I was supposed to have a phone interview today, but my interviewer never called… She did email me about 45 minutes later saying that her meeting had run over and was very apologetic, but it still stung.
This is the third time this month that an interviewer rescheduled on me last minute. It’s hard not to take it personally, and re-preparing for interviews has become a serious drain on my time, energy, and confidence.
Does this happen to everyone or is it just me? And what’s the best way to respond? Should I write off the organization, or do I just need to suck it up and accept this as part of my job search? I’m feeling seriously frustrated and am interested in your take on all this.
Waiting By The Phone
Dear Waiting By The Phone,
First things first: I am so sorry your interviewer didn’t show up today, and that this keeps happening to you. Your frustration is 100% warranted.
Sadly, this does happen all the time today. Even among my clients who diligently confirm every interview in advance, about 20-30% of their phone interviews get rescheduled. The numbers for missed or postponed informational interviews are even higher.
Every time it happens, it kills me.
I know (and teach) what it takes to prepare exceptionally for an interview. I’m guessing you invested hours if not days preparing -- and likely losing some sleep -- in anticipation of what could be a career-altering conversation. You put your heart and sweat into making sure you showed up on time and as your best self.
And you do deserve to be treated better in return.
I know one day soon, you’ll be on the other side. And when you’re the interviewer, you can resolve not to do this to others.
I hope for the day when we all view interviews as among the most important meetings on our calendar, because the person we’re interviewing is likely the person who has prepared the most, who cares the most, and who can most benefit from our attention that day.
But while you’re still in the job seeker’s seat, here’s how I’d suggest navigating this sticky situation:
1. Do everything you can to prevent this from happening
The more personal connection you have with your interviewer, the more likely they are to show up for your meeting.
So when you confirm your interview the day before you’re scheduled to meet, include a personal note about how much you’re looking forward to the conversation, and why meeting this person specifically is exciting to you.
If you have an internal connection at the company, ask that person if they feel comfortable pinging your interviewer to mention their support of your candidacy and that they’re looking forward to hearing how the conversation goes.
Not only will these steps make your interviewer more likely to show, they’ll also set you up for a strong conversation.
2. Respond proactively
If your interviewer doesn’t show, the first thing you want to do is email your interviewer 5 minutes after your designated start time.
A quick no-blame message will maintain your positive rapport, and ideally allow you to start the interview (albeit a little late) or reschedule as promptly as possible.
“Just checking in to make sure you’re still available for our 2pm ET interview today. I hope everything is okay on your end and if you need to reschedule, just let me know a few alternative windows that work for you this week.”
Once you’ve taken care of logistics, you’ll have time to think and feel through the situation and chart your next steps.
3. Recognize that if your interviewer no-shows or postpones, it has absolutely nothing to do with you
There are numerous reasons why your interviewer might behave in this way.
It’s possible they’re dealing with a fire drill in the office (or at home), or that they’re experiencing connectivity issues, or that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation behind their behavior.
For many of the professionals I’ve spoken with, it comes down to priorities. Recruiting is essential to team and company success, and yet very rarely is it someone's first priority on the job. Hence, interviews can become one the easiest meetings to ditch or delay when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work.
This doesn’t excuse that behavior (and the negative impact it has on job seekers). But as devastated or annoyed as you are, you want to recognize that this is your interviewer’s failure -- not yours -- and that there is no reason to take the experience personally.
4. Assess whether this behavior is an outlier or indicative of an organization worth avoiding
While you want to give your interviewers the benefit of the doubt, it’s important to observe whether their behavior indicates something problematic about the team and/or company you’re considering joining.
Did other people from the company miss or reschedule conversations with you?
Have they been responsive to your emails and requests?
Have you noticed any other signs of a culture that overworks or undervalues its employees?
How have your other interactions with team members made you feel?
At the end of the day, you want to understand if this was a one-off negative experience, or a recruiting issue (which won’t affect you once you join the company), or a red flag about the individuals or teams you would actually be working with on a day-to-day basis.
5. Remind yourself of the value you bring to the table
Remember, your interviewer not showing up has nothing to do with you.
Refresh your memory of the many testaments to your value:
The fact that you landed this (and other!) interviews means you are qualified and a strong candidate for the jobs you want
The long list of skills and competencies that you can and will perform on the job
Your many accomplishments from past experiences that fill up your resume
The recommendations you have on paper or on your stellar LinkedIn profile
The energy you’ve brought to your job search which you will soon bring every day to your new job.
That’s a lot of value.
Don’t let someone else’s mismanagement of their calendar or priorities keep you from believing in yourself and what you have to offer.
You are a talented individual who wants to contribute your greatness to a worthy organization. You and that organization will find each other -- and I know once that happens, you’re never going to stand up an interviewee ;)