Excuses You Can Use to Take Time Off for a Job Interview

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What's the best way to take time off from work for a job interview? Most of the time, you won't want your current employer and coworkers to know you are interviewing elsewhere. But interviews are commonly held on a workday.

Find out the best strategy for asking for time off without raising a red flag that advertises the fact that you're seeking employment. 

How to Take Time Off for a Job Interview

Rearrange Your Work Schedule

If you have a flexible work schedule, it's relatively simple. Try to juggle your interviews around your time in the office or the time you're online working. It's not always that easy though, especially when you're working a set daily schedule with little flexibility.

Schedule Interviews for Early, Late, or Lunchtime

Another option is to try to schedule interviews early or late in the day, or at lunchtime. Then, you can coordinate with your supervisor or staff to shift your schedule for the day, coming to work earlier or leaving later, so you have time for the interview before or after work or on a long lunch break.

You will probably feel inclined to give an excuse for this request unless time-shifting is something you often do. 

Use Comp Time

When you know you will be attending job interviews, volunteer for an extra task, meeting, event, or conference of some kind that involves time outside of regular work hours. Then, see if you can take the extra hours worked as comp time.

Reasons for Being Late or Leaving Early

If you're interviewing early in the day, here are some excuses to use for being late to work. For afternoon interviews, there are good reasons to leave work early.

Taking a Day Off for a Job Interview

Another alternative—if you can schedule a couple of interviews on the same day—is to take a vacation or personal day or another type of excused absence day.

You don't have to give an excuse for this, although if your supervisor or coworkers are used to knowing what you do on your days off, you may need one. Otherwise, it's bound to provoke questions if you normally go into detail but this time you make a request with no explanation. 

The advantage of this tactic is that you won't have to worry about being on the clock before or after.

If you are using earned vacation or comp time, there is no need to feel guilty for using it for this purpose. 

If you have to wear a uniform in your current job, you won't have to change into and out of it for the interview. You can also take time to create more of a professional appearance than you usually would in your current job, without inciting comments or questions. If you normally wear casual shoes and slacks, you won't have to explain why you're wearing heels and a skirt or a suit and tie.

Excuses for Taking Time Off to Interview

There are a lot of other excuses you can use for not going to work. 

You can be vague or you can be specific, but it's best to give a plausible reason that you feel comfortable with. Most importantly, use an excuse that will sound reasonable to your boss.

If you think it sounds like you're making it up, your manager will probably be thinking the exact same thing. It's always important to be as honest as possible.

It's best to be as brief as possible when you are calling in (or emailing) sick to work. No need to get bogged down in details. Here are some options: 

  • I'm taking a vacation day.
  • I'm taking a sick day.
  • I'm taking a couple of hours of personal time.
  • I'm picking a friend up from the airport.
  • I need an emergency car repair, home repair, or appliance repair and have to wait for a service.
  • I have a plumbing problem.
  • I have a sick child.
  • I have a sick parent.
  • I have a sick pet and need to make a vet's appointment.
  • I have to attend a funeral.
  • You have a doctor's appointment or dental appointment for yourself or a family member.
  • You are getting medical testing or preparing for it.
  • You're ill and need to go home.
  • You have a business meeting.
  • You have personal business.
  • You have an appointment with an attorney to sort out a will or advanced directive, set up a trust, etc.
  • You have a financial planning appointment.

Need More Excuses?

Here are even more good excuses you can use for not going to work.

Key Takeaways

BE STRATEGIC WITH INTERVIEW TIMES: Try to schedule them for times when it's easy to duck away from your workplace. 

USE EARNED TIME OFF: Sick days, personal days, or vacation days are a convenient option. 

KEEP YOUR EXCUSE BRIEF: If you have to share an excuse for your time off, keep it short and to the point.