How to Answer the Question, “When Can You Start?”

When an interviewer asks how soon you can start a job, your answer shouldn’t make you seem too desperate or overly relaxed. So what is the right way to respond when an employer asks, “When can you start working?”

The best response to this question is, “I can start when it is most convenient for you to have me start.”

It’s important to be prepared for this question. Speak with your current employer before determining a possible start date to ensure that you leave on good terms. Before responding to the question, keep in mind that there may be a possible transition period. For example, you might give a two weeks’ notice and be available to start at any time after that end date.

You may be tempted to say that you can start immediately, but it’s best to ask for a little more time. This will allow you to tie up any necessary loose ends. You’re better off to say that you can start in three weeks and shortening it if the opportunity arises, rather than saying you can start tomorrow and then needing to ask for more time.

Your current job will help you decide when you can start a new job. Are you contractually required to give a certain amount of notice before leaving, or have you committed to a project that must be finished before you leave your current position? If either of these circumstances apply to you, you should mention the obligation during your interview, along with the specific date you can start on.

If you aren’t currently employed, you are likely to have more flexibility regarding the date you can start.

The question, “When can you start?” is asked to give the employer an estimate of the necessary steps needed for you to potentially start in this new role. Keep in mind that the question is usually not a formal job offer. You’ll want to be certain the offer is on the table before telling your current boss that you have accepted another job.

When Should You Say You Can Start A Job?

There’s no perfect answer to this question, but you can use your current employment status to give a potential employer an accurate start date.