As you get closer to the end of the interview process, you may start to notice a shift in the questions being asked. Whereas in the beginning you were likely being asked questions about your past successes and work ethic, the questions have now become more logistical. By the end on the process, there’s just one more thing you’ll be asked when receiving a job offer: when can you start?
When asked this question, it can be very tempting to say “immediately” or “whenever you need me to.” Though this response could leave a good impression, it may not be the most appropriate way to answer this question based on your situation. For example, if you’re still working, being too eager to jump ship into a new role can have unintended consequences for your career. So, while it may not seem like an important question, it is something you need to put some thought into if you are planning to accept the offer.
Whatever your situation is, here’s how to respond when asked “when can you start?”
If you’re currently employed
If you are given a job offer and you’re currently employed at another company, you’ll want to tie up all loose ends before you leave. Even though you may want to start this new position immediately, you do need to fulfill your commitment to your current company by giving them an appropriate amount of notice. While you may be enthusiastic about your new job, agreeing to start without consulting your current supervisor may make you seem too eager and could lead to a few burned bridges.
If you’re currently unemployed
If you aren’t currently working and don’t have any prior commitments you need to fulfill, you can definitely say that you can start as soon as possible when asked “when can you start.” However, don’t feel like this is the answer you have to give in order to make a good impression! One polite way to answer this question is by asking the employer when their ideal date for you to start would be. Doing so may demonstrate to the employer that you’re invested in what’s best for them, which could help start this new relationship on the right foot!
If you’re looking for some time off
Don’t feel guilty if you need a little bit of a break before diving into a new role. Since it will likely take some time before you accrue paid time off in your new job, now is the time to assess your personal needs and whether you’d like some time to reset and recharge. Just be sure you are being reasonable and flexible with your start date to ensure you are respecting your new employer’s time. Then, just be sure to communicate your excitement for the role and that you’ll be ready to get to work on day one!