Being late for an interview is never a good thing. At the very least it shows your car is a clunker if it breaks down or that you speed and get pulled over for tickets. At best, it tells the story of a woman who can't manage her schedule -- and has little regard for anyone else's. The only thing you can do when late for an interview is call right away, apologize and ask if you can still be seen. Regardless of the answer, you'll need to write an apology letter to exit the situation with grace.
Why Write It
An apology letter tells those you've offended that you get it. You messed up, you are sorry and you understand how your actions affected those around you. A sincere apology goes a long way in getting people to give you another shot. Perhaps your skills are perfect for the job and the interviewer has sympathy because he takes the same parking-lot freeway to work every morning. By acknowledging your lateness through a letter, you show the people who matter that you are aware and sorry for the situation.
When To Send It
Send an apology letter via email as soon as you get back to your office or home. Being prompt in your apology shows it's in the forefront of your mind. It also signals to everyone that you know the severity of your actions and are ready to accept the consequences, which might be you don't get the job. The best case scenario is that you aced the interview, everyone really liked you and the only strike against you was your tardiness. Get the note to them before they have a chance to talk about your blunder and you may be in luck with an invitation back.
What to Say
Stick to the story. Be straightforward and offer the no-frills version of what happened. "I missed my flight" is all that is needed; refrain from saying the reason it happened was because you weren't feeling all that well when you woke up and needed some extra rest time. Keep things on a business footing and refrain from saying things presumptuous like, "I'm sure you understand" or "It could happen to anyone." State the fact that you appreciate being seen and are thankful for everyone's time. If you are interested in the position, state that you are keen on the position and fulfilling your obligations to meet the requirements.
Who Should Get the Letter
If you went through a recruiter, make sure a copy is sent to her so that she is aware of the situation through you first. The truth is, you've not only embarrassed yourself, but you may just have made your recruiter -- the person representing you -- look bad. It's also important to send the apology letter to everyone who waited for you -- the company's human resources director, the people interviewing you and the client the company had waiting to meet you, for example.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.