being intentionally late to an interview as a strategy

This post was originally published on August 14, 2009.

A reader writes:

I’d like to share a job search tip with you (or at least receive your opinion about it).

A resume attempts to showcase past achievements but it doesn’t do much to demonstrate a candidate’s character.

So I deliberately call in late to the interview. About a half hour before the interview time, I will call the company and say I’m in traffic and would be it ok to arrive about 15 minutes late. They, of course, always say no problem and they will let the interviewer know.

So I arrive and sit down with the interviewer and I thank him/her for the reschedule. If that interviewer makes special effort to note that extra effort and that most people don’t do that (which certainly has happened with me) I have both an indicator or the character of that interviewer and an instant segue to ask questions about the personal qualities that management values.

The point is that just because you’re a candidate doesn’t mean you can’t create some trigger event that gives you feedback about the inside. (In the science/tech arena this is called ‘blank box’ testing. I’m saying it applies to human interaction and the job search market as well.)

Uh, I think this is a really bad idea.

You’re deliberately arriving late for an interview? In order to see if the interviewer thanks you for calling to warn her?

First of all, as an interviewer, I often allot a specific amount of time for an interview, and I can’t go over it because I have other meetings scheduled right after it. So if I’ve allotted an hour and you arrive 15 minutes late, you’ve just shortened our time to talk by a quarter. Not only is that not good for you, but it’s also annoying, frankly.

Second, it doesn’t reflect well on you to be 15 minutes late. You should be planning to leave yourself enough of a buffer that you don’t need to worry about getting stuck in traffic, because you’ve planned for the possibility — because you know that arriving on time for an interview is important. Now, if there’s an incredibly unusual traffic jam, that’s different — but as someone pointed out in the comments on another post recently, many cities are small enough that your interviewer is going to know if this is the case or not.

Third, you’re expecting the interviewer to note the “extra effort” that you made to call them and alert them that you’d be late? Since that’s the bare minimum expected from a candidate running late, that’s a little like expecting to be thanked for making the extra effort to brush your teeth that day. You should be apologizing; they shouldn’t be thanking you.

And last, you’re doing this to test the character of your interviewer? There are a lot better ways to do that than to intentionally disrespect someone’s time when they’ve set aside a block of their day to meet with you.

What do others think?

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. WWWONKA

    AAM was correct on this one. It’s irritating that the rest of us arrive on time and try to promote a positive work ethic.

      1. Jessa

        Yes, I’d like to know that because all things being equal I would not hire someone who was late without a really amazing reason, and unless there was an accident or problem on the way (pipe burst or something) I would pick someone else. And believe me I’m the sort to look at the news of the day if someone claims “pipe burst on 3d St.” I’m one of those people, my sister calls me “pathologically on time,” lateness just screams to me of lack of proper planning and respect for the person interviewing you.

  2. QualityControlFreak

    I think I’m not a lab rat, and I didn’t agree to your test. It would trigger something all right. Annoyance. Ain’t no one got time for that!

  3. Unanimously Anonymous

    Back in my navy days we used to have a saying we applied to cockamamie ideas like this…”Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?”

  4. Anon Accountant

    Wow. I don’t even know where to start with this one.

    I truly don’t see what it proves if the employer notes the “extra effort” of contacting them to let them know you’ll be late. On another note, some employers may think you’re flaky by not leaving earlier to allow for traffic unless there was an unusual traffice jam or a multi-car accident that created additional delays.

    And if one really wants insight to the culture of the company, there’s great suggestions on this site for getting a feel for the culture.

  5. Kari

    On the flip side, I’ve had interviewers call me 15 minutes late for a phone interview. As irritated and annoyed as I am, I definitely don’t let that show. Usually they apologize, and I say something along the lines of, “Oh no worries! I understand those things happen sometimes!” I’m quite sure that my reaction to their lateness is being noted.

    To the OP: Really? Like really? I’d have to say you’re pretty arrogant and obnoxious.

    1. RB

      Exactly! I noticed their was no positive outcome with this strategy, except for the reader being treated courteously. What a tool.

  6. Elizabeth

    When I first read this, I thought it was a joke….I really hope this individual gave up on this HORRIBLE approach to job interviews.

    1. Jen in RO

      When I started reading, I thought the OP had read this suggestion on some job site and was sending it to AAM to confirm that it’s a Bad Idea…

      1. Ex-Mrs Addams

        +1

        That was my initial thought too. I can’t begin to imagine how anyone would think this is a good idea.

  7. jasmine

    I’d definitely have to agree with Alison on this one. Someone who can’t even make it to an interview on time would seem to be severely lacking in organizational skills, not to mention courtesy.

    1. BCW

      In fairness I’m early for 99% of things in my life, but there have been a couple of occasions where I have been late to interviews. I live in a big city, so it doesn’t have to be a “multi-car accident” or anything. Sometimes your bus just hits every red light, and there is a moving van, etc, and even though you gave yourself 45 minutes to get somewhere that should take 30, you are still late. I think for people in 80% of America you might be able to say that they are disorganized. But NY, LA, Chicago, and some other cities, you really never know. Even going to work, I leave the same time every day, but my arrival time has varied widely.

      1. Jamie

        That’s why the more variable the city traffic the bigger your buffer.

        Although my usual commute of 1.25 hours took 2.5 yesterday for no freaking reason whatsoever – so on that point I agree that you can’t predict everything. But in Chicago, if it takes a half hour to get somewhere you leave yourself a lot more than 45 minutes to do it.

        1. Vicki

          I had an interview last year. The usual time from home to the interview location is 40-45 minutes (I used to work near there). I gave myself an extra half hour. I was 5 minutes late. I called from a spot 10 minutes away when I was stuck behind a flagman controlling two-way traffic (construction).

          There was a part of the freeway that is never even slightly crowded at 9am that was crawling at 15mph. I hit the construction because I got off the freeway to take a bypass that I used to take daily for a year; no indication of construction until the flag guy let everyone ahead of me through and stopped at me.

          On the flip side, it took 10 additional minutes after I arrived to track down the person who took me to the interview room, which didn’t have a phone (the interviewer was working from home) so they had to find another room (where they couldn’t make the phone work and had to go roust IT). Then interviewer 2 was missing in action and interviewer 3 was a substitute.

          In all of that comedy of errors, we were all gracious and apologetic and, at least, none of us was doing any of that dance on purpose.

      2. some1

        I’ve taken public transportation a lot (though only a couple times in Chicago). When I’ve needed to take it to get to a job interview, I purposely bring enough cash to grab a cab if something unforeseen happens (like the bus breaking down or showing up 20 minutes late).

        1. BCW

          That works great if you are on a bus. If you are on a subway and it gets delayed (which I’ve had happen a couple times, though not for an interview) there isn’t much you can do.

          1. Felicia

            The worst thing about a subway is that you can’t even call to say you’ll be late. Once I gave myself an hour an 10 minutes to get somewhere that should take 30-40 minutes, and I was still late. I generally add a half hour buffer to the amount of time something takes during rush hour – so when i have an interview in the middle of the day, i’m often very early.

            1. Bea W

              For all the times MBTA commuters are forced to languish underground, at least we have cell service. If there’s one thing I don’t have to do is suffer being trapped in a tin can with 100 of my closest friends without having the oppurtunity to increase my suffering by dialing in to join that meeting i’m late for.

          2. Audiophile

            That happened to me recently for an interview. I left more than enough time. Subway stopped due to signal issues, no way to call. I finally got out of the subway and decided to try to walk the 9 blocks to the building. I made it to block 7 or 8 and decided to take a cab, hoping to speed up the process, no such luck, as the cab driver didn’t know the way. I didn’t bother trying to explain all this, other than to say the subway got stuck. That’s NYC for you.

            1. Felicia

              That’s also Toronto for you – a very similar thing happened on my way to an interview this summer. Most stations have no cell service, and most of the delay the train was just stopped between two stations, so there was nothing i could do. I almost didn’t want to go to the interview anymore, but I went,, and although the delay was on the news, and i was super apologetic and there’s no way i could have possibly called before the interview was supposed to start, i feel like i ruined my chances .

              1. Esra

                The TTC is so frustrating that way. I started a new job recently and need to rely on the 504. I’m thinking of getting a bike.

                1. Felicia

                  I would hate to have to rely on the 504! Thats IMO the worst streetcar. Theres also quite a few buses that are supposed to come every 10 minutes or less, and then you wait 40 minutes and 4 come in a row.

