7 tips for PERFECT early job interview arrival
Arriving a bit early for your job interview is one of the best ways to ensure that everything will go smoothly and you will present yourself in the best possible light to the hiring manager. This of course begs the question: exactly how early should you arrive for an interview?
Knowing the golden rule for job interview arrival is great and all but is there more to this topic?
- When should you arrive for an interview in case it will take place in a very big corporate building?
- How early should you be for a job interview if it is just a small office?
- Is there such a thing as arriving way too early for an interview?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- How early should you be for an interview in these 7 situations
- 1. How early to show up for an interview when you are already in the area
- 2. How early should you show up for an interview when it is in a big corporate building
- 3. How early should you be for an interview when it is in a small business building
- 4. How early should you be to an interview when you are an overthinker
- 5. How early to arrive for your interview when you have social anxiety
- 6. How early should you get to an interview when you've been given specific instructions
- 7. How early to go to an interview when you are not sure how long the commute will take
- Is it rude to be early for an interview?
- What to do if you arrive too early for the interview
- How early to show up for an online interview
- Should you show up early for an interview? Some concluding thoughts.
How early should you be for an interview in these 7 situations
1. How early to show up for an interview when you are already in the area
So you are already in the area where the office is and you have nothing to do for the next 1 hour or so? Well, don’t be tempted to just show up at the office, thinking that they will be happy to see you there this early.
Instead, go to a nearby coffee shop and wait for the time to come. You can use the opportunity to go over your interview notes and practice some visualization.
2. How early should you show up for an interview when it is in a big corporate building
In case the job interview will take place in a big corporate building, you might want to arrive even earlier than 15 minutes. For example, 20 minutes early. This will give you enough time to take a look around.
Make sure to find the correct entrance. You might even have the chance to go through the restroom or have a drink of water before you get started.
3. How early should you be for an interview when it is in a small business building
So how many minutes early should you arrive for an interview in case the building is small? In this case, you might want to arrive 10 minutes early.
I gather that it will be fairly easy to find the entrance, go through reception, have someone meet you there, and then take you to a meeting room to start the interview. There will be no point in arriving earlier as this might put pressure on the people who will be interviewing you.
4. How early should you be to an interview when you are an overthinker
If you are an overthinker and anxiety gets to you, you might want to avoid a situation in which you are left to wait in a lobby.
If your overthinking tendencies bring you a lot of stress and exhaust you mentally, and even 10 minutes of waiting can seem like an eternity to you, then it’s perfectly fine to arrive just a bit early before your interview. Let’s say 5 minutes.
Going through a job interview with social anxiety can be very tough and stressful. I have a very dear person in my life who has social anxiety and she went through a job application and interview recently.
I spoke to her about this and she told me that she’d rather arrive at least 15 minutes early. She said that this way she’d feel more comfortable because it would give her time to adjust and prepare mentally for the interview.
6. How early should you get to an interview when you've been given specific instructions
If you’ve been told to arrive, let’s say, at least 10 minutes early, then do your best to stick to the instructions. This is usually a sign that the interviewers are experienced and might have something specific in mind.
They are probably well aware of exactly what needs to take place before the interview so simply trust them and follow their instructions.
7. How early to go to an interview when you are not sure how long the commute will take
To make sure that you will arrive for the interview exactly when you intend to, conduct a test commute to the address a day or two before the appointment. This way you know how to get there on time and you will have a chance to become familiar with the building where the office is.
Is it rude to be early for an interview?
Here are some examples of negative consequences that an early arrival can have:
- The hiring manager might think that they made some kind of a mistake and they mixed up their schedule.
- They will most likely make a quick check and they will find out that indeed you came in too early.
- If the office doesn’t have a reception or a lobby, they will be annoyed and scratch their head over what to do with you.
- It will be very awkward if they don’t have a convenient place where they can seat you comfortably to wait for the time to come.
- They wouldn’t want to be rude and tell you to go outside and wait on the street for 20 minutes so they will have to come up with a clumsy solution that will put them in an uncomfortable position.
As the saying goes, 80% of success is just showing up. But when it comes to a job interview, showing up at an appropriate time is what counts. Being too early for a job interview can be seen as uncontained eagerness or downright incompetence.
Your primary objective on the day of the interview should be to arrive early near the office where it will take place. But to go inside appropriately early so as not to cause any unnecessary confusion and tension.
What to do if you arrive too early for the interview
If you arrive too early for your job interview, let’s say 25-30 minutes, don’t enter the building if the weather is nice. Just take a brief walk nearby or sit on any publicly available seat or bench.
Go over your interview notes
You can pass the time by going over your notes and imagining how the interview will go if you feel like this will help you to prepare better.
Visualize how the interview will go
I am an avid practitioner of visualization and I think that it is the perfect mental exercise that can help you to nail the interview and land the job.
Go for a walk but stay close
On the other hand, if you arrive way too early, like an hour early, then you can simply go for a walk or visit a nearby coffee shop where you can pass the time by repairing and visualizing.
Enter the building if it starts to rain
However, if you are in the area, and it suddenly starts to rain, I mean like a torrential pouring, then, by all means, don’t wait outside and just go to the office. In this case, you will be excused for arriving early.
How early to show up for an online interview
If your job interview will take place in Zoom, then you've either been provided with a link to a virtual Zoom meeting room or you’ve been told that one will be sent to you right before the appointment.
So how early should you “arrive” for an online interview in case you have the link?
This way you will be on standby in case they contact you early for some reason and you will enter the conference just a bit early before the appointment, giving the interviewer as much time as possible to prepare on their end.
Don’t open the link to enter the virtual meeting room before that because there might be another interview going on in there and you wouldn’t want to interrupt it.
In my experience, online interviews are always scheduled well and done punctually so there is no need to enter the conference call any earlier.
Should you show up early for an interview? Some concluding thoughts.
Yes. Showing up a bit early is perfectly acceptable and it will be appreciated by the hiring manager. It shows that you are a reliable and responsible professional Also, showing up early is way better than being late.
For easy reference, here’s a breakdown with some final takeaways.
Is 10 minutes too early for an interview?
No. It's perfectly fine, especially if the office is not too big and you know exactly where to go once you arrive.
Is 15 minutes too early for an interview?
No, 15 minutes early is regarded as the golden standard when arriving for a job interview. It will give you enough time to be welcomed and taken to a meeting room.
Is 20 minutes too early for an interview?
No, if the office is located in a large corporate building. It might be a bit too early though if the building is not all that big and there is no available lobby where visitors can comfortably wait.
Is 30 minutes too early for an interview?
Yes, this can be seen as way too early in any situation. And it doesn't speak well for your time management skills. Avoid showing up this early. Either wait in your car or find a publicly available bench to wait in case you are near the office where the interview will take place.
Useful job interview resources
- Take a look at our guide on how to negotiate salary without losing the job offer.
- And here are some useful tips on how to respectfully decline a job offer due to salary.
- Check out our guide on how to make time at work go faster for when you get the job!