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I’m Late for My interview! Do I Still Have a Chance?

At one point or another, we’ve all had a version of the same nightmare: We’re lost on the way to an important appointment, and we’re driving endlessly around backstreets with signs that don’t match the ones on our map. Or we’re running through the corridors of a giant building looking for room 301 B, which doesn’t seem to exist, while every passing minute increases our already inexcusable lateness.

But what happens when you can’t wake up from this nightmare, because it isn’t a nightmare? What can you do when you find yourself driving around these backstreets or running through these corridors in real life? Or more realistically, what happens when your childcare provider unexpectedly disappears, your car breaks down, or your train stalls fifty feet underground where you have no phone access and no way to let your employers know you’re running late? Here are a few tips that can keep your interview nightmares from seeing the light of day.

The Day of Your Interview: Disaster Readiness Tips

  1. On the day of your interview, get up early. It doesn’t matter if the session is scheduled for 2:00 in the afternoon. Get up, get your coffee, and give yourself as many waking minutes in the day as you possibly can. You may not need them, but just in case, don’t lie in bed squandering time you may later wish you had used in other ways.
  2. Walk backwards from the moment of your arrival in your interviewer’s office. The process looks something like this: Your interview is scheduled for 2:00 PM. But you’ll need to fill out some forms in the lobby beforehand, so you’ll want to walk into the building at 1:45. You’ll need ten minutes to park your car, so you’ll arrive at your destination 1:35. Which means you’ll begin your 35 minute drive to the venue at 1:00. Which means you’ll put gas in your car at 12:45. And you’ll need to pick up your suit from the dry cleaners at 12:00. Etc, etc.
  3. Carry your interviewer’s contact information with you wherever you go all day long. As soon as you see signs of trouble or sense that your timeline from item 2 is coming unglued at the seams, call and let your employer know. This might feel silly, but it’s not. It’s polite and respectful.
  4. Double-confirm the commitments of others that you’ll depend on throughout the day. This includes pet and childcare providers, back-up providers, transportation providers, and the people who will handle your own responsibilities for you in your absence. Prepare these people for the possibility that the interview may run long or end early.
  5. Print out a few copies of your resume on high quality paper and carry them with you in a sleek portfolio. Interviewers frequently step into interviews unprepared, which shouldn’t bother you. In case your interviewer leaves your resume in another office or neglects to read it before your appointment, be ready.
  6. Eat a healthy breakfast, stay hydrated, and use the bathroom before you leave your house.
  7. Keep your phone on and close to you all day long. Just before you step into your interviewer’s office, turn your alerts and ringers off.


If the Worst Happens…

Even if the hour of your interview comes and goes and you’re trapped somewhere with no ability to call, apologize, or explain, your life isn’t over. Simply square your shoulders and face the difficult task of making amends the moment you’re able to. Begging for a second chance is okay (if you can do so with dignity). If you’re told no, it’s not the end of the world. Just calmly reiterate your strongest credentials one last time. Remind your employers why they requested the interview in the first place. Then move on. Head back to MyPerfectResume and turn your attention to your next opportunity and the next phase of your job search.