Job applicant 1/2 hr late- dealbreaker?

We have an opening for an investigator in my office- I’ve been interviewing for several days. I met with my last applicant today. We set up the interview by e-mail for 10 this morning. She called me at 10:15 and said she was lost. She wasn’t lost, she just wasn’t there yet and wasn’t sure how much farther she had to drive. She got to my office at about 10:30.

Otherwise, she was as qualified as everyone else I’ve talked to, but not more so- I liked her fine, but I really have a problem with someone who is a half-hour late for a job interview without something unexpected like a car wreck or something. It sounds like she just didn’t allow enough time to get there. I’ve pretty much decided not to consider her. Am I being unreasonable?

Anyone can make a mistake once, especially going to an unfamiliar location. I’d invite her for a follow-up and see how that goes.

Nope. If she was better qualified or you liked her a lot more than the other candidates, I’d think you were being overly harsh. As it stands, there’s no reason to give her further consideration – imagine what she’d be like on the job, if she can’t take the interview seriously enough to plan well for it?

ETA: It’s the fact that she called 15 minutes after she was already late that bugs me. Screwing up and being late is one thing, not notifying you as soon as she knew she wouldn’t be there on time is inexcusable.

It depends how many other applicants you have.

If you can afford to be choosy, punt her. Being late and then making shit up as an excuse for being late is lame.

Just out of curiosity, how do you know she wasn’t lost?

I really don’t mean this in a snarky way, but wouldn’t you be the best judge of that?

We don’t know how important it is for a person in that position to be on time. And we don’t know how many qualified candidates could do that job. It sounds like you have others to choose from so maybe you don’t need a reason to disqualify her. You could just do that based on any criteria.

Are you the hiring manager? Will you have to work with this person? If so, and it bothers you that she was late, and you can find someone who you’d like to work with more, then that would seem to work out fine.

If someone else is the hiring manager, perhaps you could ask them.

She told me where she was calling me from- she was on the road that connects with the road where my office is. I guess she was technically “lost” because she was afraid that she’d passed the road she needed to turn on, when she actually just hadn’t gotten there yet.

Is the job of “investigator” a position that requires the person to be prompt?

It would be a dealbreaker for me, with the exception, as you say, of a car wreck or being very new in town and not realizing quite how much you have to adjust Google Maps’ time estimate for rush hour in Chicago. (That is, if it was during rush hour. 10:15 is not during rush hour, so no excuse.)

And I agree that calling after she was already late is another dealbreaker. You don’t call when you’re late to say you’re going to be late. You’re already late. You apologize profusely for being late already and you ask me if I’d like to reschedule or if I can still fit you in.

As long as you have other candidates equally well qualified, and otherwise acceptable to you, I’d consider her tardiness enough to eliminate her from consideration. The other people cared enough to be there on time. She didn’t.

Put her on the bottom of the stack. If she’s otherwise qualified, keep her in the game in case the others don’t work out. You can always fire her later if you hire her and say, “And don’t ever be late again.”

Wouldn’t the job of Investigator require;

1> Being prompt.
2> Being able to read a map and find unknown places on a regular basis.

If the job requires you to send her to various places on a regular basis and have her be on time, I’d say that this is a huge red flag that as Obi-wan might say “this is not the person you’re looking for”.

If I have any questions whatsoever about where an office is, or if it’s in a part of town that I’ve never been to, I will drive there the day before or something. Yes, job interviews are that important. I say remove her from consideration.

I agree with disqualify her. This actually happened to me once when I was the interviewee. I was mad at New Orleans for having such crazy streets, but I wasn’t mad at the people for not hiring me. I totally understood. If I’m serious about the job interview but unsure of the place I now make a trial run beforehand. If it were a car accident/blackout/flood/blizzard I would reschedule the interview, but not for garden-variety lost.

I think you should give her the benefit of the doubt. Lateness happens, and if it was an unfamiliar area far away she might not have had the luxury of having the time to do a practice drive there. Judge her on the basis of the interview and everything else.

Being late once doesn’t seem like that grave a sin, unfortunately you don’t know if this is standard behavior for her or not. I would tend not to disqualify if she were otherwise the best candidate. If she’s one of the top applicants and you’re doing another round of interviews, invite her back and see if she’s early - not arriving in the nick of time, but waiting in the lobby prepared and with completed paperwork. At least that would suggest she’s conscientious and learns from experience.

If, however, this was the final or only interview and their were other candidates who were punctual and just as good or better on other measurements – what was the question again?

def. disqualify. from your op the other applicants were on time (or even gasp early) and qualified.

calling 15 minutes late, and being 30 minutes late, to me show that there could be pattern.

Ditto. I usually print out a map from Yahoo or google. If she was lost, she should have called a few minutes before 10 to let you know she would be late. Common courtesy.

I’d expect an “investigator” to be able to cough investigate the location of her job interview well ahead of time. We have Mapquest, Google Maps, etc. She could have driven there ahead of time to make sure she could find the place. She could have called the freaking receptionist and asked for directions.

The calling 15 minutes late to say she was late is just the icing on the cake. She’s out of the running IMHO.

I’m a notoriously late person. But I’ve never been late for a job interview, and I’m usually within 5-10 minutes for casual get-together type stuff. I also ALWAYS call, BEFORE I’m actually late. There’s no excuse for not calling before the appointment time to give you a heads-up on running late. When I have a job that will result in hardship for others I work with if I’m late, then I’m on time. If I have a job that can flex so I can work late to make up for showing up late, then that’s my ideal. But ask any employer and they’ll tell you I’m one of those “later” type people.

Don’t know if that helps, but that’s one take on it.