32

I was wondering if it is worth sending a follow up email after an interview I had even though I was late. But I would like to provide context to the situation if I may, to see if a follow up email is actually worthwhile.

I was about 3-4 minutes late to a 15 minute interview. I don't have a car, so a family member provided transportation but was late to the location.

When I came in I apologized and made a small excuse about it being "family issues" (excuses are a big no no!), we shook hands, and then the manager asked my name and then immediately stated that, "arriving late leaves a highly unfavorable impression". He than bluntly asked me, "Why should we consider you for our business if you are late to the interview?"

I mentioned to him my perfect attendance at my previous job last year, never missing a day, never calling out/sick and how I was almost always scheduled for opening shifts at my current and previous jobs.

One could say it was a very 'graceful' act for the manager to have the opening interview question give me a chance to somewhat redeem myself.

So with all things considered, should I provide the usual follow up email after the interview, perhaps adding an apology to the being late and mentioning again my reliability with previous jobs? Or should I not waste my time?

  • 12
    How was the interview other than u being late? – Smit Mar 15 '17 at 16:44
  • 54
    For sure I would not remind them you were late. – paparazzo Mar 15 '17 at 16:49
  • 3
    Smit, there were two people doing the interview. The district manager and the assistant manager. Both of them seemed very stoic during the process, so formal in fact it appeared artificial. The conversation seemed lopsided; halfway through the interview the district manager was mostly on his laptop and didn't seem to pay much particular attention to what I was saying. Looking at the computer more so than me, the interviewee. But the assistant manager however was actually giving me body language feedback and was actively listening to what I was saying. In short, not pleasant. – iLearnSlow Mar 15 '17 at 17:18
  • 2
    You should not consider a follow-up a waste of time, that is a fairly normal part of an interview exchange process, and any feeling of waste of time in your mind would likely come through to a reader. I agree whole-heatedly with Paparazzi though, I would in no way remind them you were late. No additional apologies, you already have and further bringing up the subject would hurt any damage control you did pull off. That does not mean however you should not follow up with a thank you for your time note to re-iterate you still want to be considered, assuming that is the case. – dlb Mar 15 '17 at 17:40
  • 11
    @iLearnSlow Thats bad. But that could be that they are actually testing you? But nevertheless, if you have given your best, and read through below responses to get guage of what to put inside your email. You should be good to go. Never beg for a job - Remember this. – Smit Mar 15 '17 at 18:10

11 Answers 11

54

So with all things considered, should I provide the usual follow up email after the interview, perhaps adding an apology to the being late and mentioning again my reliability with previous jobs? Or should I not waste my time?

A follow up note is always a good thing.

The emphasis of your follow-up note should be about thanking folks for the interview, on your fitness for the job, your enthusiasm about what you learned of the job and company, and your desire to move to the "next step" in the process.

At most, you should only incidentally apologize for being late. As you said "excuses are a big no no", so don't offer them again.

  • Why are excuses a big no-no in the hiring process? – Christian Aichinger Mar 16 '17 at 5:30
  • 3
    @Christian Just accepting responsibility and moving on, especially from minor incidents, is the way to go. If they noticed and you do this, they'll probably shrug it off, too. If they didn't notice and you do this, they'll hopefully think, "whatever." If you offer an excuse instead, regardless of what they thought they'll now think, "really? come on, man, you were just a couple minutes late." – Aza Mar 16 '17 at 6:50
  • In the followup, I would mention briefly that the lateness was due to transportation issues (yes, this slightly contradicts what you said in the interview. You'll need to straighten that out) but that if hired you would be able to be reliably on time because your transportation plan is X. – G. Ann - SonarSource Team Mar 16 '17 at 13:18
  • 1
    "perhaps adding an apology to the being late and mentioning again my reliability with previous jobs?" I'd say that the mentioning of reliability is more of a "I screwed up and need to make amends" in a bad way. Just the apology should be sufficient. No need to seem desperate. – SliderBlackrose Mar 16 '17 at 15:19
18

Do follow up.

Don't mention your lateness.

My current position, I arrived 14 minutes late to the interview (I live about an hour away at the best of times, and I was delayed leaving home and got caught in rush hour). I got the job and have been here for nine years.

