Finding a New Job
Finding a New Job

Don’t Snooze on a Job Opportunity. What to Do When You Know You’re Going to Be Late to an Interview

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, according to the old saying, and despite your best efforts – you just might find yourself running late for a job interview.

You’ve probably read about how turning up late for an interview is a big red flag for a hiring manager. However, that isn’t always the case. If you’re head-and-shoulders above the competition, running 10 minutes late or so isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.

The key here is to mitigate the damage and keep your chances alive. Below are a few tips on how to do just that.


If you’re definitely going to be late, call your interviewer as soon as possible and give a realistic time of arrival. The more notice you can give your interviewer, the better chance you have of not getting burned by your tardiness. Calling when you’re already 30 or 45 minutes late is not going to do much for your cause.

If you’re going to be more than 10 minutes late, you may want to ask about rescheduling the interview. When making this proposal, have alternate times and days ready to go.

Apologize and move on

No one likes being forced to wait for somebody who’s late, particularly hiring managers who have a bunch of other candidates in mind. Clearly, you owe your interviewer(s) an apology. However, overdoing it can work against you. Whether you’re saying sorry over the phone or in person, be short, sincere and professional.

After you’ve acknowledged your error and expressed regret, move on and don’t obsess over it.

Get it together

Once you’ve apologized, it’s important to take a moment to regroup, collect your thoughts and calm down before getting on with the interviewer. If you don’t, your tardiness will take over your thoughts and hang over the entire interview like a thick London fog.

After you’ve taken a deep breath, focus as soon as possible on your strengths, abilities and value you can bring to the organization.

Use this ‘crisis’ as an opportunity

Employers know all employees make mistakes and things don’t always go as planned. They want to hire someone who can keep a cool head in a bad situation to produce a good outcome.

While being late on purpose so you can show your mettle isn’t advisable, turning up late by mistake can be an opportunity to show what you’re made of as a professional.

Greet your interviewer with a smile and a quick repeat of your apology, possibly a self-deprecating joke if one comes to mind. Then, work hard to show off your best qualities and make a compelling case for why someone should hire you.

Partner with a supply chain recruiter today!

At ZDA, we help ambitious job seekers bounce back from setbacks by advising them on how to move forward. If you’re currently looking to take a step forward on your career path, please contact our Chicago supply chain recruiters today to find out how we can help.


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