I showed up for my interview on the wrong day

A reader writes:

I have a job interview lined up that I’m really looking forward to. I like the organization, it’s an appropriate step up from my current job, and all that good stuff. So I did all my research and prep, took the day off work, put on my interview clothes, and headed off – only to discover that I had the day wrong. The interview is actually next week, not today!

So aside from the fact that I feel like the world’s biggest bonehead, can you take a guess at what they might be thinking at their end? Is this the kind of thing that can be mitigated with an “I’m mortified and this is clearly a terrible mistake that is in no way a reflection of how I might perform on the job” type email? Or is it likely to be seen as a strike against me from the beginning, making me look really disorganized and not at all like a good candidate for the position?

I have sent the apology email already, and of course I’m going to go to the interview and be a superstar on the correct date as well. But if you could give me some insight into how big a deal this might be, I would appreciate it!

Well … It’s not good. It’s not a deal-killer in and of itself, but it’s not great.

The concern on the employer’s side is whether you’re overly cavalier about detail. If they hired you, are you going to forget about scheduled calls with clients or think that report that’s due tomorrow is due a week from now?

That might seem like an overreaction to a single mistake, but employers have very limited data about you during a hiring process, so they’ve got to go on what they do know — and given that limited data, small mistakes can account for an oversized piece of what know.

Here’s what happens in a hiring manager’s head when a job candidate makes a mistake that might be no big deal in someone they knew better: “We clearly confirmed the interview for next Tuesday, but somehow she showed up today. This might be out of character for her; after all, everyone screws up occasionally. But if I ignore this possible red flag and hire her, and then she turns out to be scattered and bad with deadlines, I’m going to be kicking myself for not having paid attention to this sign now.”

And the reality is, there’s reason to think that way. When I’ve ignored small red flags in hiring because they seemed too minor to base a hiring decision on, they’ve pretty much always come back to bite me. After having that happen enough, hiring managers learn to give credence even to small signs, because, ultimately, you’ve got to go on what you see, not speculation about what might be.

So, what does this mean for you now? It probably doesn’t mean that you’re out of the running, but the bar is going to be higher for you now than it was before, because you’ve got to overcome the concern that this inserted into the process. Sending a mortified email was one step in doing that. In addition, I’d proceed as if you have no room for error from this point, and you want to find ways to demonstrate that you’re highly, highly on the ball. So that means things like not being even a minute late when you show up for the actual interview … if you promise to send materials later (like a reference list or writing sample), send them that same day … if your references can reasonably be expected to say good things about your reliability and attention to detail, prompt them to do … and so forth.

Will it be enough? Maybe. It’s going to stick in the hiring manager’s head, but if you’re otherwise awesome, maybe. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying, certainly.

(And hey, at least you didn’t get it wrong by a week in the other direction and totally miss the day it was scheduled for. That would generally be a deal-breaker right then and there.)

{ 201 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    Ooooh OP, that’s rough.


    But yeah, at least you weren’t late!

    And you know, SOME interviewers are themselves a little boneheaded from time to time (cough cough) and actually find themselves recognizing a kindred spirit who is really nervous or makes a mistake like this. Your interviewers are human too.

    Good luck – kick ass at it next week!

  2. Bee*

    We had a candidate do this in the other direction – didn’t show up on the day we had scheduled because she thought it was the next week. Turns out she thought she had clearly communicated that she could not do it any sooner, as she was not going to be in-state yet. We put this down to a miscommunication, interviewed her anyway, and ended up hiring her. So all is not lost, OP :)

    1. Lizzie*

      Yup, my mom did the exact same thing last year and was convinced all hope was lost. She was hired and now LOVES her job.

  3. Annika*

    I’ve never hired but I’ve been on the hiring panel for my replacement (exec assistant job) and someone accidentally arrived in the morning for an afternoon interview. No one cared.

  4. Alex*

    I feel like I’ve had a ton of time snaffu’s with interviews, but most of them were the employer getting mixed up. On my last phone interview, the hiring manager called me over an hour before we were scheduled, and of course I was flustered because I was prepping during that time. For my current role, we had all sorts of issues – during the initial phone interview, the manager was 25 minutes late… I had stayed on the conference line anyway, and it led to an in-person interview, which I had thought was scheduled for an hour after it actually was, so I showed up late for that one! Luckily we had a good laugh over it and all was fine. Best of luck to you and I hope your interview goes smashingly!

    1. Lanya*

      I had a similar snafu once, where there was a total employer mix-up with the time. I showed up at what we had clearly discussed was the appointment time, and halfway through the interview, they asked me why I had arrived two hours late to my appointment. I was so confused and disappointed with the mix-up and I didn’t know how to respond because I was sure I hadn’t arrived at the wrong time. I didn’t get that job…but in hindsight…I’m glad I didn’t.

      1. Contessa*

        Something similar happened to me. I had an interview in the state to which I was moving, so I drove up the day before and left early on the day of the interview to make sure I didn’t get lost. I didn’t anticipate the parking lot being so full, and I ended up being 5 minutes late because I had to drive around forever and then park super far away. I got there and apologized profusely for being 5 minutes late. The secretary acted like it didn’t matter, because the hiring manager wasn’t ready yet anyway. I went in for the interview, and the first thing the guy says is, “Why were you 20 minutes late?” I was utterly horrified, but I also knew he was dead wrong . . . but I didn’t quite know how to swallow my pride yet, so I pointed out that it was only 5 minutes, but I was very sorry, and blah blah parking lot. It turned out that the secretary had called my apartment phone number in the other state the previous day (after I left), and unilaterally moved my appointment up 15 minutes without getting any confirmation from me that I even got the message. At the time I was quite angry because I didn’t get the job, but in the end, I got a job I really loved (and am currently in the running to go back to, several years later–the first time it was a temporary thing, but this time it would be permanent).

    2. Jade*

      Same! I had an interview once where it was scheduled for a certain time, and the interviewer wasn’t there. I was very rudely and condescendingly told by another lady working there (who called my interviewer) that I had the wrong time and to come back an hour later, at the ‘right’ time.
      After the way I was spoken to I thought about just going home, but decided to go back anyway. When the interviewer pulled out her papers, my original time was clearly written at the top of the page – she knew I saw it, and made a joke about being late.. didn’t even apologise.

      1. Vicki*

        I also had an interview where the interviewer wasn’t there. The person who met me at the door was not rude (he was embarrassed) and gave me a tour of the facility. I thanked him but didn’t return for another interview; the commute had been terrible.

    3. TrainerGirl*

      I had the worst interview experience when getting hired at my previous company. I showed up at HQ to interview w/HR, only to find out the recruiter had left earlier in the day and never notified me. I then went out to the work site to interview with the hiring manager, who sat me in her office and then disappeared for 45 minutes. When she finally returned, she looked at me as if she’d forgotten who I was. She then spent the entire interview apologizing for the whole experience being so unprofessional. I knew there was no chance I was getting that job. But surprise, surprise…I got an offer 3 days later! You just never know.

  5. Geegee*

    I did this once, it was for a second interview with another person that I hadn’t met at the first interview. I showed up on a Tuesday but the interview was really on Thursday. They had sent me an email confirming the interview was on Tuesday. I quickly responded on my phone and said “That’s perfect. See you then!”. When I showed up, the person I was supposed to meet took a long time to come out and meet me. Then her boss came out to meet me with a print out of the email. I felt like an idiot. They actually made some time to meet with me anyway despite being busy that day. It was a very short interview. I made an awkward joke about having to explain that I am detail oriented (for an accounting job) despite showing up for the interview on the wrong day. But amazingly I did get the job. Miracles do happen.

