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The No. 1 mistake to avoid in a job interview—it gives hiring managers 'the biggest ick,' says new research

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The fastest way to ruin a first impression in a job interview is to show up late — and the amount of time interviewers are willing to wait for you is shrinking.

Tardiness is the one interview behavior that puts hiring managers off the most, according to a new report from Ringover, a cloud-based telecom provider, which surveyed over 1,200 people who have interviewed job candidates.

"Nothing flags red to a recruiter more than a candidate that can't keep track of time, particularly in roles where deadline management skills are essential," the report notes, adding that lateness, even more so than getting the name of the company wrong or dressing too casually gives hiring managers "the biggest ick."

Pre-pandemic, when video interviews were less common, most interviewers were willing to give candidates a 15-minute grace period to join the conversation late, Jeff Hyman, an executive recruiter of 27 years, tells CNBC Make It. 

Now, that 15-minute window has shrunk to five minutes, both for in-person and phone or video interviews, Hyman says.

"People just have less patience for excuses," he explains. "Being late is a huge turnoff because it signals rudeness or a big ego, or incompetence and bad planning." 

DON'T MISS: The ultimate guide to acing your interview and landing your dream job

As for how early you should show up to an interview, Hyman recommends arriving five minutes early to an in-person interview, and 10 minutes early to a video interview, in case you run into any technological difficulties. "You don't want to seem over-eager or desperate by sitting in the waiting room for 20 minutes," he adds.

Don't panic if you're late to a job interview — Hyman says you can still recover and win over the person you're speaking to with a quick, genuine apology. 

"Life happens, and most people are understanding if you have a fair reason for being late, whether you popped a tire while driving or your internet unexpectedly cut out," he says. "Not acknowledging the elephant in the room at all is way less productive." 

But you don't need to launch into a lengthy explanation about why you were late either, Hyman adds. "You don't want to cut into whatever valuable time you have left in the interview and dig yourself a hole," he explains.

Instead, he recommends a brief, sincere apology along the lines of: "I'm really sorry I'm late, something came up, but I value your time and I'm very interested in this opportunity. What information can I share to help you decide if I'm the right person for the role?" 

You also have to be prepared for the possibility that your interviewer might not be able to see past your tardiness, even after you apologize. "All you can do is convince the person that you're really sorry for being late, and knock the rest of the interview out of the park," says Hyman. "Then let the chips fall where they may."

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