      3. A Teacher

        And don’t discount being if you live in the country–ever been stuck behind a tractor or a combine in a no passing with blind reverse s curves during harvest going 15 mph in a 55? Yeah–that’s kind common in parts of the country and it will add at least 15-20 minutes if not more to your commute. I live in a biggish city but am surrounded by farm country and last night I definitely got stuck behind a combine on the way home…

        Or one time my mom got stuck waiting for a farmer to get his bull out of the road and then it took off running for her car…

        1. TL

          One time I was nearly an hour late to school because one of our horses got stuck in the cattle guard and we had to cut her out before we could get out of the yard.

          Life in the country, eh?

        2. Chinook

          Your right – nothing is as frustrating as being stuck behind cattle changing pasture or elk licking road salt (which causes every other vehicle to stop to take photos). That beinng said, in my small town with tracks going through it, “random train” is a legit excuse for being late.

      4. LA

        If your bus hits all red lights & you aren’t on time, you didn’t plan ahead very well – that’s normal variation. If your bus breaks down, in the middle of nowhere and it takes 45 minutes for the next one to come – yes, that’s unexpected enough for it to be reasonable to be late.

        I live in LA, and if I expect a drive to take 15 minutes WITH traffic (there’s always traffic), I’d allow 45 minutes to get to the interview. I have definitely arrived 30-45 minutes early for an interview before – I just go get a coffee or something nearby, and walk into the office 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time. Much more relaxing than rushing!

  8. LadyTL

    While I agree this approach is horrible, I can understand the motivations beyond doing it. It can be very easy to hide the dynamics of a workplace or management style in an interview and often probing questions from the interviewee is highly frowned upon. I think the attitude that spawned this bad idea comes from the imbalance in interviewing where the interviewer gets much more leeway in testing or grilling the interviewee and doing the same back just gets you knocked out of the running. Seeing how your future manager reacts to a natural event of being a touch late even for something as important as an interview can be important for if the culture or manager is alright despite it being a pretty bad idea in general.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Sure, it’s important to find ways to get insight into the prospective manager — but you want to find ways of doing that that won’t reflect badly on you. That’s the huge glaring problem here. I mean, you could make some mistakes in your cover letter too to see if the manager understands that no one is perfect and occasionally mistakes will happen, but it’s just going to reflect poorly on your attention to detail. That doesn’t mean that the hiring manager who rejects your application because of it has unreasonable standards and won’t tolerate any imperfections; it means that she’s assuming that you’re showing yourself at your best in the application process, and that your best falls short of what she can get from other candidates. Same thing here.

      1. myswtghst

        “it means that she’s assuming that you’re showing yourself at your best in the application process, and that your best falls short of what she can get from other candidates. ”

        I think this is SUCH an important point. When I’m interviewing people, I try to give plenty of leeway for nerves, but I also expect you’re trying to show me your best self, so I would be (and have been) concerned by things like typos / grammatical errors, applicants being way under-dressed, and lateness. If you can’t manage it when you’re trying your hardest, who’s to say you’ll manage it on an every day basis?

    2. Andrea

      Here’s the thing, LadyTL, I don’t leave interview candidates sitting in the lobby for 15 minutes past their interview time either.

      If they have a 10am interview, I assume they will show up at least a few minutes early, because everyone always does. I’m there and ready to greet them at two minutes till, and they are seated and our conversation has begun at 10am.

      That should tell you everything you need to know about whether I respect your time, yes I do. If somebody shows up late, intentionally no less, it shows me they don’t respect my time.

      People generally show up for interviews on time. Being the person who doesn’t makes you stick out and not in a good way.

      1. LadyTL

        There is other ways to disrespect someone’s time in an interview then having them wait. I’ve had to fill out hiring paperwork in an interview when they had no intention of hiring me (came out later). There also has been letters about bad interviews to this site about interviewers wasting time because they could. Also there can be good reasons for an interviewer to be late.

        I understand trying to be deliberately late to an interview is a bad idea but I also understand it is very frustrating to get an understanding of a potential employer about reactions to life happens which could make someone think this might be a reasonable idea.

        1. Colette

          The problem is that for all the interview knows, “life happens” every day for you when you pull a stunt like this. Do I want to work with someone who is, at best, an unreliable poor planner?

          If it’s truly something out of your control (the “subway stopped for 3 hours” scenario), that’s different, but if you’re driving, you should have more control over the scenario and being late should be very rare. I’d also argue that if you can call and say “I’ll be 15 minutes late”, it’s not something so far outside your control that you could have planned for it.

          Some interviewers don’t respect the candidate’s time – and the answer is don’t go work for them, not be disrespectful to other interviewers. Similarly, when a candidate doesn’t respect the interviewer’s time, the answer is to hire someone else, not to be disrespectful to other candidates.

          1. A Teacher

            Okay, so have you driven in Chicago traffic when you left 3 hours (what should be a 1.5 hour drive) and then an accident happens somewhere ahead of you and there is no way to get around it? Yeah, been there as have many of my friends and family members because of where we are from. From where I am from there are several ways into the city but its a best guest on any given day which of the 3 main ways is actually your best route. Gotta love traffic like that…

            1. Jamie

              Yeah – it’s tough and when it’s crazy traffic where you’re super late at least for me, we generally know that.

              I know it’s not in all industries, but in ours we have trucks in and out all the time – as well as our own drivers – so if there is a major cluster out there the candidate won’t be the only one stuck in it.

              TBH – a lot of it is how they respond. If they planned properly and something happened and they are really apologetic and offer to reschedule I’m a lot more comfortable that it was a one-off than if it’s just “traffic – you know how it is.”

              Because seriously, (and I know how stupid this is) I realized I had enough gas to get to work and said I’d fill up on the way home…(and this is where my dad’s voice resonates in my head telling me to never, ever let it go below half a tank…and I ignore his ghostly advice.)

              So I’m on the Stevenson and I don’t know why but a commute that’s usually an hour fifteen tops at morning rush took me 2.5 hours. I am watching my gas gauge get dangerously low and I’m thinking how embarrassing it will be for me if I run out of gas on the expressway because I was too lazy to stop.

              I was not the only one over an hour late – it was a nightmare. So it can happen – I think it’s just the attitude that accompanies it that makes the difference.

              If I was late for an interview and not to work I’d have called, been mortified, and offered to reschedule while acknowledging the inconvenience.

            2. Colette

              If you end up in a terrible traffic jam, do you call in and say “I’ll be 15 minutes late”, or do you call and say “I’m sorry, there’s some sort of traffic jam going on, and I can’t get off the highway. I have no idea when I’ll make it there. I’m really sorry.”

              Yes, stuff can happen, but I don’t think it’s out of line for an interviewer to decide that you could just be the kind of person who lives a drama-filled life due to poor planning. You might know that this is the one time you’ve been late in 6 months, but all they know is that you’ve been late 100% of the time they’ve planned to meet with you.

              Could they decide that it was just bad luck on your part? Sure, but they don’t have to.

              1. A Teacher

                I agree that it is at their prerogative but I would also hope that there would be at least a little flexibility. Seriously, don’t get me started on the Stevenson, several years ago they would reroute traffic or just randomly close lanes right around I355 or near Rt. 26 or even up at 294…lets close up super clogged areas that already are a pain to deal with. Most of the time I would be fine on time, but getting off and taking a “back road” would take even longer. Most of the time it wasn’t even in the city but out in the burbs where it was worse.

                I guess having driven in super crazy city traffic for years I get that people may hit a traffic snafu and while that’s not an excuse if you haven’t really tried to give yourself time, it is understandable if you’ve allowed for a ton of extra time and something else besides horrible traffic happens.

                1. Jamie

                  For me all you have to say is “Stevenson” and I’m thrilled you showed up on the right day. Is spend so much time on that thing I think I should be able to build a little rest stop on it just for me.

                  Or another local favorite – LaGrange Rd. Will it take me 20 minutes to get to the Stevenson or an hour? Every day is an adventure.

                  And I know this is just me, but I was born without a sense of direction. I am not kidding – I get off the one way I know and I’ve practiced and you’ll never see me again. I’ll end up in Canada banging on Chinook’s door begging for a cup of coffee and a way home.

                  If my husband isn’t available to be my own GPS and talk me in – forget it – off the beaten trail and I’m lost.

