Too Late? Too Early? Be Right on Time for Interviews with These 4 Tips
Interview arrival times are often debated, and unclear for many – just what time is the right time to show up?
As someone who has lead hundreds of interviews, I’ve seen people arrive anywhere from 90 minutes early to 15 minutes late (and thankfully not the other way around).
While it’s uncommon for candidates to arrive late – a major interview no-no – there’s some confusion about how early you should arrive.
The ideal arrival time is in fact 10 to 15 minutes prior to the start of an interview. This is the perfect middle ground between getting there with time to spare, but not overdoing it.
But wait, some say – doesn’t it show that I’m prompt if I come 30 minutes early?
Unfortunately not. Instead, it shows that you’re overly anxious, desperate and not confident in finding the location.
This is because the interview panel and office staff do not want you loitering around, and do not want to have to entertain you while you wait.
Nervous about arriving? Don’t be. Try these 4 tips to make things go smoothly.
Worried about getting there? Do a trial run
If you are concerned about finding the location, do a dry run a few days in advance so on the day of you can add 10 minutes to that time and make sure you’re there when you should be.
There a bit too early? Kill time offsite
If you happen to arrive particularly early, stay in your car or go to a nearby coffee shop. You don’t need to rush things, or appear anxious by walking into the office before they’re ready for you.
Late happens. If so, be courteous and communicate
If you are running late, always call and email, as you don’t know what the hiring manager will check. Succinctly explain why you are late and your anticipated arrival time (don’t underestimate). When you do get there, remember to apologize briefly and genuinely at the beginning of your interview to the interview panel.
Impressions count, so be nice to everyone, especially the receptionist
Always listen to the receptionist and of course be pleasant. Whether you realize it or not, you’re being judged every step of the process. If the receptionist indicates the schedule is running behind and suggests you go to a coffee shop and come back at a certain time later, follow those instructions – and definitely don’t insist you’ll just wait around.
For more on the arrival sweet spot, here’s a good article showing the importance of arrival times.