I showed up for an 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 was actually scheduled for a week later!

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!

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 129 comments… read them below }

  1. Mamunia*

    Related, what to do when you show up on the day they said and they think you’re a day early. (It was my mother’s birthday, which I noted at the time I made the appointment, so I am 100% sure.) Yeah, I didn’t get that job.

    1. Tuxedo Cat*

      I had an interview where HR messed up the scheduling, so the hiring managers thought I was late. I think it colored things from their end (could tell from the tone). My emails with the HR person indicate I was on time.

      Didn’t get an offer, either.

      1. The Original K.*

        My first round of interviews at OldJob were like that, although thankfully HR owned it right away – I had receipts (emails) confirming that I was there at the right time. (The hiring managers thought I was early, so I had to wait. I had used ZipCar to get there and ended up bringing it back late, incurring a $50 late fee.) The hiring managers were annoyed but not at me, although their annoyance came through in the interview. I did get an offer. Should have been a clue that the place was a bit of a mess (especially HR).

        1. DCGirl*

          I once got a $100 parking ticket because an interviewer was running very, very late and I couldn’t leave to go feed the meter. It was at a time in my life when $100 was groceries for the month, KWIM? I was so ticked off.

        2. smoke tree*

          This is a good example of why candidates should apply similar thinking to hiring managers–just like they are basing their impression on a small amount of data, so are you. And I think employers are less likely to be on their best behaviour when conducting interviews so you can get more insight into how they typically function.

    2. engma*

      Basically, you’re screwed and possibly you’ve dodged a bullet. At my dysfunctional company, I showed up for my first interview at the scheduled time to be told that I was “early, but they’d try to fit it in.” I was totally apologetic when the HR person started the interview by confirming that she had double checked, and I wasn’t scheduled until a half hour later. I check my email when I got home, and I had showed up the right time. So basically, the HR doubled down after checking the same email and seeing that she was wrong. Oh well. I got an offer and needed a job, so here I am. This place is crazy, but I have bills to pay.

    3. SC*

      I once showed up an hour “early” to an interview. In emails, I had agreed to a range of times (say, between 9 and 12), and the interviewer’s secretary sent me a calendar appointment, which I accepted. The appointment was on my electronic calendar for 10 am. She showed me her computer screen, and the same appointment was on her boss’s calendar for 11 am. I have no idea why. There’s no reason for there to be a time zone issue. It’s never happened to me with any other appointment.

      I had driven to the interview and offered to come back at 11. It still seemed to color the interview. I’ve learned more about how dysfunctional the organization is, and the interviewer has left the organization, so whatever happened, I think I dodged a bullet.

      1. Glenn*

        I have occasionally run across difficult-to-trigger bugs in Google Calendar that manifest like this. Usually only if _someone_ on the event is in a different timezone, though…

      2. Anna*

        I’ve had this happen a few times with an organisation I freelanced for. After I had twice shown up for a meeting an hour early, I started to confirm the time in writing when I received their automatic calender meeting requests. That solved it.

      3. Where do yall get those wonderful usernames*

        Once upon a time, I received a phone call by a woman who said that my interview was at 4:15 pm, but at the end of the call, the woman said that she was in a different time zone, so my actual appointment would be in my time zone, at 5:15 pm. I wound up being an hour late, and they removed me from the list of candidates. I didn’t think that it was fair for them to penalize me when I’d followed the caller’s instructions. However, I interviewed with this company again a few years later, and I decided that it wasn’t a place I’d want to work anyway.

        I also scheduled an interview where the interviewer told me that she had openings for the following week. It was on a Tuesday, and she said that I could either pick the next day, or the following Wednesday. I picked the following Wednesday since I needed more time to prepare. However, when I confirmed the time with her, I said, “So I will see you on Wednesday, January 21 at 1:00 pm.” At first she responded, “You mean January 14,” which was the next day, and not the following week. I apologized, and told her that I thought that she’d offered me the following week. Then she realized that she had indeed offered me that option, but she had a conflict on that Wednesday at 1 pm, so we moved the interview to an earlier time. That’s why I always confirm the interview appointment (while I have the contact on the phone) by stating the date, the day AND the time.

    4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      If there is a email confirmation or a calendar invite I’d try to show it to the person in charge. Or at least mention it.

    5. Sevenrider*

      Ugh! I hate when HR messes up and then it’s on you. I had them not schedule enough time for an interview, even though I told them I had an appt. at XX time immediately afterwards. I offered any other day/time but they were adamant that one hour was sufficient time. Interviewer wanted to talk for an hour and a half and I had to excuse myself. She was very miffed and not surprisingly, I didn’t get the job. It was a great position and we were hitting it off until I had to leave for my other appt. (It was a medical appt. which could not be missed and I did explain this to HR.)

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I’d say you dodged a bullet. Blaming you for HR’s mistake, and then your interviewer is miffed that you had to leave for a medical appointment? If you’d gotten the job there, you might have gotten crap from your boss about any medical appointments at all.

    6. MRK*

      Had an interview with Fruity Computers where I showed up at the scheduled time (well, 10 minutes early) and was accused of being LATE. And apparently my lateness has been broadcast to everyone working the floor that day (they couldn’t find me so they were asking around, making it clear I was LATE.) A manager came out to do my interview (which was at a public table surrounded by customers and working employees, a whole other issue) and when I apologized for being late, was told “Oh no, you’re on time I read the paperwork wrong hahahahaha.”

      Long story short bombed the whole interview because I was in a total panic since I thought I somehow royally screwed up. Plus I’m sure I was remembered as the person who was late to their interview even when I wasn’t

    7. CoveredInBees*

      I once had an interviewer misread my resume and thought I’d included a place where I had only worked for a month when it was two years and a month. It didn’t go well, despite my best efforts.

      This was in standard Monthname Year – Monthname Year format. She decided to launch into a lecture on how I had better have learned something really important while I was there…looks so unprofessional…on and on. I tried to politely interject but she held up her hand at me so she could continue. When she finally asked what I had to say for myself, I said that I had been in that position for 2 years and a month and tried to pivot towards all the useful things I’d learned at that job. I could had started speaking in Martian for all any of that helped. She wasn’t going to hire someone she’d embarrassed herself in front of.

    8. Mamunia*

      I wish I’d had receipts.. this was a long time ago so everything was via phone. :/

  2. CatCat*

    I once showed up at the wrong office on the first day of a job. I was able to live it down, but it was pretty mortifying.

