what should I make of this very nice HR person?

A reader writes:

I recently had an interview with a company, and I ended up being late for the interview. I know this is a huge no-no, but I called them about 10 minutes before I knew I would be late, because I was lost. I left an hour before the interview and the drive was 15 minutes, but between finding parking and being the victim of a lot of one way streets, I ended up being late.

The HR rep contacted me five minutes after I was late because no one answered when I called. I explained that I was lost and had tried to call. She understood completely and said it happened a lot. I ended up getting there a half hour late, but they offered to reschedule, because they wanted to have more time to talk to me. Also, the HR rep gave me a tour of the office, which was incredible, by the way.

I’ve never had it happen where the company rescheduled an interview with a candidate who was this late, and even offered to take them on a tour of the office. Would you say this is a good sign of how interested the company is in me, or are they just being nice?

Hard to say, could go either way. I’m leaning toward it indicating that they have a pretty strong interest in you, but it could just be that you encountered a very nice HR person.

Either way, thank her profusely when you return for the rescheduled interview!

Anyone else want to read anything into this?

{ 9 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara G*

    I think it's really nice of them to be understanding and still helpful. But then I would expect that for any coworker. The fact that people get lost all the time, would mean they must encounter this often, and considering you were late, they still tried to accommodate you however could not interview you due to timing. What I've learned this past year of job searching, is that you can't read anything. It is what it is. Good luck for the rescheduled interview and whatever you do, don't get lost the next time :P

  2. Anonymous*

    Any thoughts about driving over to the offices the day before or on a Sunday so you know exactly how to get there?

  3. Kerry*

    I don't know any HR people who are nice enough to give a half-hour-late candidate a tour, and then a reschedule. I know I'm not.

    So I'd say they're definitely interested in you.

    Also, I did work one place that was incredibly hard to find, and we always cut candidates more slack there than anyplace else I've worked. I'd say 75% were late because it was so hard to find (and parking was a mess to boot). They might get this a lot…you never know.

    Either way, you got a lucky break…so good luck!

  4. Anonymous*

    I'm not sure you'd call me "nice" but I've done the very same thing for the right candidate. Our office is in a really difficult to find location so people do get lost. As long as they call me, I'm willing to overlook it.

  5. The Engineer*

    I had a similar experience. The building actually had the wrong address so I would turn around when I got to a street that was labeled as being the next block. Eventually found the building and went in to let them know that I hadn't simply blown them off.

    Ended up getting the job. I knew one of the panel members (got me the interview) and some of my skill set was wanted by another panel member (got me the job). The HR rep wanted to exclude me on "principle" since I was late. Gotta love managers who know that they are in charge.

  6. Anonymous*

    Also, not to any HR folks/recruiters – take a little pity on job applicants and be specific in your directions! If this really happens a lot, you may want to warn people that your building is difficult to find/parking is a mess, etc.

  7. clobbered*

    If a candidate arrives late because they got lost, or whatever, we give them a drink and at least 15 minutes to cool down and collect themselves. We don't push them straight to the interview, because the whole idea is to allow someone to show us their best, not to have a flustered person floundering – especially for very technical jobs where know-how is more important than social skills.
    We do pad inter-interview time for a bunch of reasons so we don't usually need to reschedule onto a different day, but using the same logic we would do so if that is what it takes.

    I read this as a professional HR doing its job. Nevertheless, I agree that profuse thanks to HR and an apology to the interview panel are in order.

  8. OriginalPoster*

    Thanks, everyone! I actually just got back from the interview, and I think it went very well. I did not get lost and got there on time this time!
    The weird thing about me getting lost was that the actual building isn't that diffcult to find, but the parking was two blocks away. Plus I was dealing with rush hour traffic. Today, I left with plenty of time, and got there fine. I do think they liked me, not just as a candidate, but they agreed with a lot of what I said, and we told each other stories. I'm crossing my fingers.

  9. Jonathan*

    I've worked for a couple of companies where the location was an issue (easy for people to get lost, no available parking), and we would regularly accommodate candidates who were late. So, I wouldn't read too much into this.

    The half hour tour seems like a good sign, but a lot of things can seem like a good sign. I'd put no stock in it one way or another.

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