The quickest way to ruin a first impression at a job interview is to show up late, and the amount of time interviewers are willing to wait for you is shrinking.
Lateness is the interview behavior that turns off hiring managers the most, according to a new report from Ringover, a cloud-based telecommunications provider, which surveyed more than 1,200 people who have interviewed job candidates.
“Nothing is more alarming to a recruiter than a candidate who cannot control time, especially in positions where deadline management skills are essential,” the report notes, adding that tardiness, even more so than getting the name wrong the company. or dressing too casually gives hiring managers the “biggest turn off.”
Before the pandemic, when video interviews were less common, most interviewers were willing to give candidates a 15-minute grace period to join the conversation late, Jeff Hyman, a executive recruiter for 27 years.
Now, that 15-minute window has been reduced to five minutes, both for in-person interviews and by phone or video, Hyman says.
“People just have less patience for excuses,” he explains. “Being late is a big turn-off because it indicates rudeness or a big ego, or incompetence and poor planning.”
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As for how early you should show up for an interview, Hyman recommends arriving five minutes early for an in-person interview and 10 minutes early for a video interview, in case you have any technological difficulties. “You don’t want to seem overly anxious or desperate if you sit in the waiting room for 20 minutes,” he adds.
Don’t panic if you’re late for a job interview: Hyman says you can still bounce back and win over the person you’re speaking to with a quick, genuine apology.
“Life happens, and most people understand if you have a good reason for being late, whether it’s a tire blowout while you’re driving or your Internet went out unexpectedly,” he says. “Not acknowledging the elephant in the room at all is much less productive.”
But you also don’t need to launch into a long explanation about why you were late, Hyman adds. “You don’t want to waste valuable interview time and dig yourself a hole,” he explains.
Instead, he recommends a brief, sincere apology like, “I’m really sorry I’m late, something came up, but I value your time and I’m very interested in this opportunity. What information can I share with you?” Help you decide if I’m the right person for the job?”
You should also be prepared for the possibility that your interviewer may not be able to see past your tardiness, even after you apologize. “All you can do is convince the person that you’re really sorry you’re late and knock the rest of the interview out of the park,” Hyman says. “Then let the chips fall where they may.”
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