    1. LV*

      Do you mean they had sent you an email confirming the interview was on Thursday? Because if they said it was Tuesday, and you showed up on Tuesday, I don’t see how you’re at fault :)

      1. Geegee*

        Oops my bad. Yes they sent me an email saying we could meet on Thursday and asking me to confirm. I had originally said that Tuesday would work for me. They responded and said with an email asking me to confirm the date. I assumed it was Tuesday’s date since they didn’t say that Tuesday would not work. So I was definitely at fault.

        1. Vicki*


          Geegee: Tuesday works for me
          Company: Please confirm Thursday
          Geegee: Yes

          Looks to me like you were both equally at fault.

        2. Cassie*

          Not interview-related, but I’ve been burned too many times by confirming details like that – where you are just confirming “the date” or “the total” without restating what the date or the total is. I try to always specifically state what is being confirmed because I know people tend to just reply “confirmed” without noticing what it is they are confirming. I know I make that mistake a lot.

  6. Bernadette*

    I once arrived at a 12:00 interview over an hour early and sat in the car, not wanting to walk in and interrupt them so early. When I went in, the hiring manager said “You know this was scheduled for 11, right?” Mortified (and kicking myself for sitting in the car that whole hour!) we did the interview anyway. I apologized profusely and after it was over, checked our e-mails. She had it mixed up, not me. I didn’t say anything though and she apologized via e-mail and I was offered the job. I realize this is a little opposite of your situation, but I think it happens more often than we think! Good luck.

    1. Aunt Vixen*

      Interviewer asks me if we can schedule a phoner on $date any time between 1pm and 3pm. I say that’s fine and ask for a specific time because I will have to take a few minutes to get to where my phone is kept during business hours (it lives in my car; not allowed to bring it in to my office). We agree on 1:30 and I say I’m looking forward to it.

      At 1pm I head out to my car intending to spend the time leading up to the interview reviewing my questions and gathering my nerves and so on – and when I get there at 1:05, what do I find but a voice mail, timestamped 1:02, from the interviewer herself. UGH, not a good feeling. I call her back immediately, and fortunately in the intervening three minutes she’s checked her e-mails and reminded herself that we said 1:30. (I can picture it, in fact. “What is this candidate’s deal, can’t be ready for a simple phone call, can’t let me know, I shall e-mail her and tell her she’s out of the runni– oh, my bad.”)

      So she apologized and gave me the twenty minutes to prepare and called me back and everything was fine. Called me in for an in-person interview as well. I didn’t get the job, but that hiring manager was probably the most professional I’ve dealt with.

      1. Dan*

        I had a phone call scheduled for 1pm. I’m next to my phone. It ain’t ringing. At 1:03 I look at the screen: “1 Missed Call”. @#$#@%. WTF? I call the guy, no harm, no foul.

        I ended up with an offer, which I turned down.

        1. books*

          This happened to me before. Sitting with the phone which doesn’t ring and suddenly there is a voicemail…

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          I was helping with the phone screening process for my employer, and called a candidate at the appointed time (in fact, waited till a minute past in case of clock differences). No answer, listened to her greeting to make sure it was her, but didn’t leave a message. Called again a few minutes later, no answer, didn’t leave a message. Called AGAIN, and on the third try, left a voicemail. She called me back nearly immediately, saying the same thing–phone never rang, but all of a sudden she had a voicemail. I’ve had the same thing happen before, so gave her the benefit of the doubt and proceeded as if it hadn’t happened.

          1. Anna*

            I suppose this MIGHT be one of those cases where Alison’s advice to try to use a land line comes in. :)

          2. Kelly L.*

            This happens to me sometimes–I think it’s when there’s a brief service outage or I walk through a dead spot.

        3. Vicki*

          Everybody check your junk call blocking settings. A lot of companies have outbound numbers that don’t show a clear Caller ID and those can be blocked. Similarly, some people use personal cell phones that send Caller ID from weird area codes (and a lot of junk calls come from out of state).

          I’ve missed calls because of Unidentified Caller or calls that appeared to come from out of area.

    2. BRR*

      Ugh this reminds me of the last time I took Amtrak. They print both legs of your trip on the same ticket and I had been looking at wrong one. I was at the station and just sat around while my train left.

        1. Bea W*

          Booked a flight for a Wednesday morning…except that I had really booked it for Tuesday morning. I didn’t have a printer so i never printed my reservation. I sent it to my mother to print and bring with her (which she didn’t). Showed up at 0-dark:30 on Wednesday to check in, couldn’t find my reservation, and didn’t have my confirmation or ticket #. The agent was eventually able to find me, but because i had been a no-show for the departing flight, the return flight had been cancelled automatically.

          My grandfather was on his death bed…clear across the country. Cue instant panic!

          At least mom had booked the correct date. So the agent only had to find seats for 1 idiot. The agent was able to get me on the same flights as my mother which was departing in an hour and rebook my return and only charged me the $100 change fee rather than making me buy a new ticket. *phew*

          1. Amy*

            Booked a chunnel trip from London to Paris for a Sunday, and was going to be leaving Paris that Tuesday to fly to Edinburgh. Get to the train station on Sunday and apparently I had actually booked the chunnel for Tuesday….when I was supposed to be at the Paris airport already boarding for Edinburgh.

            I had to pay through the nose to get a last-minute ticket for the next train, and had to sit in a fold-down seat in between cars ..woweee did my ears hurt when we went into/came out of the channel tunnel! (the train cars are pressurized but the in-between bits aren’t) But at least I made it to Paris that day!

      1. Artemesia*

        This is how I learned that airplanes sometimes have the same flight number on different airlines. I sat by XYZ and wondered why it was so late boarding, while the other airlines XYZ took off without me.

        I also had a travel agent once print my itinerary with the arrival time as the departure time and missed my flight as a result.

        I got a lot more careful about managing my own travel details after that. But boy did I feel like a doofus both times.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          Before the days of online booking, I once had an airline agent book a ticket to Jacksonville, FL instead of Jacksonville, NC. I had no idea until I got to the airport and checked in because I didn’t get anything until the night before in the mail. Luckily, the airline was able to get me on a flight immediately to Wilmington, NC and all was ok. So happy for the internet and e-mail confirmations.

      2. Bea W*

        I was in a rush and read the board wrong. The trains themselves are not marked and all look the same. You have to go by track number. I ran as fast as i could because i was about to miss. It wasn’t far but i have a heart condition and was right at the edge of puke and passout and stumbled a bit when i got in the door.

        It was the wrong train. Mine was on the other track and left without me. :(

        That was the last time i sprinted for a train.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Oh gods, I’ve also gotten on the wrong train. It was really late at night, too late to get out at station, go back, and catch the right train. It would have been the last one. I was going to be stuck in a random town late at night, alone.

          Fortunately it was SO late at night that there were only 2 or 3 other passengers on the whole thing, and when I told the conductor what I’d done, they worked miracles for me. They paused a cargo train that was using an express track so we could use that track to rush past it to a station we wouldn’t normally have stopped at, where the train I was supposed to have caught would be stopping in about 15 minutes. It was so amazing. Humans, man, sometimes they’re just really lovely.

      3. Blue Anne*

        When I was in a long-distance relationship, my boyfriend dropped me off at the train station early on Sunday so I could catch a 9 AM train. I went to the in-station coffee shop, got a latte, and sat down with my book. Then realized at 9:05 that my train had left. But the book was really good and although it was a long train ride, the only thing I had the next day wa 1 lecture, so I wasn’t too pressed for time… so I kept reading. And missed the 10 AM the same way. And the 11.


    3. chewbecca*

      There was one week where I had two people call saying they had set up a conference call at 11 with one of our sales reps and the rep never called them.

      The problem is, both times it was around 10:15 when they called. The first time, the guy mentioned he was on the east coast and we’re in the central time zone. I suspect it was the same for the second caller, as well. Time zones! They’re important!

