When You’re Late for an Interview

So you’re late for job interview….What do you do?  Is it an automatic deal breaker or do you still have a chance?  How can you address this situation and still look like an ideal candidate for the position?

If it is at all possible, it is best not to be late for an interview.  It makes you appear unreliable, disorganized, irresponsible and disinterested in the position.  Employers will think that if you can’t be bothered to show up on time for the interview, what kind of employee will you be?  Many employers won’t be able to see past it.  If you want the job, do everything that you can to get there on time.  You can even get there an hour early and hang out at the coffee shop across the street.

However, we all know that life happens and sometimes, despite all of your planning and good intentions, you’re late.  Here are some suggestions to help you smooth it over:

Call ahead.  Once you know that you’re going to be late, call them and let them know when you will arrive.  Show consideration for their time by giving them the opportunity to reschedule.

Apologize.  Apologize when you arrive and provide a quick explanation.  However, don’t dwell on the fact that you’re late and don’t annoy them with long-winded excuses.

Be composed.  Don’t rush into the interview with your hair in a mess, your shirt untucked, and your arms full of papers.  You’re already late; take the few minutes that you need to make yourself look presentable, professional, and competent.

Be enthusiastic.  Since you were late for the interview, you already have a strike against you.  In order to be a serious contender for the position, you need to perform even better than normal.  Show enthusiasm for the job, and make sure that all of your answers are detailed and supported with strong examples.

It’s not easy to get a job interview.  When you consider that, on average, you need to send out 50 applications to receive 2.5 job interviews, it seems ridiculous to lose out on an opportunity just because you didn’t make it to the interview on time.  However, it happens to everyone at least once.  If it happens to you, do your best to handle the situation with professionalism and move on.

(Written by Karen Bivand)


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