Yoevelyn Rodriguez
Eating my way through New York City.

You look at the clock and confirm that it is five past 10:00 am. Worry starts to agitate your thoughts, and one thing becomes painfully clear — your phone interviewer is late. This phone call is the opportunity you've been chasing for weeks.  No, months. Furthermore, the time invested in preparing for this phone interview was considerable. At this point, you may be wondering what is the right way to follow up with your interviewer. 

How long should you wait for a late phone interview?

What is the polite time to wait before you start dialing your interviewer's number? According to Lainie Petersen from Chron.com, your best bet is waiting 15 to 30 minutes after the interview becomes late before your first attempt to reach out. This time window allows the other party time to catch up if they're running late, and gives you a buffer. During this time, check your email and text messages to see if the interviewer may be trying to reach you through alternate means. 

5 steps for dealing with a late phone interview

Rather than seeing this situation as a roadblock, see it as an opportunity to show your potential employer your level of professionalism by doing the following:

Don't Panic. It happens. 

Try not to lose control of your mind and give in to panic. The job search is quite a stressful process. Sometimes a job seeker has applied to hundreds of job openings before her resume passes the initial screening phase.  

Job market experts found that only 2% of candidates make it through the application process and land an interview, and this scenario is especially evident in large metropolitan areas where there is a constant influx of young professionals looking for more lucrative positions in big cities. Most job candidates understand this reality, and not knowing how to deal with the awkwardness of a late phone interview can trigger anxiety. Nevertheless, preparing for it to happen will help you keep calm and in control.

Check for the possibility of a misunderstanding. 

Did you receive an email from the recruiter with the appointment details and only read it once? Maybe, in your excitement, you reached for your calendar app and hastily dictated the appointment details to your digital assistant. But, hold on a minute. Are you sure you entered the correct time? Do you know where in the world the interviewer is located? Who will be calling whom? How long will the interview take?

There are nuances one can overlook when in a state of excitement. And let's face it, there is nothing more exciting than to realize you beat the odds and got that phone interview. So read that appointment email again, and make sure you understand any instructions given. Follow those instructions carefully.  And most importantly, ensure you know the details of the appointment well. If you can't answer the questions in the previous paragraph concisely, don't be afraid to ask the recruiter for clarification. Maybe, what you think is a late phone interview is just a misunderstanding.

Give the benefit of the doubt. 

You have managed to keep collected and feel very secure in knowing you got all the details of the phone interview right. There is no doubt that the fault is on the other party.  Still, be generous and give your interviewer the benefit of the doubt. Life happens to everybody, and there is a possibility that your recruiter had to deal with a situation she or he couldn't control. If this is the case, the interviewer may be impressed by your kind restraint and professional demeanor.

Reach out, but be professional. 

At this point, you should consider contacting the interviewer.  

When you call, make sure you sound friendly and welcoming because the tone of your voice will be critical. Here a trick many customer service representatives use when dealing with demanding customers over the phone may come in handy: lower your voice and slow your talking pace. Why is this important? You want to keep your interviewer at ease and help her save face. She might feel embarrassed about being late. Also, you are avoiding coming across as antagonistic.

Feel free to practice what you will say a few times before you call. In addition, consider that she might not answer the phone, so be prepared to leave a message and to thank her for her time. If your call doesn't get a response within a reasonable amount of time, or you don't have a number to call, send a brief email and offer to reschedule the phone interview. If you have no idea how to say what you want to say, you can use the examples we have added at the end of this article to help you.

Allow yourself to let go. 

This final step is crucial for your peace of mind.  

You took action and did everything you could to salvage the phone interview. Maybe the interviewer reschedules the call, or perhaps she doesn't. You won't know until she makes a move. But given the situation, it would be best if you let go and let things unfold on their own after this point.  

Whatever the outcome may be, what's important is that next time your phone interviewer is late, you will be able to handle the situation skillfully.  

Example follow up call and email.


Hello Ms. or Mr. ___________,

My name is ________. I am contacting you because I applied for the position as a _____ in your organization. Last week (or whenever), we arranged for a phone interview earlier today (add the date and time). Would you like to reschedule the interview for next____?


Hi Ms. or Mr. _________,

I applied for the position of _____ at your organization on (date). Last week (or whenever), we arranged a phone interview earlier today, (add current date and time).  Are you available to reschedule the interview?  What would be your earliest convenience?

I am very excited about this opportunity, and I look forward to speaking with you over the phone.


(Your Name.)"

Please, notice you are not accusing the interviewer of not calling when she said she would, and you are also providing the appointment details.  This approach is less threatening and serves as a reminder of who you are in case she's dealing with multiple interviewees.

Hopefully, carrying yourself in this manner will reinforce the recruiter's decision to pick your resume out of the pile.  Meanwhile, continue to expose yourself to other opportunities to land your dream position by recharging your online job search.  Good luck!

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About the Career Expert:

Yoevelyn Rodriguez is a recent graduate of Florida International University with a bachelor's in business administration and a concentration in marketing research. She has experience in content writing, marketing and SEO, with several certifications.