      1. Sharm*

        Yes! Especially if you’re in a place that doesn’t observe daylight savings. Not only do you contend with vendors in different time zone, but then half the year, that time difference itself switches again. Ahhh!

        On the plus side, I have gotten REALLY GOOD at US time zones.

        1. Recent College Grad*

          My first big-time source interview as a magazine intern was with the administrator of the NTSB. His secretary misread my emails and called an hour early since they were an hour ahead, but I’ve always been explicit about time zones (sometimes obnoxiously so) because of that.

      2. Diet Coke Addict*

        This happens FREQUENTLY to us. More frequently than you would think. No matter how many times you say “11am our time, 9am your time” or “1pm our time, 2pm your time (1:00 EST, 2:00 AST)” and spell it out, people cannot figure out time zones. I want to run a seminar on it.

        If you don’t specify, “How about 1pm,” they call at 1pm OUR time “for convenience” and then nobody knows what’s going on.

        1. Maggie*

          My last company was based out of MN and being on the West Coast, it happened so often. It was always best when the MN person would set up the Outlook invite so we knew it was correct. haha

        2. Mimmy*

          Oh I hate time zones!! I think I’ve made the mistake of calling people on the west coast at, say, 10 a.m. MY time…..yeah, you know where this is going…. *facepalm*

          1. Audrey*

            Times zones! What about the date line – more often than you might suppose Americans arrive in Australia thinking that it’s Thursday – but it’s actually Friday!

            1. Contessa*

              I almost did that with a flight to Japan–I had the hotel booked for, say, Monday night, but I almost bought a ticket for a flight that didn’t arrive until Tuesday morning. I caught it JUST in time as I was checking out. “But, but, the flight leaves on Monday more than 14 hours before midnight, how is this possible!? Oh, yeah . . .”

            2. Dan*

              Even that’s not quite right. For evening departures out of LAX, you actually arrive in OZ +2 days later.

  7. Midge*

    Ugh, I feel for the OP. I did this once for a part-time gig. I was highly qualified, and pretty confident I would get the job. But I was coming back from visiting my dad after he had been diagnosed with cancer, and my head was not in the job hunting game. The guy was nice enough to interview me that day, but I’m pretty sure that’s the reason I didn’t get the job. Looking back I wish I had sent the ‘I’m mortified at this out of character behavior’ email. I said as much in person, but maybe the email would have helped.

  8. Corporate Attorney*

    I actually did this. The hiring manager didn’t tell a soul (I was a mortified law student, and I think she just felt badly for me). When I returned on the correct day, I caught my heel in my pants leg while walking with one interviewer to my next sit-down and fell flat on my face. It was a ROUGH couple of days, but…Reader, they hired me (and I worked there for four years, very happily!).

  9. Turanga Leela*

    I’m so sorry, OP. Good luck regardless! If it makes you feel any better, I once missed a work event, where I was supposed to be representing my company, because I went to the wrong city. I was in one city (let’s say Gary, IN), and I thought the meeting was too, but it turned out it was an hour away in Evanston, IL. By the time I realized it, there was no way to get there for any of the meeting.

    That was a really, really uncomfortable conversation with my boss.

  10. Christy*

    I always worry about this when interviewing. In some cases, I’ve brought a copy of the scheduling email in case the employer mixes things up. Thankfully, I’ve never showed up on the wrong day, but I did miss a phone interview once because my phone was set to “plane mode” and didn’t ring.

    1. Dan*

      I had one interview where I gave myself plenty of time. I printed out the employer’s instructions and followed them to a T.

      Until I got to a dead end.

      I took a second look at the instructions, which was “How to get here, I75 from the North.” I was coming from the South, and it was the only set included… @#$#@^.

      I was late, mumbled something about getting the wrong set of directions from the email, and that was that. I got the gig.

      1. Eden*

        Fortunately, when this happened to me, I already had the job.

        I was late for my orientation because it was held at a building far from where I actually work (huge campus), and my GPS couldn’t find it (damn you, google maps). I knew what road it was on, but GPS kept trying to make me turn down a different road. I ended up walking like a stricken deer through a giant parking lot, utterly lost, and had to ask directions from a terse French stranger. Making it even more humiliating, I had a terrible cold, and had to smother coughs and blow my nose throughout the orientation (impossible to reschedule). Latecomer Typhoid Mary is a bad feeling, on many levels.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Ugh, I had an interview once when I had just gotten over a cold. I felt fine, but an interview is a lot of talking, and I started having this dry hack that I couldn’t make go away. Didn’t get that job.

      2. Celeste*

        I had a phone interview and then came from out of state for the in person interview. I drove around the night before to get the location and everything. The next day, I could NOT find a parking garage that wasn’t full, and not much on-street parking (and it all had a 2-hour limit). I kept driving around looking for a place to park since the building had no lot with the typical space for visitors. I finally found an open one quite a few blocks away and ended up being over an hour late (and sweating). This was 18 years ago, no cell phone.

        No one cared. “That can happen downtown”, was all anybody said.

        I got the job.

    2. Mike B.*

      That once came back to bite me, although thankfully not in the context of an interview–I was going to see a friend’s show, but the email I consulted was for the original date and time. Had I gone by the *corrected* date and time on my calendar, I would have made it. But since they didn’t match the email I assumed they were wrong, forgetting all about the message I’d gotten later to reschedule.

  11. Sterling Archer*

    I had an experience something like that before, but I don’t think it was my fault and I still can’t make sense of it.

    I had a first interview, which went well, and we scheduled right there a second interview for the next week. I show up at the appointed date and time, and the manager practically berates me because she never called to confirm the day. Needless to say, the interview never happened.

    Seems to me, if you want to change the date, you ought to call me to ask. Guess I dodged a bullet there.

  12. Anonsie*

    My boyfriend insisted, *insisted* that I go to a group dinner his friends were throwing at night last Wednesday. I was not amused by the timing because I have 16 hour days on Tuesdays and 12 on Thursdays, but decided to go to make him happy. You know where this is going. We’re sitting in this restaurant at 9:30pm and he didn’t even realize he was wrong until he texted them asking why they were late and they corrected him.

    The actual dinner is tonight and I’m not going this time. I’m going to go to bed and it’s going to be great.

    1. The Real Ash*

      You are probably not looking for dating advice here but… That’s incredibly selfish of your boyfriend. You work really long days but it doesn’t matter because for whatever reason you have to go to this dinner. I would sit down and have a talk with him about how that behavior comes off. I would also look at his behavior in other situations to make sure this is just a one-time “me me me” moment, and not part of a larger pattern.

      1. Anonsie*

        Don’t worry, I have zero patience for the type of dude you’re describing. I am exaggerating his insistence. This couple of friends have get-togethers during the week like this a lot, but this one is a special thing they’re doing for him because they were out of town and missed the party I threw for his birthday earlier this month. Normally he asks if I want to go to their weeknight deals and I say no and he says ok, so this time when he kept asking I figured it was pretty important to him and agreed to go.

        He would have pretended it wasn’t a big deal if I didn’t go, but I knew he’d actually be disappointed. Something like this comes along maybe twice a year, and I’ll normally go out of my way for it because he restructured his schedule to accommodate my late days. If tomorrow wasn’t a particularly important day for me that required some prep, or if they’d just scheduled it for right after work instead of at night, I would just go this time as well.

  13. OP*

    Thank you all! I have to admit, I was expecting a response like Alison’s, although I was hoping for responses like I’m seeing in the comments. I’m glad to hear that all is not necessarily lost!

    1. BRR*

      You’re human, people make mistakes. Hopefully this will just be a funny story later on.

    2. Maggie*

      Oh, honey, I do this sort of stuff all the time – as an interviewer and ee. Like someone else said above, we’re human.

