3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Momentum if Late for an Interview

John Krautzel
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You spent a week preparing for your job interview by going over common questions, researching the company culture and reaching out to employees to get to know the employer better. You pick out your clothes the night before and leave 15 minutes early. Despite your best efforts, you arrive five minutes late. Arriving late doesn't have to erase your chances of landing a job. Examine these three tips to keep your momentum moving forward.

1. Keep Your Commitment

Don't completely abandon the job interview. After all, the company spent a lot of time and effort just to reach this point thanks to your credentials, soft skills and experience. Your interviewer may talk to people in his network, and you don't know if these people could be responsible for hiring you sometime in the future.

If you already know you're going to be late, give your interviewer a quick phone call and a revised time of arrival. At least you showed good communication skills and were honest about your predicament when you called in late. Communication skills and honesty are two important soft skills employers look for in a new hire, and these skills come out in a job interview. Demonstrating these skills turns your disadvantage into an advantage with just a simple phone call.

2. Avoid Negative Thoughts

Another good soft skill is displaying a positive attitude. Rather than focus on what you missed in the job interview by getting there late, highlight your strengths and remember what you rehearsed over the past week. Go over the most important details of your skill set and experiences and ask the right questions to get your future employer talking. Once people talk, they start to realize what a valuable asset you are.

3. Offer a Sincere Apology

Show genuine remorse for showing up late, but do not dwell on it. When you keep talking about being late and constantly apologize for it, you derail the job interview and make the focus about your tardiness rather than your top-level skills. Excessive apologizing increases tension, leads to awkwardness and puts the focus on your excuses. Ask for forgiveness for being late and then move on from there.

Consider a sports mentality when this happens. You cannot take back the shots you missed, but you can improve your next shot to score a goal. In the same way, you cannot change the past when you arrived late to the interview, but you can make up for it. Your interviewers realize that no one is perfect, and they have made mistakes in the past, too. They were once interviewees sitting in the same position as you.

Arriving late for a job interview does not mean you destroyed your chances of landing a great job. Once you get your interviewers talking and excited about your skills, they may soon forget your initial faux pas and focus on the positive.


Photo courtesy of jeswin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Ronald W thanks for your comment and good job. It's hard to keep your composure when you are wondering if the interviewer has already decided against you but is just going through the motions. Good for you, too, that you had an answer for all of the questions asked. Sometimes things happen, such as being late, that are beyond our control. Offering an apology and then moving on is the best way to go - along with staying positive and upbeat.

  • Ronald W.
    Ronald W.

    I happen to be guilty of this very post. I was late by 5 minutes, I offered an apology from the very beginning, I usually always stay positive even in the midst of chaos and I had an answer to every question asked. Thank you for the encouragement!!💯

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