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  • Jessica Shields

Believe Them the First Time

I once had an applicant who was late to a video chat interview, and when she did arrive, she was wearing…wait for it…a towel. I’m serious! It never ceases to amaze me the low importance candidates put on being on time and prepared for an interview.


The opening line for about 20% of my interviews is “I’m sorry, but I cannot consider you for this position because you were late to your interview.” Ouch! The truth is, I sincerely don’t want to waste my time nor theirs. I’ve already decided that I cannot hire them. The candidate usually understands, but sometimes they share the reason for being late and ask for a second chance. The most common excuses are that they had trouble with the video link (but they didn’t tell me until after their scheduled start time), a meeting or class ran over, or they hit traffic on the way home. Sometimes they miss the interview altogether and ask for a reschedule hours later.


But the fact is, in our industry, you usually don’t get a second chance. The tradeshow, marathon expo or grocery store grand opening cannot be rescheduled. So, we have a strict policy that prohibits us from rescheduling interviews.

I get a lot of questions about why we won’t consider someone who is late…so many that I thought it blog-worthy.


Let’s start by describing what our interview process looks like at HFA. When a referral or applicant applies for a position, the account manager emails them and asks them to set up a time to speak via video chat. After a time is set, the account manager sends a meeting request with the video chat information so the candidate has the reminder on their calendar. The candidates are welcomed to interview from anywhere – their home, a break from school and sometimes even their car if they are on a break from their full-time job. Seems like being on time would be a breeze, right? Unfortunately, many applicants do not agree.


Zoey made a great first impression at her interview. She was on time, cheerful, well-groomed and passionate about the product.

To me, the tardiness almost always means either the position is not as important as whatever caused them to be late or they are poor planners. In either case, that’s not good enough for our fantastic clients. What will they do when there isn’t a parking spot at the event they are working? What if there is traffic on the way to the event? What if they get offered a higher paying job? We have to know that our clients’ events are at the top of their priority list before we place them at the top of our list of candidates.


I haven’t always been this strict. When I first started Health and Fitness, I let my emotions get the best of me and I would allow a reschedule here and there. But I was always sorry. When the staff member was late or didn’t show up to their event at all, I was reminded of a famous Maya Angelou quote “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”