    3. Jaimie*

      No joke, once I showed up for a job interview wearing two different shoes ( both black heels, but different). My apartment had just been robbed, and I was out of sorts, but really it was just a stupid thing to do. I was rushed and grabbed the wrong shoes on my way out the door. I pretended like it wasn’t happening at the interview, and no one acknowledged it. I didn’t get the job.

      But the job would have been a terrible fit, and I found a different job soon after. And life went on. It did make for an awesome story in the bar that night.

      (Also, someone I just extended an offer to had a terrible typo in his resume, right in the first section heading. The recruiter in our HR department strongly recommended that I address it in the first interview, so I did. And he handled it so well that it helped convince me to hire him. Being able to recover from mistakes is a great skill. And it made me like him)

        1. Christine*

          One time I forgot to change out of my snow boots into interview shoes. I remembered on the tour, while I was clomping around their office. I didn’t get the job, but I’m pretty sure the decision was not footwear related.

          1. Jaimie*

            Well, at least I feel like I’m in good company. Interviewing is stressful, particularly if you aren’t fully prepared. In that sort of situation, weird mistakes can happen.

      1. Phyllis*

        At least they were the same color. I went to an interview wearing one navy flat and one white wedge heel. Very classy. When I saw someone looking at feet (and I realized what I had done) I just said weakly, “Like them? I have another pair at home just like it.” Luckily they laughed.

        1. laura*

          I’m confused – how did you not notice that you were wearing one flat and one heel? You’d be walking lopsided with one leg longer than the other!

        2. Purple Dragon*

          That’s funny ! I’m glad they laughed.

          For one interview I had to walk from the train station and half way there the heel broke on my shoe. I was trying so hard to be cool and pretend I had 2 functional shoes – it didn’t work and after I was hired we had a good laugh about it.

      2. Contessa*

        What did he say that made his handling of the situation so impressive? (I am always petrified of doing something like that in a resume, cover letter, or thank you email, so I always have someone else spell-check everything–but you never know)

  14. Kelly L.*

    When I was applying for CurrentJob, I got an irritated call one day asking why I hadn’t shown up for my interview that day. Well, I hadn’t even received a phone call or email asking if I could come in that day–they hadn’t responded to my application yet at all, as far as I could tell. I still don’t know if they called a wrong number or what, but that wouldn’t explain why they thought the time was confirmed. Mixed me up with another candidate, maybe. Well, I apologized and got a new interview date and I work there now, so it ended well. :)

    1. Maggie*

      That’s hilarious! It’s like they gave you a job to save face. Hey! Whatever works!! lol

      1. This is me*

        Ouch. That’s probably not true. She probably got the job because she was the best candidate.

  15. MF*

    I once showed up for a confirmed interview only to find out the person who scheduled it hadn’t passed the information along to the actual interviewers, and of course to them it looked like I just showed up with no appointment. I know I wasn’t mistaken because we’d had a number of back-and-forth calls regarding my availability on the day in question, and I’d confirmed the interview after making changes to my schedule. I felt like any explanation would have been awkward at that point, since insisting I had an appointment was just going to make it look like I was trying to put the blame elsewhere for what they clearly thought was my mistake.

  16. Sabrina*

    This happened to me once, but I maintain that it wasn’t my fault. I was in college and had applied for a part time job at a video game store who’s name rhymed with Schmuncoflan. Anyway, I swear we set the time for 2pm, after school for me, and before the part time job I wanted to leave started. I show up at 2 and the manager says that our interview is at 5:30 and he has no one to cover the store while we meet, so I have to come back. I was thinking um, OK I start work at 5, I know I would not schedule an interview at 5:30 but whatever. I called work and said I’d be in late and then went to this interview. I get there and the manager is having his pre-arranged meeting with the two district managers. Worse, he wants me to wait around until they are finished. So I’m in the store waiting, worried about losing the job I do have, while the two male employees who are on staff aren’t actually working because they are too excited that a girl might be working there soon. Once the interview finally started, he didn’t ask me any questions beyond what my availability was and talked as if I already had the job, telling me about pay and training, etc. And then he never called me ever again. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get the job. I wanted it at the time even though I was annoyed. I was too young to realize that working for someone that disorganized would not have been fun at all. (And there was no email to prove interview times since this was the mid 90s)

      1. Eden*

        Definitely not just you.

        Must be something regional that isn’t around here, because nothing I know of rhymes with Schmuncoflan! We have something that rhymes with Fame Drop instead.

      2. Eden*

        ooOOOOooh. Thanks! I was just wracking my brain on that one. This is how you can tell I don’t have kids, I guess.

  17. Sabrina*

    Oh and on a similar note, I once got a phone call to set up my training schedule for a job I had interviewed for. Problem was, no one had called to offer it to me and I certainly had never accepted. And in the mean time I had accepted a job elsewhere.

    1. Aunt Vixen*

      That happened to me in grad school. Got an e-mail asking about scheduling which of us graduate students was going to teach which EFL section. I replied … that I had never arranged to teach EFL. Boss/coordinator replies in a panic – what am I going to do? who’s going to teach this section?! I said I was sorry, but I had already committed to a different teaching gig, and I couldn’t really be responsible for her concluding I’d be working for her without checking with me first.

      Didn’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Right on! That sounds like some incredibly entitled behavior right there with her thinking she could just assign things to you without checking whether or not YOU would be OK with it.

    2. P*

      Wow, geez, that’s crazy. The job offer is slightly important, right? :P

      I definitely got a “you need to figure out your financial aid! what are you doing?!?!” letter from a graduate school I had declined to attend… and it was like in the middle of the fall semester, after I had started a program at another school. Why would you send paperwork to someone who didn’t even accept, pay for school, or register?!

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Ha, be glad it happened that way. I got a similar letter from a school that rejected me.

        1. Audiophile*

          I swore I was the only person who had been contacted by a college, I didn’t agree to attend, about registering for classes.

          It happened multiple years in a row, when I was an an undergrad. They’d called or send emails “why haven’t you registered for classes? Classes begin in X weeks.” Um, I didn’t even accept, forget accept, I didn’t hear squat from you after I applied, but you’re calling me to ask why I haven’t scheduled anything. And when I’d call to tell them I wasn’t attending and why do they keep contacting me and by the way, what happened to that acceptance letter, no one could explain it to me. “Well we accepted you. We’re not sure what happened to your letter, but we have you down as being accepted.”

          It reminds me off a time when I reapplied at a certain retail store and they claimed to have no record of my leaving and thus the reason they weren’t going to be moving me forward. Um what, I’ve been gone for years now and you have no record of my leaving.

          1. Sabrina*

            Well if you haven’t left, then it seems to me that they owe you some paychecks!

            1. Audiophile*

              If only I had been ready with that witty response.

              I was just so shocked that they actually asked “did you leave?” Really? No, I’m out on the floor reapplying for kicks.

        2. P*

          Oh no, I’m sorry! :( That would be much worse. (I also can’t believe they would blanket send out that much mail. Can’t they keep themselves straight?!)

      2. Aunt Vixen*

        I got that too! A relatively cross “Well? Are you coming?!” letter that I sort of responded to with a note saying Well, no, I’m not, and I’d have thought that would have been clear from the fact that the deadline to accept was ages ago and you haven’t heard from me. (The form didn’t have a ‘no thanks’ box. Looked to me like the opposite of regrets only, I mean to say. Oy.)

      3. TheExchequer*

        My brother received several nursing school offers. Despite never taking a collegiate science class. Or filling out a nursing school application. Or having the smallest iota of interest in being a nurse. (His name had the same first initial and the same last name as someone else in the school who WAS signing up for nursing schools. One guess as to how the college set up e-mails for students).