My being late certainly counted against me, but I overcame that in the interview and the technical evaluation after.

  • 1
    I very much like personal experiences in answers especially when there is a happy outcome. Cheers!! – closetnoc Mar 15 '17 at 20:25
9

It would have been better to be 10 minutes early, for sure, however I think that most people would understand that sometimes there's simply circumstances outside of your control.

Clarification: if there's a lot of competition for the position then being 5 minutes late can be a game breaker, however it's expensive to interview many candidates, so employers will typically only call in the people they're actually interested in hiring (on paper). In that situation being 5 minutes late is not a game breaker unless you also make other mistakes (might be used against you as a tie breaker between you and a similarly skilled candidate).

I would have kept the answer a little more general, however (family issues typically has negative undertones):

I don't have experience travelling in this part of town, and ran into some heavy traffic. If I were travelling this route on a regular basis I would know to better account for such situations. My apologies.

Only then answer the follow up question, and talk about your perfect attendance at your other job, etc.

As far as sending a "Thank You" email, you most certainly should. Even if you don't get the job, it's not a "waste of your time", it's simply a standard courtesy which you should observe (unless the person flat out tells you not to let the door hit you on the way out or something).

Since you've already addressed being late (very directly) in your interview I wouldn't mention it in the email. If you feel compelled to do so, however, keep it brief:

Dear X,

Thank you for taking the time to see me today. I'm very excited at the prospect of bla bla bla.

I once again apologize for running late today, and hope my explanation as to why was satisfactory.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Regards,
iLearnSlow

  • "It would have been better to be 10 minutes early". Really depends on the company, 10 minutes early can be quite distracting, while 3-4 minutes late might not even be noticeable. – Akavall Mar 16 '17 at 4:05
  • 2
    @Akavall I try to arrive at least 10 minutes early, but walk around the area until 5 minutes before the interview, at which point I enter and announce myself. If the location is isolated, and not somewhere where I can inconspicuously wander, I'll wait in my car until 5 minutes before. Anything earlier can leave a negative impression. – Beofett Mar 16 '17 at 12:39
  • Why is the first quote block formatted that way? – Lilienthal Mar 16 '17 at 14:00
  • 1
    @lilienthal - because that's my style, and I intended the clarification to be an aside, as it were. – AndreiROM Mar 16 '17 at 14:02
  • 3
    @AndreiROM Fair, but I'd recommend against it. Since you also use the formatting for example scripts in the same answer it makes it look odd and I first thought you had simply forgotten to attribute a source for an actual quote. – Lilienthal Mar 16 '17 at 14:10
6

Yes, I would send a follow up email just as you described in your answer, what do you have to lose? I think you handled the situation very well. Some people would crumble and just walk out of the interview. Sending the follow up email message shows that your are serious about the job.

Going forward, I would plan on arriving at least 30 minutes early to give your self a buffer, if your not doing something similar to that already.

  • 3
    @Fernando The follow up email should not bring up the fact you are late, just the fact that you are appreciative of their time and are interested in the job. What is wrong with an atomic clock anyway ;-) ? – Mister Positive Mar 15 '17 at 17:45
  • 1
    @Fernando Also 4 minutes in a 15 minute interview means he missed over a quarter of it. – DasBeasto Mar 15 '17 at 19:15
  • 1
    I am serious - you don't say anything about what to do if you actually manage to arrive 30 minutes early - because the only other option is to walk in and be sat waiting for 30 minutes - I can tell you, almost no interviewer will start early (especially if they have a full day of interviews) - my way, you have the 30 minute buffer, you might get some last minute prep in, and you're guaranteed to arrive in a timely manner. – HorusKol Mar 15 '17 at 22:26
  • 4
    @HorusKol If you manage to arrive early, perhaps you can sit in your car and review your resume/potential answers in your head, find a cup of coffee, or whatever floats your boat. Arriving plenty early is much safer that taking a chance on making a critical error by being late. – Mister Positive Mar 15 '17 at 22:31
  • 2
    @HorusKol What is the problem with arriving early? In the interview for my current job I arrived 15 minutes early and just waited in the waiting room's couch reading "A dance with dragons". When I entered the interview room I just put the book on the table and my reading ended up being brought up in a good way in the conversation, as was the fact that the book was in english (not our native language, this was in Spain). – xDaizu Mar 16 '17 at 12:13
4

Yes, you should send a follow up email. It doesn't really take that much effort (no more so than asking this question) and it can set you apart from other candidates. Start by reiterating anything they did respond positively to, and concisely state why you are a great candidate.