      2. SevenSixOne

        I only had an interviewer leave me waiting past my start time once. After I had been waiting 10 minutes, my instincts told me to just walk out without a word, but I waited because I needed the job. The interview finally started nearly 20 minutes behind schedule. The interviewer was very apologetic about it, but my instincts still told me to leave.

        I stayed for the interview and ended up getting hired. The interviewer (who then became my boss) demonstrated time and again that she had no respect for other people’s time… and no respect for other people, period. I will never ignore those instincts again.

  9. Elkay

    I don’t agree with this approach at all (mainly because you’re cutting your interview time down by 15 minutes for no good reason) however I would say that despite calling being the “bare minimum” I’d put money on a large amount of people not bothering to call. I’m constantly shocked that behavior I view as standard work practice is commented on as standing out in a positive light.

  10. Anne

    I remember this being linked to before… it was difficult to believe the first time I read it, and it’s difficult to believe now. I just can’t understand why someone would do this.

    I don’t think we’ve ever had someone turn up late to one of our interviews, or call ahead to say they would be late. It probably wouldn’t prevent us from hiring but it would certainly be a mark against them.

    We did have one guy who called us as his interview was supposed to be starting, saying he was at our address but couldn’t find us. We’re in a basement office with steps down from the sidewalk, and a sign at the top of the steps, which he was standing next to. I could see him out my window – he was about five yards away from me, maximum. I went and got him. He didn’t get the job.

    1. Andrea

      I haven’t had anybody be late to an interview, specifically with an appointment with me, in years.

      Had no shows, not the same thing.

      Within the company there’s a general policy to never 2nd interview/hire anybody who is late to an interview. If you can’t show up on time when you are trying to make your best impression, you’ve told all that’s needed to know about your dependability going forward.

      THAT said, any sane person would make an exception for a freak occurrence that happens to a good candidate.

    2. Ivy

      I would have to disagree with a general policy like that, not hiring somebody just for being late. I was 1 whole hour late to my interview with my current employer, 12 years ago. This was the first time I was driving a car in the US, no GPS at that time, I misread the map and found basically the same address in the adjacent town (and in suburban New Jersey you really don’t know in which small town you are unless you stop and ask somebody, the townships blend over). I freaked out, especially as this was a rare chance interview during a tough recession year for a company top of its field. But HR was very understanding, they found an alternative interviewer to see me, and I was hired the next day. In recent years I’ve done a lot of recruiting and while I would watch out more carefully somebody who was late, that definitely won’t be a make or break decision, especially if they had a convincing reason.

      Thus said, I can’t really imagine somebody doing this as a strategy, on this I agree with everybody, this is obnoxious

      1. Anonymous

        I’ve had this happen with vendors! I’m in NJ also (south) and I agree the GPS directions can be nuts. There’s also a Moorestown and Morristown problem, confuse the two and you are two hours worth of screwed.

        Anyway, that’s the exact kind of outlier experience any sane person would taken into account. Probably because SJ is known to be screwed up in GPS, we don’t run into this with interviewees much as they run dry runs or allow extra time to make sure they can find the place.

        That’s usually my open in the interview, asking people how their drive in was. (We provide a link to reliable directions when we schedule the interview and make sure that the interviewees know they can call reception for support in finding us.)

        Anyway, even with providing resources so that people shouldn’t get lost or confused, if a good candidate got screwed up GPS, I don’t think anybody would hold that against them for a second interview. (But the second interview should be on time.)

      2. Broke Philosopher

        I’m a tutor, and once I was 30+ minutes late to see a new client because I somehow misread her directions “in town X, 30 minutes outside town Y” as “in town Y, 30 minutes outside town X” and drove to the address in town Y. And since I also had a new client right after her, I ended up being 30 minutes late to both! I was mortified, but they were both very understanding.

  11. theotherjennifer

    The character this guy shows me is that he’s undependable, unreliable, inconsiderate and disorganized. so therefore, keep driving.

  12. Andrea

    Wow.

    This has to be a joke/prank question to see if it would get posted. There is nobody in the universe who would think that being intentionally late to an interview is a good idea.

    Prudie had a letter two weeks ago from a woman (? I think it was a woman) who confessed that her hobby was creative writing to online advice columnists to see how many letters she could get posted.

    There’s no way this letter writer is for real!

    I, um, hope.

            1. A Bug!

              I found myself raising an eyebrow to Prudie’s advice on a regular basis, and no longer read it often as a result.

              Miss Manners, on the other hand, is always right on the button.

              But this letter, I think I’m on the fence on its legitimacy. I know people who would actually think this way, so I’m hesitant to dismiss it as fake.

        1. Liz in a library

          Since my comment with the link is in moderation…that question is the last one in the column titled Unwilling Amateur.

  13. Paige

    Unless there is a huge unforeseen wreck, traffic is not an acceptable excuse to be late. Equally annoying are candidates who show up too early. I had a candidate show up 2 hours early recently right before lunch. With interviews scheduled back-to-back, lunch was the interview panel’s only break. I almost felt bad about making the candidate wait, but then realized it was really inconsiderate on her part.

    1. Del

      I’ll admit to being extremely early to interviews (though never two hours! I think my maxiumum was 45 minutes), but when I do that, I’m fully aware that I’m being absurdly early, and I come prepared to cool my heels in the lobby (or in my car, if the office is too small for a lobby) for that extra time. Traffic can be pretty unpredictable where I live, and I get flustered and miss turns when driving, so I’d rather face a 75% chance of quietly reading a book for half an hour in an office lobby and a 25% chance of needing that extra time cushion to be on time.

      1. majigail

        oh, please don’t come in the lobby 45 minutes early. Come in 15 minutes early- max. Coming in too early makes many managers feel like they need to drop what they’re doing to see you and if they don’t, the long wait can make everyone else in the office kind of uncomfortable.

        1. Colette

          And it also puts the receptionist (or whoever is the closest to the lobby) in the position of having to keep track of you to make sure you’re not wandering through the building.

        2. MrsKDD

          ^This. Also, it makes me wonder if you thought the interview was at a different time and I start to question your attention to details or if I messed up my own schedule. Park your car somewhere close to the office if possible, and wait there until you can show up 10 minutes early or so, but oh please don’t roll in 45 minutes before the interview and wait in the lobby. As majigail said, the long wait can make others uncomfortable.

          1. Jamie

            We had someone show up 25 minutes early just today.

            I am not the hiring manager, but I was in a meeting with the hiring manager when someone came in to tell him his interview was here. So now I’m annoyed and it’s not even my candidate, because just knowing he was sitting out there rushed things.

            1. Waerloga

              lol… My current job I arrived early for the interview but only because the receptionist is my cousin (She wasn’t aware I had even applied for a position there.)

              It was for a double duty… Invited her and her mother to a family function, then told her I was expected by . She retaliated against me for being too early by putting me to work by dropping off the outgoing mail into the post outside….

              Very odd working with her downstairs as we don’t look alike and I’m 2 decades her senior…

              It’s all good though.

              Take care

              W

        3. Jamie

          This. If you are that early, great – chill in your car or find a coffee shop – but if you’re sitting in my lobby I’m annoyed because I’m acutely aware that you are there and the receptionist shouldn’t have to deal with people camping out in her area.

          Maybe if it’s a huge office building where the lobby is a neutral place with couches and stuff – but not an individual business.

          1. SevenSixOne

            I show up early and use the time to check out the surrounding area, so if I do get the job I have some idea what restaurants, shopping, ATMs, and whatever else are nearby.

        4. some1

          Add me to the “Don’t Do This” camp. It’s annoying to receptionist and interviewers like everyone said.

          Also, imo, it makes you look like you don’t know how to use your time wisely when left to your own devices. Are you going to be the employee who works until 5:00, but when you “finish” your work at 4:30, are you going to stare out the window for half an hour and have to be told what else can be done until you are supposed to leave, or are you going to be the employee who says, “Now I can archive those emails I have been putting off/clean out my desk drawer/touch base with a co-worker on an ongoing project/start my timesheet, etc.”

        5. FD

          I like to find a shop nearby, buy something for later, and then use the bathroom to make sure my hair and makeup are pristine.

        6. LadyTL

          This doesn’t always work though. Not everyone has a car to sit in and not every office has a place nearby you can sit in for half an hour or more because traffic was better than expected. Which is worse, coming late because you had to time it too closely or very early because you didn’t want to be late? As someone who takes public transit, that’s pretty much my options going someplace new and I don’t have a car to sit in for a while to keep myself looking presentable.