    1. Blue Anne*

      I once traveled out to a client site a day early. Had to call the office and let the team lead know where I was, take the train back, show up at the office 2.5 hours late. The client was actually good about it, offered to find me a free desk if I wanted to just work there for the day, since we’d be doing prep work anyway, but I was asked to come home. I was so mortified and definitely deserved the ribbing I got for it when I showed up in the office.

      Good work makes up for this stuff, though.

    2. JeanB in NC*

      I showed up to start a new job a day early. They were fine about it though – I just went home and showed up the next day like nothing happened.

    3. BRR*

      I once showed up to the wrong building my first day at a university. Someone in my department was tasked with implementing a new onboarding process and emailed information that conflicted with what HR sent me so when each mentioned a named building I just glossed over that they were different buildings because the names were similar.

    4. SusanIvanova*

      I showed up at 10AM for my first day as a software engineer – they hadn’t told me a time, and 10AM is early for software. But 10AM is late for HR – *they* expected me at 8!

      It didn’t hurt anything because that’s the only time I had to deal with them.

    5. Trig*

      An intern showed up a week early. Then wanted to start anyway. We had to kindly tell him that we literally didn’t have a laptop or accounts or access for him, and nothing in our job can be done without those. He still wanted to stay and… I don’t know, wait around all day? Adamantly insisting “But this is my start date, I will start today!” despite us telling him “no, sorry, your start date is next Monday, we have no work for you yet and can’t legally let you do anything”. We felt really badly (there was obviously a miscommunication somewhere), but he ended up being somewhat entitled throughout the internship anyway, so his reaction should probably have been a flag.

  3. TootsNYC*

    I got one of those jobs once.

    I would say that it’s a small ding. For one thing being a full week early is an understandable mistake; it’s easy to lose track of weeks.

    It’s possible that it might actually endear you to them, depending on them, and how you reacted, etc.

    but oh, the awkwardness–all my sympathies and solidarity

    1. CM*

      I know this was from a while ago, but I feel like this can be easily laughed off and they may even think positively of the interviewee as somebody who’s obviously interested and eager for the job. (As long as the interviewee apologizes and promptly leaves as soon as she is informed of the mistake.) On the other hand, showing up a week late is probably the kiss of death.

      1. Mary*

        I wouldn’t *laugh* it off, but I would apologise profusely once and then move on. Part of your recovery here is demonstrating persepective: that you recognise that it’s a mistake and you take it seriously, but that one mistake doesn’t throw you off forever. (And really, it’s a goes-both-ways thing: if they *do* want you to self-flagellate endlessly and grovel, that’s a red flag about the company!)

    2. Blue Anne*

      Yeah, confusing one Tuesday with another is an easy mistake. To me, it would come off much better than showing up Tuesday for a Friday interview.

      1. Someone else*

        Or if it were something like they’d been told “next Thursday” on a Tuesday, and assumed it meant 2 days from now instead of 9. That’d be on the scheduler though if they hadn’t also said the actual date at any point when confirming.

  4. Let's Talk About Splett*

    Part of it is also how you handle it – do you apologize for the mistake immediately or do you double-down and argue with the receptionist and demand to be interviewed anyway?

    1. hermit crab*

      I actually gave a company the wrong phone number recently – and it turned out OK! I had gotten a new number shortly before that and had typed it in wrong (swapped a 5 for a 6) in an email to their recruiter. Despite double- and triple-checking my email (it’s weird how our brains can refuse to see errors…!) I didn’t notice until she called in a few minutes late to the phone screen and said she’d had to look up my number from my application. Gah!!!!! I apologized immediately and she was luckily super cool about it; we even had a little chat about how hard it is to change your phone number after having the same number for 10+ years. And I was actually writing my thank-you/sorry-again-about-the-phone-thing email to her when she wrote back and invited me to the next round of interviews.

  5. Leela*

    LW I once showed up to an interview at the wrong location! The address I followed was listed in the e-mail signature, and I assumed that that’s where I’d go. When I arrived it was a set of PO Boxes (the address did NOT say box # or anything like that to tip me off). I’d read the address I was supposed to go to when the e-mail with it was sent (a week prior and I’d received several from the HM since then) but when I got up to leave that morning I typed in the address from the e-mail signature into my GPS. Having skimmed the address a week prior I definitely didn’t have it memorized to go “oh! this looks different than the address from a previous e-mail.”

    I ended up getting the job but was late to the interview and VERY embarrassed. I won’t be making that mistake again. I hope this worked out for the best for you!

    1. Nea*

      I’ve done that! Just as I headed out to an interview I was told it had been moved from one number to another. I assumed that meant different offices in the same building.

      It meant a different building. So I ended up walking into a total stranger’s office and had to ask to use a computer and a phone to straighten it out!

    2. Annie Moose*

      OldJob had a weird situation where GPSes and Google Maps would show the completely wrong location, if you punched in the actual mailing address–it’d show a point a couple miles away, on the same road but on the opposite side of the highway. I looked up the address before my on-site interview and actually got in an argument with my dad over the location, as he INSISTED it was on the south side of the highway (based on having worked in the area before), and I INSISTED it was clearly on the north side (based on the infallible Google).

      …long story short, my dad was right and it was a good thing I listened to him!

      It was such a problem that when I worked there, we actually had specific instructions to use a different address for visitors or deliveries, so their GPS would actually bring them to the right place… no clue why it was so messed up. (although I’ve checked and Google Maps has evidently fixed it)

    3. Bea*

      I’ve had similar issues finding places. I give extensive details to job candidates now! I also scope out the location the day before usually but I’m extra antsy about getting lost.

    4. Brightbetween*

      I did that once! I had done several interviews with the same library for different branches, and the previous interviews were all at the branch that had the opening, so I assumed that was the case for this interview as well. But no — it was at the library administrative offices, which was 30 minutes away from the branch. The assistant manager of the branch called them and told them what happened and that I was on my way while I raced up there. I got the job, though, so it obviously worked out in the end.

  6. Hiring Mgr*

    Remember, interviews are a two way street. You’re evaluating them just as much as they are evaluating you. So given that I would say you were just testing their reactions when things don’t go according to plan (as they frequently don’t in a professional environment) These peoplel may be your future colleagues, you have every right to judge them on how they respond to unplanned events in the workplace. /s

    1. DaffyDuck*

      OP – please be sure you see the /s at the end! (I wouldn’t try that line in real life. Fine to keep it in your head.)

    2. fposte*

      I was going to say “I did this on purpose as a test!” as a joke script, but then I remembered the LW who would deliberately arrive late, telling the interviewer she was delayed, as a half-baked “strategy.”

