Interview Question – When Can You Start?

AUGUST 24, 2010 | BY MICAH

Sometimes there are answers so simple that you know they must be wrong. You are faced with an interview question that is so easy to answer that you begin to doubt yourself. One such interview question is “When Can You Start?”

RIGHT NOW – Right This Very Second!

The reality is that there is no “Wrong” answer to the “When Can You Start?” question. The only way to answer this question incorrectly is to assume you have the job and start jumping up and down excitedly, begging them to let you start immediately so that you can afford to pay your rent. You also do not want to tell the employer that you cannot start because you want to take a vacation. If you do have a vacation scheduled, you may need to skip it or tell the employer you need to start at a later date for “personal business.”

How you answer this question should depend on your current employment status. Here are some ways to answer this job interview question.

  • If Unemployed – You do not want to advertise your desperation for a job, but you also can genuinely start at any time. You can ask the interviewer “When would you like the position to be filled?” and simply acknowledge that you are ready on that date, or you can say “I can start Monday if that works best for your company.”
  • If Employed But Quit – If you have already put in two weeks’ notice, then you should tell the employer that you are ready to start the day after your notice is completed. That provides you with a date to start that makes sense to both you and the employer.
  • If Employed and Still Employed – If you have not yet put in your two weeks’ notice, you will want to acknowledge that you would like that amount of time so that you leave the company in good standing. The best way to phrase your answer is like so: “Should you decide to accept my application, if possible I would like two weeks to leave my company and train my replacement. If this represents some difficulty I can come in after work hours and start training in the interim.” That shows respect for your previous employer as well as dedication to the new work place.

It is very difficult to harm your chances due to your answer to this question, especially if you express a willingness to both respect your previous company as well as the schedule of the new employer. Try not to sound over-excited and do not tell the employer that you would prefer to hang out with your buddies in Vegas and your answer to the question will be acceptable.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Be Generally Honest With Your Answer
  • Always Respect Your Previous Company

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