Some have mentioned that you shouldn't remind them you were late. If the interviewer hadn't mentioned it, I would agree with this. However, given his reaction, I doubt he's forgotten about it. Giving an excuse about family issues was a terrible response, and he's likely wondering if those "issues" will cause problems in the future. Put this concern to rest by admitting you made a mistake by getting a ride from a family member, and how you will use a different, more reliable transportation option if they hire you. Reiterate how your usual method has never let you down in your current or past job, that you are always early, and your current supervisor will attest to that. If any of that isn't true, get as close to it as you can without lying. Take responsibility and demonstrate that it is a one-time mistake.

It would have been better if you had better addressed it in the interview or been early, but a quality thank you note may still save you if you aren't competing against a much better candidate.

1

I will myself send an email regarding the points and discussion had during the interview (no matter if I am late, early or ...)

So do send an email, and do include your apology (not "sorry) and make sure that is not only be the topic of your email. Do write about the conversation that had happened. Also you may wish add in references that you had mentioned during the interview. This will bring their attention towards your work, and less on being "late"

Lastly, do not repeat. I mean don't just be sorry and make more mistakes. Apologize and move on.

These tips can help for your future interviews:

  • Reach the location 30 mins early. Take any extra time to walk around and see the workplace, if possible network.
  • Go through company related resources, such as their website.
  • Read up on the job description for the position. If possible read other job descriptions too.
  • Once the interview is over, do make sure to ask questions. Such as when will I know the results (or outcome).
  • Send a follow-up email after a few hours so that it doesn't get mixed up with others.

Follow-Up Email: - Thank the committee for their time. - Thank them for pointing out any issues or problems with your skill sets (if any) - Lastly send them any references, in the form of links, for them to learn more about you. - Try not to write an email that is excessively long or too short.

0
(excuses are a big no no!)

I somewhat disagree with this one, if you are late, you "must" provide a reasonable reason briefly. But I am not the master of behavioral psychology, so I am not aware if sharing the excuse makes you weak.

Regarding your question, the normal approach would be of course sending an email and not to apologize, however I found the interviewers approach highly unreasonable. Being late for 4 minutes is a minor issue, as we all have other duties, or living in large cities with traffic. I wouldn't even bother to inform about my attendance status as response.

And pushing the issue for the second time is unprofessional, in face the question itself probably belong to some HR interview-interrogation technique books.

0

Curiously, this LinkedIn post seems to resonate a bit with you particular interviewer's opinion. In essence, the author believes:

  • Neither the interviewer or interviewee has an excuse to be late, since ways to communicate are plentiful
  • Calling or sending some kind of notification ahead of time is preferred rather than after-the-fact

His concern comes from a candidate not showing the discipline to turn up on time to an interview, and how that may translate to their performance on the job.

If you don't have the ability to show up on time for the chance to get the job, you do not have respect for mine or my management teams time and you DEFINITELY do not have respect for the opportunity!

I don't necessarily disagree with this opinion, and it also gives you anecdotal, real-world verification that being late does leave a negative impression on your opportunity.

On the flip side, I've had experience with a late interviewer; I declined any further work with them because they had disrespected my schedule not once, but twice. (Why twice? It's a long and complicated story, one which doesn't involve me necessarily looking for work at that time.) Their tardiness and inability to really pencil me in at the specific agreed-upon time left me with an impression that that they wouldn't respect me when I walked in the doors, either.

To your question, here's what I'd recommend:

  • Treat this as a lesson learned. You're not going to get a chance to make this up, but in the future, keep in the back of your mind, if you think you're going to be late, then send any kind of message letting the person know you're going to be late.

