Late For An Interview ? 9 Tips To Prevent A Disaster

Late For An Interview ?  9 Tips To Prevent A Disaster

Why is it when something goes wrong, it can go badly wrong ?  Like a chain reaction, one thing leads to another which in turn leads to something more serious.

One such event happened to someone I know recently.  They had an interview for a role which had been arranged weeks beforehand, and all was set for the interview to start at 6:00pm.  To get there on time, the person needed to leave the office no later than 5:00pm, but on the day, she didn’t get away from her desk until 5:20pm.


Not only had she started out late, but she also left the paperwork about her interview in another car (her husband’s) including address of the employer, interviewers name and job description !  Luckily I was not in a meeting or out of the office myself when she called to say she would be late, so at least I could help. The chain of events went something like this:


• 5:00pm – she was supposed to leave the office
• 5:20pm – she called to say she had only just left the building, and didn’t have any interview details with her.  I called the employer who agreed to still meet her, but 6:15pm would be the latest as they needed to leave by 7:00pm
• 5:30pm – she calls me to get final directions whilst she is in slow moving traffic on the motorway
• 6:00pm – leaves the motorway and is in slow traffic again.  Employer calls me to say the reception is now closed, so can she call their mobile when she arrives.  I text the number so she has it for 6:15pm.
• 6:20pm – employer calls me to ask how far away she is, so I call her to find out
• 6:25pm – candidate is 5 minutes away.  I call the employer who decides to re-arrange the interview as it is not worthwhile now (30 minutes won’t be long enough)
• 6:30pm – I re-arrange the interview and call her, just as she arrives in their car park.  I have to tell her to turn around and head back home.


Of course, neither party was very happy.  As the interview had been arranged weeks ago, the employer couldn’t believe she was late and they would have to wait another 3 days to see her, putting the recruitment process back further.  The candidate was annoyed that she couldn’t get out of the office in time, the traffic was bad, and when she finally arrived, she was turned away.  I wasn’t over the moon either…… just glad I was still in the office to try and find some resolution.


So, what can you do to alleviate damage caused by interviewing incidents like this?  Here are 9 tips I have recommended to people before, which you may find useful for future reference:


1. If you are going to be late for an interview, pre-warn the recruiter / employer out of courtesy like in the scenario above, rather than leave people hanging on to see if you will show up.
2. As part of your preparation, have the recruiter’s number and employer’s number in your mobile phone.  If it is an early morning or late evening appointment, the recruiter may not be in the office so the employers number can be used as a back-up
3. Make sure you charge your mobile phone battery the night before an interview.  There have been hundreds of occasions when people have wanted to call me en route to an interview, only for their phone to go dead.
4. If an employer agrees to see you later than originally planned, tell them why you were late.  Saying you left the office later than expected is not the best response, nor does it offer them a real apology – it needs to be more substantial than this.
5. When you finally arrive, apologise for the inconvenience you have caused them.  It should go some way to putting the interview back on track.
6. If the meeting room had to be pre-booked, there could be another meeting due after yours which means it may be cut short.  Find out how long the interview is now likely to be, and say you would be happy to return for another meeting at their convenience, or speak on the phone in more detail at some point.
7. If you forget your interview details, call the recruiter as soon as you can.  Make sure their office and mobile phone numbers are in your phone, and get the name of a colleague in case your point of contact is in a meeting or off-site when you call.
8. Send a text to your own mobile the night before with some basic interview details, just in case you forget the paperwork the following morning (company name, interviewers name, address, interview time).  If you have a SatNav or GPRS on your phone, text the postcode to your phone also.
9. Leave enough time to get there in case of traffic problems.  Getting to an interview with 10-15 minutes to spare will allow you to sit in your car and take a last glance at the job description and review your CV again.


Unexpected events do happen to all of us, and when something serious occurs, no recruiter or employer will have an issue about re-arranging or cancelling an interview for you.  However, if you regularly forget your paperwork, arrive late without telling anyone or don’t show up at all, questions will be raised about your reliability.


You represent the recruitment business when you go to an interview as much as yourself, and their reputation is damaged more than yours, as you can just walk away.  When a chain of events like this does happen, a recruiter will always try to do as much as they can to assist you, but try to make it the exception rather than the rule !  The tips above should go some way to stopping the interview becoming a complete disaster.


Best Wishes

Leslie Fearn


Leslie has over 15 years Recruitment experience helping blue-chip corporates to SME businesses recruit for their Finance teams.  As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy, a Specialist HR and Finance Recruiter across the Thames Valley and London, he is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today.  Follow his helpful tweets on Twitter: @McGinnisLoy
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1 Comment

  • That helped me a lot! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again!