How To Answer “When Can You Start Working?”

“When can you start working?” – This is usually one of the questions you will surely hear, especially during the final stages of an interview.

I bet you must be thinking that it’s an indication that you’ve almost gotten the job, and while I agree with you, it’s important you give the best answers so as not to entirely lose the opportunity.

Here lies the essence of this article!

Let’s take a look at the best ways to answer the question “When can you start working?,” and also the tips necessary for giving the best answers.

Article Road Map

Important Tips For Answering The Questions – “When Can You Start Working?”

The following tips are helpful in communicating to your prospective employer when you can resume at your new job:

1. Give A Brief Response 

This is not the time to tell your life history, you just have to give the exact answer to this question.

Keep your answer as short as possible.

2. Think About Your Decision

Please, don’t be in a hurry, and don’t answer out of excitement.

You must think critically, check if you are ready to take on your new job, and if there are health and personal circumstances why you may not resume immediately. 

Another major thing you must put into consideration is your employment status.

For instance, if you’re presently employed, it means that you have to review your employment contract for information about your company notice period as most companies have a standard one-month notice period.

However, if you are unemployed you might be available to start work immediately but ensure that you do not have other commitments. 

I encourage you to plan ahead of time as this can reflect positively on your character.

3. Don’t Assume The Job Is Yours 

While giving your response to this answer, make sure you answer politely showing that you’ve tried as much as possible to put them into consideration, especially if the resumption time is not favorable.

Don’t assume that the job is yours by giving careless answers.

This takes us to the next point.

4. Consider The Needs Of Your Prospective Employer

Most times, recruiters state the job description of the person they are looking to hire alongside their requirements.

In order to improve your chances of getting hired, you should incorporate those requirements when structuring your answer.

This will make them understand that you put into consideration their time and needs. 

However, in a case where the employer isn’t specific about their hiring requirements, feel free to ask question, and some of the questions you can ask include:

– What do you believe to be the immediate priorities for this role?

– When do you intend to fill this vacancy?

– How do you see this role fit into your current business climate?

5. Be Sincere

Don’t attempt lying. For instance, if you know it’s impossible for you to start the job immediately due to some reasons such as notifying your present office or relocating etc, then you must let them know.

I bet that you don’t want to start off by disappointing your new boss, so don’t tell lies.

6. You Don’t Need to Give A Specific Date

Note that whenever you are asked the question “When can you start working?”, the interviewer expects you to give a time range.

That being said, you mustn’t give a specific date until you actually receive an offer.

If that’s the case, you can simply say, “I can begin my next job two to three weeks after being offered a position. Does that fit with the timeframe you have in mind?”

Remember this can only happen after you must have accessed your notice period and personal needs.

All of these will inform your decision. 

Secondly, things are subject to change, so it’s best you don’t put yourself in a tight corner. This can be done by not giving them a particular date, instead give them a few options.

Read More: Describe Your Work Ethic – Interview Answers

6. Show Enthusiasm

Although you don’t need to be overly excited, it’s important that you show a level of excitement towards the job opportunity.

This is proof that you are truly interested in the role.

7. Check If You Need Some Time Off

Before you decide on your date of resumption, check if you would  want to spend some time with your family or do something energizing. 

Put the emotional state of your mind into consideration, especially if you’re applying for a highly demanding role because Coming into a new job requires a renewed spirit so as to enable you to make the best first impression. 

Sample Answers To The Question “When Can You Start Working”

Below are some of the sample answers you can give to this question when asked in an interview:

# Sample 1 (If You’re Currently Employed)

“I have to transfer my responsibilities and finish a few projects, so I have to give my current company a month’s notice. I truly can’t wait to start a new project, but I hope you can work with this schedule. I am aware that you need to fill this vacancy as soon as possible and would value your assistance.

Why this is a good response: It demonstrates how much you value your existing employer by not abandoning them. Additionally, it shows that you’re eager to begin your new career.

# Sample 2 (If You’re Currently Unemployed)

“A little more than two months ago, I quit my former work to motivate myself to pursue new chances. Since then, I’ve visited five different nations and spent more time with my family. I’m excited to get back to work now that I’ve had some time off, so I’m happy to get started right away.”

# Sample 3 (If You Need Time Off Between Jobs)

“I’ve been working at my current position for almost eight years, therefore I’d want to take some time off to spend time with friends and family. I appreciate your employment offer and am eager to get started. My ideal availability date would be in two months. But I’m also willing to talk about a schedule that works for you. “

Why this is a good response: It accurately communicates that you’ll need some time to prepare before starting work, but it also makes it clear that you’re open to being flexible.

Read More: Job Interview Clothes Do’s And Dont’s

# Sample 4 (If You’re Relocating)

“Since my new job needs me to relocate to Hong Kong, I anticipate that it will take me around two months to arrange for my visa, enroll my kids in a new school, and adjust to a new environment and culture. I plan to start within two weeks of moving to the city and would welcome any assistance throughout this transition.

Why this is a good response: The hiring manager will anticipate that you may need some time to move if you are applying for a position in a different city or state. It’s preferable to just state how much time you need.


Before I conclude, it’s important that I admonish you that you must not quit Your Current Job Until You Have a Guaranteed Offer.

Starting a new job is exciting, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Wait to give notice until you have a job offer in writing. Make sure you’re happy with it and everything you agreed upon is included before breaking the news to your current employer.

That being said, “When can you start?” may seem like a simple interview question, but if handled incorrectly, how you answer could cost you the position.

So, like any of the most common interview questions, it’s best to prepare ahead of time.


What if Their Start Date Doesn’t Work for You?

After you give your answer the interviewer may reveal that they were hoping to fill the position sooner.

First of all, don’t panic. Your start date is negotiable and in most cases, a company will be willing to adjust the schedule for the right person.

If you find yourself in this situation you have a few options:

– Be firm about your start date: If you don’t have any wiggle room just be honest about it. If they really want you for the job they’ll most likely be willing to accommodate you.

– Compromise if you can: Are you unable to start on the date they requested but can meet them in the middle? If so, apologize that you’re unable to meet their timeline and present them with a new date that’s closer to what they were hoping for, but comfortable for you, too.

– Get creative: Think outside the box to see if there’s any way you can meet their expectations. For example, you may be able to use vacation days from your current company to begin your orientation with your new employer.

Remember, there will always be other job opportunities. If you can’t come to an agreement about when you should start then the job likely isn’t for you.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.