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        No matter how facetious you are, there will always be someone on the internet who thinks it’s a good idea.

    3. Yorick*

      You know, I wouldn’t say that, but you’re not wrong that it would be a red flag if they were super rude or weird about it.

  7. DaffyDuck*

    Mr. Duck was flown to another city for an interview. HR expected him, but the department he was to work for forgot he was interviewing that day. It was pretty obvious the department planned on hiring an internal candidate. He took his name out of the running. What a waste of time and resources, at least they paid for the round trip flight and hotel.

  8. Vaidehi*

    I would have no issue with this. Mistakes like this can happen. When I send an interview confirmation email, I always make sure to emphasize the date at least once in the email (“I look forward to meeting with you on the 18th!”, or “Your interview is scheduled for Monday, June 18th, at 10am.”) But I can totally see this mistake happening.

    I would take it almost to be more about excitement or even a miscommunication on my own end (Let’s schedule the interview for next Thursday can be confusing…do people have the same definitions of what I mean by “this” or “next” Thursday?) than carelessness about details.

    I did take issue with one “early bird”. She showed up on the correct date of her scheduled interview…but she showed up 5 hours early. She said she was in the area and was wondering if she could just do the interview then. It struck me as very entitled. Especially since she came into the building to do it. I could almost understand a phone call, “Hello, I know I have an interview at 3pm today, but I wanted to let you know that I will be in the area all day and if the hiring manager would like, I can come in this morning instead for it”…but coming in and just assuming the hiring manager would be free to conduct the interview then and there…just seemed disrespectful.

    She interviewed extremely well(at her originally scheduled time). It came down to her and another candidate. Very similarly matched in experience. We ended up going with that other candidate.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I can definitely see where the “early bird” sense of entitlement could be off-putting, especially the way it sounds like it was couched.

      Oddly enough, I just had to have an electrician come and he called me 2x to see if he could come early (different days) becuase he was “in the area.” Unfortunately I was not home/unable to accomodate a last-minute change. Different situations somewhat; perhaps most people would prefer to get routine house-work done early….if one’s home and can let the electrician/plumber, etc in…

      1. KHB*

        I got a notice once from my landlord that so-and-so maintenance person was in the area and would be doing such-and-such work on my apartment that afternoon. I wrote back and said no, that’s illegal – unless it’s an emergency, you have to give me 24 hours notice. He said he thought it would be “convenient” for me to have the work done earlier rather than later. I said it would be most convenient for me for him to follow the law.

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          That seems needlessly antagonistic, honestly. It’s not unreasonable for a landlord to think that many people would appreciate prompt/proactive maintenance.

          If you’d replied that that wasn’t convenient for you and you’d prefer 24 hours notice and he refused to comply, then sure, but jumping straight to “you’re breaking the law” is aggressive

          1. Dove*

            From the phrasing, it sounds like the landlord wasn’t *asking* if the time would be convenient for KHB, he was planning on trying to use “but I notified you!” as a fig leaf for going ahead with a time that would be convenient for the landlord (because it would mean he didn’t need to schedule the maintenance person to come in again at a later time). And it sounds like he tried to double down on that, by saying “well, wouldn’t it be convenient for you if it got done sooner rather than later?” instead of going “whoops, sorry – I was trying to simplify things”.

            It’s not unreasonable for someone to not be willing to let the landlord boundary-push to see if they can get away with having people show up without warning, either. Especially if the landlord has any means of knowing when the tenant is likely to *not* be in the apartment.

            1. KHB*

              That right – he was telling, not asking.

              I don’t have anything in my apartment I need to hide, but I’ve been burned enough times by people trying to bend laws/boundaries in their favor (if you let them get away with it once, next time they’ll argue “But you were always OK with it before!”) that my policy now is to push back every chance I get.

      2. Curious Cat*

        When I moved into my current apartment I had a very well-known Furniture Company set up to deliver at 2 pm when I had the apartment loading dock reserved to move everything in. They called me at 10 am saying they were outside the apartment, but I wasn’t there & they refused to come back later in the day (at the original scheduled time!) because they had other deliveries to make. Ended up sleeping on an air mattress for a few days because they forced me to reschedule the delivery to a later date.

        1. Frozen Ginger*

          I had the same experience with a well-known Furniture Company! I wonder if it was the same one…

          1. Lindsay J*

            Me too.

            I was pissed. I had to wait another week and a half to get my mattress because I was not at home at a time several hours before my delivery window.

            They offered me a pillow as compensation. I did not accept.

            1. Charlotte*

              This happened to me too, except my delivery was scheduled for the afternoon and they called at 5AM (!!!) while I was asleep to see if they could come then.

        2. JeanneM*

          I was getting a treadmill delivered, and had paid extra for a preferred delivery time because I had an appointment earlier in the day and couldn’t be home. When I got out of my appointment I had a voicemail from the delivery guy saying they were at my building…three hours early. I had to book it home so they wouldn’t leave. Judging by how easily I got the money back for the preferred delivery time charge, I assume it must happen all the time with this company. I was prepared to defend my position and the lady basically just said “okay, we’ll refund your credit card and it will take X amount of business days.”

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I think that’s a very different thing, though– plus he called. Right after we moved into our house, the cable guy asked if he could come two hours early. We were overjoyed. And I think in many circumstances, having a service person come early is great, as long as they call and ask and don’t expect you to completely change your plans. But if I plan my day around a meeting and someone wants to start that meeting five hours early without checking if it’s convenient for me… that’s not cool.

    2. Flinty*

      Ah, that’s a pet peeve of mine, and 5 hours is particularly egregious. I worked in a teeny nonprofit with zero waiting area, and once had a candidate show up 1.5 hours early. When I suggested she could take a walk or check out the coffee place next door, she looked completely horrified.

      1. Breda*

        We once had an intern applicant show up over two hours early for an interview. She got here before anyone who actually worked in the office and just sat in the hallway. The other people in the office found it incredibly awkward and uncomfortable – as did I! I appreciated the effort to make sure she wasn’t late, but we’re in the financial district of a major city: there are five coffee shops within two blocks where you could comfortably kill two hours with a $3 cup of coffee, including one literally across the street from our building.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Was this recent? Was she black? Was this in Philadelphia? Maybe she was afraid to go to Starbucks….

    3. Teapotty*

      My job before last was client facing and one particular person was scheduled to attend the office in the afternoon for a meeting which could have had legal implications. They reported to reception at 9:30 am asking if they could be seen then and returned several times throughout the morning repeating this request ‘as they were already in town’. Sadly for them, the room schedule couldn’t permit this sort of request (the other attendees were due in the afternoon besides which all the rooms plus meeting chair were already occupied) and they had to hang on until their appointed time.