    3. PizzaSquared*

      That reminds me of something that happened to me in college. Kind of the opposite. At the end of the school year, I applied for, interviewed for, and was offered a job at the student newspaper for the following school year. I happily accepted. We didn’t exchange any details of start date, next steps, or anything. I was young and naive and didn’t know to ask. I assumed I’d find out in due time.

      Well, about a week before school started back up, I began getting curious. So I called the office. They had no record of me, had no clue who I was, the guy who had interviewed me and accepted the job didn’t work there any more, and they had no budget or openings for another person in the position I was supposed to fill.

      That was a real bummer, and also a lesson learned: nail down the specifics as soon as possible!

    4. Ruffingit*

      Wow, that is weird. What did they say when you told them you didn’t even work for them? :)

  18. GrumpyBoss*

    “When I’ve ignored small red flags in hiring because they seemed too minor to base a hiring decision on, they’ve pretty much always come back to bite me.”

    Well ain’t that the truth! The most minor things that I used to say “that’s odd” when I saw become things I actively look for because I got burned. One of my favorite examples was I was interviewing a woman who just had a fantastic personality. I really liked her. Her skills for the job were just average, nothing out of the park. But I was looking for reasons to hire her (major mistake on my part). The only thing that was a little bit of a red flag in my interview was that she had come in with a big cup of coffee from the Starbucks downstairs – I knew it was from downstairs because the barista always drew a little kitty face on the cup. And sure enough, she had a kitty face. She was also 5 minutes late to the interview. This should have warned me about two things:
    1. She wasn’t the most professional person. Showing up to a potential employer with a cup of coffee is really informal and maybe not the best judgement call.
    2. Timeliness wasn’t a huge priority with her. She would have been on time to her interview if she wasn’t waiting in line at Starbucks. Again, poor judgement call. I gave her the benefit of the doubt of thinking that it was probably much busier than she had expected when I should have been thinking, “What was she doing down there in the first place when she had an interview with me upstairs?”

    Both these points came to fruition time and time again. I put her on a pip for boundary issues and frequent tardies. Seeing the writing on the wall, she quit. With no notice, of course.

    Think I’ll ever hire someone who shows up with a cup of coffee 5 minutes late again?

      1. JMegan*

        My coffee is more important than *lots* of people in my life! Although even I would draw the line at being late for an interview because I was waiting in line at Starbucks.

        1. Eden*

          Plus, slurping coffee at an interview? Potential for spill disaster? Potential for ‘nervous bad swallow’ disaster leading to coughing fit in interview? Not having a hand free to shake? Having to ask where to dispose of cup? There are so many possible unprofessional sequelae to this decision.

          1. some1*

            Yup. Even if I got there too early and needed to kill time I would ditch the coffee at the point I needed to leave, even if I wasn’t finished, with enough to have a breath mint dissolve.

          2. Mimmy*

            Hmmm that’s interesting. While I’ve never walked into an interview with coffee in hand, I have had interviewers offer me coffee or tea before the interview started. Perhaps it’s a test? In the future, should I decline the coffee?

    1. Former Usher*

      “When I’ve ignored small red flags in hiring because they seemed too minor to base a hiring decision on, they’ve pretty much always come back to bite me.”

      This applies to considering prospective employERS, too. Always. Trust. Your. Gut.

      1. StevenO*

        I once interviewed for a research/reporting position with an author who as doing a nonfiction book and specified he wanted someone with an investigative reporting background. The project was a PR-type specialty book on a company in an industry he had specified, but he gave no other details.

        By doing minimal surface Internet Googling of other types of books he had done and the city where the company in question was headquartered (he had indicated where the candidate would have to travel for this project to conduct on-site interviews and archival documents) it was clear there was only one company this could be. Early in the interview there came a point where it seemed to me natural to ask more about the company by name. He expressed shock that I knew which company it was and seemed really put off, saying something about the terms of the project require confidentiality and I cannot be discussing the client at all unless and until I sign a contract as I wasn’t on the project. The reaction was so bizarre to me on so many levels I knew I didn’t want anything to do with this man or his company (even though several times over the years I’ve wondered if I went too far in doing a Google search and nailing down the company, then kick myself for questioning that when he explicitly said he wanted an investigative reporter).

        1. Ruffingit*

          My feeling is that if you make it relatively easy for someone to find out who you are/who the company is, then you can’t complain. This guy made it pretty easy for anyone with a modicum of investigation skills to figure it out and since the position specifically asked for investigative reporting skills, he’s shocked you were able to find the company? BULLET DODGED.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Oh totally. I can remember being at the office of one employer filling out the starting paperwork and thinking “I don’t want to work here.” Had a literal gut feeling of not wanting to be there. But I went on ahead and then quit six weeks later when I realized that I should have listened to my gut. The illegal activities and bizarre culture of the place was more than I could handle. I don’t bother putting that job on my resume of course. Just saying that I agree that you should always trust your gut.

    2. Mephyle*

      This was clearly a person with a medical need for coffee, as per Dave Barry’s famous funny quote.

    3. Artemesia*

      I have found that invariably things that cause concern in the hiring process but are overlooked are in fact clues about the future. The person who babbles and doesn’t listen but is otherwise a great candidate — working with him will turn out to be a loquacious nightmare; the person who is a little disorganized, will be stumbling through her job; the person who misses an appointment and begs for another shot — this is the person who will blow off the second appointment too or will be chronically unreliable. More than once we bent over backwards when someone ‘made a mistake’ and didn’t show for an interview only to have them jerk us around endlessly. We all make mistakes, but when you have little to go on, it is fair to assume that any behavior you see is a sample not a mistake.

      1. Harper*

        So true. I just recently had a conversation with a coworker about an employee we hired who is not working out (to say the least). I was asking how we didn’t see it in the interview and she pointed out a couple of things he had said and did which I took to be totally innocuous but that in retrospect were absolutely red flags. It’s hard to feel that you have to read so much from so little, but with the way hiring is done, it’s just the way it is.

        1. Eden*

          Reason #1 I never again want to be in the position to hire anyone: I miss red flags, apparently.

          I once was in charge of hiring my replacement as a paralegal at a big prestigious law firm. It was a ROUGH job, many many hours, weeks at a time spent working at a client’s offices in another state (major auto manufacturer), extremely demanding boss. I didn’t sugarcoat it in interviews.

          One guy in particular seemed perfect. He was already working as a paralegal elsewhere, was not turned off by anything: the minimum 12-hour days, travel, insane demands. The others were largely disinterested new grads, one of whom memorably answered, “I don’t really want this job but I guess I have to work somewhere” to the question, why do you want this job?

          Perfect fit guy was hired. He lasted I think 3 months, and then I was told that he suddenly did not show up for work at the client’s office in the other city. Turns out he booked his flight home and quit without any notice whatsoever.

          So I’m sure there were red flags galore, but I never saw that one coming at all.

      2. Sharm*

        What worries me are the sociopaths who come off great in interviews by not stumbling on anything small, and then you hire them, and they make your life a disaster for four years when their true colors come out.

        Not that this happened to me and turned me off management forever or anything.

        What I haven’t learned is how to screen for this. For those who are smooth and particularly good at covering up who they really are, it seems very difficult!

        1. fposte*

          That’s what you’re hoping references can save you from, but it doesn’t always work. What did your awful person’s references say about him/her?

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            I don’t even bother with supplied references anymore. I have spent so much time on reference calls who are obviously friends doing their friend a solid. I go to LinkedIn and hope we have a connection in common. If that doesn’t work, I go with my gut.

                1. Sharm*

                  That just seems weird to me — if a mutual person contacted me, I would not be completely honest with them on LinkedIn. Just speaking for me. I wouldn’t LIE, but I would be very diplomatic and neutral. So I just don’t see how that would be a valuable resource.

