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How to avoid the stress that comes with delayed interviews

How to avoid the stress that comes with delayed interviewsImage Credit: Supplied

Think of this scenario: After weeks of looking for a job, you finally land an interview. You spend days researching the company, preparing smart questions, and going through the wardrobe to pick the best professional outfit.

On the day of the interview, you show up a few minutes ahead of schedule (to show eagerness and punctuality), and your interviewer isn't there. You probably won't think much about it until the exact time comes and goes. Now you are 15 minutes past your interview time, someone may have alerted you that another meeting is taking too long, and offered a cup of coffee or not.

Fifteen more minutes go by and you're now frustrated and ready to leave. Is that a good idea?

This situation isn't uncommon and people often feel offended and begin to think if this carelessness reflects on how serious the company is and how respectful it could be to its employees. Although each situation can be different and you will need to assess it based on the reasons given for the delay as well as the overall approach to the hiring process ahead of this mishap, there are certain strategies you can use for the decision about whether to leave or not.

* Not right away

Be patient. A five-minute wait isn't the end of the world. Things happen and people run late for meetings — including interviews — all the time. So don't get all stressed about the delay immediately. The first 15 minutes should go totally stress-free. After that, you may begin to think of what you will do if the wait continues much longer.

In addition, don't just leave to make a statement. If offered a decent explanation, you don't really have other commitments and willing to wait, just stay it out. In many cases, the meeting that eventually happens will validate your concerns, if any, or reassure you.

For example, if your interviewer is sincerely apologetic and shows accommodations for your schedule, you may see that the delay was just a sign of disrespect or negligence. Otherwise, if the interview goes with the same level of carelessness, you may be right in reconsidering the entire job.

* Ask for an explanation

Don't just wait silently hoping that your interviewer has been alerted. If there is an assistant, a receptionist or even someone passing by, ask if they can help you out with finding your interviewers. The reason to do so is to avoid a situation where you are waiting outside and the interviewer is in an office somewhere thinking that you are being late.

In many offices, the interviewers could have stepped away from their desks or missed a call announcing your presence one way or another.

In short, make your presence known, if you have not already. If the delay continues because the interviewer is in a meeting, stuck in traffic or can't be reached, ask the contact person if you should wait longer. By doing so, you are giving them a chance to tell you if the person won't be making at all.

* Time to go

If you decide to leave, do it gracefully and not until you have waited for at least 30 minutes. You may be frustrated with the entire situation, feeling humiliated and disrespected, etc. But throwing a fit at this situation doesn't help you get this job or any other.

Remember, this interviewer — and other people around the company — will hear about your unprofessional demeanour, and that will undermine any chances.

Instead, whether you got a cue from the staff to leave or not, just say that your schedule or other commitments do not allow you to stay any longer. Ask for the interviewer to email or call you to schedule at another time and go. If you feel comfortable coming back for the interview, you have left the door open.

If not, you have done no harm to your image as a professional.

If your interviewer shows up after a long delay, you may be tempted to lecture the person about punctuality and respect... don't. Your actions can speak for you, and the job hiring process isn't really an established relationship where such a lecture can go down well.

Delayed interviews

* Be patient and don't stress yourself too soon.

* Listen to the excuses.

* Don't rush to leave just to make a statement.

* Leave the door open by leaving gracefully.

Get tips on dealing with the question of salary expectations in an interview

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor