That is one of the exciting question to hear at the interview (or post interview on the phone). As such, you don’t want your excitement make you give a wrong answer. Things you need to consider before you ‘commit’ a date.
When this question is asked during the interview: Interviewer may ask you ‘if given an offer, when can you start with us?’. Don’t say – right away. It maybe a tricky question to see if you are a reliable person or not. Consider below points.
1. Current employer obligations: You always want to say ‘I will need XX weeks to transition your responsibilities at your current job’. If you are not currently working, you want to talk about some responsibility you have taken up during your spare time. This aspect reflects accountability and responsibility in your actions. In any case, do not be desperate in any way. If you are desperate, you may sell yourself short.
2. On the application: If this question is asked on the job application, always leave out enough time to accommodate your current employer’s ‘notice period’ and personal time off that you plan to take off. Say your current notice period is 2 weeks, and you want to take at least one week of vacation time, then it is always good to note a date that is at least one month from the date of offer.
3. Out of State/Country jobs: If the job requires you to move out of State/country – you want to make sure you consider the time for selling/renting your property, packing, settling all your ties etc., In some instances, you want to negotiate the ‘expense’ of moving or ‘loss’ of selling your property (if market is slow or down), etc., All these are relevant and need consideration before you commit a date. Sometimes it is ok to say ‘it is hard to put finger on exact date as I have to take care of ‘XYZ things’, if I have to guess, I may be able to join during the first week of XX/XX’.
4. Commitments: If you haven’t taken time off in a long time because of crazy schedule at your current work place, chances are, your new role will keep you equally busy. As such, try to accommodate time for your personal commitments (like taking a trip to your home town or vacation with your spouse or camping with your kids etc.,). Also if you have been putting any personal projects (creative or otherwise), you may be better off giving them a shot between jobs.