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Yesterday, I was scheduled for a phone interview today. I selected an interview time for today because I was already taking the day off work to visit my grandmother suffering from the late stages of cancer.

This morning, I learned that my grandmother died overnight. I'm unsure how to handle the phone interview.  I could make myself turn on the energy for the 30-minute interview, but then I don't want to seem fake if they know about my situation (I keep a fairly active professional networking presence on Twitter, and I've mentioned it there).  Conversely, I don't want my first impression to be too downbeat, as they will more likely be unaware of my loss.

Right now, I think my options are to 1) put my best foot forward with the interview and set my personal feelings aside, 2) let them know of my loss but continue with the interview today, or 3) ask to reschedule next week (when I'll still be dealing with funeral and family visits, so I'm not sure if that's an improvement).  Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

And just for the record, I'm very happy in my current job, but this could be an incredible opportunity.

jhbchina's picture

Dear Grad School,

First I am sorry to hear about your grandmother. My condolences to your family.

Turn the situation around for a second. Would you expect the interviewer to call you if they had a personal crisis of this proportion. They would cancel on you in a moment for less tragic events.

Be professional, focused and short. A death in my family requires my immediate attention, I am sure you can understand. I will call you next week to reschedule. I greatly appreciate your kindness on this matter.

Two other points, if they have not hired someone by now, another week will not hurt them and would you want to work for them if they said no. Remember you are evaluating their professionalism too.

I hope you had a chance to read this before the interview.

God Speed

JHB "00"

TomW's picture

You don't need to be specific. You could call the interviewer and simply explain that you've had a personal emergency or a death in the family and need to reschedule. Interviewers are human too, and will completely understand.

jhbchina's picture

A few weeks ago I called someone that answered my job posting. I called the person twice, and each time they said they would call me back when they had time. After the second no return call, I dropped this candidate from consideration for the position.

Yesterday at a party, I was introduced to this person. Surprise Surprise! She did not remember me, and I said to her, "I remember you." She was clueless till I gave her my business card, at which point the light bulb went on. She apologized for not calling me back, and said, that her grandmother died and was not sure if she was going to make the trip home for the funeral.

Had she called me to inform me of this, I would have said "let's schedule the interview when you are ready." This time I pondered if she was telling the truth to cover her mistake. Either way, she's not going to be working for me!

So making the call professionally will make a better upfront impression. Hope this helps.

JHB "00"