How to recover from being late for job interview?


Being late to an interview is as bad as it gets. So do everything in your power to avoid it. But being late doesn’t have to be the end of your chances. We provide some tips to recover from a bad start.

Let the interviewers know that you are running late

It is better that your interviewers know that you are running late rather than making them wait for you in the interview room. Call them, apologise for your tardiness and provide a reasonable estimate of your arrival time. Under pressure, you might think it would be better to say that you will arrive sooner than you will. Don’t exaggerate. You don’t want to keep them waiting again.

Explain why you are late

You will need to explain why you were late. Factors within your control - such as broken alarm clocks or not planning your journeys – are not acceptable. It shows laziness and an inability to organise yourself. But things beyond your control like traffic accidents are more reasonable. If you don’t have a good excuse, don’t lie – you will get caught out.

Apologise on arrival

Apologise when you meet your interviewers. Offer it sincerely and thank them for allowing you to interview that day. Careful not to overdo it, there is nothing quite as annoying as someone repeating themselves again and again.

Focus on the interview

Before you go to meet the interviewers, find a bathroom to take a couple of minutes of rest. Undoubtedly you will be sweaty and panicky, which is not a good look. Take a deep breath, wipe your brow, have a few sips of water and get yourself mentally ready for the interview. Don’t go into the interview room looking flustered.

Once you are in the room, forget about the fact you were late and try and perform as well as you can. Any bad first impressions will be forgotten if you answer your questions well.

These are some tips to salvage an interview if you are late. It goes without saying that you should do everything you can do avoid such a situation. Plan your journey and leave plenty of time as contingency. Best of luck in your interviews!

Sophia Wong

Brand and Marketing Strategist in Hong Kong, writes about career, job hunting and interview tips.

1 min read

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