A reader writes:
Yesterday, I was scheduled for a very much anticipated interview with a well-known airline for a customer service position. I know in my heart that this company would not only be an honor to work for, but that the position would be a great fit for me!
The interview was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. I left home in ample time to arrive. The problem was that I encountered traffic due to an accident on the freeway. I did not telephone for fear of being rejected from the interview process. I managed to get off the freeway and take an alternate route. I arrived at the guard's gate @ 3:00 p.m., I was allowed into the parking lot, made into the front door/reception desk (this took maybe another minute or two); then I was told that "it's 3:05 p.m., and because I was not there at 3:00 p.m., that they could not see me and would not allow the interview. I explained the circumstances but it was apparently of no interest to them
Feeling like this was a bad joke, I was absolutely devastated. I know my watch and car clock is set to the radio station time and is accurate. As I was heading to my car, I looked at my watch and it was just 3:04/3:05. All the preparing I did and anticipation I had has been crushed. I want to get in, I want to work for this company. Who knows when they will have another opening in Phoenix?
What, if anything, do you think I can do right now to somehow get into an interview? I just know that once I get an interview, they'll love me, they'll agree that I would be an asset to their team. This circumstance is not customary, it was a circumstance that simply happened.
Yes, it simply happened, but you made choices that contributed to it: You deliberately chose not to call, and you also didn't allow a buffer for the possibility that you'd hit traffic -- two things you could have done differently.
However, that doesn't change the fact that refusing to interview you because of a five-minute delay is pretty harsh. (Especially from the airline industry -- insert obvious joke here.) We've discussed the question of how late is too late in the past, and very few people thought that a couple of minutes deserved a flat-out rejection.
Still, though. I can't quite get my head around why you decided calling them would be a bad idea. You call in that situation because it's the courteous (and safe) thing to do.
As for what you can do to get an interview, well ... maybe nothing. But if anything is going to work, it's writing a flawlessly professional and apologetic letter reiterating your strong desire to work for them. Don't make excuses, take responsibility for it, and find some convincing way to assure them that this was out of character and a one-time aberration. It still may not work, but it's probably your best shot.
There's also the question, of course, of how much you really want to work for a company that handled a five-minute delay this way. Screening procedures go both ways, you know.