Ask LH: How Flexible Should I Be When Scheduling A Job Interview?

Ask LH: How Flexible Should I Be When Scheduling A Job Interview?

Dear Lifehacker, Lately I’ve been looking for work experience at a law firm. The one I’ve been very keen on recently got back to me to offer an interview, but on both days they suggested I already have prior commitments. How should I play this? Is it a bad first impression to ask for another day or should I fold on my other appointments and just accept one of their inconvenient interview slots? Thanks, Troubled Law Student

Picture by jo-h

Dear TLS,

The short answer: yes, you should change your other appointments. The long answer: you’re in a competitive field, and you want to make a good first impression. Your career in law (or just about anywhere else) is going to involve balancing conflicting priorities. If it seems you can’t manage that before you even get your foot in the door, the interviewers are likely to be biased against you from the start.

That’s especially the case as you’ve already been provided with two different alternatives. If you had been offered a single day and you had a truly unmoveable commitment — a university exam, a rare appointment with a medical specialist — it would be reasonable to explain that and ask if an alternative was possible. However, as you have choices, the onus really is on you to fit everything in.

That’s our take. If readers have a different view, please share it in the comments.


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  • As a lawyer myself I would have to agree that it looks far better if you meet when it suits them, but I wouldnt lose any sleep over the issue. If you cant resolve this issue effectively then perhaps you are in the wrong field.

    Also be aware that you have bargaining power if you are looking for unpaid experience towards your PLT, in that you offer free labor.

  • I heard a good maxim many years ago – a company will be the nicest to you during the interview. If your other appointments are as important as the interview, give the firm several alternative times and ask them to shift it. If they won’t and have good reason (e.g. partner is only in town for one day) fair enough. If they won’t and expect you to bend to their demands for no good reason, be careful. A firm that won’t shift a simple interview time will expect far more undue sacrifices when you’re on the payroll.

    But in the end it’s up to you. It may be worth working for a firm of slave drivers for a few years just to get your foot in the door of a legal career.

  • I suppose if they offer you a couple of time slots, and none of them work for you, you just say so. If they can’t work around you they will say. Like Davo says, if they can move it and they won’t, they’re probably not very nice, or maybe not that interested in the first place.

    I once called to cancel an interview a few hours before it took place without giving a specific reason (either then, or at the rescheduled interview). I left it up to them to offer rescheduling, rather than ask for it. I got offered the job in the end, in fact it may have even improved my chances.

    • I highly doubt that.

      I agree that the company should be able to work around your schedule to some degree, but if you cancel last minute, without reason, you do nothing but make yourself look flaky and unreliable. Also not bringing up rescheduling yourself is more likely going to make you look lazy and unmotivated.

      I dont know what the job was for, or how the call went, but this didn’t help your any.

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