  9. Flinty*

    I once didn’t show up to an interview, basically. I was in one state applying for a job a plane ride away. After I sent in my application, they sent me a doodle poll to fill out, then an email saying “your interview is on X day and time” with no address or any other information. Being in college and not really knowing how this works beyond always having had phone screens first, and assuming that they realized I was still in college and in another state, I sat in my dorm room at X day and time waiting for a phone call that never came, and they sat in their office waiting for me to show up.

    They did not offer me a phone interview after I realized my mistake and emailed, and at the time I was super mortified, but that little shock of embarrassment was actually a really valuable learning experience for me. Now every time I schedule something, I ALWAYS reply reiterating the date and time and location to make sure we’re on the same page. It’s a lesson you can be glad to learn sooner rather than later!

    1. Faith*

      The exact opposite happened to my friend. She thought the interview was an in-person one, but the company actually wanted to do a phone screen. So, they were really surprised when she showed up at their office in the morning. They did interview her in person though. And she did get the job.

  10. BirthdayWeek*

    We once had someone show up in person for an interview that was scheduled to be over the phone.

      1. BirthdayWeek*

        Yes we did. We would have moved forward with the hiring process but he failed to email some specific examples of his work like we requested at the end of the interview. That was the true deal breaker.

    1. It'sOnlyMe*

      Similar but different – I turned up for an in person interview but was taken to a board room where I was left alone and had to do the interview over the phone with the panel who were in the next room. It turned out that the candidate before me had transportation difficulties and was interviewed over the phone so to keep the interviews consistent, everyone else was phone interviewed as well.

      I was offered that job bit didn’t accept it. The vibes were just all wrong.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        WHAT. I mean I kind of get it, but was “consistency” THAT important?

        Weird and awkward!

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          Exactly. The point of a hiring process is to hire the best person and to do that, you want as much information as you can get. Fairness is a means to an end, not a goal in itself. I can see settling for a phone interview if it’s unavoidable, but you shouldn’t deny yourself the advantage of meeting the other candidates face-to-face. Not to mention the weirdness that will drive away people like It’sOnlyMe.

    2. Kaybee*

      I had that happen to me too!

      It was awkward because we called the candidate as scheduled, and realized toward the end of the call that she was sitting in our lobby. Initially it seemed that she had chosen a poor location for a phone interview with all the background noise, then we realized that it was our receptionist’s voice in the background. (I think our receptionist had called one of our desks when she arrived, but all of the interviewers were in the conference room at that point.)

      We later went back through our communication with the candidate and it was pretty clear it was a phone interview, so the mistake was on her end. We finished up the interview by phone (it was pretty much over at that point), but tromped down to meet her afterward. We were a little self-conscious because we weren’t dressed the same way we would be for external meetings; we were dressed for comfort for a day of sitting in a conference room conducting phone screens, but she was so mortified that we probably could have been dressed in Disney costumes and she wouldn’t have noticed!

      Anyway, we treated it as one of those eh, mistakes happen, things and she actually ended up getting the job. She was far and away the best candidate. Maybe if there had been another closer to her it would have been a data point that mattered, but no one else was even close. She turned out to be really great, and was always meticulous about meeting details after that!

  11. SheLooksFamiliar*

    At another company, we flew in a referral candidate for an interview. We had her stay at a hotel near our corporate office, and the shuttle bus drivers all knew where to drop off candidates for their interviews at our HQ. For some reason, she told the driver to go to a different office of ours in a nearby town – we have no idea where she got this address or how she talked the driver into taking her there. Okay, then. I picked her up and we were only 30 minutes behind schedule.

    With misgivings, the interview team invited her back for a final round, and my recruiter confirmed the location with her on the phone. I heard him do it: ‘We’re right across the street, as you know. The driver will drop you off at our front door at 123 Company Name Drive, just sit back and enjoy the short drive.’ If you’re thinking she showed up at the other location again, you’re right. The review team hired her anyway, and fired her about 10 months later. Seems details weren’t her thing, and the role in question was all about details.

    OP, I hope you can understand how your mistake – while not life-threatening – can cause even the most easygoing hiring managers to think twice. Please heed Alison’s advice and keep us posted – and good luck to you!

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I wish I knew. Maybe the referring party had the goods on someone in the company?

  12. Millennial Lawyer*

    The only thing that makes me concerned OP is that you took the day off work on the wrong day! Maybe I’m just paranoid/the days I take off are so precious that I would be double checking like crazy. But since the job you’re interviewing doesn’t necessarily know that part, I think it is possible you could come back from this.

    1. Breda*

      See, to me that detail makes it clear that she’s not flighty, she was genuinely convinced it was on a different date. She did all the important conscientious things, just with one detail wrong.

  13. SansaStark*

    A couple years ago I saw 2 job posting for 2 different positions on the same team (red teapot painter and blue teapot painter). Since I’ve done both blue and red teapot painting, I applied to both. I was called in to interview for the red painting job and had a great interview where I kept stressing my red painting skills….until they told me that this was for the blue painting job. HR had told me the wrong job. I was *mortified*, they laughed it off and said it must have been an HR mistake (it was!) and we kept interviewing. I was disappointed because I thought for sure that cost me the job. Nope! They hired me, our HR Dept makes mistakes like this allllll the time, and I’ve actually switched roles a couple times on the team.

  14. Blue Eagle*

    I once had an interviewee who did this. The problem for her is that she kept apologizing and explaining to everyone that she had her actual interview with. It was overkill, people didn’t like it and she did not get hired!

    My advice is to not reference it to anyone in your actual interview unless they bring it up first.

    1. mrs_helm*

      Came here to say that. It happened,you apologized, now move on. It will be a whole week later, and it is possible that so much has happened since then that they won’t remember that was you. Don’t remind them of your mistake. If they bring it up, have a quick and plausible answer, delivered with polish and do NOT exude over-embarassment/self-deprecation/excuses/blame.

  15. shep*

    I could definitely see myself doing this if I entered it into my calendar on the wrong day. I use Google Calendar and I’ve definitely tapped the wrong date on my phone without realizing it and entered the appointment information, only to look at it later and think, “Wait a minute…”

    It’s only happened to me once or twice and I think I’ve caught them both times before actually going to the erroneously scheduled appointment, but if it were couched as this kind of mistake (or something similar) and the person were super gracious about it, I’d be totally sympathetic because I am totally that person.