          1. Cat

            I think it’s pretty unusual to have someplace be (a) accessible by public transit; and (b) have nowhere nearby you can sit for a half hour, even if it’s just a fast food restaurant. If the office is in a weird location like that, they’re probably used to people coming in early.

            1. LadyTL

              Actually it’s a pretty common issue I’ve had in my city since the public transit is not that good so people tend to assume you have a car. The routes cover alot of the main streets but not all and barely any side areas. Downtown is just as bad since there is very few coffee shops or fast food type places but plenty of public transit. I understand it is a quick of my city but it does leave me in a bit of a spot between a rock and hard place with having to choose between late or too early.

              1. Cat

                Maybe just mention to the receptionist (or whoever) that your bus was early, then.

                I do think, though, that if there are any coffee shops or restaurants within a reasonable distance, you should hang out there, even if they’re not right next store (assuming no accessibility issues). It’s a lot more predictable how long it’ll take you to walk half a mile than it is how long the bus will take.

              2. Colette

                Maybe you’re narrowing your thought process a little too much.

                Places you can kill time while waiting:
                – public libraries
                – theatre/hotel/public business lobbies
                – stores
                – bus shelters
                – parks

                No, you can’t hover in one small store for 45 minutes, but you could probably stay there for 5 or 10, right? Similarly, you can’t necessarily walk into a business and sit down, but you could wait inside the doors like you’re waiting for a ride.

                It’s better to put up with a little inconvenience than start of an interview by annoying the interviewer.

                1. LadyTL

                  “Places you can kill time while waiting:
                  – public libraries
                  – theatre/hotel/public business lobbies
                  – stores
                  – bus shelters
                  – parks”

                  The problem is in my city, all of those are either not around, the weather is bad enough I would be unpresentable after waiting in them or will in fact send you back out if you do not buy anything or are waiting around too long (say 4-5 mins) because of the high homeless population we have. Also the too early thing often is by a half hour or more because I am trying to not be late because of transit unpredictability since the low saturation also means buses that only run once or twice an hour except on certain lines around rush hour. It’s kind of a double edge sword, I can be late or I can be very early but rarely ever right on time or just a few minutes early.

                2. Jamie

                  LadyTL – can’t you schedule your interview with the bus schedule in mind?

                  If public transportation is that unreliable, would you be able to get to work on time each day?

                3. LadyTL

                  After I am hired, most employers really don’t care if you show up a half hour early as long as you clock in on time. As for scheduling, most of the buses do not run on time and I really don’t encounter many employers in the area that let you pick the time for the interview. It usually “is this time good” and if not I guess you aren’t getting the interview because the area is really competitive for jobs. And even when I can pick the time, I don’t know how the buses run in an area I don’t go to so still stuck with the same choice, be a few minutes late or be a half hour or more early to not be late.

                4. VintageLydia

                  I grew up in an area similar to what LadyTL describes. It was a “city” that was sprawled wider than any suburb I’ve ever lived in since. Most office jobs were in corporate office parks so about the most interesting thing you can do is walk laps around the parking lot. Before I moved they started building more mixed-use building (offices and apartments above with shops and restaurants below) but that’s still not the majority of the area. Unless you are applying for retail to begin with, which tends to be near other retail for obvious reasons, your SOL if the bus schedule isn’t in your favor.

                5. Colette

                  Let’s look at this a different way.

                  You invite 4 friends over for dinner, and say “We’ll probably eat around 6:30, so come over at 5 so we have time to chat first.”

                  You wake up, go to the grocery store, come home, tidy up, etc.

                  At 3, you decide to start preparing the food. You’re going to prepare what you can, then take a shower and get dressed so that you’re ready when your friends arrive.

                  At 3:05, your doorbell rings, and one of your friends is there. She says, “Hi, I’m early because this is when I could get a ride.”

                  How do you feel about your friend?

                  You can show up early if that’s you’re only option, but you do pay a price for that.

                6. LadyTL

                  That’s not really a good comparison. If I’m supposed to be there at 5, I wouldn’t show up until between 4:15 and 5. Even I understand showing up two hours early is ridiculous even by trying not to be late standards. Also if it was dinner with friends, being a few minutes late isn’t treated like you have shown to be the worlds more irresponsible person ever like many interviewers treat it so I would obviously go with the be a little late option there.

                7. Colette

                  The point is that it’s an imposition to have someone show up much earlier than they were expected – and 45 minutes is over the line in many cases.

                  If you walk into a business 45 minutes early, it may mean that the manager gets interrupted as she goes into an important meeting, or that the receptionist can’t go for lunch because she can’t leave the front desk while there’s someone sitting there, or that the group celebrating a big contract win in the boardroom have to close the door (and make the room stuffy) because it’s sensitive information. As I said earlier, you can do it, but you should know that it can start the interview on a bad note.

                8. Cat

                  I do think that if you have no choice but to come in 45 minutes earlier, you should apologize; tell whoever meets you that the bus got you in early; and politely emphasize that you don’t mind waiting till the scheduled time at all. The interviewers will know that there’s nowhere around their office you can wait. If you have a choice, it’s better to avoid; if you don’t, it’s just something to be aware of.

      2. Anonymous

        I agree with the others. I’m paranoid about being late and often arrive in the parking lot/structure 45 minutes early. I use that time to observe the employees walking in the office: how are they dressed? Do they seem friendly and approachable? Do they look happy to be working there? Then I have a little bite to eat and drink some water and relax. I don’t actually leave my car until about 7 minutes before the interview time (sometimes 10 if it’s a large building).

      3. myswtghst

        Same! I was at least an hour early for the interview for my current job, because I was working second shift and interviewing for a first shift job, and terribly nervous about being late. I just stopped at a McDonald’s on my way, then ate breakfast and hung out in my car for a while so I wasn’t too early and didn’t inconvenience my interviewers.

    2. KellyK

      I think that if you won’t accept traffic as an excuse for being late, you can’t *also* hold it against candidates when they show up early, since that’s part of planning to *not* be late due to traffic. Ideally, they’d find something else to do nearby and walk in 5-10 minutes early, but if you’re not close to a coffee shop or restaurant, then I don’t see the problem unless they expect you to move their time up or irritate the receptionist. Two hours is a lot, but depending on how long their drive is, that might have been a reasonable amount of buffer time.

  14. Mike C.

    Look, if you want to bomb your interview or just make yourself look like a jackass, why don’t you just hit on the hiring manager or take that empty numbered parking stall right next to the front door?

    No need to waste 15 minutes of every else’s time, after all.

  15. ExceptionToTheRule

    If you were 15 minutes late to an interview with me, regardless of the reason, I’ll go through the motions of interviewing you (because I’ve already blocked out the time), but you’re automatically out of contention. In my industry, you absolutely, positively HAVE to be punctual. If you’re late to the interview, I can’t take the chance that you’ll be late to everything else we do.

    1. LOLwhut

      I once had an interview that was a 45-minute drive down the NJ Turnpike. The morning of my interview there was a torrential downpour, so knowing how the Turnpike gets in bad weather, I left two hours early. I still got to the interview 15 minutes late. I called ahead and apologized while I was in my car and guess what? I got the job.

      So you’re saying with you, I wouldn’t even get a second look?

      At least you’re saving good people the trouble of working for you.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        I can’t have people be late – period, end of sentence. Good people in my business aren’t late. They can’t be or they won’t stay employed.

        Most businesses and industries can tolerate people being late, mine can’t.

        1. LOLwhut

          Right, right.

          It’s not that I’m a jerk! It’s the industry, the INDUSTRY I tell you!

          So what industry would that be, where a State of Emergency isn’t an excuse for lateness? The Secret Service?

          1. FiveNine

            You would automatically be out of contention for a second interview at almost any call center. Not top secret stuff.

        2. Cat H

          I’d be very interested to know what type of industry you work in because, you know, something bad stuff happens.
          If there was a pile up on the way to an interview and the road was closed while it was being cleared with no diversion, would that person be out of the running in your eyes?

        3. TL

          Nobody’s punctual 100% of the time, though. Some people get very close but stuff happens, say 1-5% of the time. So either people in your field need to be able to predict the future or, very occasionally, someone has to be late.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule

            Local broadcast television. I can’t have crew members be late to a live broadcast.

            You can think I’m a jerk all you want, but the crew positions have to be staffed and we don’t have extra trained people running around. If we don’t have a technical director we can’t do the news.

