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What To Do When You're Late For Your Interview

Your resume peaked the interest of an employer and you’ve been called in for an interview. The anti-destination league is going to prevent you from getting there on time.  What should you do?

The Next Best Thing to Being There - Use your Cell Phone 

  • If you know that you are going to be less than 10 minutes late, call them and tell them what time you expect to be there.
  • If you are going to be more than 10 minutes late, ask them if you should come in or if they’d rather reschedule.

Being late for an interview is not like showing up late to a family cook out. If you are usually prompt, your family and friends know that is out of character for you. An interviewer views you being late in an entirely different way. All an interviewer typically knows about you is what’s on your resume or what they’ve learned about you from a phone conversation. If you’re late for an interview, it’s up to you to convince them that being late is not something you make a habit of.

340455_low.jpgDefending your Reputation - Past Employers Can Be Your Best Allies

If you’re late for your interview, your interviewer may feel that you will also be late for work, if they should hire you. You may also be viewed as someone who is unmotivated and / or irresponsible. If you were an employer, would you hire a job candidate if you felt that way about them?

To change the way your interviewer may be feeling about you:

  • Invite them to speak to your former employers to ask about your work ethic. Of course, this is not a good idea if you had a habit of arriving late in your previous jobs. If that’s the case, then you may, in fact , have been unmotivated in your previous jobs. You will have to figure out why that is and adjust your life accordingly. It is not the fault of an employer if you chose to accept a job with them that you don’t like doing. The responsibility of finding a job that you like to do is entirely up to you! Choose your jobs wisely.

What was your reason for being late? Be careful how you address the issue.

Someone at the organization gave you sketchy directions:

  • Avoid placing blame on the person who gave them to you. Negative criticism of the company or anyone who works for it is not the first impression that you want to make. If you have to blame someone, blame yourself by saying something like “I’m sorry I’m late. I didn’t anticipate how long it would take me to get through lunch hour traffic”.

The company made poor travel arrangements for you:

  • Don’t complain. If you feel you must say something about the worst flight schedule you’ve ever encountered, minimize it as much as possible. Saying anything negative about the travel arrangements made by company or its employees will only add insult to injury. You’re already late, don’t irritate the company more by saying it was their fault, when you can point to the fact that there were long lines at the airport or extended flight delays, etc.  There are ways to let the company know that your travel plans were not ideal without making them feel that you’re blaming them.:)

Kissing Up to Your Interviewer

Many companies won’t even consider you as a future employee of their company if you can’t be on time for your interview. But, as they say, “things happen” and people are late for interviews sometimes. If you should find yourself in that predicament, be prepared to do some kissing up if they agree to meet with you. 

  • Any time that you are late for an interview, you should apologize for being late or asking for them to reschedule your interview. Remember that YOU are the one that is late, not them! Remember that THEY rearranged their schedule to accommodate you! Apologizing to your interviewer shows them that you understand that their time is valuable and that you respect that.

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Reader Comments (2)

I really enjoyed your article. Your advice is honest and straightforward. I wrote a similar article -( )

and didn't even think of using past employers to defend your name! kudos.
July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterARC
Saying anything negative about the travel arrangements made by company or its employees will only add insult to injury.
September 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterforever grand vacation

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