  • Send a message, but don't emphasize the tardiness. You want to leave a lasting impression on the interview, and you don't want your lasting impression to be about how you were late.

  • In the face of adversity, overcome one shortcoming with a significant strength. Again, this is more of a lesson learned, but if you're interviewing for a position and there's something you definitely didn't do right, make it up in the interview by doing something extremely well. The goal there is to overwrite a negative impression with a positive impression. Yes, there may still be some concerns with tardiness, but at least you weren't thirty minutes late.

0

Answer: Yes.

Before elaborating on why I say yes, let's look at the other side of the coin, because there's quite a bit that can be learned from that first. Here is why sending that E-Mail might not make sense:

You blew it. You suspected that. I'm going to just outright confirm that.

You could say that your ride blew it by being late, but you blew it by counting on that ride. Maybe your cousin is typically responsible and relying on your cousin was a very sensible approach, but that doesn't change the fact that this job opportunity appears to have been blown. That needs to just be accepted, simply on the grounds that it is reality.

Since you're asking "should I not waste my time", it sounds like you're not interested in spending time on something that is quite unlikely. And I am saying, this seems quite unlikely. That is the key basis for saying "no" for the question that was actually asked (even though, as my last paragraph a notes, I would actually personally recommend "yes").

Here are some of the reasons I see the chances as being so unlikely:

  1. Being late is bad
    • No surprise here... We all already knew that.
    • You did get unlucky. Sometimes you can get lucky. Maybe you show up, and the other person is also late. Or maybe the interviewer doesn't ever learn that you are late for some other reason, like you show up and speak to a receptionist who doesn't report your lateness. Unfortunately for you, you did not get such luck this time.
  2. A made, and was made right away. So we know this was noticed, and it did seem to matter.
  3. Your response was bad; arguably terrible.
    • You said, “I mentioned to him my perfect attendance at my previous job last year, never missing a day, never calling out/sick and how I was almost always scheduled for opening shifts at my current and previous jobs.”
    • You claim that you are typically reliable enough to show up to work, sometime (on the right day). You don't completely miss any days. But you didn't say that you actually show up on time. You didn't say that lateness is out of character for you. Do you know what you did? Just based on the text that you provided, it looks like you actually managed to sidestep the issue of punctuality, completely failing to directly address that issue that you were asked about. So not only were you late, but you were evasive, and didn't fully demonstrate responsibility for an important issue.
      • A better approach (in my opinion) would have been something like “Something bad happened. This lateness is out of my character. I failed to be able to sufficiently compensate for the situation.” At least that would have shown you : recognize the screw-up, are willing to acknowledge it, claim this is unusual, and will take the responsible approach of at least addressing problems as best as possible. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and there are situations where people who lack time-travel abilities just don't get second chances. It does look like this is one of those situations.
  4. Your comment (shown below the question) shows your fate is sealed.
    • “halfway through the interview the district manager was mostly on his laptop and didn't seem to pay much particular attention to what I was saying. Looking at the computer more so than me” -- Ooo-ouch!
    • “In short, not pleasant.” -- Ooo-ouch!
    • “But the assistant manager however was actually giving me body language feedback and was actively listening to what I was saying.” Don't get much hope in this. The Assistant Manager likely reports to the Manager (who may have been unavailable for this interview) who likely reports to the District Manager. If the hiring decision is made by the District If Manager, it sounds like you're doomed.

      If the hiring decision is actually typically made by the Assistant Manager, you're likely still doomed, because the assistant manager is unlikely to want to rebel against the district manager. If the district manager truly didn't like you, he may have allowed the interview to continue (in part just to avoid unnecessary conflict, and perhaps in part so the district manager could continue to further gauge the assistant manager), but chances are rather high that the district manager may have let the assistant manager know that the just-interviewed candidate was not a good match. (Furthermore, the district manager may have told the assistant manager why.)

So, are you doomed? Well, your chances of getting this job seem very, very slim, but there's good cause for hope.

It's time for me to explain why, despite all of the less cheery outlook I've provided so far, sending that follow up E-Mail is a good idea.

