Punctuality Required if You Want the Job


When you’re lucky enough to land an interview in this tough job market, it’s critically important to show up on time.  That seems obvious, but in the past few weeks I’ve heard several horror stories about tardy applicants. 

One graduating senior who had the rare distinction of having two interviews on the same day, didn’t plan for travel time from the suburbs to our downtown office.  When the interviewers wondered why she was an hour late, they checked their email and found a text message indicating traffic was terrible so she’d have to reschedule.  There was no rescheduled interview; the job went to someone who showed up on time. 

The head of another Chicago agency told me this week about an intern candidate who was 15 minutes late for her interview.  More importantly, when the interviewer asked if she had any questions about the briefing materials the agency had sent a week prior to the meeting, the applicant responded:  “Oh, were you expecting me to read all that stuff?”  Interview over. 

I’ll also never forget the red-faced young man who was breathless and dripping from perspiration because he ran from the train station.  The train wasn’t late, he just should have caught an earlier one that would have allowed him to calmly walk to the meeting. 

Enhance your job prospects by following these basic tips:

  • Show up on time.  Allow time to relax prior to interview.
  • Know where you’re going.  Is there a security desk that requires time to be added to your ETA.  Do a test drive and add 10 minutes to relax.
  • Know who you’re meeting.  A quick Google search likely will provide conversation ice-breakers.  Read up on the basics about the agency where you are interviewing. 
  • Study anything the agency sends to you in advance.  Have a point of view or questions about the materials that demonstrate your interest. 

2 thoughts on “Punctuality Required if You Want the Job

  1. All great advice. Punctuality is a strong indicator of work ethic and personality, so it definitely plays a role in the final hiring decision.

    As a young professional, I’ve gone through this before. Here’s a punctuality-horror story of mine:
    The office I was interviewing at was about a 15-minute drive away. I left a half hour early. Was making great time until until a car accident put the thruway in gridlock, making me about 10-15 minutes late for the interview.

    Luckily I brought the phone number for the office, and as soon as I was caught in gridlock, I was able to call the office and alert them of my situation. They were understanding and happy I gave them a heads-up.

    The moral is to always bring the contact info for the people you’re meeting with. Even if you leave early enough with plenty of time to spare, there are a lot of things that could happen that are out of your control. Be prepared!


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