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How to Recover if You Show Up Late for an Interview

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According to the saying, "a pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure," the best way to recover from being late to an interview is to be on time. Find out the bus and train times, parking access and costs and other pertinent details well in advance, so there are no surprises on the big day. Leave your home early enough to stay on track no matter what happens. If you do encounter an unavoidable obstacle, you can regain your bearings.

Proactive Recovery

If you know you’re going to be late to an interview, call en route to alert your interviewer so that you don't come off as rude or flaky. Your tardiness is probably going to leave a negative impression no matter what you do, advises "Forbes" magazine, but at least calling to make your interviewer aware of the situation will highlight a few of your positive traits, like accountability, responsibility and the willingness to face challenges head on.

Apologize In Person

When you get to your interview, give a firm handshake, look your interviewer in the eye and apologize for your tardiness. Don’t try to pretend like your lateness didn’t happen, even if you called ahead. Own it -- show you know how to admit to your mistakes and move forward. If you’ve learned anything in the process, you should vocalize the lesson, according to -- perhaps, “If I get the job, I either need to park in the garage or take the train, because finding a spot in the street is more difficult than I realized.”

Leave It Alone

Once you have addressed the issue, leave it alone, advises Dwelling on the fact that you were late will make your deficiency -- rather than your capability -- the focus of the interview. Don’t over-apologize or make excuses, otherwise you’ll exacerbate the problem you’re trying to fix. Instead, pull out your resume and get down to business to shift the interviewer’s attention from the one thing you've done wrong, to the many things you have done right.

Do Your Homework

If there’s any hope of getting the job after showing up late, you’ll really have to impress your interviewer with your preparedness. You should know a great deal about the company: who they are, what they do, a bit about industry, the market and the competitors, and how your experience fits into the overall dynamic of the company. Know what they need, and have some specific answers prepared to explain your plan to deliver. Job advice site, Quintessential Careers, reports that not being ready for the interview is one of the top 10 mistakes candidates make. The site advises you start the meeting with a few thoughtful questions that reveal you have researched the job, because if you walk in there late and unprepared, you might as well not show up at all.


About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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