
Also, canceling an interview will save you time taking other interviews for positions that interest you.
Make sure you keep your search confidential
If you’re worried about getting caught on the hunt for another job, resist the temptation to share your research updates with your colleagues, even those you trust the most.
Although you are not normally required to justify the reason for your leave to colleagues and other staff, it is understandable that your absence raises some questions, especially if you have always stated the reasons for other permissions.
Making excuses to cover up your absence, such as a visit to a relative, a sick parent, an important appointment, or simply a day off to disconnect can help deflect the curiosity of your colleagues.
Words fly faster than you think in the workplace. So, it’s a good idea to keep your search for a new job opportunity for yourself until a concrete proposal is made, and you’re ready to resign.
What to say to the employer
Lying to your boss about time off work, and getting an interview, may not be the best choice if you can’t juggle well and have an unassailable excuse, especially because of the repercussions that your job can have if your boss discovers the truth.
In the rarest of cases, an employee tells their employer and colleagues that they are looking for another job, but in most situations, employees only resign after they’ve landed the new job.
This implies that the entire selection process is kept secret from colleagues and managers in the company. And, at times, it can be difficult.
There are countless excuses you can use to not go to work on the day of your interview. You may be vague about the reason for your permission, but the truth is, it’s best to have a plausible excuse ready that doesn’t sound unreasonable to your boss.
If you yourself aren’t convinced by what you’re saying, then your employer probably won’t be convinced by your version.
The best and worst excuses to use for time off work for an interview
When you find yourself telling your employer that you need to take leave, don’t give too many elaborate explanations. The more you try to make a cumbersome excuse the more likely it is that your employer will think you are lying.
As soon as you are contacted to schedule the job interview, make sure you are prompt in telling your boss that you will need to be absent that particular day so that you can schedule the interview again in case you are not granted permission.
Many managers make it difficult for employees to be off work; they insist on asking why the employee is leaving, or discourage them from taking leave. If you think or know that your manager could also behave in this way, you must be categorical in using the “white lies”.
If you expect to have a lot of interviews, and therefore have to be absent many times, it is useful to let your manager know that you will have a series of appointments to make.
You could, for example, say, “I wanted to let you know I’m going to have a series of appointments for something I’m managing outside of work. I will try to organize them in the morning before work or at the end of the day when possible. ”
A dentist’s appointment is the perfect excuse in these situations, especially since the dentist’s job often requires several appointments.
This way, your boss will be mentally ready to handle your absences without having to wonder what’s going on as you suddenly take a series of time off work.
The best excuses to use
Here are the best excuses to get a permit:
- you want to take a day off (for leisure, vacation);
- take a sick day;
- you need to take a couple of hours off for personal reasons;
- you must accompany a friend/relative on a visit;
- you have to have your car repaired, something in the house, and you have to wait for the professional for the service;
- problems with the plumber;
- sick children;
- sick relative;
- you have a doctor or dentist appointment;
- you are not feeling well and have to go home;
- you have an appointment with the lawyer for a personal matter;
- other types of appointments, bank, etc.;
- appointments (at the bank, accountant, lawyer, etc.);
- unexpected with children (if you have any);
- problems with the car (you might say it’s broken, or you need to take it to the mechanic)
doctor or dentist appointments (although they may require a certificate for these);
- family emergency (you don’t need to specify details);
- illness of a relative of yours;
- problems in the house (with the boiler, a broken pipe, etc.).
Apologies for when you are late or have to leave work early
If you think you will be able to sit the interview in the morning before going to work or at the end of the day, you will need to come up with justifications for late entry or an early exit. Some previous excuses can certainly be used for these eventualities.
To justify a late entry, there are also:
- oversleeping and not hearing the alarm clock;
- being blocked in traffic or public transport;
- forgetting something at home.
The worst excuses to use
As I said earlier, using too elaborate and complex excuses, in 98% of cases, exposes you to the risk of being discovered.
However, even the simplest excuses could raise suspicions and make you look less credible.
Here are the worst excuses, according to the Career Builder report, that you will never have to use to apply for a permit:
- you must testify in court;
- you made an appointment with the hairdresser;
- you have to stay home to look after your sick pet;
- you ate too much birthday cake and indigestion;
- the police must search your home.
Do not give recruiters the email and phone number of the job if they are not personal, because your employer may understand that you are looking for a new job.
Give the selectors your number and your personal email and check the messages and calls you receive only during breaks.
Regarding your references, you can tell the recruiters that your current boss is not contacted during the first selection stages, but you can provide them with contact details once the company decides to make you an offer.
Eventually, if you particularly trust someone you work with and to whom you want to communicate your research, you can give this contact to the recruiter.