            Yes, major accidents happen and sometimes we’re even involved in them, but if the first thing you show me as a candidate is that you can’t punctual, I’m not taking a chance on you. I’m sorry, but I’m the one who gets the 4am phone call after I worked until 11 o’clock the night before.

            1. LOLwhut

              You’re absolutely full of it. I’ve worked in news before in an area where we’ve had three tropical storms in ten years. Guess what? I don’t own a helicopter or a hydroplane, and neither does anyone else I know. That’s why we prepared for things well ahead of time, wherever that was possible, and had contingency plans in place.

              Knocking someone out of the running because a major highway was closed off and he was late (that happened to me too) makes you a jerk, plain and simple, and it tells you nothing about how punctual that person will actually be.

                1. Cat

                  You’re surprised that someone, over the course of their life, has been late to two interviews due to massive highway disasters? Interesting.

              1. some1

                “Knocking someone out of the running because a major highway was closed off and he was late (that happened to me too) makes you a jerk, plain and simple, and it tells you nothing about how punctual that person will actually be.”

                This could go both ways. Unless the highway was closed after you already got on the road, you could check the traffic report before you leave.

                1. Cat

                  But you may well not have other options at that point. Sometimes you’re just not going to get somewhere on time.

                2. TL

                  Unless the reroute took you an extra, oh, 30 minutes on a good day and it’s completely clogged now, and you checked it, say 30-60 minutes before you were leaving, with your buffer time and, um, yeah, you’re now late.

                  Totally happened to me one day going to work – a pedestrian was hit and they completely closed off the highway.

                3. Bea W

                  I have had TLs experience more than once. In a couple of cases the accident that caused the shutdown was visible from where I was, and 2 where it was so fresh EMS was still enroute, but the mess was so bad no one could pass. In some cases you can bang a U and seek an alternate route, but when you are on the highway or on a train you are SOL. Things go awry and accidents happen in a matter of seconds, not minutes or hours.

                  Not to mention that traffic reports generally only cover major highways, and even then there is some delay in reporting. I know I have been sitting in parked traffic more than once while listening to the traffic report and heard no mention of the mess I was sitting in. :/

              2. ExceptionToTheRule

                And while I’m being a jerk, I’d like to point out that you kind of proved my point – during tropical storms/hurricanes/blizzards/etc, contingency plans are made so that those essential operating positions are covered. So those people aren’t late.

                1. TL

                  I think the point is, if there was truly an “act of god” preventing someone from getting to the interview on time – 5 car pileup while they were on the highway, or traffic was rerouted 30 minutes out of the way + traffic jam due to traffic being rerouted + alternate routes jammed or would take just as long as sitting in traffic, for instance, which has happened to me (though thankfully not on the way to an interview) – then you probably shouldn’t kick them out of the running.

                  If they’re late because traffic was a little worse than expected or something like that, sure, punctuality is important. But if they’re late because of circumstances beyond their planning and control, you should probably take that into account.

                2. Female sam

                  +1 to TL. Also remember that the candidate is but one person, not a news station with a lot more resources to plan for even the most unexpected of events.
                  As a thought – what is there was a major major emergency which closed off the main highway nearest your office, and so all the interviewees were late? Would you discount them all and restart the hiring process?

                3. A Teacher

                  I don’t think you’re a jerk, I think you are being incredibly rigid about something based on the little that you’ve posted here. Life isn’t perfect and discounting someone–if it truly is outside of their control–doesn’t say a lot about you as a manager. Look, I get that you don’t want the 4 am phone calls and there are times when someone being late should be discounted as a potential employee. I don’t get how there is not even a marginal amount of flexibility in your tone.

                4. ExceptionToTheRule

                  I very rarely do more than one interview in a day, so the probability of discounting an entire applicant pool is very small. There just aren’t hundreds of qualified applicants for the positions I’m hiring for. I might get 4 or 5 that are worth bringing in to talk to.

                  If there were that type of major major emergency you are suggesting, I would probably have called the interview off because I’d be in the control room, doing the news, and unable to interview them. I do the jobs I’m hiring for.

                  The candidate is free to reject me as an employer if that type of thing is a pet peeve of theirs and I certainly wouldn’t hold it against them.

                  To me, one of the main purposes of the interview process is finding out if the candidate fits our culture AND to let the candidate see if our culture fits them.

                  I’m readily willing to admit that I might be too rigid about this, but experience has shown me that the negative consequences outweigh the positive ones on this particular issue.

              3. Katie the Fed

                Erm, it’s his/her prerogative. If that’s the standard he/she wants to set for hiring, then whose business is it?

                1. A Teacher

                  Well, you’re posting to publicly to a blog and I know I’ve had people give me flack for posting stuff–if we disagree that’s okay, but when you say something that could maybe influence someone’s perspective, well its worth saying. ETTR can higher how he/she wants but that doesn’t mean that others on this blog will agree with it.

                  Katie, glad to see you’re able to go back to work. Hope everything is working out!

            2. A Teacher

              So my sister is an emergency room nurse and works as a paramedic–truly a job where she is saving a life. She is given so many “call-ins” or “lates” in a one year time span. She really can’t afford to be late as the paramedic because the city we live in would be down a truck. That said, if there’s a major accident that she’s involved in or stuck behind or if her house catches on fire, her dog dies, her child pukes on her as she’s walking out the door, etc…well there is a little leeway for that. Every job should have a bit of flexibility and to say that someone is completely out of contention because of something completely external to their control says more about your corporation than it does about the person interviewing.

              The OP of this question is stupid–you don’t deliberately do this because then when something legitimately happens you can really be questioned.

            3. Elizabeth West

              There’s nobody who could step up and pinch-hit? I would definitely want to have a couple of people who could at least cover the basics enough to get the news on.

              1. ExceptionToTheRule

                We don’t staff extra people on a regular. I wish we could, but we don’t have the payroll.

                If someone calls in sick or stranded, we bring another person into cover and if there’s a tropical storm, blizzard or other natural disaster, we generally know its coming and those people come in early.

                1. TL

                  I think she’s asking why none of the staff is cross-trained or something. At some point, somebody has to have been late to a live broadcast, probably due to circumstances beyond their control, and I’m assuming the show went on.

                  I can understand needing people who are chronically and obsessively punctual, but if one person being late due to circumstances absolutely out of their control stops the entire broadcast, that just seems like a bad business model.

                2. ExceptionToTheRule

                  TL – it’s not necessarily cross training (although it can be with some of the unionized positions), it’s number of people problem.

                  We have the exact number of people here at 4:30am that we need to put the morning show on the air. No more. I would LOVE to have an extra body available in case of emergencies, but I don’t have the headcount or the payroll to support it. Major markets might get away with that, but I’m not in a major market.

                  Having worked way to many 4am to 11pm shifts in my 20 years, I certainly won’t argue that it’s a piss poor way to run a business.

            4. rw

              I would hope you tell the candidates before you call them for an interview that if they’re late for any reason, including emergencies, then they’re automatically out of the running. If you don’t tell them that, if they arrive late because of an emergency, and if you go through the motions of interviewing them just for the hell of it because you couldn’t bother to respect their time and afford them the basic decency of informing them they won’t be getting the job because they were late, then yes, you are very much a jerk.

              1. ExceptionToTheRule

                I don’t right now, but I would consider starting to do so if it was a frequent occurrence.

                The people it has happened with have been marginal candidates already, perhaps that (in combination with that fact that I get the frantic “Wakeen isn’t here yet” phone calls at 4:15am) is why I’m so hard-core about it.

                1. TL

                  Right. So being late without an excellent out-of-their-control reason, profuse apologies and mortification, and already being a mediocre candidate – great reason to not hire someone. (Or hell, even a mediocre candidate+being late – just not doing yourself any favors, there!)

            5. BCW

              Yeah, I think you are just too rigid. Thing happen that are beyond your control, so its kind of stupid to automatically put them out of the running for that. Of course it depends on the cause. But a flat tire? An accident near you? You can’t plan for those things.

              I assume you being this ridiculous mean that in your entire life you have never once been late to anything, because if you have, you are a complete hypocrite

                1. FiveNine

                  Exactly. Someone above has been late to not one but two job interviews in a lifetime, apparently due to traffic, and when I was incredulous another poster acted like apparently it’s no big deal to be late to two job interviews in a lifetime.

              1. Colette

                I think what you (and others) are missing here is that you’re supposed to be on your best behaviour at a job interview.

