Whether it be as serious as a family emergency, your baby having a blowout on the way to daycare drop-off, or you simply overslept – being late to an interview can happen. We are all human, so if you need help and are unsure where to start, look no further. Here are our tips to help you recover from being late to an interview and how to prevent it from happening again!

Call, don’t wait.  

We cannot emphasize this one enough – do not just show up and hope for the best. It is best practice to call ahead of time. Give a realistic ETA and be mentally prepared to reschedule the interview. It will help you to know your availability for a reschedule before you call in. 

Apologize, but don’t go overboard. 

It is essential to apologize for your tardiness, but we encourage you not to go overboard. Simply mention the tardiness, give a reason, and move past the mistake as soon as possible. Saying “I’m sorry” too often encourages focusing on your error. You lose sincerity if you overdo it. 

Own it, but have a good reason.

Piggybacking from the previous suggestion, apologizing is a must. Employers understand that we are all human and capable of mistakes, but not everyone is capable of owning theirs. Take responsibility and have a good reason why you were late. Be concise and humble in your communication. 

Breathe, and find your calm. 

Now, this next one may go against what you feel logic is dictating. You’re already late, so you can’t afford to be a second later, right? Actually, wrong – taking a moment to compose yourself mentally and physically is detrimental. You want to walk into the interview calmly and confidently, not huffing and puffing from sprinting down the street. 

While on your way to the interview, you’ve got to work on breaking that tape loop of negative feedback. If you beat yourself up the entire way there, you will be in the same negative headspace once you arrive. Have grace with yourself, keep it positive, and hit the ‘reset’ button. 

Redeem yourself.

So you’ve arrived late to the interview for your dream job. Instead of thinking about how this opportunity is lost, think about ways in which you can redeem yourself. You will want to illustrate that your ability to manage time isn’t typically this unreliable. For example, projects you have completed in advance, different organizational systems you may use to manage your time, or any other applicable reference you may have. Don’t forget to highlight your strengths! 

Follow up. 

Indeed recommends composing a post-interview thank you letter to send after an interview, regardless of whether or not you were late. This should be done via email to ensure it gets to the employer as quickly as possible since the interview process is often fast-paced. This gesture is said to reinforce your interest in the role and, of course, a display of good manners. 

Elite Staffing gets you prepared.  

To prevent this scenario or avoid it from repeating, here are a few tips for arriving at your next job interview on time and prepared.

  • Find ways to manage your time more effectively.
  • Look at the route for your commute. 
  • Plan your outfit the night before. 
  • Give yourself more time than you need.
  • Plan to show up 10 minutes early.
  • Trust Elite Staffing to get you prepared.


If you’re in the Phoenix area and you’re looking for full-time work, part-time income, or gaining experience and learning new skills, Elite Staffing has work opportunities for you. 

Let’s Find a Job Together.