              1. GrumpyBoss*

                If candidate A and I have Joe in common on LinkedIn, I will reach out to Joe and say, “hey, what can you tell me about A?” Since Joe is also my contact in LinkedIn, it means I have some sort of relationship with him and I probably trust him more than a random reference.

                I try to be discreet because I would hate to cause someone issues at their current job. But in my experience, people who weren’t prepped to be a reference and are asked really casual questions have been very candid.

          2. Sharm*

            They did the, “We can only verify [Such and Such] worked here for XYZ date range.”

            The crazy thing to me is that on her LinkedIn page, she has all these colleagues raving about her. So to the outside eye, she looks like a great hire. AND she keeps getting promoted. She is very good at her job, but she’s basically a Brilliant Jerk, who also happens to be manipulative. She’s scary smart, but I wouldn’t trust her with anything.

  19. Celeste*

    These things happen, and at least the error was in your favor by not missing it. I can’t see how you harmed the employer in any way. I would carry on and be your normal awesome self. No need to beat yourself up and make the job search any harder than it has to be.

  20. ADE*

    I once assumed an interview was supposed to take place on the phone when they anticipated me in person. But the person I was interviewing with had two offices and the admin in a confirmation e-mail did not tell me which office to go to either.

    And it turns out that I had forgotten about this interview because my brain was so cluttered with other things anyway….And the person who was supposed to interview me was known for being late on things to begin with…. And then sent me the incorrect response e-mail.I didn’t go with the job.

    Make the mistake once and never again on your end. And I am a known space cadet…. But I think of it as showing how I can manage stuff that doesn’t come naturally to me.

      1. ADE*

        I have friends who work in the organization who tell me almost the same thing.

        Organization is still not my strong suit but I generally manage and I am aware of this weakness. My job doesn’t require me to do as much day-to-day organizing which helps.

  21. CGirl*

    Ugh I feel so bad for the OP! I missed an email just today that had gone to my spam box from an employer (which has never happened in my entire job search)! I was so upset it is not like me to not check that folder at least weekly, but it happened and now I have found out I missed my opportunity. But ya know we have to look at these things as learning opportunities. I have set a reminder to check this folder from now on daily! Good luck OP!

    1. Sabrina*

      I can’t stand seeing a number next to the Spam folder, so I clean it out every day. Good thing too, an email for an upcoming interview went there, but I caught it right away.

      1. Mimmy*

        I do the same thing, and it’s served me well. I just got accepted into a Graduate Certificate program, and the notification email went into my Junk folder! If I wasn’t the type to check it immediately, I would’ve missed it (though I have a whole month to accept or decline).

  22. Cube Ninja*

    I’m reminded of the one time I asked someone to leave without asking them a single question. We set the interview a few days in advance for a specific time, she arrived 40 minutes late with no explanation or apology. I thanked for her making the trip to our office and sent her on her way.

    I prefer no-shows, to be honest. That was awkward, but I wasn’t going to waste my time (and hers) with someone I knew I wasn’t going to hire.

    1. KCS*

      What did she say when you sent her on her way? Was she shocked or unsurprised? Did you explain why you asked her to leave?

      I’m just curious as to how she reacted and if she was aware (or became aware) of her unprofessionalism.

      1. Cara Carroll*

        I have sent away candidates for late arrival, and improper dress. I hate doing it but as Cube Ninja says, why waste their time and yours. I of course always explain why I am asking them to leave and usually they are more bummed and apologetic. My hope is that they will learn not to make the same mistake again.

      2. Cube Ninja*

        She actually got a little bit defensive about it in the “but I came all the way here” sort of way. Even when confronted with it directly, she didn’t make any worthwhile excuse for being late or offer up anything that would make me rethink it.

        The extra worst part is that she had a bandana on and appeared to be either recently finished with, or currently in the process of chemotherapy. I seriously considered giving her the interview time anyway and honestly felt like the biggest jerk in the world for the rest of the day, but 40 minutes…

    2. KJR*

      This is my feeling as well. Things happen, but I certainly take into account how they treat the situation. Did they offer an explanation? Is it plausible? Did they make an effort to call to say they were going to be late? Did it look like they cared?

    3. Maggie*

      I once interviewed a woman who was clearly still drunk from the night before. I didn’t even allow her to get to the ‘conference room stage’. We had a quick conversation in the lobby and I somehow convinced her that it was simply a meet and greet today and I would call her if we wanted to go further. Giiiiiirl, do not get hammered the day before an interview! What’s wrong with you?!

        1. Maggie*

          Jesus, I didn’t even think of that until you said it. Eek, I hope you’re right. :(

  23. Andrea*

    I once showed up for an interview to find that the hiring manager had forgotten about it. He was flustered and he apologized, and the interview went pretty well, so I didn’t think that much of it. I was called for a second interview. This time, he wasn’t even there when I arrived. His assistant told me he was out for the whole day, and when I asked, she looked and confirmed that yes, he had put me on the schedule for that day, and I was there when I was supposed to be. So I left. He called me over an hour later to ask where I was, and I said that I’d been there on time and was told he wasn’t coming in to the office. He said that he had just arrived and was surprised not to see me waiting. Um, what? He offered to interview me again if I could come immediately, and I said I wasn’t interested in working there. I’m not sure if he was really disorganized or just playing games (since he expected I would wait for over an hour), but maybe it was both, and either way, I wasn’t going to deal with it.

    1. Kay*

      Wow… That is so disrespectful. I can’t believe he expected you to sit and wait that long. How absurd!

      1. Shell*

        I’ve a similar story, except in this case his assistant expected me to sit and wait that long.

        I showed up for an interview, was told by the assistant “He’s in a meeting, he’ll be right with you.” At the 20 minute mark the assistant pokes her head in and tells me the meeting is running late. At the 50 minute mark I walk out because I had to go to the job that was still paying me, and the assistant was like “I know the meeting was late, but I’m sure he’ll be here shortly!”

        …he wasn’t even in the building.

        When I walked out, there was another person in the lobby area listening to our conversation. Probably the interviewee after me. I wonder if she even got to meet the interviewer…

        1. Lisa*

          Twice that happened to me, in a similar way. the first interview I showed up and the hiring manager was out sick, it was a 2:00 meeting, they could have let me know. So I return a few days later for the rescheduled meeting, waiting in the lobby for almost and hour the front desk receptionist finally tells me that the interviewer had been pulled into a “crisis meeting” and could not see me today. I politely declined a 3rd reschedule.

        2. Alex*

          Yes, this! I had a similar experience and the oddest thing happened – so I waited for this guy to come back to the building for about 45 minutes, and it just put me in the *idgaf* type of mood. It was literally the BEST I’ve ever interviewed. I was amazing. I’ve never been that good again. I figure it had to do with my attitude maybe?

        3. Maggie*

          My jaw literally just dropped.

          WAIT! So what happened? Did the interviewer ever call you to follow up? Was there even an open job available? Did she actually work there? I mean, so many questions all of a sudden.

          1. Shell*

            The assistant invited me to reschedule, but this interview was already the third scheduling attempt in a week so I didn’t have the patience for it. I politely told them “I’ll be in touch” without any intentions of doing so; in retrospect, I probably would’ve scored more points if I just told them I’m removing myself from the candidate pool.

            In any case, my walking out seemed to have removed me from the pool anyway. That said, it wasn’t a loss at all. It took a week to schedule this interview because the interviewer’s assistant had a habit of calling me at 4:30 PM on a weekday and expecting me to be available to come in for an interview at 8 AM the next day. (And this was an industry where people don’t carry their phones with them, so I rarely even got the call.) When I called back (next day) and suggested X time on Y date, she’d say “let me check with him” and then come back a day or two later with another 4:30 call expecting me to show up super early the next day. I only got that spectacular failure of an interview when I emailed them with a date and time a week away (so he could “clear his schedule”) since I (paraphrase) “can’t leave to go on interviews with little notice”.

