So you landed an interview — congrats! This is an exciting step toward hopefully landing a job. You have already wowed hiring managers with your resume enough to call you in to chat more. Now all you have to do is nail the interview so that they seal the deal with a job offer.
We've told you tons about how to prep for interviews with common interview questions, solid follow-up questions to ask the hiring manager at the end of your interview, negotiation tips for when you have to talk salary and more! But one of the most important parts of your interview is, well, showing up on time!
If your interviewer gives you a time to arrive for the interview, you should always remember that whatever time they say to arrive is actually late. If, for example, the interviewer schedules the interview for 2 p.m. EST, showing up at 2 p.m. EST means you're late.
Yup. You should always plan to arrive early for an interview!
Now, you don't want to arrive too early, either. But don't sweat it. Here's everything you need to know about the perfect time to arrive to your next interview.
How early should you arrive to an interview?
The general rule of thumb is that arriving about 10 to 15 minutes early for an interview is a solid move. This gives you enough time to find the building, make your way up to the right floor, talk to the reception desk if there is one, and let the hiring manager have a few moments to prepare before they actually sit down with you.
4 reasons you should arrive early to an interview.
You should always arrive early to an interview. Here are four reasons why you should arrive early.
1. You want to show that you're timely.
You want the person who is deciding whether or not to hire you to know that they can trust that you'll be on time to work every day. One surefire way to prove that it by showing up not just on time to your interview, but early to your interview.
2. You want to give yourself a breather before you walk right into the interview.
Chances are, you're probably nervous for your interview. After your commute over there, you'll probably want to give yourself a few moments to catch your breath, collect your thoughts and pump yourself up. Arriving right on time means going right in for it! Giving yourself a few minutes before the interview to get yourself together will put you in a better headspace.
3. You want to give the interviewer a few moments, too.
You want to let the interviewer know that you're there and ready whenever they are, but that they also have a few minutes to get ready themselves. Interviews are two-way streets, and they have to prepare for it just as much as you do!
4. You want to give yourself some time for any hiccups.
What if your commute doesn't go so smoothly and you hit traffic? What if you can't find the building once you get to the street? What if the receptionist is in the bathroom when you get to the main door? What if you really need to use the bathroom yourself once you arrive? Give yourself a few minutes of spare time so that you can plan ahead for any hiccups. Of course, sometimes life just happens. And that's OK. But do what you can to plan ahead.
3 ways arriving too early to an interview can hurt you.
Arriving too early can also hurt you. Here are three reasons why.
1. You could come across as overeager.
You don't want to show up too early and look too eager for the job. While coming across as excited and prepared is one thing, coming across as desperate is another thing entirely.
2. You could inconvenience the interviewer.
If you arrive too early, you might put pressure on the interviewer to tend to you right away — and they might not be prepared to! You don't want them to feel like, just because you are there, they have to drop everything to get the ball rolling on your interview that's not actually scheduled for another half hour. They put start times for a reason.
3. You could appear confused.
You don't want to come across as though you'd misread the interview time. Getting their too early can make you look like you did! You want it to be clear that you've understood the start time, and that you're simply there early but not too early.
What should you do if you arrive too early to an interview?
If you arrive too early to an interview, there are a few things you can do.
1. Go grab a coffee.
Go down the street to get yourself a coffee and kill a little bit more time before the interview starts. If you haven't eaten breakfast yet, this could be a good time to squeeze in something to eat, as well.
2. Take a walk.
Take a walk around the block. Sit in a park down the street. Wait in your car. Just chill out for a little bit longer until it's appropriate to go inside. Maybe do a meditation to calm your nerves before the interview starts. You're in no rush now — you're already there, so just breathe!
3. Review common interview questions.
Before you go inside, wander around, sit in your car or go into a coffee shop nearby where you can sit with a list of common interview questions and keep practicing your answers. This is also a good time to pull up the company website one last time and review its mission, leaders, values, etc. Just take the time to keep preparing yourself before it's an OK amount of time to go into the interview.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.