  16. voluptuousfire*

    Eh, I applied for a version of my current role at my current company back in 2013. I ended up missing the interview since I thought it was Friday and it was scheduled for Thursday. I only found out when I sent over an updated copy of my resume. They didn’t reschedule my interview. LOL

    I was dealing with a combination of jet lag from returning from vacation and juggling 4 other interviews in one week. In the end, it was fine since I would have been out of work in December again anyway!

  17. Lucky Girl*

    I actually did this! I got a call on a Monday regarding a job I’d applied for at a local community college. The admin assistant I spoke with said they had interview slots open on Wednesday at 1pm or Thursday at 4pm. I said that Wednesday worked better and the admin assistant said, “Great, I’ll schedule you for Wednesday at 1. You’ll give a 20 minute presentation on a topic of your choosing and then interview with the committee. We’ll see you then!”

    So I show up 2 days later – on Wednesday at 1pm – and let the person at the front desk know I was here for an interview. That person looked uncomfortable for a moment and went to get the director who very tactfully told me that the interview was *next* Wednesday. The admin assistant and I never discussed the date, and she had assumed I would know it was a week out because I was asked to create a presentation. The director kind of laughed it off and said “so we’ll see you next week,” but I was mortified and pretty certain that I had just blown it.

    Showed up the next week anyway. Got the job.

    The director said he thought I was the most enthusiastic candidate. Go fig. :)

  18. Lore*

    My first interview with my current company ended up happening immediately before an internal reorg, and they ultimately asked me to come back and start over a few months later, at which point they were hiring two people into the newly merged department, one junior/associate position and one at the level above. Based on my own experience level at the time (coming from a much smaller company and a title one step below associate), I thought I was interviewing for the junior job. I literally did not know until I showed up and they walked me past the new associate’s cubicle to my office that I’d gotten the more senior position. At a salary that seemed totally reasonable for the associate level, but not so great for the job I actually had! (It was still a pretty big raise from my previous job, so I went with it, and as it turned out they were taking sort of a gamble that I would be able to handle the higher job and gave me a pretty big raise at my first performance review to get me to the salary I should have started with. So it all came out okay in the end.)

    I also once showed up for an interview that was 100 percent confirmed by the recruiter to find the person I was supposed to be meeting with away from her desk. Her assistant was out sick, and the receptionist had no idea whether the hiring manager was at lunch or out out–and the recruiter had left for vacation that morning. I waited for an hour and finally regretfully said I had to leave. It turned out to be totally the recruiter’s fault–the HM had been scheduled for an all-day meeting and asked the recruiter to reschedule, and the recruiter had flaked on it before leaving for two weeks, and the assistant knew where the HM was, but wasn’t in the office. The HM and her assistant (though not the recruiter, annoyingly) were totally mortified and apologetic, and the rescheduled interview went fine. (I didn’t get the job.)

  19. Jack Russell Terrier*

    This was back in the mid-nineties … . A friend of mine noticed that in the letter offering her an interview the date and day of the week didn’t match. She called up and they sorted it out. In the interview they remarked that they were interviewing everyone the same day and she was the only on who had noticed the discrepancy – everyone else assumed the day of the week.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I had that happen as well once with a date that didn’t correspond with the day, and called HR to check. I have no idea if anyone else noticed though.

  20. Name Required*

    I had a company schedule a phone interview with me for 4:00 pm and they said they’d call me. I end up waiting until 4:30 pm without hearing from them, then called them and left a message. They got back to me and said they missed it because something else came up, and can we try again tomorrow morning at 11:00 am? I agree to that time. The next morning, I get an e-mail saying they need to reschedule for 1:00 pm. I said that was fine. Then they called me at 11:00 am (!!!!). I didn’t pick up immediately because I was busy doing something else and not expecting a call until 1:oo pm. I ended up calling them back a few minutes later, and they seemed annoyed that I wasn’t prepared.

    The phone interview went badly (they kept badgering me about why I had such a high GPA at a “tough” university, and they kept asking about my salary expectations even though I said I wasn’t sure and would have to think about it since the job description they gave me over the phone sounded like it had a lot more responsibilities than their job posting described).

    In the future, I’d decline to interview with anyone who tried to reschedule or messed up the interview time more than once.

    1. Amber T*

      Ugh, that sounds like they were “testing” you to see how you would react. Or they were awfully disorganized.

      1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

        If there are companies out there who “test” candidates like this, it’s a shitty thing to do. I would be very upset if I’d rearranged my life to interview only to have it be cancelled / rescheduled several times. I yelled at my dentist’s office for cancelling an appointment for a cleaning. The office manager tried to explain that he’d been called away for an emergency but I’d had to move heaven and earth for that appt and you know that I would have been charged a cancellation feel if I’d done that. My argument was that my time was valuable and that I wanted more than a 15 minute notice (which is what I got. I was literally pulling into the parking lot when I got the call.”

        1. Name Required*

          I understand your anger. After being screwed over so many times for appointments or doing time-consuming favors for people who then need to reschedule at the last minute, I’ve really started to think of my time as being valuable and as something other people aren’t entitled to. I’m much less understanding and forgiving about people canceling at the last minute or needing to reschedule unless it’s truly an emergency and not just them doing what’s convenient or what works better for them.

        2. Margali*

          The last time my kids’ dentist was running really behind, he gave me a credit so that I won’t be charged for a last-minute cancellation in the future. He said he does that because it’s unfair to only have patients pay a cost for running behind. Yet another reason I like their dentist!

      2. Name Required*

        I was assuming they were really incompetent and unorganized, but maybe it *was* a test. This was a while ago so I don’t remember all the details, but it was a new-ish and expanding company. The job posting was for an entry level clerical-type position, but then in the phone interview they revealed the person would also be responsible for A, B and C, which were totally unrelated to the clerical stuff and sounded like people in other positions should have been covering. So maybe it was a test to see how much of a doormat I was because they needed someone who would do whatever work they were given even if it wasn’t at all in their job description or at their pay level.

        I never heard from them after the phone screening (not even a rejection e-mail), which is just as well since I had lost all interest in the job.

  21. MLB*

    I was a little surprised at Alison’s response about how big of a deal this would be. Not that I think it’s not a big deal at all, but most people are anxious and nervous for a job interview, so to me that would be understandable. It’s better than thinking it was a week later! One thing I would add though…you said you already sent an apology email. If you want to say something when you get there, just mention something short and sweet (“I just wanted to apologize again for showing up on the wrong day for my interview”) and then don’t mention it again. You don’t want to continually apologize. It happened, you’re human and there’s no need to dwell on it.

