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How early should you be to an interview? All the info you need

How early should you be to an interview? All the info you need

  • How early to an interview should you be?
  • So where is the sweet spot?  
  • How to utilize that 15 minute buffer
  • Review your notes
  • Calm your nerves
  • Use the restroom
  • Check your appearance
  • Observe your surroundings
  • Benefits of arriving early
  • Conveys enthusiasm
  • Gives a positive first impression
  • Reduces stress
  • Tips to make sure you arrive early
  • Plan your route
  • Layout your clothes the night before
  • Leave a buffer for unforeseen situations
  • How early should you join a video interview?
  • Key takeaways

Showing up early for your interview is a must. But how early should you be to an interview? And how early is too early? Here's all the info you need to arrive at the perfect time.

I know whenever I had interviews coming up, I would drown myself in questions like, what will I wear? How can I make a good first impression? How can I highlight the value I bring? What questions should I ask?

As if there wasn’t enough to worry about when preparing for an interview, there’s one other factor to consider: how early should you be to an interview?

We know it’s not a good idea to be late. But how early is too early? 

Arriving at just the right time not only reflects your commitment but also sets the tone for a positive first impression. In this article, we'll explore the nuances of job interview arrival times so you make the best impact.

We cover:

  • How early to arrive to an interview

  • Benefits of arriving early

  • Tips to make sure you arrive early

  • How early should you join a video interview? 

How early to an interview should you be?

“If you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re early, you’re on time.” When it comes to interviews, this famous phrase is definitely a good rule of thumb.

Although there are no hardcore rules, the unwritten rule of being early demonstrates your respect for the interviewer's time, professionalism and eagerness for the opportunity. 

Too early can be just as detrimental as arriving late. Imagine arriving at your 3pm appointment at 2:30pm. Now you have a full half-hour to wait.

Not only can it inconvenience the interviewer—especially if they have back-to-back appointments—but you might end up waiting in the reception area for an extended period, which can easily lead to unnecessary feelings of stress, restlessness, or subtle discomfort. 

So where is the sweet spot?  

The optimal time frame for arriving at the interview venue is usually around 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled time. 

This not only allows you to take your time, check-in, and make sure you’re in the right place, but you can utilize these extra few minutes to better prepare yourself for the interview. 

How to utilize that 15 minute buffer

Here are a few ideas on how to maximize that time.

Review your notes

Before your interview, take advantage of the time to review your notes and key information about the company and the role. Refresh your memory on specific details that may be crucial during the interview, such as recent company achievements, industry trends, or the company's mission and values. Practice last-minute interview questions to boost your confidence and help you clearly articulate your thoughts since they’ll be fresh in your mind.

Calm your nerves

Interviewing can be nerve-wracking. Take a moment to relax and mentally prepare yourself for the conversation. Minimize distractions, such as limiting excessive phone use, and avoid nervous behaviors like fidgeting or pacing. Give yourself a pep talk, reminding yourself of your qualifications and the value you bring to the table. This self-assurance will help you start the interview with confidence and a composed demeanor. 

Use the restroom

Use this opportunity to use the restroom. Ensuring that you're comfortable and won't be interrupted during the interview is essential for maintaining focus and composure. This simple step helps eliminate potential distractions and allows you to fully concentrate on the upcoming conversation. 

Check your appearance

Take a quick look in the mirror to make sure your attire is neat and professional. Ladies, make sure there’s no lipstick on your teeth and men, straighten your tie. This last-minute check gives you the opportunity to make any necessary adjustments and ensures you make a positive visual impression.

Observe your surroundings

You may also want to take a moment to observe your potential new workplace. Pay attention to the office environment, staff interactions, and overall atmosphere. This observation can provide valuable insights into the company culture and help you assess whether it aligns with your professional preferences. Having an up-close look at the company culture can help you in answering questions during the interview and support you in making an informed decision if you receive a job offer.

Benefits of arriving early

Being punctual for your interview comes with valuable benefits that can enhance your overall performance.

Conveys enthusiasm

Employers often interpret arriving early as a sign of enthusiasm for the position. It demonstrates genuine interest and eagerness to pursue the opportunity. Putting in the effort to arrive just 15 minutes early for the interview can pay off in the end. 

Gives a positive first impression

No one likes to waste their time. Demonstrating punctuality and reliability not only conveys a respect for time and professionalism but also reflects your unwavering commitment to the interview process. This proactive approach sets a positive tone from the outset. 

Reduces stress

Arriving early provides a buffer against the stress and anxiety that can accompany running late. When you're ahead of schedule, you avoid the frantic rush and maintain a calm and composed demeanor. This sense of ease allows you to focus on making a positive impression during the interview, rather than diverting your attention to the stress of trying to catch up. Being punctual puts you at ease, increasing your chances of leaving a lasting, favorable impression. 

Tips to make sure you arrive early

In this hyper competitive job market, every detail matters, and punctuality is no exception. Here are a few quick tips to make sure you stay ahead of schedule.

Plan your route

Before the day of the interview, take note of any potential traffic bottlenecks, road closures, or public transportation delays. Bonus points if you go there a few days before to familiarize yourself with the location.  

Layout your clothes the night before

Arrange your outfit the night before, including accessories. Take a moment to try it on and ensure it fits well. You may be surprised at how this simple step can save you valuable time in the morning.

Leave a buffer for unforeseen situations

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes delays are inevitable. If there is heavy traffic, you have car trouble, or you get lost, you will be delayed. If you allow an extra 20 or 30 minutes for random issues, you may still be able to arrive at your destination with time to spare. If you do experience delays, give the interviewer a quick call or email to inform them about your situation.

How early should you join a video interview?

Just like in-person interviews, it's generally recommended to join the virtual meeting room approximately 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time. This cushion allows you to address any potential technical issues, test your audio and video settings, make sure you look presentable on camera, and familiarize yourself with the virtual environment.

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Key takeaways

  1. Shoot for a 10 to 15-minute early arrival for both in-person and virtual interviews to give yourself ample time to troubleshoot and mentally prepare while respecting the interviewer's time.

  2. While you wait for the interview to start, take the opportunity to review notes, calm your nerves, use the restroom, or check your appearance.

  3. Benefits of arriving early include conveying enthusiasm, making a positive first impression, and reducing stress.

  4. Tips for arriving early involve planning your route, laying out your clothes the night before, and leaving a buffer for unforeseen situations.

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