The job interview is your chance to shine. You need to put on your best face, and show the interviewer that you have what it takes to succeed at this company. Therefore, if you are late to the interview, the hiring manager will assume you will always be late. Arriving late is often an instant deal-breaker, and you will most likely lose the job before you even get a chance to say anything.
Although doing everything in your power to arrive early should be done, sometimes arriving late is unavoidable. Unexpected occurrences have been known to happen, and there are ways to minimize the impact of being late. Here are some excuses that should be brought up if they happen to you:
- Car broke down
- Flight was delayed/cancelled
- Issue in the family
Although employers will be more likely to understand if you are tardy if you have one of these excuses, it is more important to be honest. You do not want to say there was a health scare in your family if you just slept through your alarm clock. That will just cause more issues down the line. Honesty is important to establish early on in your employment.
If you know you are going to be delayed, then the best thing to do is to call the interviewer to let him or her know what happened. You do not have to go into a great amount of detail. Just stick to the facts while apologizing profusely for your tardiness. Give the interviewer a realistic timeframe of when you could come in. If your car broke down but it will be fixed in 20 minutes, see if they'd be willing to see you later that same day. If you are not going to be able to go in that day entirely, see if they are willing to reschedule. Some employers may not be willing to reschedule while others will be more understanding. All you can do is explain your situation as well as you can and hope for the best.
Avoid Being Late Entirely
The best policy is to try to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. Being early is considered to be on time. Being on time is considered to be late. And being late is considered to be out of luck. You should have a good idea of what traffic will be like, so you can account for any delays. You should set your alarm clock so that you will have plenty of time in the morning to get ready. You do not want to wake up with only five minutes to get out the door. Allot yourself plenty of time to take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed and eat a good breakfast before you make your way to the interview.
Although being early is ideal, you want to make sure you are not getting to the interview too early. If you arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled meeting, then a hiring manager may need to stop what he or she is doing in order to accommodate you. It also gives off a bad impression like you are desperate for the job or are trying to overly please the interviewers. If you do get to your destination early, hang back in your car for a while or stop by a local café. The best policy is to never arrive more than 15 minutes early to an interview.
Never Get Frazzled
A holdup on the freeway or your phone battery dying can cause you to be late and unable to notify the hiring manager. If you end up being five or 10 minutes late, the most important thing you can do is to not get overly upset. Getting delayed can be upsetting, but you should not allow it to dominate your thoughts throughout the course of the interview. You can still get the job as long as your answers are strong and your thoughts are focused solely on the task at hand.
Once you arrive late, all you can do is apologize, explain the situation and then put it out of your mind. Too many interviewees have a habit of looking completely flustered at the situation and are unable to recover. If you are already late, then take a moment before you walk in to take a deep breath, compose yourself and get ready to nail this interview.