In the April 23, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader waits too long for a truant interviewer.
I arrived for a job interview on time and waited for the interviewer an hour and 15 minutes past the scheduled time. I finally left thinking, why would I work for a place that can’t keep an appointment? How long would you have waited? What if this was the only interview you had lined up?
Don’t let your need for a job lead you to tolerate bad behavior from interviewers. I would not have waited longer than 10-15 minutes, at which time I’d ask the receptionist, “I’m concerned. Is my interviewer okay?”
Give the interviewer the benefit of the doubt
The receptionist will ask what you mean. You could ask whether the interviewer got hit by a truck. Or you could be more diplomatic. Respond in all seriousness with a hint of alarm:
“Well, our meeting was scheduled for a quarter of an hour ago — I’ve heard nothing and I’m concerned. Did something bad happen to my interviewer?”
This is a deft — if backhanded — display of respect for an interviewer who might be delayed because of a serious problem. It’s better than expressing your ire. Besides, there might be a perfectly acceptable reason for the delay, so it’s wise to grant the benefit of the doubt at this point.
Time to wave buh-bye
However, if you are not given a satisfactory explanation (and apology) and no one arrives to interview you, it’s time to shift your approach. You must use your own judgment, but I’d say to the receptionist:
“Could you please have someone from your HR office come out? I’d like to make sure my resume and job application are removed from your files. I’m not comfortable with my information in the hands of a company that can’t keep an appointment.”
I’m not kidding — that’s what I’d say. It’s a test. What will the employer do?
Because you waited so long, they owe you an exceptional “right” to this wrong. A responsible employer who blew the appointment will go out of its way to demonstrate regrets for your inconvenience — and thereby salvage the interview and your respect. But if you’re given lame excuses without sincere apologies, and the gaffe is not somehow corrected immediately (or at least compensated for), then you’ve put a good stake in the ground.
Wave buh-bye and don’t look back.
If anyone suggests your demand to be removed from the employer’s files is unprofessional or risky, tell them you demonstrate high standards of conduct and expect employers to do the same. Then ask whether they believe your time is valuable. You deserve an answer.
Your host’s reputation is on the line
If I seem cynical and intolerant, perhaps it’s because I’ve seen employers disrespect job candidates too much. Life is too short to waste time on people who don’t do what they say they’re going to do. While delays and even no-shows are sometimes unavoidable and forgivable, the responsible employer will make appropriate amends on the spot. That’s why it’s important to give them a chance.
We all need to get real. If the employer does’t apologize profusely after you’ve waited an hour and a quarter and doesn’t act to correct their behavior, I’d forget about that job. Human Resources managers are the first to tell us to mind our reputations, and this cuts both ways. In this case, the employer’s reputation is on the line. I’d tell all my friends how I was treated.
Whether this is the only interview you’ve got, or one of ten, it doesn’t change the character of this particular employer, and it doesn’t bode well for what life would be like working there. Please think about that.
For more examples of interview missteps by employers, see Dissed By HR: Can you top this? and How employers waste your time.
What’s the longest you’ve waited for an interviewer? Is an hour too long? How would you handle this situation?