                Could it be a freak occurrence that you were late? Sure. But it could also be that you are a poor planner or unreliable, and the only data point the interviewer has on that is that you’ve been late 100% of the times you were supposed to meet with them.

                I don’t understand the attitude I’m seeing in this thread that the interviewer owes you a fair (defined by the candidate) chance to interview.

                If there’s a freak event that knocks you out of contention, that’s life. Maybe it’s traffic or a subway break down or that you misspelled the company name on your cover letter or that you cut off the interviewer on the way to the office. Take the appropriate precautions to leave enough time/ pay attention to detail/ avoid being a jerk, and chalk the rest up to chance.

                1. TL

                  But the hiring manager may be losing out on an excellent candidate, especially in a field where there aren’t that many people qualified. You could just as easily be damaging yourself/your company.

              2. Joey

                I agree with exception. There are some jobs you just can’t afford to be late to. And when you have the choice between a candidate who was on time and one that wasn’t (regardless of the reason) why wouldn’t he go with the person that was on time. Shit happens all the time. It’s not fair, but business need trumps being fair.

                1. TL

                  Sure, assuming the two candidates are equal. Weirder things influence hiring, I’m sure. But if you’re not having many employees or if it was obviously (otherwise) the best candidate for the job + unforeseeable circumstances, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by even refusing to consider hiring them.

                  And “can’t afford to be late to” or not, life happens to people and even the most punctual will eventually find themselves late through no fault of their own.

                2. Joey

                  The shitty part is that he has probably one, max two in person experiences with this person to try and predict his success. It becomes harder to predict when shit happens. It’s going to create some doubt even if its just a little.

                3. TL

                  Actually, s/he said upstream that finding qualified candidates was hard – hence, the very few interviews and only one interview/day.

                4. ExceptionToTheRule

                  I didn’t say it was hard. I said I might only have 4 to 5 qualified candidates. I get resumes for many, many UNqualified candidates.

  16. pidgeonpenelope

    Yeah this one sounds like a horribly bad idea. A person who doesn’t forecast traffic and is thus late to their interview can be the kind of person who would be late to work frequently. That’s a character trait in an employee that I wouldn’t want working for me. Also, just because one is apologetic doesn’t mean one doesn’t have a bad habit that needs correction and a hiring manager doesn’t have bad character if they don’t like the candidate’s tardiness. So point is, the candidate would do better to find out the character of the hiring manager by talking and relating to them rather than commit an act of tardiness.

  17. EJ

    Science moment. It’s “black box testing”, not “blank box testing”. And it doesn’t really apply in this context.

    In black box testing the tester enters a variety of inputs and compares changes inthe outputs to guess at how the system works inside. But you might only get one interview so it doesn’t make sense to use a ‘negative’ input (calling in late) as your only test. You can learn a lot without potentially sacrificing your candidacy.

    1. Cathy G

      LOL, I was just coming here to post this exactly. Not only did he give the wrong name, he doesn’t understand what it means.

    2. Clever Name

      I’m glad there are people out there who understand this term. I’ve used it at work and gotten blank stares, and I work with scientists and engineers. Yeah.

  18. Jo

    I was interested to see people above who automatically wouldn’t proceed with late candidates. I expect contingency to be built into travel time, but not to a ludicrous level. Once had a candidate who was 45 mins late due to train delays. 3hour delay that is. They also couldn’t call because the train was in a phone dead zone. He was incredibly apologetic (and flustered!) on arrival, but we were able to start his interview late. He interviewed well under the circs, we did hire him -and he was one of our best people. Thing is, trains are often late into London, and you could argue he should have allowed for that -but I’d hate to expect someone to allow 3 or 4 hours contingency for each interview! I guess it just depends on the calibre if the candidate and how they handle the lateness.

    Anyone who does it on purpose is an idiot though, you’ve automatically raised the bar you have to reach. (For me!)

    1. AdAgencyChick

      If he was 45 minutes late but had a 3-hour delay, it sounds like he did plan for train lateness and then had the bad luck to hit a delay beyond what any reasonable person could have expected. Glad it worked out!

      1. Bea W

        I swear to god every time I do this, build in a ridiculous amount of time for travel to ensure I get somewhere in time, Murphy’s Law kicks in, and that commute I allowed *double* the time for ends up taking triple the normal time.

    2. PJ

      One time I was late to an interview because I was caught on a one-way street behind a jacknifed big-rig. With a non-working cell phone. (Honest, the phone company acknowledged that I had a bad sim card, and replaced it.) This was a Big Important Interview for a job I wanted badly. Because I was so late and hadn’t called, they declined to interview me. Remember, this was Not My Fault. Thing is, as a Human Resources professional, I wouldn’t have interviewed me either under the circumstances if I had other viable candidates. It’s the way things are.

      1. Jo

        See, that’s exactly it! I wouldn’t want to dismiss you because of bad luck – you might be THE best candidate :) I hope you got something even better.

        1. PJ

          Oh, aren’t you sweet! Yes, in fact, I did find a much better job, one that I hope I can continue to be happy at until retirement.

  19. jennie

    This strategy wouldn’t necessarily tell you anything about the interviewer. I would be polite and gracious and accept an apology/excuse for lateness, but I would still count it as a black mark against the candidate. Not saying it would immediately disqualify the candidate, but if I had an equally qualified candidate who was on time, that person would be the one with the offer.

  20. MJ of the West

    This one was so awesome, re-posting it just doesn’t do it justice…

    This thread is missing out on on the righteous indignation of the OP in the comments to the original post. That was like icing on the cake!

    1. Daisy

      Yes, the best thing about the original was the OP’s comments. ‘I don’t think people are understanding the scenario…’! It’s my hands-down favourite AAM post.

        1. fposte

          She was clearly too deeply in love with her idea to take in that people were saying this wouldn’t give her an edge and might hurt her.

  21. thenoiseinspace

    Hey, I fully support this idea, and I really hope everyone who applies to the jobs I apply to follows it. By all means, take yourself out of the running before the interview even begins. Less competition for me!

  22. Yup

    I remember this one. And my reaction is still nopeity nope nope nope. There are innumerable opportunities to demonstrate courtesy in the interview process that don’t involve inconveniencing others in a way that could easily backfire on you.

    Plus, I dispute that this exercise could possibly “demonstrate a candidate’s character” in a positive way. Inventing situations to show yourself off in a flattering light certainly does not constitute good character.

    1. fposte

      “There are innumerable opportunities to demonstrate courtesy in the interview process”

      Like, say, being there on time. That’s the weird thing to me–she’s trying to showcase her courtesy by being deliberately rude.

  23. Cat

    I swear I remember arguing with this guy in the comments of the original post, but I wasn’t around in 2009. I must have read it in the archives and argued with him in my head, which I would have done because this is grade A crazy.

  24. Jazzy Red

    A long, long time ago, during a very hot summer, I put my suit jacket in the back seat of my car so it wouldn’t get wrinkled. When I parked my car, I opened the back door, put my purse and briefcase on the seat, put my jacket on, and slammed the car door, which locked. With my purse and briefcase inside. I had to explain this to the interviewer (who asked for another copy of my resume), who was very understanding, but *it wasn’t a test*. It was an accident, and I was humiliated. I did not get a job offer, which was good because I found during the interview that it wasn’t a good job for me.

    I wonder if the original poster is still unemployed?

  25. Colorado

    First thought that came to my head…idiot!
    Thanks for the Friday assurance to remind me that some people are just plain ole crazy.

  26. FiveNine

    All I could think is that whatever the OP has seen these interviewers taking special note of isn’t what OP thinks. My first thought was that the interviewer is making a special note that OP couldn’t make it on time to a first interview.

  27. Anoners

    I actually remember this one! (vintage)! I’m really curious if they ever landed a job. This person sounds like the worst.

  28. Hello Vino

    Wow, just wow. This may be the most ridiculous question I’ve read on AAM so far. I completely understand wanting to learn about the dynamics of the office, but this is not the way to do it!

  29. PPK

    I’m stuck on the use of ‘blank box.’ There’s black box and white box testing, not sure about blank box. Hopefully it was a typo.

  30. De Minimis

    This mainly reminds me of how desperate people were starting to get back in 2009. I think that’s when more people started resorting to weird gimmicks in an attempt to stand out.

    Maybe that should be some kind of economic indicator, the Gimmick Index.

