One day last summer, I started driving to a late afternoon interview with a few minutes of travel time to spare, so at least I thought. Soon after departure, I realized it was also rush hour for the facilities crews and that we all had to exit on a single-lane road through the security gate at work. As I creeped in traffic staring at the clock and trying not to panic, I put my rehearsed plan into action for such a situation. I immediately called the department secretary to let the interview committee know that I was going to be late and asked if I should still show up or reschedule for a different time. From my point of view, calling seemed to be the only responsible option. They told me to still show up for the interview, but the tone in the room was tense and I couldn’t recover from the bad start. I often replay the scenario in my head to remind myself that I should have been less concerned about using up vacation time and instead taken off half a day to get to the interview early, a mistake that I will never repeat.
Lesson Learned…the Hard Way: Always plan to arrive at an interview location a few hours early to allow for any travel delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you arrive early then grab a cup of coffee and review your qualifications before the interview. Work hours can always be made up but missing out on a job opportunity is irrecoverable. If you are going to be late then my instinct is to call your contact as soon as possible and explain the situation. However, I saw a recent discussion on LinkedIn among hiring managers that they would never hire a candidate who was late to an interview. I am really interested in getting feedback from other people on this topic. Please take a minute to answer the poll questions below (click “vote” in each question box to submit the results). If you have any additional advice to share then feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Thanks for your input!