Asking for time off before starting a new job?

How do you approach the subject without jeopardising a job offer?

The Elephant in the room

Can you picture the situation? You are sitting in your interview and everything is going well. In fact better than you could have hoped for. Then the subject of start dates comes up. However, you know you have a 2 week holiday booked which is right in the middle of what could potentially be your probationary period. What do you do? Tell the potential employer, not say anything until you start or even postpone the holiday for another time?

Honesty and being upfront

In our opinion, having spent the past 30 years in the recruitment agency space ‘honesty is the best policy’ but when do you mention it? In this case, timing is key. If there is only a one interview stage and it’s not mentioned by the employer during the interview then we would say wait to see if you are offered the role. At that point mention that you already have a holiday booked. If it’s just prior to the proposed start date you could offer to start after then especially if it’s a long weekend or just a week. However, if the holiday falls after your proposed start date then it’s always best to mention it at the offer stage. That way there are no surprises for the client or awkward conversations to be had after starting. Most employers do require a month’s notice to book holiday if it’s for more than a day in our experience but that can vary based on the culture of the business.

Should the interview process include a second or third interview then we would definitely suggest waiting until the final stage interview to mention any pre-booked holidays. Never in all our years in this industry have we seen a client revoke a job offer due to a holiday being booked.

It is important to note that employers are not at liberty to honour holidays. They may in fact request that in your first year of employment you wait until you’ve worked enough days to build up your holiday entitlement. As you are new to the company there has been no loyalty built between both employee and employer as yet. Certainly, during your probationary period, it is quite common for your employer to ask you not to take any un-booked holidays until you have passed your probation. There are always exceptions to the rule such as weddings or honeymoons but we have never known an employer to be unreasonable about pre-booked holidays if they know in advance.

Preparation is key for Interviews

Preparing for an interview can be very time consuming so the better organised you are the better you will perform. If you need help with typical questions, do’s and don’ts see our which will help. There’s a large section on preparation. If you found this article useful follow us on one or all of our social media accounts and get the latest links to articles and available jobs.