  31. BCW

    While I don’t agree with this tactic, it amazes me the personal attacks on this guy that are on here. If a manager is 15 minutes late to an interview, people might say they are inconsiderate, but I don’t know that people would call them unorganized, deceitful, unreliable, etc. I also think many hiring managers do pull little tricks in the interest of “learning” about a candidate, and people just accept that is ok for any number of reasons. However when a potential employee does it, its this awful sin against the workforce.

    Now I would never intentionally be late, however it has happened to me a couple of times, and any person who knows me knows I’m extremely punctual. I live in Chicago, and anyone who has driven here can tell you that just because a trip should take 30 min, doesn’t mean it won’t take you an hour for any number of reasons. This can be driving or public transportation. But I will say that how a manager responds to that does tell you a lot. Now I get that they may have a packed day booked. But many of these same people wouldn’t think twice about starting your interview late, or keeping you longer than they said.

    1. Cat

      If a manager was deliberately late to an interview because she was running some sort of weird test on the interviewee, I would call her deceitful. If she was late just because, I might call her disorganized (the same as I would the candidate), though as with candidates I understand things happen. I also don’t know what kind of games you think hiring managers play, but I suspect if you listed some, people here would condemn those as well.

      1. BCW

        I’m not even saying being late as a test. But I’ve sat in offices for 10 minutes or more and the person interviewing me was in their office doing who knows what. I wouldn’t even call them disorganized, because they may have been on an important call that they couldn’t just drop. Point being, things happen sometimes. So its unfair for a manager to hold that against the interviewee.

        1. Cat

          But we’re talking about people being deliberately late as a strategy. I actually think everyone should make a good effort to start interviews on time, and that people should be granted some slack when things come up on both sides of the table. But that’s not what this post is about.

        2. Bea W

          I think if someone has a legit excuse for being delayed, and gives a strong interview, it’s not likely that being a little late will be held against them, especially if they called enroute.

          However, when someone arrives late, lies about it, and is subsequently found out (claiming traffic or construction where there were none), or behaves in a way that demonstrates that are unapologetic and don’t appear to care, the HM would have to be a fool not to take that into account.

          Interviewees are absolutely free to do the same. It’s a two-way street. If you are interviewed by someone who is late and seems flakey and/or unapologetic of your inconvenience, take note and compare it to the rest of the context of the interview and interactions up to and after the interview.

    2. Bea W

      Being intentionally late, lying about it, and doing so to “test” someone is on a totally different level from leaving for your interview with the intention to be on time, and then actually getting stuck in traffic.

      I haven’t read through all the comments, but I’m willing to bet any attacks on this person are due to the fact that he’s being intentionally dishonest and manipulative and to someone he has never met or ever done anything to even begin to rationalize that kind of treatment. It speaks to how s/he views him/herself in relation to other people and what s/he thinks about other people.

      Aside from just behaving badly, this person seems to think that showing basic social courtesy is above and beyond the normal call of duty. I’d argue that deserves a solid whack with clue-by-four. I would not want this person as co-worker.

      1. Jamie

        This. If someone is inadvertently late it’s a data point and some are more understanding than others, but stuff happens.

        It’s the deliberateness of testing the interviewer this way which is unconscionable.

        1. Waerloga

          Reference to Nodwick?

          It’s a club to errr instill intelligence into those less than critical thinkers.

      2. Shelley

        I once had a hiring manager that was late for more than an hour. By the time I left (justifiably annoyed), the receptionist finally admitted the man wasn’t even in the building yet. There was another person in the lobby, presumably the interviewee after me.

        Boy, I was glad to walk out of that one. Although I wish I could’ve clued-by-four’d that man…and the receptionist, who was still trying to talk me into waiting for him.

        1. Anonymous

          Sounds familiar – a friend of mine once interviewed with someone who purposely kept candidates waiting to see “how dedicated” they were (he told this to my friend a few weeks after hiring him). Since this was during the height of the recession, a lot of people were “dedicated” enough to wait, which was great for the hiring manager since he was a total nutjob who spent most of his days screaming at his staff and thus had a retention problem. You may have dodged a bullet.

          1. Shelley

            I’m sure I did. I was already pretty reluctant to take that interview; I really wanted a new job, but it took us a week to schedule the interview–the receptionist (who I guess is also the hiring manager/CEO’s assistant) kept calling me at like 4:30 pm and wanting me to come in for an interview at 8 am the next day. I often didn’t even get those calls because at that previous job, I wasn’t allowed to carry my cell phone with me. Attempts to schedule an interview was met with “Oh, I don’t really know his schedule, it changes a lot. I’ll check with him and get back to you”…followed up with another request for an 8 am meeting at 4:30 pm the previous day. We finally scheduled said non-existent interview when I emailed them and clearly stated that the phone tag system didn’t work, and would [Date] work for you.

            It was a huge red flag, in retrospect. And yes, definitely a dodged bullet.

    3. FD

      Oh, if an interviewer is 15 minutes late to an interview, I absolutely am considering that a sign of disorganization, at least if there isn’t a pretty reasonable explanation. It would also make me much more alert to other signs during the hiring process that the manager is disorganized or unreliable.

      But the rest of it isn’t due to the OP being late. If the OP had written in with something like “My car crashed and I was 30 minutes late to an interview, should I give up on getting this job?” the responses would have been very different.

      But when someone plans on *deliberately* being late to test the response of the other party, and then concealing the real reason (saying that they hit traffic when they actually planned to be late, in this case), they are being deceitful. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the interviewer or the interviewee doing it. And that deceit speaks to a lack of integrity that’s a huge red flag in an interview.

      Do some interviewers probably do this? Yes, they probably do and it’s just as bad–actually perhaps even worse because interviewers are perceived as having more power in this kind of situation, so there’s little that job seekers can do about it. But this site in general doesn’t encourage playing games with job seekers, even the more mild and generally harmless (though annoying) ones like asking “What kind of tree are you”.

      1. Felicia

        When an interview is late and doesn’t acknowledge that I was kept waiting or offer any explanation at all, then I consider it a sign of something. If they say they’re sorry for keeping me waiting and say they were in a meeting or something , then i’m fine

  32. Bea W

    What’s the next step in the test? Say the interviewer passes the test, and the job seeker is called in for a 2nd interview. Do they call to reschedule at the last minute claiming their grandmother died?

    This is a good strategy if you are looking for a workplace that tolerates the following
    – chronic lateness
    – slacking off
    – flaky behavior
    – lying
    – manipulation
    – general douchbaggery

  33. Lily in NYC

    I remember reading this in the archives and it’s still one of my favorite submissions ever. The arrogance of this person is astounding. We had someone show up 15 minutes late for an interview last month and her excuse was that she had to go print out a copy of her resume at Kinko’s. My boss refused to interview her and she was shown the door (her outfit was inappropriate too – she was wearing a romper that barely covered her butt – and this was for a pretty high-level position at a very competitive organization).

      1. Anonicorn

        I’ve seen them for sale on clothing sites. I guess they’re trying to come in-style for grown women.

      2. Lily in NYC

        They were really popular here in NYC over the summer. I’m not sure if I used the correct term – it was sort of like a jumpsuit but with a short skirt instead of pants. Completely wrong for an interview. She had a great resume; it was just so odd.

      3. littlemoose

        Some deluded fashion companies do keep trying to force rompers on the masses. Stop trying to make rompers happen.

  34. periwinkle

    “By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself to be in the wrong, there is no knowing, my son, what good you may do. I knew once a gentleman and very worthy practitioner in Vanity Fair, who used to do little wrongs to his neighbours on purpose, and in order to apologise for them in an open and manly way afterwards—and what ensued? My friend Crocky Doyle was liked everywhere, and deemed to be rather impetuous—but the honestest fellow.”

    Important note to the OP: Thackeray’s book is meant to be taken as satire, not job interview advice.

  35. danr

    Bad idea. My first questions would be to talk about the jam and where it was. Now the candidate either has to admit lying or will be caught in a bigger lie that is easily verified.

  36. Oxford Comma

    Sooooo here’s a story I think relates. An acquaintance of mine was a massive control freak. He was having a hard time dealing with unexpected occurrences during dates (e.g. the restaurant reservation got mixed up, he got lost, etc). A mutual friend said he needed to relax. If the man handled these setbacks well, it would say a lot to his date about what kind of a guy he was.

    The control freak started manufacturing the setbacks.

    I guess I am saying to the OP, do not do this.