    1. Chinook*

      Speaking as someone who missed her one-on-one interview during a three day hiring workshop because I forgot to change my watch to that time zone and then got lost on the bus system (and I had been there in the morning for a group presentation, so they knew I was in town and they thought I had flaked), I have to say that Alison’s response is dead on.

      They later told me that the only reason that I got the job was because I super impressed them during the one-on-one interview/mock tutoring session which they rescheduled for when I did show up. The woman who was pretending to be an ESL student (to test my skills) literally did everything she could think of to confuse me as an English teacher (i.e. acted particularly confused while asking complex grammar questions) and was surprised that I rolled with and was able to deal with whatever she threw at me. She said that they had been already prepared to axe me due to my punctuality issue and it was only my ability to wow them that kept me in the running.

      I think it also helped that I immediately apologized, took ownership of the error, was willing to explain how I was going to ensure that something like that would never happen again and then got on with what was at hand so ass not to waste anymore of their time.

  22. Amber T*

    I forgot to confirm an interview once, so they canceled. 100% on me – I was inexperienced and thought the interviewer was telling me my time slot was 11am on Thursday (which worked perfectly well for me) that I, I don’t know, didn’t even do the courteous thing and confirm? Then a few days later I got another email saying since I didn’t confirm that time worked for me or offer an alternative, they assumed I was no longer interested in the position and I was withdrawing my application. I was so embarrassed I didn’t respond to that either. This was when I was trying to escape OldToxicJob, and this seemed like a great, fantastic opportunity, so I was kicking myself for a loooong time.

    OP – if there’s one thing that has now been drilled into your head, it’s that you will now always double and triple check your interviewing dates and times.

    1. bonkerballs*

      The opposite happened at my last work place. The person in charge of scheduling the interviews forgot to send a confirmation to a candidate after the candidate had emailed which interview slot worked for her. About a week goes by and it’s time for that interview and we’re all ready for it, but the candidate doesn’t show up. After about 15 minutes, the scheduler gives her a call and learns that since she never got a confirmation email, she assumed she was too late and someone else had taken that interview slot and that all the other interview slots were filled so she was no longer in the running for the position. She lived just down the street, so she booked it over and did the interview and ended up getting the job, but to this day, I’m still baffled as to why she would have made that assumption instead of following up to see if she’d missed an email and make sure that interview time was okay.

      1. VVM*

        That almost happened to me, but I did follow up. The HR person asked if I was free at a specific date and time, and I replied with yes, but they never sent anything back confirming that they had received it. The day before the interview I emailed again to confirm and they did respond, but up until then I thought they might have backed out.

        Unfortunately some companies do ghost you, even just after inviting you in, so it’s nice to get a confirmation email, even a super short one.

  23. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    Like other people are saying, it really depends on how you handle the mistake when you do have your interview. If you apologize and be professional and kind, then it probably won’t be a big deal.

    I once scheduled a web conference interview with someone in a different time zone. I was very clear in my emails about the time zone, because we do interview a lot of distance candidates. She got the time mixed up, arrived an hour late, but thinking she was actually an hour early. When we told her we stopped waiting after 30 minutes and asked if she wanted to reschedule, she sent us a scathing email blasting our lack of professionalism and saying she could do so much better than us (then why did you apply?…). So yeah…put her on the “do not hire” list.

  24. PhillyKate*

    I actually had to question whether or not I wrote this letter as the same thing happened to me about a year and a half ago- except they told me one date and had me scheduled on another on their end. I had to then take TWO days off of work to accommodate their other day–but I didn’t get the job because of the scheduling snafu (on their end!!!). Bullet dodged.

  25. Ruth (UK)*

    I think how big a deal it is depends a lot on the individual hiring manager/panel/whatever. I can think of a previous boss I’ve had at a previous job who would probably not consider a candidate at all after this, but I also know people/places where this would barely affect your chances.

  26. Environmental Compliance*

    I once showed up to an interview about an hour and fifteen minutes early, because the drive was anywhere from an hour and a half to two and a half hours. Big city, had never been there before, found parking and had gone into the giant gov’t building to confirm where the office was, then go get coffee. The interviewer had never told me what floor of the building they were on or what wing even after I emailed to clarify. So I got up there, confirmed the location, and then explained I would be back in a little bit to interview, just wanted to make sure I was in the right place, but the receptionist wouldn’t let me leave and the interview happened then and there. Most disorganized interview I’ve ever had, and I started out feeling like it was my fault, but quickly realized that’s just how that dept was ran. Main interviewer kept walking in and out of the room mid sentence and the other two interviewers were completely uninterested and unwilling to talk. I actually got a job offer out of that and declined.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I also once was asked to interview at 7AM for a job, and one of the interviewers never showed up. Had to show up again at 7AM a couple days later. Really should have seen that as a red flag, that job was pretty bad.

  27. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

    I once was called in for an interview and was told that I was going to get an email with some materials they wanted me to complete and bring in with me. I never got the email. I called / emailed to let them know that I hadn’t gotten it. They were annoyed but said I could come early and complete the materials before the interview. Turns out the woman who was sending me the info kept typing my email address wrong. I have a very commonly misspelled last name and instead of hitting reply to my email, she just re-typed my spelled wrong surname into the address bar.

  28. lawyer*

    I did this! And I apologized copiously, the recruiting manager never told the people who were interviewing me that I’d showed up early, and I got the job. Worked there very happily for five years.

  29. CleverGirl*

    I was an hour late to an interview once. I had put it into my calendar wrong because it was a second interview and my first interview had been at 11 am so I put the second one in at 11 too but it was actually 10. I apologized profusely and the HR person helped shuffle everyone’s time around. I got offered the job but ended up taking a different one.

    I was 30 mins late to a 4-hour interview once due to a big accident on the highway. Got offered that job, too.

    It’s not a dealbreaker. Good luck!

    1. A. Ham*

      I was once almost 1/2 hour late to a 2nd interview. it was in a new city that i had only lived in a few months and was unfamiliar with downtown. BUT this was the 2nd interview, and i had managed getting there very easily (and early) the first time, so i was more confident the 2nd time. I still gave myself extra time, and drove by the building, on the way to the nearby parking structure, 20 minutes before interview time.
      do you know what I neglected to check before the interview? The baseball schedule. The baseball schedule at the stadium that is three blocks from the building i was going to. There was a double header that day. I drove around downtown (an unfamiliar downtown at that) searching in vain for a structure that wasn’t full. FINALLY found something, after quite a while, and pretty far away. Yes, i had called when i realized parking was going to be an issue, so they knew i would be late, but i was still panicky and mortified. I RAN/speed walked , so i showed up disheveled and out of breath, and if i’m being honest, on the verge of tears. luckily the hiring manager wasn’t standing there waiting for me, so i had a minute to collect myself.
      And do you know what happened as soon as they came down to greet me? THEY apologized to ME. They knew I had recently re-located and wasn’t used to such things and said they should have warned me about the game(s).
      I got the job. Go figure.

