Don't be late - avoid this cardinal interview sin

  | James Innes

One of the most fundamental errors any candidate for a job can make is to be late for an interview. Whatever the excuse, to a potential employer it signals a lack of professionalism and concern for their time and schedule. Why should they even bother listening to what you have to say if you can't even be bothered to get there on time? To them lateness can speak volumes about your ability to meet deadlines and manage your time properly.

Whilst you may be used to turning up fashionably late with your friends, a job interview is not the time to practice such behaviour. If you do, the likelihood is you will have more time to spend with those friends, as you won't have a job!

The best strategy is always to leave a comfortable margin of error when setting out for a job interview. Allow for public transport delays, minor traffic accidents or other such hold-ups that could occur on your journey to where the interview will take place.  Candidates should aim to be there at least 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to start, so they have time to compose themselves, and prepare for the discussion ahead.

If you get there too early, then go for a walk, find a coffee shop or sit in your car. All you have to do is focus on the interview itself now, and not have the added stress of getting there on time. Alternatively, ask to wait in the offices of the company you are interviewing for - the time spent waiting for the interview could give you some valuable clues as to what it is like to work there.

If you know you are going to be unavoidably late - for example, if there is a major car accident - then try and phone ahead and let the interviewer know.  They may be able and willing to reschedule you to a later time or date.

However, this may not always be the case. Sometimes, if you miss your slot then that is it, and the opportunity will be gone. The best strategy is to try and reduce the risk of this happening by arriving in good time for your interview.

And, if you do get the job, even if the company has flexible working hours, don't be late on your first day! First impressions count, remember.

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