8 Ways to recover from being late for a job interview

worried businessman outdoors making phone call
Going on a job search is no easy feat. It could go on for months, without as much as a call back from any of the companies you’ve sent your resume to. It’s a stressful period which can be aggravated further by self-doubt and interview jitters.

Worried employee biting nails holing alarm clock

With the unpredictability of the country’s daily traffic and commute system, you can leave a good number of hours before your appointment but still not make it on time. You could also encounter a number of unpredictable circumstances, such as road accidents or emergencies, that may negatively impact your job application. Either way, you wouldn’t want to lose those job opportunities.

So, here are eight ways you can recover from being late for your job interview.


1.     Get in touch.

sad woman making phone call broken faulty car in background

Be sure to call your contacts the moment you realize that you won’t make it to your interview on time. Understand that the company interviewing you has its own internal processes, and you being late might sidetrack their whole schedule. So, don’t keep them waiting, clueless about your whereabouts. Call in as early as you can to let them know that you’ll be late. You can also send an email or a text message. It’s not just about professionalism, it’s also about consideration and respect.


2.     Apologize.

worried businessman making phone call

Apologize for being late, both in your initial message and in person once you get to their office. Express your apology with a few choice words and your regret with your tone. Be earnest, but don’t overdo it and risk further waste their time with an in-depth explanation of why you’re late. Keep your apology brief.


3.     Be grateful for second chances.

stressed woman in verge or tears in relief talking on phone

A sincere “thank you” is just as crucial as your heartfelt apology. So, don’t forget to thank them if they’ve welcomed you despite being late. After all, they’re accommodating you at another time. Whether they’ve agreed to reschedule or extend your time, showing gratitude for another shot should be in order.


4.     Inform them of your ETA.

wan walking outdoors making phone call looking at wrist watch

Let your contact know what your expected time of arrival is. It’s only polite to let them adjust their schedule to accommodate your rescheduling or timeslot offset. It would also be wise to allocate enough time to compose yourself prior to meeting with them.


5.     Don’t make up excuses.

sad worried woman making phone call

Your tardiness is attributable to something—whether it be traffic, an emergency, or accidental oversleeping. Provide a reason why you’d be late, but don’t try to cover them up with flimsy excuses. Interviewers will be forgiving and considerate if you let them know in advance, especially if the cause is beyond your control.


6.     Compose yourself.

man fixing necktie in front of mirror

Step back and compose yourself before diving into your interview. Chances are, you might’ve gotten rattled from running for your life or wanting to impress your interviewer despite your blunder. Coming into your interview with twice as much tangled nerves can fluster you greatly.

Take some time to collect your thoughts, tidy your appearance, and catch your breath.


7.     Remain positive.

woman waiting patiently in waiting room

Despite your minor hitch, remain positive that you can still prove to your interviewer that you’re deserving of the position. They would want to see how you’d perform under the pressure, and showing them that you can bounce back from your blunder can score you serious points during your interview.

Don’t let your tardiness define you. Assure them that tardiness won’t be a recurring issue if they hire you. Let your work experience and skills shine.


8.     Be professional.

job applicant waiting for interview questions

We all aim to be professional in our career pursuits. So, even with a tardiness notch on your belt, be professional in handling the situation and when speaking with your contact. Don’t be too lax in conducting yourself. It’s unwise to assume they will accommodate you regardless. So, be ready for a reschedule or to completely lose your slot. Regardless of the outcome, remain professional.


Come to your appointments on time. You wouldn’t want to miss out on great opportunities due to less-than-agreeable first impressions. Your tardiness shouldn’t define you, but it may well be a harbinger that recruiters are keeping an eye out for. Despite external factors that may come your way, keep these tips in mind to help you salvage your interview and land that job.