            Yup, those were red flags I ignored. Oh well.

    2. Eden*

      Anyone who would still want to work there after that display of disorganization would probably be one of the people who loudly complains about not getting on the plane that has been grounded with an engine problem.

    3. Mephyle*

      Indeed. His assistant told you he was out for the day, and he expected you to ESP that it wasn’t true, that he was coming back in an hour.

      1. CGirl*

        I report to a CEO and he is often late to everything, drives me mad. He books things (or sometimes has me book things) with little or no buffer. I hate being the person to tell others “he will be right with you” but it is part of the job. I think people like this enjoy making people wait, perhaps it makes them feel important. Regardless, it is very rude and people at any level of business should know better!

    4. Diane*

      I showed up for a day of interviews 15 minutes early. The receptionist scrambled to find ANY of the interviewers. She finally called the head of HR, who took me from conference room to conference room looking for them, apologizing and explaining they weren’t usually like this.

      This interview had been rescheduled three times to accommodate all six people who were supposed to meed with me that morning. Two weren’t there, and one left in the middle of my presentation because they got started late.

      It went downhill from there, ending with the hiring manager talking nonstop for the entire final hour while dodging my questions.

    5. Mimmy*

      That reminds me of my one interview mixup disaster. I was called in to interview at a large hospital to work in their Oncology department to enter patient data for tracking. I let the receptionist know I was there for an interview, so she calls to the HR office while I go sit and fill out the application she’d given me. A few minutes later, the receptionist comes over and tells me to take the application home and that they’ll call me to reschedule the interview. Huh?!? It didn’t help that it was POURING that day. She said to call on Friday, two days later, if I didn’t hear anything

      Friday comes, no call, so I call them. The HR rep claimed she had been waiting for me that day and denied canceling the interview! We rescheduled for the following Monday, but at that interview, she told me they already had someone in mind but interviewed me anyway in case something else came up or the person turns down the job. she hinted it was in response to the fact that I didn’t call until Friday after missing the Wednesday interview! I did get to interview with the Hiring Manager right after, who was so much nicer.

      Yeah, confusing, right??! There were a lot of red flags, so… Bullet. Dodged. Which was a bummer because the position sounded really interesting at the time.

  24. Ann O'Nemity*

    Something similar happened to me, except I was late by a week. It was due to some confusion about what “next” Thursday meant. I had done a telephone interview on Tuesday and was asked to come in “next Thursday.” I (wrongly) assumed that meant the following week. Oops.

    The takeaway for me was the importance of confirming the actual date when scheduling.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      But you were right. The day of the week you are in is “this Thursday” or “Thursday.” “Next Thursday” is definitely in the next week.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I just had an argument with someone about this! I would think “next Thursday” was this week, although I would usually say “this Thursday.” The following Thursday, for me, is “a week from Thursday.”

        1. Sadsack*

          Next Thursday mean Thursday next week to me. If the Thursday of the same week was meant, wouldn’t it just be “Thursday”?

          1. Turanga Leela*

            Usually, yes, I’d say “Thursday” or “this Thursday.” But I hear “next Thursday” literally as the next Thursday–at least some of the time. (I’m now second-guessing myself.)

            It’s one reason I always confirm dates.

    2. Sharm*

      You were right, but I agree with you about the importance of dates. I learned that in a marketing job, and so I put in dates (sometimes even the year!) to be crystal clear what I mean.

      Overcommunication – it’s a good thing!

      1. louise*

        I always put the year! Worked for a dentist for many years and it was common to schedule appointments 6 months in the future. Can’t tell you how many times people brought in their appointment cards saying, “I didn’t get a confirmation call like usual, but it looks like I have an appointment.” Yes. You had an appointment on this day LAST year. I always put down day, mo/date/year. Can’t be too sure!

      2. A Bug!*

        That’s something I learned to do when I became responsible for booking client appointments. I had a few instances with clients showing up for the wrong day or the wrong time, so I started being extra-clear. I’d put it in my calendar and say “Okay, I have you down for 2:00 p.m. next Thursday, the 21st” when confirming the appointment, and then when I said goodbye I’d say “We’ll see you next Thursday the 21st at 2:00!”

        Of course, that didn’t necessarily stop people from remembering it wrong on their end or forgetting entirely, but this way at least I knew it wasn’t my fault.

    3. CC*

      I encountered exactly the opposite once. By email on Wednesday/Thursday, figuring out a date for a meeting: it was decided to meet Friday. I though that was awfully soon and asked this week or next week to try to clarify, didn’t get a reply that made it clear and showed up a week early. In hindsight, I should have specified the numerical date when asking for clarification instead of asking “this” or “next”.

  25. CH*

    My daughter had a Skype interview for her internship last summer. Whoever scheduled it had written 1:00 in the email when they meant 11:00. My daughter had just gotten out of the shower. She was dressed but did the interview with sopping wet hair. She did get the internship.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      This is why I like using the 24 hr clock (but then there are plenty of people who don’t get it when I schedule something for 14:00 so it’s not perfect either)

      1. Phyllis*

        I would. My step-father was a Navy chief and when he married my mother the first thing he insisted on was that we all learn military time.

        It actually came in handy for me. I went to work as a long distance telephone operator, and at that time the time clocks for call tickets displayed military time. I was the only one of the trainees who knew how to read it.

  26. Lanya*

    OP, this may or may not help, but – when it comes to interviews and other potential life-altering things that don’t always go as we want them to go, my advice is to treat them with a heavy dose of “it wasn’t meant to be”, and move on with confidence. If this employer can look past your honest mistake, they will. If not, it is totally their loss, and you just weren’t meant to get that job. That’s the way I handle these kinds of things, and while I don’t generally believe in fate, it helps cut down on the stress!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, really. And if this employer is gracious/forgiving about it, then OP might have a gem of an employer. I encourage OP to look at how the employer handles this, too.

  27. mess*

    Once I arrived at a company for an interview and the receptionist said, um, you called and canceled your interview?! It turned out another candidate had withdrawn and she had accidentally removed my interview from the calender instead of hers (I think our names were similar – like a Cat versus Kate). The hiring manager had JUST left for the day and this was pre-cellphone ubiquity where she may have been able to be reached and come back. In fact, I think I even saw her in the elevator. I had to come back the following week and I was pretty annoyed, having taken time off work to go to the interview. But, I ended up accepting the job and it was a great place to work! Things happen. Good luck, OP.

  28. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    What a tough spot to be in. Honestly it will depend on the hiring manager. We have had candidates show up for interviews at the wrong date, wrong time, and even wrong location before… as unfortunate as it is for the candidate, it never looks good to the hiring manager…. but it may not be a deal-breaker. Just try to show the hiring manager that you are the strongest candidate and apologize for the mistake… and then just move on. It was an honest mistake and nothing to beat yourself up over. Just learn from the mistake and next time double and triple check the date and time.

  29. Mike B.*

    OP, were you dealing with the hiring manager or HR? If the latter, there’s an outside chance they chose not to pass this information along, in which case it will not affect the decision in the slightest.

    Granted, I think HR *should* let the hiring manager know about something like that, but it’s minor enough that I could see someone deciding to let it slide.

    1. OP*

      Actually, that raises another question. I’ve been dealing entirely with the HR person – I don’t even know the name of the hiring manager or who will be on the interview panel. And I don’t get the feeling that she will tell the hiring manager, as she seemed completley unconcerned about it. She even joked, as BadPlanning did below, that at least I will be extra prepared for next week!

      So having apologized to the HR person, both at the time and in a followup email, what do I do when I go in to the interview itself? Do I apologize again, and risk alerting the hiring manager to something that she may not have already known? Or do I say nothing more about it, and risk looking like I didn’t take it seriously if she did already know?

