Phone Interviewer Late Or Never Called? (Here’s What To Do)

If the phone interviewer or recruiter didn’t call at the scheduled time, it can be difficult to know what it means, and how to react.

Not to worry, we’ll go over the most common reasons for this scenario, as well as what you should (and shouldn’t) do if the phone interviewer never called.

The First Thing You Need To Do

If you’re reading this, you’re probably fired up because it’s past the agreed time for your phone interviewer and the phone still hasn’t made a noise.

You have every reason to be concerned, upset, or even angry — but the worst thing you can do is respond in an emotional state.

Right or wrong, the person on the other end of the phone (or email) will feel this frustration in your voice, and it will hurt your chances of rescheduling the interview, let alone securing the job.

Remember, it’s just business.

Things like this happen to everyone from time-to-time. There’s nothing you can do to change what has already happened, so don’t throw away your chances of success by making an emotional decision now.

Before doing anything, take a moment to acknowledge the negative feelings you have, and then let them go.

Why The Phone Interviewer Never Called

They’re Running Late

Maybe your interviewer had a meeting run over, their car got stuck in traffic, or their train was delayed.

There are many reasons for running late that have nothing to do with you or your phone interview.

It happens more often than you think.

They Simply Forgot

It’s not excusable, but sometimes people just forget.

You have to remember those in hiring positions have a lot going on in their day, especially the higher ups in a company, so it’s not unheard of to overlook a scheduled interview.

Even recruiters can sometimes forget to mark a call in their calendar. I know it’s hard to believe, but they’re human beings too.

They’re Really Busy

Again, this doesn’t make it acceptable.

If anything, it’s worse because they know you’re waiting for a call and decided to prioritize other tasks before getting back to you.

But the main difference here is that they’re still aware you exist, and still likely have every intention of calling you. It’s just going to come later than expected, almost certainly with a sincere apology.

This is why it’s a good idea to sit tight and avoid blowing up their phone with texts or emails until absolutely necessary (we’ll talk about when that is).

They Changed Their Mind

This is one the one you didn’t want to read, and as much as I hate to say it, yes… there’s a small chance they changed their mind about you.

Maybe they already decided you weren’t a good fit for the position based on the minimal interaction they had with you.

Maybe they found out something about you that didn’t line up with their values, or maybe they did a little digging on your social media profiles because of the way you’re presenting yourself online.

Or maybe they found someone more experienced or more qualified and decided to go with them.

They’re Off Sick

Whether it’s a virus or bacterial infection, these things spread like wildfire in certain work environments — particularly office environments.

If the interviewer or recruiter is sick enough to be off work on the day of your phone interview, they’re probably too sick to conduct the interview from home too.

Some interviewers will let you know in advance if they need to cancel, others will wait until they’re back in the office to make apology calls.

How Long Should You Wait Before Following Up?

There’s no way to know the real reason they didn’t call, so you have to allow for all possibilities.

The most preferred being that they’re just running late.

That’s why you’ll want to allow at least 15-20 minutes over the scheduled time before considering a follow-up.

The interviewer or recruiter may even send you a message to inform you of the delay, so be sure to check all channels of communication, including SMS messages and your email inbox.

If you haven’t heard back after 30 minutes, it’s increasingly likely they aren’t just running late, and it’s time for a well-worded follow up.

And it’s not just what you say or even how you say it that matters, but also the channel you choose to deliver your message — which, of course, begs the question…

Should You Follow Up By Phone Or Email?

It’s always best to use the same channel of communication that was used prior to the phone interview being set up.

For example, if you’ve been communicating by phone up until this point, that’s a good starting point for the follow-up because the person/company has demonstrated that this is their preferred channel. And vice-versa.

If there was a mix of phone and email communication leading up to your interview date, you’ll want to start with the one that was used most recently — keeping in mind that any automated emails don’t count.

Either way, avoid following up with multiple people across multiple channels as this could lead to crossed-wires and even potentially embarrass the interviewer by making their mistake known to their colleagues.

How To Follow Up (The Right Way)

Before you blow up their phone or inbox, let’s take a moment to talk about what exactly you’re going to say.

In other words, what’s the goal of the follow up?

Here’s what it isn’t:

  • It isn’t to ask why they didn’t call
  • It isn’t to berate them for not calling
  • And it isn’t to look for an apology

The goal should always be to reschedule the interview. That’s the only thing that matters. If not today, tomorrow. If not tomorrow, next week.

In order to do that, your follow up needs 3 components:

1. A casual reminder of your scheduled call

Start by reminding them of who you are, and that you had a scheduled phone interview with X person at X time.

For example:

“Hello, I’m just reaching out because I had an interview scheduled by phone with Mr. Dean at 1pm.”

If you’re communicating directly with the interviewer that missed the call, they will immediately know who you are and likely take over the conversation from here.

If it’s a receptionist or other colleague, continue following the 3-component structure being laid out here.

2. Inform them that you never received a call

Be careful with your tone here.

A rising intonation can imply a question surrounding the missed appointment, and finding out why it was missed is not the goal of the follow up.

If they want to provide an explanation, they will — otherwise, just state the facts in a polite, non-aggressive manner, move past it and ask to set up a new appointment.

For example:

“I’m sure he’s just busy, but nobody contacted me and I wanted to see if we could reschedule?”

3. Offer to reschedule the time

If you’re following up by phone, allow the person on the other end to respond with an answer before offering potential dates for a reschedule.

If you’re following up by email, you can go ahead and include this before waiting on a reply, as this will save time on unnecessary back and forth emails.

Try to be as flexible as possible, but don’t be afraid to set boundaries where they exist. Nobody is expected to be available 24/7.

For example:

“I’m free any time this week or next, except from Sundays after 3pm. Thank you.

The Script

Putting it all together, the final “script” might sound something like this:

“Hello, I’m just reaching out because I had an interview scheduled by phone at 1pm with Mr. Dean. I’m sure he’s just busy, but nobody contacted me and I wanted to see if we could reschedule? I’m free any time this week or next, except from Sundays after 3pm. Thank you.”

If you’re doing this over the phone, be aware that the above script may be too much to communicate in one go.

Try to allow space for the person on the other end to interject, if they choose to, but be prepared to get everything across if they’re still unsure how to respond.

In particular, I recommend pausing for a response at this point:

“Hello, I’m just reaching out because I had an interview scheduled by phone at 1pm with Mr. Dean. I’m sure he’s just busy, but nobody contacted me and I wanted to see if we could reschedule? [pause for response] I’m free any time this week or next, except from Sundays after 3pm. Thank you.”


Remember, you got the interview in the first place, which means you did everything right leading up to that point.

Regardless of when (or even if) the phone interview happens, it’s important to stay grounded and remember that there will always be setbacks when it comes to job searching.

Keep pushing, keep applying!

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