Despite my ongoing emphasis on extensive preparation for an interview, there could be an instance where a prospective employer might call you on very short notice. The reason could be anything from a cancellation having occurred and their wanting to utilize the time or your being a later applicant in a search that is either far along in the process or being quickly prioritized.
How you respond to a such a request for an interview says a lot about you. Of course you may simply not be available due to a work conflict or being out of town. If that is the case then apologize and exhibit extreme flexibility about scheduling at the next earliest convenience of the recruiter. If the request is for a phone interview and you are available then schedule accordingly and try to do some quick research on the employer in advance if possible. There could even be a request for an in person interview later on the same day. I admit to having suggested that to a candidate more than once due to a cancellation. Of course this could work only if you are local and could get to the proposed site without much difficulty. I always tell the candidate there would be no expectation that they would be dressed in interview mode.
How you react to the request at first and then actually rally for the interview tells the employer a great deal about you and how you would function on the job if/when meetings are scheduled unexpectedly. I can think of a perfect example of someone who actually took my call at 9:00 am, interviewed with me in person at 4:00, and after two more later rounds of interviews landed the position. She is now doing spectacularly well.
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