Friday Forum – Late For My Job Interview?

What to do if you are late for an interview

Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday, we take a question submitted by one of our readers and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Paul asks:

“Last week I had an interview for a position that I really want to land.  I took a half day off of work so that I didn’t have to rush and so I could be prepared.  When I was leaving work I got in my car and it wouldn’t start!  I was in a panic, so I called my wife and had her take me to the interview and wait until I finished.  I know that may sound silly, but I really want this job!  Even though I made it right on time, I was wondering what you can do if you are late to an interview?  Is it still possible to land the job?”

The old saying is “better late then never” right?  Well, when it comes to interviews that doesn’t really apply.  If you are late to an interview and you don’t inform the employer, there is a good chance you aren’t getting the job.  With that being said, life happens, and as long as you handle the situation properly, you still can put yourself in a position to land the position.

Reach Out if You Are Late

The most important thing to do if you are going to be late for an interview is to inform the employer.  Whether you are sitting in traffic, on your way, or even if you haven’t left your house yet, you need to let them know.  A phone call is always the best route.  If you get a voicemail, follow up with a quick e-mail.  Remember to be apologetic and let them know when you anticipate being there.

Have a Good Reason

If you are running late and are still hoping for a job offer, you’ll need a pretty good reason.  Excuses like waking up late or heavy traffic are not going to work.  Employers are looking for dependable candidates, and being on time is a direct reflection of your work ethic.  The best thing to do is to plan for these events so you are not late.  If there is no way around it and something happens, your best bet is to be honest.  Sometimes things like car trouble, emergencies, work issues, etc. are unavoidable.

Apologize, Reiterate Interest, Move On

Once you arrive to the interview, it is important to address and handle the situation properly.  First and foremost, you should apologize again for being late.  You should also reiterate your interest in the opportunity and then move on.  You don’t want your apology to become the focus of the interview.  Chances are that if you keep rambling, you will dig yourself a hole.  Here’s a good example:

“John, Thanks again for meeting with me.   My apologies, as my car wouldn’t start when I was leaving work this afternoon.  I’m so glad we are still able to meet because I am really excited about this opportunity, and I am usually never late to anything!”

Showcase Your Adaptability and Composure

This tip is a little more difficult than the others, but it may also carry the most weight.  When you are late to an interview, you are already in an uphill battle to turn it around.  Once of the best ways to do that is to showcase the fact that you can deal with problems and keep your composure.  Try your best to forget about the fact that you were late, and focus on the the task at hand.  If the interviewer senses that you are stressed, frazzled, or just not focused, it may hurt your chances.  However, if you remain confident and have a strong interview, you can still get a job offer.

Conclusion

Being late to an interview doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t going to get the job.  If you are running late and are thinking about throwing in the towel, I’d recommend reconsidering.  Even though you’ll be at a slight disadvantage, follow the tips above and you can turn it around.  In all of my years recruiting, I’ve seen many instances where candidates have been late and have still gotten the job.

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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