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Navigating the same-day interview

Making the right decisions when you are put on the spot

Gulf News

It is 9am and you’ve just started your work day, your phone rings and a hiring manager says that you’re invited to a personal interview — today. You may be given a range of options from meeting at lunchtime to after work hours. This is a moment when you’ve to make a decision on the spot, and it has to be the right decision.

Of course, the two sides of your decision are availability and preparedness. Both are critical to your interview success, and you shouldn’t rush into accepting the invitation unless you’re sure that you’ll be able to make it there and that you’ve the right tools and knowledge to handle the interview.

That is why an invitation to a same-day interview can be tricky. Here are a few points to consider before you accept the invitation or ask for a later date.

Understand why

An invitation to a same-day interview can get your head spinning, thinking about everything from your appearance and work and life obligations to the interview itself. Still, listening carefully to why the hiring manager is trying to get you in on the same day is essential to making the right decision. For example, if the hiring manager mentions that an interviewer will be out of the office, you should try to make it to the interview without delay. If the tone is casual, it may be worth asking if the following day works for everyone. By doing so, you will give yourself a chance to prepare without pushing the interview very far. Always leave the door open for making the same-day interview, if necessary, and if you can make it.

When to accept

If you’re going on the same day, no one should expect you to be dressed as well as if you’ve had a longer notice. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be excused if you show up in slippers and shorts. If you’re not dressed appropriately, think of swinging by your house to change ahead of the interview without being delayed or reschedule. The issue is not how much notice you were given. In reality, looking inappropriately dressed for your current position may indicate that this will be the case if you get the job. The same goes for your preparedness for the interview in itself. Have you researched the company and the job? Are you emotionally and mentally ready to answer questions? Part of asking for a same-day interview may be to catch you off-guard, so you need to be sure that you will make the best impression despite the short notice.

How to accept

First of all, you should make sure that your sudden absence from work goes with minimal disruption. This may depend on your workplace, scheduling and flexibility of coworkers who can offer cover while you go for the interview. In all cases, make sure that you won’t be preoccupied with what’s going on back in the office during your interview. Since this arrangement may require a couple of chats around the office, you can always ask the hiring manager to get a call-back number to confirm within a few minutes. In doing so, you also can inquire about the expected length of the interview. Plan generously for the interview and traffic both ways. In addition, always ask for the different possible times for the interview. An interview that takes place after work hours may be more convenient because it doesn’t interfere with your work schedule, and allows you some time to research or refresh.

When to reject

Reject if you only can get out of the office for an absolute emergency. This can be because you’re at the closing of a big project, you’ve several meetings that are too late to reschedule or simply you’re in a situation with your supervisor where sudden absence is intolerable. In any of these situations, the time you take off will be a source of stress during the interview and afterwards — both are not conducive to your interviewing process. Similarly, you should ask for a later date if you’re sick with obvious symptoms. Showing up at an interview with a nasty cough or a runny nose may not be the best way to introduce yourself as a considerate team member. Keep in mind, while it is nice to respond to a job-interview invitation promptly, most employers will wait for the right candidate and you deserve the opportunity to present yourself as well as you can.

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently an editor based in Seattle.

Same-day interviews

- Don’t rush to accept the invitation

- Check your availability and preparedness

- Inquire about different times through the day

- Ask for a later date if you’re not ready