“Best Excuses to Attend Job Interviews” – Five Guidelines for Choosing Yours

“Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.
If they can’t see the real value of you, it’s time for a new start.”

– Author Unknown

ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: Marsha, a Payroll Supervisor at a Medical Laboratory, was recruited by a larger healthcare company for a position as Director of Compensation. The new position would be a 50% increase in compensation and offer benefits including a very generous retirement package. It was an opportunity she felt she just had to pursue.

To attend the interview, Marsha called in sick one morning at 9:00 am. At 10:00 am, she arrived for her interview and spent the entire morning meeting several people, all of who seemed quite interested in her, her experience and her skills. Afterward, she was invited to lunch, and that went even better. After lunch, she went home, elated.

The next morning, she received a meeting invitation for 3:00 pm from the Human Resources Director to discuss installation of a new payroll software program. The real meeting agenda, though, was quite different: Marsha was asked how she felt, and how she had felt yesterday – the day she called in sick. It turned out that two managers of her firm had also been at the restaurant where Marsha and her interviewers had lunch and had not noticed her to seem ill, in the least.

Long story short: Marsha was terminated for “payroll fraud,” that is, taking a paid day off for being ill when, in fact, she had not been ill. What happened to Marsha does not happen to many others, but what happened to her vividly illustrates is a risk most employees take when taking time off from their jobs – with pay – for a false reason. Being accused of “payroll fraud” is not at all good for a career as a Payroll Supervisor, or any other position, for that matter. Not at all.

LESSON TO LEARN: We have all “been there.” You are working for an employer, and either after submitting your resume, or at the request of a recruiter, you are asked to interview with a new employer. How do you get the time off to do so? There are innumerable reasons employees give for taking a morning, afternoon or even an entire day off to attend an interview. But are some “interview excuses” better than others? The answer is “yes.”

A poor “interview excuse” is one that represents a greater chance of risk or harm to your present employment relation. A better “interview excuse” is one that represents a lower chance of risk or doing harm to your present employment relation. It’s that simple.

In any workplace, you can get fired for dishonesty, as Marsha learned. She took money – salary – from her employer based on a falsehood – that she was too ill to work. While it is almost unheard of to be fired for interviewing with another employer, getting fired for dishonesty is not at all uncommon.

An additional and much more common risk is the loss of trust your manager may feel for you if she learns you have been dishonest, and are interviewing, and that she seeks to replace you before you are ready to leave.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Most of our professional efforts are devoted to working with employees in transition, what we refer to as going “in,” “up,” or “out” of jobs. For those interviewing for new positions, we have given the best “interview excuse” issue a lot of thought, and have come up with five guidelines to help find your own best ones.

Here are five guidelines to a better excuse for taking the time off work to attend a job interview:

1. No Excuse at All: Arrange your Interview, if possible, so that “No Interview Excuse” is needed. Ideally, you should try to schedule your interviews at times when you don’t have to take time off, or for some other reason you don’t have to offer any excuse. These times include (a) pre-planned vacation days, (b) pre-approved “personal days,” (c) in the morning, before work starts, (d) in the late afternoon or evening, after the workday is over, or (e) on legal (or otherwise recognized) holidays, when your workplace is closed.

Note the critical distinction between, (i) on the one hand, having to provide an excuse to take time off, and, (ii) on the other hand, not having to do so. The first is essentially a risky proposition, while the second is essentially risk-free.

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2. Honest Excuse: Consider using an “Honest Interview Excuse.” By this I mean taking some time during your interview day to attend to another, entirely legitimate event in your life, such as meeting with a financial planner, attendance at a house of worship for religious observance, or interviewing an attorney to help your parents’ in their estate planning. In this way, you can honestly say that you are taking the day off for that purpose, and – during the rest of that day, either beforehand or afterward – attend your interview.

After your interview, you can still impress your interviewers with grace and gratitude. Use our Model “Thank You”Letter After Interview; with Later Follow Up. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

3. Interview Clothing Needed: Consider an “Interview Excuse” that requires “interview clothing.” Most interviews require that your attire be a bit more formal than you might otherwise wear to the office. If you go to your office before the interview, or return to your office after the interview, or are seen by others from your office on the day you took off, an “interview excuse” that entails “interview clothing” would serve to reduce the risk of your being suspected, or accused, of dishonesty.

“Interview excuses” that require more formal attire include (a) meeting with professionals, such as lawyers, financial advisors, and funeral directors, (b) appearances related to Court, governmental agencies, and political events, and (c) very personal events, such as funerals and certain religious occasions.

Hard to explain your likely departure? Use our 50 Good Reasons to Explain Your Job Departure. Original, creative and so very useful! “What to Say, and How to Say It.™ To obtain your copy, [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

4. Contact Not Possible: Avoid “Why couldn’t I contact you all morning?” by using an “Interview Excuse” that, by its nature, would inevitably make you unavailable by text, email or phone call. If you report that you will be out of work because you don’t feel well, surely you could answer a text, an email, or a cell call from someone at the office. It may be hard to later explain why you were unavailable in any way, for a long period of time, or even all day.

Certain “interview excuses” quite naturally lend themselves to your being understandably unavailable by text, email or cell phone call. These would include (a) undergoing a medical test or procedure, such as a colonoscopy, (b) having substantial dental work or oral surgery, (c) having to attending a school play or recital, or (d) a religious service at which all cells phones are required to be turned off.

Rejected for the New Job? You may still get a later call-back and a second chance. Use our Model Letter Expressing Continued Interest and Appreciations After Receiving a Notice of Rejection. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

5. Last Minute Problem: These last minute “Interview Excuses” include reasons that, by their nature, are unlikely to provide you with warning of their occurrence or chance to prepare for it.

Examples would include (a) funerals of distant family, or friends, especially those of faiths that bury their dead immediately, such as those of the Muslim and Jewish faith, (b) illnesses of either young children or older family members that require your personal intervention, care and attention, or bringing them to see a doctor, and (c) the unexpected failure of those you depend on for child care or elder care.

25 Great Excuses to Attend a Job Interview during the Workday. Arranged in six convenient categories, from “An Honest Excuse” to “Last Minute Matters.” Original, creative and so very useful! “What to Say, and How to Say It.™ To obtain your copy, [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!


In Summary . . .

Sooner or later, you will need to attend one or more important interviews. Because some “interview excuses” are riskier than others, you should give careful thought to “interview excuses” that are less risky than others. We have come upon these five “guidelines” to help you do just that. You just never know when a small risk might became a large one; so why not try to eliminate or minimize risk to you in any way you can?

P.S.: For those seeking personal attention, I offer 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. To obtain your consultation, just [click here.] If needed, evenings and weekends can usually be accommodated.

SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “outside the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – errors, traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid the likely bumps in the road. One of those risks is the risk of taking time off work for a job interview – and being caught lying. This particular risk can be minimized, and should be, as part of wise job and career navigation and negotiation.

Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.

*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.

Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel, and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.

Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the state of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.

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