    1. Chriama

      Do you have any examples? I think you should feel share for the sake of his potential dates. Forewarned is forearmed, after all!

      1. Oxford Comma

        IIRC, he manufactured some car trouble. I think he purposely screwed up a reservation. I’m trying to think what else. It was just all so off and wrong. He’s married now and I’ve allowed myself to lose touch with him because really, yeah, not someone I needed to know.

  37. tcookson

    What do others think?

    I think that someone with character such as that demonstrated by the OP has no business setting up tests to judge the character of others.

  38. Not So NewReader

    I can’t figure this out.
    What is the difference between an employer that rigidly clings to a set time verses a job hunter who absolutely clings to tardiness?
    Isn’t this the same behavior in two different costumes?

    To all this I think these things:
    There are some employers whose work is totally dependent on punctuality. If a job hunter cannot give 100% punctuality then the job hunter needs to move on.

    There are some employees that are not 100% punctual. If a job candidate cannot make it to the interview on time, the employer needs to factor that into consideration. It is necessary for the survival of his biz.

    To the OP, yes, perhaps employers should be less rigid. Perhaps they do miss candidates that are fantastic. But we cannot live our lives based on what people SHOULD do. We have to look at what people are actually doing.

    Alison wants to give advice that guides people to success in the world of employment. Reality is that there are employers out there that want/need/demand punctuality. For Alison to say anything less would be a misrepresentation of the work world. If she gives the wrong advice what would happen to her biz?

    Please OP, do not go by what people “should” be doing. Because if you do- you will wind up disappointed more often than not.

  39. JenTheNiceHRGirl

    I am going to say that this is generally a bad idea. Most of time when a candidate is late to an interview, whether they called ahead to warn the hiring manager or not, the hiring manager is at least mildly annoyed. Occasionally there will be someone who is late because of something that they couldn’t have possibly been prepared for, such as the candidate called me while AAA was changing her flat tire, or the candidate who called me as he was getting a traffic ticket, or the candidate whose boss decided to drop by his office for an impromptu meeting just as he was about to leave… generally speaking, when this happens, candidates seem really apologetic, and if their interview goes well, being a little bit late or needing a last minute reschedule will be forgotten. However, if someone was running late but acted like it was no big deal that they left the hiring manager waiting, then I don’t think that would go over too well with the hiring manager… after all, if you are late to your interview, does that mean you will be late to customer meetings?, late to work?, late to meetings? etc… those are things that a hiring manger is going to think about. So if being late to an interview is truly out of character for you, then be sure to explain that to the interviewer and apologize, but if you are late on purpose. I just don’t see how that would be helpful. Besides, as someone commented above, what if the interviewer finds out that you were lying about there being a traffic jam. What if the interviewer knows the area really well and checks the traffic report and there is in-fact no traffic jam, then that is going to show the interviewer something about your character that perhaps you haven’t intended… that you are dishonest. I can’t see being viewed as dishonest helping anyone out in an interview. Maybe this tactic is working for the OP and that’s great, but I am going to say that in general, purposely calling in late is a bad idea.

  40. Chriama

    I think this question, and others like it, stem from one problem: lack of common sense. The thing we call common sense is really the ability to see things from outside your own perspective. That’s where courtesy stems from as well. The OP obviously only sees things from their own perspective, and wants to find an employer who will be respectful, flexible and understanding of their lives outside of work. On the other hand, they don’t see it as disrespectful because they can’t imagine things from the employer’s perspective. Reasonable employers want to give people a fair shot at interviewing (and be respectful, flexible and understanding) because that’s how they get the best employees. But they also have other interviews, other meetings and their own work. They set aside this time for a meeting, and it’s not fair to expect them to reschedule their priorities around a single person.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if people took themselves out of the equation and thought about situations from someone else’s perspective, the letters to AAM would be a lot less amusing ;)

  41. Felicia

    Calling to tell them you’ll be late isn’t even extra effort – it’s what reasonable people are expected to do. Was the most WTF part of this letter for me to think that counts as extra effort

    I was late for an interview twice – once because of a subway problem that made the news, so I couldn’t call, and then once because of a major traffic accident where i did call. I was mortified about being late even though i couldn’t have anticipated it. What this strategy shows is you don’t have a basic respect for other peoples’ time.

    1. fposte

      Exactly. It doesn’t get you ahead of the people who got there on time, and it might put you behind them. So you’re taking the trouble to gain no advantage. It’s irrational.

  42. Ornery PR

    I had a coworker who would consistently call in late to meetings, apologizing profusely, and then would stop on her way in to buy donuts for those in the meeting to show how sorry she was for making us wait. Of course that made her even later, and it would annoy us to no end. We don’t need donuts, we need to stop waiting and begin the meeting already.

    Who knows, maybe she was pulling a tactic similar the OP’s, to judge our reactions and allowances to her behavior, or to show how generous and thoughtful she was by bringing us apology treats. But like the OP, the tactic is terribly misguided and the result ends up being the exact opposite of what is intended.

    Also, periwinkle, I love the Vanity Fair excerpt. How appropriate!

    1. Jamie

      Did anyone say anything? I’d have to comment on taking the time to buy donuts when already late – I would need to hear the logic behind that.

    2. Yup

      I wonder if you worked with my sister in law? She once showed up three hours late for dinner, and handed me a bicycle-wheel-sized Danish tray that she’s stopped to get at Costco on the way as an apology. It’s like being in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

  43. Omne

    I think people are still missing something here. He is saying he wasn’t late to the interview, he arrived on time. He called before the interview and asked if it would be ok to be late and then arrived on time. Regardless I think it’s silly.

    If I received a call like that the first thing I would think of is how do you know 1/2 hour before the interview that you are going to be 15 minutes late? Traffic jams usually aren’t that predictable.

    1. Garrett

      That’s not what he said. He said he calles 30 minutes before to say he is going to be 15 minutes late. In a sense, telling them it’ll be 45 minutes until he gets there. I do agree that knowing that far out you’ll be late may be a little odd though.

  44. Anonymous

    It’s possible I would reject a candidate for being late to the interview. There would be several factors, but it is possible. I’m interviewing several folks next week, so I guess I will find out!

  45. Denise

    I tend to think that arbitrarily testing people in such a manner is a bad idea. There are too many unknown factors that go into how they might respond that may mislead you in your judgment. For instance, as Allison mentioned, perhaps they are under a super tight schedule and you have unnecessarily inconvenienced them or made their day more stressful. Even if they are gracious about it, you have still introduced a negative dynamic in your interview. Or, probably more importantly, they can easily discern that you are lying (which is what this is) or know that traffic shouldn’t have been an issue for you? Regardless of how they respond to you, you’ve still prejudiced yourself in their eyes.

  46. Woodward

    I was a receptionist at an office with horrible hiring practices. They would schedule interviews for multiple people at the same time, with each person thinking it was a solo interview. So a candidate would arrive at 10:00 AM and find 4 other people in the lobby also thinking they had a solo interview at 10:00 AM. Surprise! Group interview!

    To make the situation even more awkward, the hiring manager was constantly running 30-45 minutes late. So I’d have 5 people sitting in the lobby with me for long periods of time all competing for the same job and trying to make small talk while silently evaluating the competition. I would be answering incoming calls and getting things done and they would sit and watch me, because it was a small lobby with nothing else to do.

    When I had been hired, I had waited in the lobby for 40 minutes but it was a true solo interview in my case. I was always surprised when people accepted the job.

  47. Vicki

    This is what I saw:

    “A resume attempts to showcase past achievements but it doesn’t do much to demonstrate a candidate’s character.”

    “….I always arrive late”

    Yeah. That does demonstrate your character. I don’t think it’s demonstrating it in quite the way you hoped it would, however.

  48. Temporarily

    I thought this was going to be a trick I could of used, seems like its not something I will from all the comments lol.

  49. Alisa

    This is a painful reminder of a time that a candidate was late for an interview with me. She came bustling in, saying that she had been in a minor car accident. I portrayed all the concern and reassurance in the world and ended up hiring her. She was a disaster and regularly deceitful. In retrospect, I suspect her version of events was not truthful, and she was just running late that day.

  50. Marla Foreman

    I’m a professional software tester, and it’s called “Black Box” testing, not “Blank Box”.

  51. Brandon

    Kind of rude…like when an employer wastes a prospective employee’s time and money to get them to interview over and over again and then flatly ignores them instead of telling them they were not offered employment. Its completely disrespectful and distasteful…

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