Should you disclose a planned vacation when interviewing?

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Q: I have booked a cruise for March, 2024.  I have already paid for it.  I am also, very unexpectedly, interviewing for a new job.  I think I may get an offer in early December.  I am nervous that if I tell them about my vacation plans, that I may not get the offer.  Have you ever had to counsel a candidate on this topic before? 

A: Vacations are important, a time to recharge the batteries and make memories with family and friends.  You did not disclose the length of the cruise, but I have assumed that it is a one-week trip.  I would recommend you share these plans.  Your prospective employer will likely respect that you have been forthright and candid.  It also starts the employment relationship in a positive way.

Many employers will ask a final candidate if the candidate has any time off planned.  Their goal is not to deny the planned time off, but instead make sure that they can accommodate it.  An employer does not want to be surprised by a new employee’s vacation plans either.  There are certain weeks, which are more commonly requested vacation weeks too. These include time in early July (around Independence Day), late summer weeks (around Labor Day) as well as the late December (between Christmas and New Year’s Day).  Your planned cruise, in March, is likely a good time of year to take time off.  I think the only industry in which it may be problematic, is if you work in the tax industry.  Many tax organizations have periods of time, during the year, in which vacations are banned.  The tax industry is working on the preparation of tax returns, which are due on April 15, therefore March is often a challenging time to take a vacation.

As a final candidate, I would recommend that you disclose this information now.  You don’t want to surprise an employer with this information and “start off on the wrong foot.”  Rarely will a candidate be eliminated from a final round of candidates because of vacation plans.  You should, however, make sure that you understand the company’s vacation plan and any pay that may be part of the vacation policy.  Employers are permitted to set their own vacation plans and some may offer pro-rated vacation time during the first year.  Other companies may pay you for the entire week, before you have earned it, but will deduct any unearned time if you leave during the calendar year.

Though this likely does not apply to your situation, “newbies” to the company should realize that they may not be able to take time off on the most commonly requested weeks.  Often companies let the employees with the most seniority employees take these weeks, if there are several employees who have requested these prime weeks.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.