How To Interview While Working


February 22, 2021


Furthering your career means seeking out new and exciting opportunities the elevate your professional experience. This means actively searching for new job opportunities even when you’re already employed. By being proactive, you can potentially find a position that meets your qualifications and fulfills your salary expectations. In this article, we define and advise how to interview while working, review the potential benefits of interviewing while working, list signs you should start your employment search and detail 10 tips to help you do both successfully.

Related: How To Find a New Job While Employed

What does it mean to interview while working?

It is has been said that the best time to look for a job is while you already have one. To interview while working means that you are both applying for and interviewing at companies while still employed, which could require you to take time off or find ways to interview outside of your working hours. It also means using your personal time to refine your resume, search for jobs and send out applications.

Related: When and How To Make a Lateral Career Move

What are the benefits of interviewing while working?

Interviewing while employed can have significant benefits to you and your career. Here are some examples of potential benefits:

  • You can weigh your options. In case your company ever begins layoffs or if you start feeling restricted in your responsibilities, you have the freedom to leave the company without ever facing unemployment. If you receive a job offer while still employed, you have the leverage of being able to weigh the pros and cons of each to refine your job satisfaction.
  • You can explore other interests. If you want to move away from one job area to another niche. For example, a data analyst may use their IT skills to transfer to a position as a back-end web developer.
  • You’ll be practiced for the future. Attending interviews even when still employed helps you maintain your interviewing skills and develop better interview practices. For example, because you continually attend interviews, you become more comfortable with meeting new people and discussing your qualifications.
  • You can assess the value of your position and company. By discovering whether other company’s offer better pay, benefits or workplace culture, you can consider if you’re making enough at your current job. For example, after interviewing with four different companies, you may realize that your current employer has the most to offer you.
  • You can make networking connections. Even if you don’t go for a job right now, you can use your experience interviewing with certain companies to establish professional connections for the future. For instance, a hiring manager from months previous may contact you about another position they need to fill within their company.

Related: When To Start Applying For A Job

10 tips to help you interview while working

You may wonder how you can successfully prepare for and interview with other companies while working for your current employer. There are several ways you can navigate the process without reducing your efficiency in both areas. Here are some examples:

1. Evaluate a job’s worth before accepting an interview

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Just because you were asked to interview for a position doesn’t necessarily mean you have to or should go through with the interview. Consider scheduling an informational phone interview to learn more about the position and what the role entails. If the actual job deviates from the job description, you can respectfully decline a more formal interview and save yourself valuable time.

2. Be honest about your current employment status

When working with hiring managers to determine an appropriate interview time, make sure you mention that you’re currently employed and provide them with your typical work hours. Some employers may be willing to schedule interviews earlier or later in the workday and potentially on weekends to accommodate your schedule. At the very least, they will understand why you may not be able to attend certain interview times.

3. Refrain from mentioning your job search while at work

Be sure to keep your employment search private, even to your office friends. This helps prevent conflict or questions about your loyalty by company leadership and your coworkers. It also allows you to resume your position at work should an opportunity not work out.

4. Schedule interviews around important work dates

Although you may be looking to leave your company, you still have a responsibility to complete your work duties. If you have an important meeting, conference or project deadline be sure to schedule interviews at another time to uphold your current work commitment. By explaining your work conflicts to a hiring manager, you may help portray yourself as a loyal and accountable worker.

5. Use personal or sick days for interviews

There is nothing wrong with taking a personal day or sick day to attend an interview. Make sure you work ahead to make sure you don’t give too much work to your coworkers. Talk with a member of your HR department to see if your sick days can convert to personal days if you’ve run out of personal days.

6. Have a long weekend by scheduling off for Fridays or Mondays

By scheduling an interview on a Friday or Monday and taking the day off, you can reduce speculation. This also helps you refrain from missing important work dates by scheduling off at the beginning or end of the week rather than the middle of the week.

7. Adjust your work hours to accommodate early/late interview times

You can potentially adjust your working hours to ensure you still uphold your work commitment while having more time before or after work to attend interviews. For example, you may ask to work from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. In this situation, it is okay to give a reason such as childcare conflicts or avoiding rush hour traffic. You may decide to hold these work hours for one week or longer if you anticipate multiple interviews.

8. Don’t feel obligated to provide details when taking time off

You may feel bad not telling your employer about the nature of your time off, but in reality, it isn’t a requirement that you share details of your personal life. By saying something like “I need to take off Monday for a root canal,” this could create an awkward situation on Tuesday if your employer asks how the procedure went. To minimize your storyline, say something short and to the point like “I need to take off Monday for an appointment.”

9. Reserve job applications and interview preparation for the weekend

Between working full-time, commuting and completing household chores or family obligations, you may not have the time or energy to apply for jobs or prepare for interviews during the week. Therefore, make sure you schedule a few times during the weekend to work on your resume, apply to jobs or do employer research. However, if an employer sends you an email or phone call during the week, be sure to give them a reply within one business day.

10. Don’t complete job application duties at work

Refrain from completing job applications, job searches or interview preparation at work. This helps you separate your employment search from your job and ensures you’re still performing at your best standards.

Related: How To Schedule the Best Time to Interview

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Signs you should start interviewing while working

If you’re happy with your position and place of employment, you may not feel the need to seek out alternative positions with other companies, but there are a few signs to look for that show its time to move forward with your career:

If there aren’t internal promotion opportunities

A lack of promotional opportunities may cause you to feel stuck at your current employment level. However, you should meet with your manager before assuming there aren’t opportunities. You may need to ask about promotional opportunities to be added to consideration. If your company cannot offer you a promotion at this time, you can start interviewing for higher positions at other companies.

If you start to feel burnt out by your job

Certain jobs have strenuous requirements that can cause burnout in employees. Burnout can take on many forms, including feeling overwhelmed or worried about performance, or it can take the form of a lack of care or inability to complete the same tasks. If you experience burnout at your job, you may want to take a vacation or use a personal day to rest. If the feeling persists, it might be time to look for other work.

If your company experiences financial difficulties

This could mean reduced budgets, layoffs or furloughs or legal trouble. In these situations, your company may be able to recover, but interviewing for new jobs can give you a sense of security when your job isn’t guaranteed.

If you don’t find your job duties challenging anymore

Feelings of boredom may be a sign that you’re ready to move to the next stage of your career. By interviewing for more challenging roles with additional responsibilities and leadership opportunities, you can help your career evolve with you.

If you have an unhealthy work environment

An unhealthy work environment can take on many forms, whether it’s harassment, unequal work-life balance or unethical practices. If you feel like you have an unhealthy work environment, it may be time to apply to companies that pride themselves on positive work culture.

If work affects your personal life and well-being

When your job starts to affect your mood and well-being, it can start having an effect on your personal life. For example, if you work in a high-stress environment and start experiencing panic attacks or high blood pressure, you may need to look for a low-stress position elsewhere.


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