Friday, May 12, 2017

Being there (on time)

I recently heard a really smart piece of advice, regarding being on time for interviews: "Have a commuting disaster plan." In other words, prevent the worst case scenario of being late to an interview. More recently, I saw this suggestion for an e-mail to send in case you were late to an interview by Richard Moy of the website "The Muse": 
Hi [name of interviewer], 
I’m so looking forward to our interview today, but wanted to let you know that [your reason for being late]. In spite of this, I anticipate arriving at [a time based on your best guess for how many minutes behind you’re running]. 
I apologize for the inconvenience and completely understand if this new time does not work with your schedule today. If that’s the case, would you be open to rescheduling? I’m available [provide two or three times and dates] if that would be more convenient for you. 
Thanks so much,
[Your name]
I strongly suspect that most hiring managers won't really respond well to this e-mail, but who knows? Readers, any instances where you managed to make up for the tremendous faux pas of being late to an interview? What do you think of this e-mail? 


  1. I would rather take a deep breath, then call, rather than email. Email suggests you're pretty relaxed about the whole lateness thing.

  2. Where I work we hire mostly recent college grads. And we must be more informal than most, because if one called to say he/she was running a half hour late due to traffic we would easily accommodate. Of course, we also have a lab on a government facility and our visitor pass office runs very slowly. Delays in getting on site are common.

  3. To me that email makes the applicant sound self absorbed. It comes off as "I know I'm late, but I'm coming anyways and I assume your time is flexible enough to accommodate me (but let me know if that's not true)."

    I'd rather receive a phone call if there's a legitimate excuse for the lateness.

  4. Always arrive ridiculously early, and kill time if you need to. Find a store to walk around in, get a quick breakfast or lunch at a diner, sit in your car and play on your smartphone, etc. Don't walk into the reception area any more than 15 minutes early.

    Your boss will understand if you get to work a half hour late one day because there was a bad accident or something out of your control like that, but an interviewer sees it as a gigantic red flag.

  5. I agree with KT: being late is a red flag. That flag gets a lot bigger if there is no notice that something is up before the scheduled date and time of the interview (that happened here two weeks ago...).

    Per Chad's point, I'd take whatever communication medium the candidate had available, but how I viewed the whole thing would depend on what reason the candidate gave, and when they were calling. If your child is in an ambulance, let me know however you can, after the situation is stable, whenever that might be. If you forgot about the interview, there's not much you can say in any medium. If you're flying in for the interview and the airport got shut down, tell me however you can, and let me know what your revised ETA is. (This happened to me a couple years ago.) Unlike Chad, I see the email example as describing commitment to the interview, not self-absorption.

  6. It's been a while, but it seemed like if there was an interview that I ought to be really early (unless there's a conflict or other good reason), as KT. If you can bring reading material, that works.

    I had an interview where the interviewer was an hour late picking me up from the subway station; it didn't go that well, and I never got notice or a rejection letter. Given that they have the jobs and we don't, there's a different expectation for interviewers than interviewees (though as well as them interviewing you, you are interviewing the company to make sure it might be a fit for you), but being late to the interview (without good reason) is not a good sign.

  7. We were on a hiring spree not too long after I was hired at my current position. One gentleman emailed everyone about 1-2 hours prior to the interview that he was sick and unable to make it. My bosses said okay and let me go home (I can't imagine flying while sick is any more awful than going through an interview while sick if he was truly sick).

    Needless to say, we did not reschedule him to come back.


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