I've royally botched some interviews that I really needed in life. I'm old enough that I didn't have this website available during that time of my life. My life did have some challenges as a direct result of not handling interviews very well. But eventually I learned some things and my skills increased and now there are plenty of people who would like to be in the shows that I am currently in. So, life can get better. (Not always quick nor easy, but it can happen.) In my case, that required me learning, working, and continuing to try for positive things. Took a while, but it did happen.

You, on the other hand, are using this website, which can be a great resource. So you are doing a good, right thing. Keep that up, by continuing to try to do the right and positive things (like spending the effort writing a brief E-Mail).

Typically the best answer is "Yes", sending that E-Mail is something worth doing, because the theory is that if there is still a 6% chance of success, that 6% is more than 2%, and sometimes things turn out unexpectedly well. Since the cost to follow up is so inconsequential, then, yes, follow up. (In other words, overall I agree with the first paragraph Kat's answer on why it is worthwhile. I also agree with Paparazzi's highly-rated comment, because you basically want things to be as positive as possible, and it may be that your only conceivable chance involves further focus on positive things. The third bullet point of Makoto's answer, about a strength, provides you with the most promising strategy.)

Even if this apparent potential job opportunity was blown, just follow Kat's advice and try to forget about what would have been nice; instead focus on what is likely to be nice as you find and pursue another opportunity.

-2

TLDR: No, don't waste your time.

What I've learned is this:

  • "If you're on time, you're late."
  • "If you're early, you're on time."
  • "If you're late, you're done."

Use this as a learning experience as the hiring manager already stated "why should we hire your if you're late?"

You already left a "sour" taste in their mouth about not being able to be on time to an interview, how are they supposed to trust you won't be late if you start working there?

I don't mean to come off condescending, but to put it bluntly, next time you need to plan accordingly, especially in your situation being that you don't have a car. You can't blame anyone but yourself in this situation as you didn't think about the person helping you being late.

I hope nothing but the best for you!

  • This doesn't actually answer the question asked. – jbh Mar 15 '17 at 16:55
  • 1
    Yes it does. He asked "...Or should I not waste my time?" This is stating he shouldn't waste his time. He should use it as a learning experience. – Landon Mar 15 '17 at 16:57
  • 2
    Fair enough, I can see how that answer could be implied. I think clearly stating "No, you should not waste your time" would improve this answer, though. – jbh Mar 15 '17 at 17:13
  • 3
    You can edit this answer to improve it; no need to wait for next time. Most answers get edited, so don't be shy about improving yours at any time. :) – Kat Mar 15 '17 at 17:25
  • 1
    While there are certainly employers who would take such a view; others are more rational and wouldn't pass up on the best candidate over a trivial amount of lateness. – Jack Aidley Mar 16 '17 at 10:26
-3

Answer: no.

You've already talked about being late in the interview, you made it clear that it will not happen on a frequen basis and that you have a good record. So, unless the position is for a Nuclear power plant security enginner, there's no need for more excuses.

If you are good at what you do, and they don't hire you because of such small inconvenient, the better for you - give some value to yourself.

I dont work at HR and don't live in the US, so I don't know what is best practice. IMO follow up emails are for special occasions, otherwise it shows you're insecure or desperate

  • What do you have to lose by sending a follow up email? You would not mention the fact you were late, of course. – Mister Positive Mar 15 '17 at 17:49
  • 1
    @MisterPositive A lot. You're giving more excuses for something very small. If you solved a problem (OP did during interview), don't need to bring it again, it shows you're insecure. – SpongeBob Mar 15 '17 at 17:58
  • 1
    Sending a follow up email along the lines of "Thank you for your time. I am interested in the job" is standard practice. I would not say "Thank you for the job, sorry I was late". – Mister Positive Mar 15 '17 at 18:01
  • I totally agree with @MisterPositive . Sending a follow-up email after interview is regarded as a best practice, no matter of the situation such as late. Even if they reject me, I will send send a thank you email. – Smit Mar 15 '17 at 18:05
  • I dont work at HR and don't live in the US, so I don't know what is best practice. IMO follow up emails are for special occasions, otherwise it shows you're insecure or desperate. – SpongeBob Mar 15 '17 at 18:22

protected by enderland Mar 16 '17 at 19:56

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.