When Can You Start?

Job Interview Question & Answer: How Soon Can You Start Working?

Why Managers Ask “When Can You Start?”

During an interview, employers might ask a question like “When are you available to start working?” This question gives them an idea of when to put you on the schedule should you get the job. However, getting asked this question is not the same as being offered the position.

Be Honest When Answering a Question like “When Can You Start?”

To plan ahead for their business, managers need to know when you’re available to start. That’s why it’s important to be truthful when answering a question like “How soon can you start?” If you’re working at another company, you’ll need to put in a notice of at least two weeks with your current employer. However, if the timeline is longer or shorter than two weeks, be sure to let them know.

Responses to Avoid When Answering “When Can You Start?”

Simple, honest answers are the best option for communicating your current schedule to managers. Responses showing desperation or lack of care for your current job can hinder your chances of getting hired. Here are a few things to avoid when answering:

  • Don’t tell a hiring manager that you can start sooner than you are able. Businesses need time to prepare and make arrangements for new employees, and being dishonest about a start date will likely cause issues.
  • Avoid responding in a way that implies you’re willing to leave your current job without notice. This type of response is a red flag to employers and makes it difficult to build an honest working relationship.
  • Answering with a vague response is also not recommended. Hiring managers have a strict schedule to follow, and the clearer you are about a starting date, the better. Avoid words like “maybe” or “probably” when explaining how soon you’ll be available to work.

Sample Responses to “When Can You Start?”

Use the following example responses to “When can you start working?” as a guide to creating your own answers. Your response will be different depending on your situation, so be sure to include any relevant details interviewers should know. Keep in mind that a short answer is fine if you are currently unemployed or have an open schedule.

Sample Answer 1 – Restaurant Busser

“I’m working at another restaurant right now, so I’d need to put in my two weeks’ notice there first. We’re about to enter our busy season, so I want to make sure they have time to train a new employee.”

Sample Answer 2 – Barista

“Normally I’d be able to give a two weeks’ notice, but my manager has asked me to fill in until they train the person that’s replacing me. Training will take three weeks, so as soon as that is finished, I would be available to start.”

Sample Answer 3 – Pizza Delivery Driver

“I’m between jobs right now, so I could start working as soon as you need me.

Things to Keep in Mind When Answering “How Soon Can You Start?”

A question like “When are you available to start?” is exciting, but remember to respond professionally and honestly. Also, keep in mind that the question itself is not a job offer, it’s simply a way for hiring managers to determine when you could start working. A few other things to remember include:

  • All managers appreciate advanced notice of an employee leaving.
  • If you require more than two weeks to start a new job, say so.
  • Be as specific as possible without choosing a particular start date.

These tips will help you answer an interview question like “When can you start here?” Remember to develop your own response and practice it as much as you need.

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