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14 Best Tips to Answer the Question, “When can you Start?”


There is no one who can say that interviews are something that does not make him or her nervous. When going for an interview the most important thing that you should have is self-belief.

If you have self-confidence then it comes shining through in your answers as well. There are a number of common questions which interviewers choose to ask while taking an interview.

One of the most common questions is, “When can you start?”

when can you start questionInterview Questions About When You Can Start Work:

During the interview process, hiring managers would be asking the different set of questions, some related to your work, some tricky questions and a few other general questions.

Sometimes the interviewer may also surprise you with this question “when can you start?

Before moving forward, let me warn you that, asking this question does not guarantee you the job.

The purpose of this question is to check whether how early the candidate can join if he is hired. Usually, the answer would be 2 weeks, but it totally depends upon the company he is currently working for.

So when faced with such a question in an interview, do not get excited. You just need to stay cool!

If you are currently not working, then you can answer as “immediately” to the interviewer, but on the other hand, if you are currently employed then 2 weeks’ notice would be right. In some cases, it might go up to 1 or 2 months as well depending on the offer letter. So ensure that you are reading your employment offer letter well in advance before signing on it.

Now in case of later, let us consider 3 best options to answer this question when you can start?

Options for Answering Questions About “When You Can Start?”

The three possible answers to this question are

  1. When You Can Start Right Away
  2. When You Need to Give Two Weeks – or More – Notice
  3. When You Want More Time Off

When You Can Start Right Away:

This is the case if you are currently out of work. So your answer can be immediate. This is possible only when you are not working in any company or your current employment is about to end.

When You Need to Give Two Weeks – or More – Notice

Usually, if the employee relationship with the manager or employer is well and good then, the notice period can be negotiable and the number of days can be decreased.

But this is not possible in all organizations, there are also few companies which are strict about the notice period and other things related to it. The rightful thing an employee needs to do before quitting is to serve the notice period.

So it is better to provide your new employer with all the details clearly, such that they can plan accordingly.

When You Want More Time Off:

The third best option is to ask the employer their preferred date of joining. Normally before switching jobs, employees take a break, like a vacation or a few days for getting ready for their new employment.

So it is better to know the preferred date of the employer, as you never know their date of joining can be more flexible. Moreover, if you can inform them about your delay, they might surely give you the time you needed so that you can join them refreshed.

Never Make it only About You:

While answering this question, focus on the employer’s needs and try to be flexible and adjustable to their requirements. Some of the steps you need to follow are

  • Do not be misleading
  • Do not provide detailed information
  • Prevent giving exact dates

Now let us see some tips to help you answer the question “when can you start?”

How to Answer the Interview Question “When can you start?”:

1. Do not assume you have bagged the job:

On being asked the question do not assume that you have already bagged the job. This is just one of the general questions asked to everyone who interviews for the position. There are many people who make this mistake and end up being faced with disappointment at a later time.

So, when being asked this question just answer it with the composer as you would answer any other question that is put forth to you. It is better to have no expectations, rather than facing disappointment.

2. Often this question is not a deciding factor:

Often a question like this is one of the last questions that is asked during an interview. But it is of paramount importance to maintain your composure right at the end. Something you might accidentally blurt out during the last few moments of your interview which could really ruin your chances of bagging the job.

Remember when appearing for an interviewer, you are being judged for each word you say and each action that you do, so you must be mindful of your behavior.

3. Do not try too hard to impress:

In a bid to try and make a very good impression you might end up saying that you can start the following day! If your schedule permits you then that is alright, however, if it doesn’t then do not even make the mistake of saying something like this!

If by chance you are given the job and then end up stating that in fact, you cannot begin so soon then right at the onset you set a terrible impression and in addition to this you might even end up coming across as a bit of a liar, even if what you did was unintentional.

4. Ask them when they would like you to begin:

Rather than going deep into thought wondering when you can begin, you can simply ask them when they would like you to begin and see if that date is alright with you.

When you ask a counter-question like this, what you are silently communicating to the interviewer is that under all circumstances you are willing to try your best to push things around and make yourself available. Do not think that by asking them a question, you are being too forward or unprofessional.

5. Your answer should depend on your present employment status:

As opposed to just randomly picking a date, you should ensure that your answer is based on your present employment status. If you are yet to give in your two weeks’ notice then you should honestly state that.

However, if you have already given in your two weeks’ notice, then you can state that you can begin as soon as your two weeks are complete. Doing something like this really brings home the fact that you are responsible and respect your previous company enough to end things in a professional manner.