      1. Anonylicious*

        You’ve already made your apologies to the person you’re in contact with. If I were you, I’d put it behind me and just focus on moving on from your mistake.

      2. Sydney*

        You already apologized in the best way possible. Don’t mention anything to someone new UNLESS they bring it up first. That’s when you would say you’re mortified, yadda yadda.

  30. BadPlanning*

    From the letter, I would guess when the OP showed up, the OP was embarrassed and apologized and left without making a fuss. So that seems less bad overall. If the OP had reacted negatively, it would definitely be the deal breaker. Yell at the admin, claim the company had it wrong, or declare “Well, since I’m early, interview me now!”

    Good luck, OP! At least you are all practiced on your routine, parking, etc!

  31. Case of the Mondays*

    Something similar happened to me and I got the job!

    I was in law school and the firm I was to interview with had selected me for on campus interviewing. They contacted career services to schedule the interview. Career services never contacted me and just wrote me in a slot and never told me. I got an angry email at 7 pm one night from career services about “no-showing” for an interview. I scrolled down and saw the law firm had emailed them about me not showing up.

    I immediately emailed the two attorneys that I saw in the chain and stated that there must have been some error because I had never been informed I had been chosen as a candidate, let alone scheduled for an interview. I offered to travel to law firm city to interview since I knew they would not be in my city again anytime soon. They said “sure” and my first interview morphed into a second with me interviewing with six other attorneys. After a third interview, I got the job!

  32. Clerica D. McClerkykins*

    When I’ve ignored small red flags in hiring because they seemed too minor to base a hiring decision on, they’ve pretty much always come back to bite me.

    Weeeell, to be fair, I think it’s really easy to go back after the fact and say “I should have known” and ignore all the other times that particular “sign” happened but things turned out fine anyway. I have this one friend who loves to say ominously that she “just knew” something wasn’t right whenever a situation turns out badly, even if she was all over it at the time. She cites “mothers’ intuition” whenever she’s right about her children, ignoring how often she’s taken them to the doctor for phantom illnesses and the several times she’s frantically called their school certain they’d been maimed or killed during a spirited game of Duck Duck Goose.

    I mean, definitely listen to your gut (if you have a good one), but don’t let your mind tell you your gut is wrong, is all.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree that it can be confirmation bias, but I actually tracked red flags / other impressions about all candidates I hired over a period of time, because I was so curious to see if it would pan out as a real correlation. It did.

  33. Kristina*

    I actually was scheduled for an interview once and was given no indication that it would be a phone interview. I went into the office on time and they were confused as to why I was there. We did the interview anyway in person but I went back and checked my email. There was absolutely no indication that it was a phone interview. Didn’t get the job.

  34. Not So NewReader*

    Uh, OP, they did not cancel next week’s interview. Think about that.

    You showed up early because of your eagerness, this is way better than showing up late because of your apathy.

    Maybe you can work something into conversation that you are excited to be interviewing with them and the interview has been at the forefront of you thoughts.

  35. Jen Bontrager*

    I had to chuckle a little at this post considering we just had that happen a couple weeks ago. One of our candidates showed up on a Friday at the correct time of the day just a whole week early. My first thought was did I put in the wrong date in my email to her. It worked out really well for us. We got a lot of our preliminary testing out of the way and I talked with her a bit about other things. Showing up a whole week early did not change my view about her at all. It is much better to be early then to be late! Don’t sweat the small things and don’t over apologize for the mix up. I think it just shows how enthusiastic you are to be interviewing for the job.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I agree! I love a candidate who is excited and a wee bit nervous about the job :)

  36. Chinook*

    OP, as someone who did the opposite and bounced back, all I can say is tht stuff happens and you showed you were ager for the job. Depending on your personality, you could even joke about it when you show up.

    As for me, I was at a full-day fly in interview for teaching overseas. I made it the group part in the morning but I either didn’t change my watch to the correct time zone (since I was interviewing one province over) or I didn’t hear the correct time to show up for the one-on-one interview/sample class to teach but I was a couple of hours late for it. As in, they were worried that I had somehow gotten myself killed because their office was right next to a notorious part of that city.
    When I showed up, clueless about how late I was, I was mortified and and also releived that they were still willing to do the interview. As luck would have it, I am an awesome teacher and the sueprvisor who was role playing my student wasn’t able to stump or fluster me despite having zero time to prep. Sometimes, having the skills and the opportunity to shine can save almost any faux pas.

  37. Anonasaurus*

    From the Royal Air Force (Britain) no less, they once told me they would confirm the time of my interview by email and in the email it said literally that the interview would take place at xx:xx.

    Obviously it was an email format that had xx:xx as the default and they were supposed to change it into the correct digits for the time. I phoned them and asked them the interview time, and said the email didn’t tell me. They rather patronizingly repeated to me several times that the time was in the email they had sent me – so I sent it back to them. At which point they said something like “oh yeah” and gave me a time.

    I then hung up. About 5 minutes later, I received a call from them which I didn’t answer in time. They left a message asking me to call them back. I did (immediately), and when they asked why I rung, they asked why I had called back. I said they had just called and asked me to. Which they then denied.

    They then sent me a follow up email, giving me a different time to the one they’d given me on the phone (which I had confirmed back and written down). At this point, I stopped applying to the RAF…

  38. Collarbone High*

    My first day on a job was supposed to be a Thursday, and the plane ticket they bought me was for Tuesday (they were moving my furniture separately). Wednesday morning, I was lounging around my hotel room with wet hair, no makeup, wearing a grubby muumuu with no bra, when an admin knocked on the door. She had been sent across town to fetch me after I didn’t show up for a 9 a.m. meeting. She was waiting to drive me so I didn’t have time to clean up, but I assumed it was just a “glad you made it, here’s your agenda for tomorrow” thing. Nope. I had a full day of meetings scheduled with my new clients and direct reports. They had sent me invites in Outlook … but I didn’t have Outlook access because, you know, I hadn’t started yet.

  39. Carolum*

    Me: “Hi, is Cindy (the interviewer) here?”

    Someone else: “Cindy’s… not here.”

    [Lump in my throat]

    Turns out her husband was in the hospital and she’d called in.

    The interview happened a few days ago and went well… but no, I didn’t get the job.

  40. Hummingbird*

    Just sort of going along with some of the comments on here…

    I had a second interview with an organization’s CEO. For some strange reason, it was scheduled during the typical lunch hour at 12:30. When I arrived, I was told that it would be a few minutes; I was early anyway. They escorted me to a lounge where I watched a video on the site (it was a museum). I must have sat there for about for nearly a half hour, at least not being met by the CEO until 15 minutes past my appointment time. Turns out, he was eating lunch; luckily, I stopped at a little luncheonette before I arrived so I wasn’t starving myself. I found it a bit rude even though the man needed to have some lunch.

    There were other problems with that interview. So I’m not upset that I didn’t get the job.

  41. caim*

    Can someone offer some input , We scheduled an interview for the 20th of February and they sent an email to confirm the date written exactly like this ” Thursday,20 Feb,and the hour”.
    Obviously 20Feb is a Friday , but I didn’t check thoroughly and I confirmed this date. What’s up ? Was this a trap ?
    Should I show up on the Thursday now or the actual numeric date which is a Friday?

  42. Worriedone*

    I just did this today, showed up a week early, the hiring manager didn’t seem phased, I plan on making a nice joke out of it. But I really think I blew it! i was so excited to land the interview, that I jumped in joy past the date!

  43. jobseeker*

    I have to sign my contract next week, I forgot if it was Monday or 1st of July. I am going to start working the 1st of july but somehow I feel like it was Monday. What can I do? Would it be wrong to send an email to the HR representative on Sunday to confirm the date of the signature? Please help!

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