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In an ideal world, you’d probably arrive to every interview five to 10 minutes early. This amount of time sends the signal that you are serious about landing this job, but also don’t wish to inconvenience the hiring manager.

But sometimes life happens and even though you did everything you could to get to the office on time, you hit traffic and that cushion time turns into a 25-minute delay. And before you know it, you’re Googling, “How to make up for running late to an interview?” while you’re sitting in gridlock.

As frustrating as this is, most hiring managers understand that sometimes, things just happen. But as empathetic as they can be, they also don’t like being left in the dark. So, the next time you’re running behind, give the template below a try.

Oh, and if you’re worried about it working, know that it’s inspired by one of the best messages I received from a candidate who was going to be late for an interview.

Template for People Who Have a Good Reason for Running Late

Hi [Name of Interviewer],

I’m so looking forward to our interview today, but wanted to let you know that [your reason for being late]. In spite of this, I anticipate arriving at [a time based on your best guess for how many minutes behind you’re running].

I apologize for the inconvenience and completely understand if this new time does not work with your schedule today. If that’s the case, would you be open to rescheduling? I’m available [provide two or three times and dates] if that would be more convenient for you.

Thanks so much,
[Your Name]

Template for People Who Just Overslept

This sounds great, right? Well, what if your reason for being late isn’t any good? What if it’s because you overslept, or you drove in the wrong direction for 20 minutes, or your “quick” coffee stop took forever?

If that’s the case, you’ll want to be careful just how much you share. And in fact, I’d err on the side of saying less so you don’t paint yourself in the wrong light.

Here’s a revised template for those times when it’s your fault:

Hi [Name of Interviewer],

I apologize for the inconvenience, but I’m running late to the interview today. I shouldn’t be longer than [how many minutes you’re actually late] behind.

While I’m still very excited to discuss the opportunity, I completely understand if this new time doesn’t work with your schedule today. If that’s the case, would you be open to rescheduling? I’m available [provide two or three times and dates] if that work better for you.

Sorry again,
[Your Name]

Template for People Who Didn’t Say Anything in Advance

OK, now what if you were late for no-good reason and didn’t have time (or even think) to send this note before you met. No fear—you can still make up for your tardiness in your thank you email—assuming of course, that you apologized upon arrival.

Try this out:

Hi [Name of Interviewer],

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I wanted to apologize again for being late, it’s completely unlike me and I truly appreciate you still taking the time to meet with me.

I know this must’ve been an inconvenience to you, but I’m even more excited about what I learned about the company and the role today.

[Insert specifics about your conversation and reiterate why you’re both excited and qualified for this role.]

Thanks again!
[Your Name]

There’s no silver bullet message to send when you’re running late to an interview—but regardless of the reason, giving the hiring manager a heads up will never hurt. It not only says that you’re aware that this isn’t OK, but also that you appreciate the hiring manager adjusting their schedule to meet with you.