      1. Windchime*

        I could see this happening in the city where I work. We are just a few blocks from the stadiums, and on game day there are lots of extra people downtown. I would imagine parking would be pretty tight!

  30. Tim C.*

    I was still in bed one morning and the phone rang. I lived in Arizona and my future employer in Michigan was wondering where I was for my interview. I explained we set the date for April 18th, not April 8th. Back then there was no e-mail nor confirmation letter to actually prove who said what. However it was all good as I got the job.

  31. aett*

    We recently had an interviewee show up a day late. The crazy part was that I had given the candidates a number of dates/times to choose from, and she specifically wrote out “I would like Wednesday, [Month] [Day].” I always confirm it with “I now have you scheduled for [full date] at [time]” but somehow she got the day wrong.

  32. LNCPG*

    I was late to an interview once because my GPS took me to the wrong place–30 minutes down the highway in the opposite direction. They were able to reschedule for later that same day, and I got the job, so you still have a shot. Good luck!

  33. Margali*

    I have twice made the mistake of giving job applicants an email with the wrong interview time on it. I felt HORRIBLE about it both times, and was able to give them a gift card for lunch at a restaurant nearby to make up for it. With the first one, her actual interview time was that afternoon, so it was easy for her to come back for the interview. With the second one I mixed up the days and she had to come back on a different day. She did take the job when we offered it to her, though!

  34. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    For my current job, I showed up an hour early. They had sent me a calendar invite and I accepted, not realizing that my personal email was somehow set to CST when we lived in EST. When the interviewer (my now boss) mentioned that he wasn’t expecting me until later, I went back to my email afterwards and found that whoops, my time zone was off.
    Mortified, I mentioned my gaffe in my thank you email to him and thanked him for seeing me all the same. In my case, no harm, no foul – I got the job and am loving it.
    As a manager now, I absolutely would not hold that over a potential employee’s head. Mistakes happen, and the way they come back from it is more telling than the mistake itself. Of course, if there were other red flags in the interview this may be the cherry on top, but in and of itself, I’d apologize profusely and move on. I bet they aren’t thinking of it at all at this point.

  35. Bookworm*

    At an old job my then-team told me they had someone show up for an in-person interview when the first round was by phone. She was also apparently very nervous and that was a factor as to why they hired me instead. I hated that job and sometimes wonder if she ever re-applied, because otherwise she dodged a bullet.

    Sometimes it could end up being a blessing in disguise.

    1. Dove*

      Oh gosh, now I’m wondering if that was me! (Probably not, unless you’re in Canada in the Maritimes.) Because I once showed up for an in-person interview that I hadn’t realized was meant to be a phone interview; I *think* it was the second round of interviewing, though. I didn’t think anything of having to look up where the office was, because I assumed I’d just forgotten to write it down.

      I showed up on time, professionally dressed (I hope – I certainly tried, anyways), and probably read as nervous because I had anxiety about interviewing well due to not being neurotypical. And my interviewer, who might well have been my hiring manager if I’d gotten the job, was more than a bit thrown by the fact that I’d shown up in person.

      I didn’t reapply, because I was actively job-hunting at the time and figured I should avoid reapplying to places I’d sent applications to recently.

  36. stitchinthyme*

    Sometimes you still get hired even after what you think are egregious mistakes in an interview.

    I was 15 minutes late to an interview because I got lost — thought I’d left plenty of time, but apparently not. My cell phone battery had died, so I left it at home to recharge, which meant I had no way to call them and tell them I was going to be late. I finally found it and it was hot as hell outside and was of course really frazzled by that point, so I was sweating a lot and also a little out-of-breath from having practically run from the parking lot up to the office.

    But the boss was really nice, offered to let me reschedule, but I said no, I was fine, and the interview proceeded normally. He took me over to the work site (just down the street) to meet the other employees, and that went fine too. Then we went back to the office and talked some more — this boss, as I learned then, was a talker.

    The interview had started late in the day, so by 7pm I was still there. The office phone rang; since it was a small company and everyone else was gone for the day, the boss answered it…and looked kind of bemused and said, “It’s for you.” Turns out that my husband had gotten worried because I was gone so long, saw my cell phone at home so he knew he couldn’t call me on it, found the info about where I was on my computer screen, and called. He never expected that the company owner would be the one to answer. I was totally mortified — on top of showing up late, my husband had called me on the company line during the interview! I assured him that I was fine and hung up quickly — he did get an earful when I got home! (He really was worried about me — thought I’d had a car accident or something — so I had to forgive him.)

    But anyway, despite all that, I did get a job offer, and ended up staying there for nearly five years. The owner occasionally laughed about my interview with me afterward, so it turned out not to be as big a catastrophe as I thought when it happened.

  37. Tilly W*

    This is sort of related but I went to an interview last summer where there were signs all over the parking lot about permit-only parking or else you would be towed. The Visitor parking had signs stating that it was two-hour limit or else you would be towed. My interview was scheduled for three hours so upon arriving for my interview (15 minutes early), I asked the receptionist if I was ok to park in visitor parking despite the two-hour limit. She looked at me like I was crazy and asked why I would park somewhere that stated I would be towed and that I should move it but didn’t say where (nor provided a pass etc.). I luckily found a single hybrid-parking only spot (and had driven my husband’s hybrid that day) and parked there and returned a minute before my interview. She took her time telling the person I was interviewed with that I was there so my first interviewer kept hinting that we were behind schedule because I was late – I was interviewing with multiple people that day. It was so bizarre and such a red flag about the company culture and people. I couldn’t bring myself to send interview thank yous and never got a job offer.

    BTW I live in a metro area and work downtown so when something says tow-away, I don’t question it. The office was in a weird location like isolated but with a bunch of business complexes that all shared the same lot across from a regional airport so I was a little paranoid. I still reflect on how the receptionist had never been asked about parking given the aggressive signage all over the lot!

  38. EvilQueenRegina*

    I remember at my old job, there was a temp there who had a job interview for some other company. She turned up at the time she’d been given, but when they greeted her and did the interview, they were really cold and abrupt, to the point of rude. She went through the interview anyway, and then one of the interviewers said “Why were you so late? You were supposed to be here an hour ago.”