6. If unemployed try giving a date as soon as possible:

Instead of letting a good employment opportunity slip through your fingers, it would be better for you to say that you are willing to start as soon as possible. If you are unemployed, needless to say, that getting a job that is of paramount importance to you, so you should not shy away from honestly stating that you are available to start at the earliest.

This shows that you are someone who is not willing to waste even a day. You prefer to get to work immediately rather than whiling away your time.

7. Your answer should show you are eager to begin:

No matter what answer you give, you should make sure that your tone of voice points to the fact that you are indeed eager to bag the job at any cost. This does not imply that you should come across as desperate, as employers do not like that, rather in a professional manner you communicate to the interviewer that you would love to be a part of the company and that you would indeed be an absolute asset to the company by making sure that under all circumstances you give your 100%.

8. Do not give a date too far away as that is indeed off putting:

Many people might wrongly advise you saying that further the date which you state, you show that you are not so desperate to get the job and in this manner, you make the company chase after you. This is one thing you should never do.

Since there are numerous applicants for each job, if you give a date too far away in an attempt to create a good impression, the job might end up going to another person who is willing to start at an earlier time. Putting up your price often does more wrong than good!

9. You should be willing to shift back unnecessary plans:

If you are employed but have some other engagements to take care of, you should try and push them back if they are avoidable. Things, like opening a bank account or going shopping, are something that most certainly can be done at later periods so do not let small things like this jeopardize your chances of bagging a good job that might be instrumental in taking your career to the next level altogether. So make sure that you answer wisely.

10. Give yourself that much needed time off to recuperate:

Rather than jumping from one job to another, one thing that you should do is take a break. There is some truth in the common saying ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dumb boy’ so as important as work is, it is equally important to take your rest and unwind during a short vacation.

Even a short vacation of a few days can really do you a world of good and give you a new lease on life altogether. Rather than blankly stating you’re going for a vacation, you could say you will start at a later period due to ‘personal reasons’.

11. Think about your answer in advance:

Since this is one answer that does require a few calculations so you ought to think about what you are going to say in advance, rather than taking too much time to give an answer to this question.

Many people believe that they can just walk into an interview without preparations and create a good impression. However, this is surely not something that comes easily to everyone.

Spending a few minutes preparing yourself for an interview will really help you once you actually appear for the interview.

12. There is no wrong answer so do not fret:

When it comes to answering a question like this there is usually no wrong answers at all. If you give a good reason for the date which you have stated then they are bound to be satisfied.

Just make sure that the data you give is a reasonable one. You can rest assure that if you have the proper skills, credentials as well as talents they will be willing to wait for you even if you are unable to join immediately.

13. Do not try and get creative with this answer:

When it comes to interviews, people try their level best to try and distinguish themselves from others that are applying for the job, so as to stand out. However, the best way to tackle such a question is by being creative.

When it comes to answering a question like this, sticking to the basics is both appreciated as well as advisable.

14. Do not go into details about why you have given that date:

Interviewers are busy people and they most likely do not care why you have given particular date. If you have chosen a reasonable date that is not too far away then you need not go into details as to why you have chosen that day.

Unnecessary talk and giving too much detail is something that is not required. However, if you are choosing a far-off date do make sure you give a satisfactory reason.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer:

No matter what kind of question is asked in a interview, you always need to be calm and composed and answer confidently. Here are few best tips that help you answer in the right manner.

  • Try to meet the employer requirement
  • Being honest
  • Being flexible
  • Being accommodating

What not to say:

  • Avoid being dishonest
  • Avoid sharing any personal information
  • Do not mention specific dates
  • Never lie or give false promise

Sample answers:

If you are currently employed…

I am currently managing a significant project for my present manager and would need to stay until [reasonable date] to guarantee a smooth progress.” OR

My boss (or my agreement with my boss) expects me to provide a notice period of atleast [no. of days] before I make a leave, so I would have the option to begin on [date].”

If you are NOT currently employed…

I am available to start whenever you need me to start, including tomorrow.OR

I need (or would greatly appreciate) a few days (or a week or two) to clear the decks before I start, but I can be flexible if you need me before then.”


So these are some of the best tips which you can use and take into consideration when approaching this particular question. If you are truly interested in bagging the job, then it would certainly benefit you to state that you are willing to start at the earliest.

Just remember that nowadays getting a job is not an easy task because the competition is tight. So you ought to make sure that you take interviews seriously and answer every question to the best of your ability.