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4 Ways to Answer the Interview Question “When Can You Start?”

By | Quinisha Jackson-Wright |

I remember my first time hearing “When can you start?” while interviewing for a job. I had finally gotten the call to meet with a prospective employer and spent hours beforehand practicing responses for the standard interview questions.

But I was totally unprepared for the interviewer to ask when I could start. Caught off guard and slightly panicked, I blurted, “Tomorrow!”

The interviewer smiled and jotted down my answer in her notes. Ultimately, I didn’t get the job. Whether it was because of my response on availability, I’ll never know. Yet I realized that as simple as “When can you start?” sounds, it’s a question that still requires strategy.

If you’re like me, you may be tempted to answer that you can start immediately. After all, most of us believe the best way to land a job is to be as flexible, eager, and accommodating as possible. But most of the time, that’s not a realistic option—in which case, it’s ideal to communicate in a way that shows your excitement for the job while still being thoughtful about the start date you have in mind.

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