    She had the letter with her as she’d needed it for the directions on it, so she could prove her case that she’d turned up at the correct time they’d given her and it was their error. I can’t remember if they apologised when she produced that. She didn’t get that job but ended up deciding she dodged a bullet.

  39. Loz*

    I went to the wrong town once. Think Brentford/Trentford (slightly anoned because it still embarrasses me). I didn’t really pay attention and assumed what I heard/read/whatever all the way there. One is West of London, the other is NE – completely different *TRAIN STATIONS* out of London. I didn’t check my letter (pre-internet) until I arrived and could not find the office.
    Talk about lacking attention to detail!
    Funny thing, I remember walking around thinking “what a cute little town – I could live here” before wondering where the 20,000 employee insurance company was :)

    Also, the job I was fleeing had 4 offices in the town – candidates routinely rocked up to the wrong one.

    1. Chatterby*

      I totally understand about the multiple-offices confusion!
      My hometown has a major car manufacturer, which employs most of the people. Thing is, they not only have multiple offices, and some of those offices are absolutely massive, they have multiple corporations under the major umbrella of “Major Car Manufacturer”. Plus, there are “Car Manufacturer”Adjacent companies supplying the main ones with bits and bobs and things like testing, all of which have the main name in their name as well. So, whenever a recruiter (usually one from not-in-town, or they’d know) would call about a position, I’d have to ask “Well, which one?” and then enjoy the astonishment as I listed them off, sounding like Bubba Gump reeling off how many ways to prepare shrimp:
      “Well, there’s Car American Manufacturing, American Car Inc., Car of America, Car of America’s Motorcycles, Car of America’s Motorcycle Manufacturing, Car Research and Development, Car Shipping….”

  40. banana&tanger*

    Dressed up. Dress and heels. On way to complete new hire paperwork. Flat tire. Ruin clothes and be late? Don’t ruin clothes and be very, very late? Took a while to reach someone, but they were really nice about it and had me reschedule. Elected to pay for someone to come change the tire. I still have and wear that dress. Job was meh.

  41. CM Knippling*

    LW # 4: You may want to point your boss to state data privacy laws and GDPR (UK/Europe, but it has protections for USA individuals). In GDPR, using emails or social media to contact people for reasons they haven’t explicitly authorized a company to do is a huge violation. California is looking to adopting similar standards this November, as are other states, and more & more companies are doing the same. I would absolutely not do what you were asked, and would tell the boss why.

  42. Chatterby*

    I’d say how salvageable this is depends on how far it got and how well you behaved.

    If you spent a politely confused minute or two at the outer reception before you realized, and no one had been contacted yet, this likely doesn’t matter too much.
    If you make it to the next set of people, such as the hiring manager’s admin, or if the hiring manager is called and clears things up in 30 seconds, then a self-deprecating “My subconscious must be really excited for this opportunity! I want to assure you, I rarely miss details like this. Have you ever done something similar?” type statement in the moment, and then a variation at the interview itself. Staying super calm and amiable the entire time would be the big trick to this. Don’t treat it like a moral failing or deal breaker, but like something funny and human, and they’ll probably follow suit if you’re nice and apologized for putting people out.
    If you made any fuss at all, insisted to the admin staff that you were right and they were dumb, or panicked, or if you required more people or interactions than the above to clear up the situation, like they tried to “squeeze you in” or accommodate you, or if you wound up spending 30+minutes loitering around reception, then yeah, this is going to look really bad. The e-mail would be a good idea, but you’re unlikely to get the job.

    I’d also say that, the higher the level of job, the more likely they’d be to forgive things like this.

  43. Mel*

    I did this! I showed up a full week early, and I got the job. (I was a college student and it was an on-campus job, so the standards may have been different though. Loved that place, worked there all 4 years of college – glad I didn’t show up a week late!)

  44. Liz*

    Personally, I don’t think this is a very big deal, and I hire people all the time. Showing up a day or a week late would be something else, as that would require a bunch of rescheduling. If someone arrived earlier than expected, I would read that as eagerness and interest more than disorganization. I wouldn’t even expect an apology, honestly. Stuff happens.

  45. GreenDoor*

    We interviewed a candidate for a mid-level office job in a professional office setting. She was polished, professional everything you’d expect ina professional. Nice suit. Great attitude. We told HR to call her back for a 2nd interview. She comes into the office in jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt. (What??) She’s going up to people she knew previously and is addressing them in a, “Hey, Girl!! How’s it going??” kind of speaking manner. It was bizarre. Long story short, HR never called for the second interview. She just happened to be in the building meeting friends for lunch and just happened to come to our office to say hello to some acquaintences right around the interview time we thought HR set up. We were confused. She was mortified.
    We took a chance and hired her based on the first interview and she’s one of the best hires we’ve made.

  46. Dove*

    I mentioned it up-thread, but I once showed up for an in-person interview only to find out that it was supposed to be a phone interview. I at least didn’t assume I would get points for Gumption in having *found* the office and showed up on time; instead, I was pretty sure that I was going to be taken out of the running because of it probably being creepy that I managed to find the office. (I don’t know if it was creepy, but either way I didn’t get the job.)

    Showing up as someone was being taken out in a stretcher probably didn’t help my first impression there at all.

  47. Doc in a Box*

    I’ve been on both sides of this! Once I showed up to an interview, HR thought I was coming the following week (despite email confirmation; they had even booked me a hotel room the night before!). They had none of my stuff together (CV, personal statement, etc) Luckily I had copies of all those in my padfolio so I just gave them out as I went through the day.

    Later, when I was on the other side of the table, one of our applicants showed up and the coordinator thought he was someone else. She had a packet and a name badge all ready — for the wrong guy. We had to scramble to find his file. He took it very calmly and when it came time to discuss applicants, multiple people commented on his unfazed, polite attitude as a good sign as to how he’d deal with high-stress unexpected situations.

    Once I interviewed at a place where it was round-robin style — there were several applicants and we met 1:1 with the individual managers/supervisors for 20-30 min at a time — sort of like an interview version of speed dating. For some reason, there were two copies of the round robin schedule floating around, such that when I sat down to interview with one person, she was like, “So, it’s a little unusual for someone to come into this field from a different arena. Tell me about how you’ve navigated that transition.” I had no clue what she was talking about, so I answered as though she’d asked “Why did you choose this field?” About halfway through my answer she realized her schedule had me confused with someone else, and she was so embarrassed!

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