The Pam Method: 3 Things To Do If You’re Running Late for a Job Interview

Late for Job Interview Call Ahead.png

The traffic jams and car accidents in big cities, such as Los Angeles, are constant. Despite the traffic issue, it goes without saying that every applicant should do his or her best to be early or on time for a job interview. 


Prepare for the time of day you’ll be traveling and plan accordingly.

Think about your travel time and add at least 30 minutes.

Padding your travel time may save you.

Consider the extra time it will take to find parking.

Plan for extra time to find the stairs, elevator, and office suite.

Even if you’ve planned for all of the above, things can still go wrong and often do. When things go wrong, you’ll arrive in a sweaty mess and be uncomfortable or nervous. Instead, plan to look the part.

What do they say about best-laid plans? The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. That is the translation of Robert Burns’ 1786 famous poem To a Mouse and the line: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley . . .”

Sometimes you can’t prepare for every single scenario in the world. Do your best to plan ahead. Most applicants with a planned interview on the books leave their home in plenty of time even allowing an hour and a half or two hours to arrive early to the interview. If the job is more than two hours from your home one-way, you may want to reconsider applying for the job. But in a big city, a few miles of travel to a job can take an hour or more depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic.


  1. Call ahead to the office. Everyone has a cell phone. If you’re stuck in traffic for any reason, call ahead to the office where you’re interviewing. Explain that you’re going to be delayed and the time of your estimated arrival. Sometimes if you call ahead you’ll quickly discover the state of the office. The receptionist or assistant may reassure you that the person you’re interviewing with is also delayed either in traffic or another interview. Traffic delays and car accidents happen in big cities. A company should understand if you’re delayed for a few minutes. If you’re two hours late and got the time wrong completely, that’s a separate issue.
  2. Stay calm. Don’t panic. Do not start racing through traffic trying to find a better way to reach the interview faster. If you do this, you may further delay your arrival, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the side routes or potential detour roads. Furthermore, if the traffic starts moving again, do not excessively increase your speed. A decision to go over the speed limit may cause an accident or you may receive a speeding ticket, causing yet another delay.
  3. Don’t lie. If you walk into a job interview with an elaborate story beyond the truth, it will be exposed. Be honest. Briefly, apologize for being late due to traffic and move on with the interview. Remain confident that you are the best person for the job. You might arrive at the office and be delayed for your own interview due to a busy office schedule anyway.

If you’ve gotten as far as being rewarded with a job interview, do your best to reach that interview on time. Detours may occur, parking may be limited, and stairwells may be locked. There is sometimes unexpected craziness to be encountered in a job interview.

Good luck on your next job interview. I hope you get the job!

For more job advice and interview tips, join The Pam Method.