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Interview Question “When Can You Start Work?”

When Can You Start Work?

If you really want the job but are struggling with commitment, many employers ask most if not all job candidates this question, just in case the candidate is the one selected for the job.

When can you start work?


This seems like a simple question to answer, but in fact, answering appropriately takes time, effort and information, you have to figure out the best way to spread this news to the interviewer without hurting your chances.

If you agree to the transition under certain circumstances, you will need to express these terms clearly before you sign up for something that you can't follow up on later.

Some other formulas


There are many formulas that have an answer emanating from this question, including:

  • When can you start working?
  • How much time do you need to get started?
  • Do you have a notice period before starting with us?
  • Do you want to join us as soon as possible?
  • Are you ready to join tomorrow?

Why does the interviewer ask you this question?


The interviewer wants to know when you will be available for work. They are likely hoping you can get started sooner rather than later.

But they'll also care about how you answer, not just when you're ready to work.

If you seem willing to leave your current employer high and dry, the interviewer will worry that you will do the same to your new employer, if you get the job.

This is another reason why it is best to give two weeks' notice (or as required under any employment contract).

How to prepare for the answer

There are several different options to choose from when discussing the start date of a new position. Non-optional answers can be as follows:

  • If you are a graduate.
  • If you are without a job.
  • If the company needs you as soon as possible (and this is what the interviewer will say). 

Note that this may be a question on the job application as well. Applicants are often asked what date they will be available to start work if they are to be hired.

The most common time frame for starting a new job is two weeks after you have accepted a job offer. This is because companies assume that you will give two weeks' notice to your current employer.


Examples of answering the question


Sample responses can help you carefully understand how to answer. Consider these sample answers to help inspire you to prepare your own answer:

After learning more about this role, I am confident that it will be a great fit for my experience and skill set. I can be available to start work as soon as the next work week begins.
I am excited to have the opportunity to join your team. I have several projects to wrap up in my current role at the company. I plan to let them know how many weeks to make a smooth transition for my co-workers and would be happy to join the team here after that time.
I am really looking forward to being part of the team. However, I have some pre-scheduled commitments that I must attend after giving notice at my current job. The ideal start date would be the number of weeks from a potential offer.
This role seems like a great fit for me, and I'm excited about the next steps. Since the role requires relocation to [city/province], what timeline are you considering for a candidate relocating from another city/province?
Under the terms of my contract, I am obligated to give three weeks' notice. However, I can start the next day, once this requirement is met. I'm excited to meet the rest of the team and get to work.

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