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What Time To Arrive For An Interview

Most job seekers know to arrive early for a job interview and to come prepared, and that it is rude and unprofessional to arrive late. Having printed resumes is a positive and coming dressed to impress will work in favor. Yet, the one question remains: How early is too early to arrive for an interview?

Margey Bolen, Sales Leader at Search Solution Group, works with top clients on a daily basis. She gathered their feedback from years of working with clients and getting their feedback on candidates in the video below. Hear what Margey, an expert in knowing what a client expects from a candidate during an interview, has to say:

Arriving Early to an Interview

It’s best to arrive early to an interview. But, how early is too early? We polled clients across the nation to get their feedback. Below is the most commonly expressed viewpoints on interview arrival time.

45 minutes early

Some may say the early bird gets the worm, but this is extremely early to arrive for an interview. There are more productive things that could be done to prepare for the interview than sitting in the lobby for 45 minutes. Some of these things include taking time to review the company’s website again, listening to music to help calm nerves and ignite focus, or reading over your resume one last time and mentally prepare for any potential questions.

30 minutes early   

Similarly to 45 minutes early, this is still very early to walk into the office. Arriving this early does not show that you are eager and prepared, rather it may cause the hiring manager and other staff to feel uncomfortable and rushed.It is better for the candidate to stay in the car and review their resume. Use the time instead to prepare for the interview. Brush up on the company history, the hiring manager’s resume, research competitors etc. 

15 minutes early   

It is safe to say, if a candidate is going to be a little early, this is as early as necessary. For some hiring managers, this arrival time may still make them feel uneasy. When it is brought to the hiring manager’s attention that a candidate will be waiting for 15 minutes or more, it could distract them from whatever task they were trying to finish before the interview.

5-10 minutes early

This is the ideal time to arrive for an interview. It shows that the candidate is taking the interview seriously and has enough etiquette not to be late. The hiring manager knows that the candidate is next on the schedule, but 5-10 minutes gives them just enough time to conclude their previous business without feeling uncomfortable or making the candidate wait too long.

Arriving Late to an Interview

What happens if a candidate is running late for some reason? First, try to avoid this as best possible. Any hiring manager will understand if there is a legitimate reason for being late, such as an accident or obstacle on the highway, a flat tire, or a family emergency. But, if the reason for being late is simply lack of preparedness, it’s best to follow the following protocol:

Running 5-10 minutes late

There are many plausible reasons why this could be possible, such as an unexpected accident on the way to the interview. However, a candidate should notify the hiring manager at least 10 minutes before the interview, letting them know that they will be late. Do not just show up late with a reason for being late. Be courteous to the hiring manager’s time and give plenty of warning.

Running 15 or more minutes late

Oftentimes, a candidate may simply choose to not show up to the interview since 15 or more minutes late is usually unacceptable. Our advice is to avoid this – it’s very unprofessional to “no-show, no-call” and could hurt a candidate’s image. A candidate should have already called ahead and provided the current situation, letting the hiring manager know about their arrival status. While it is wise to offer genuine sincerity in an apology, do not go overboard saying sorry. Depending on the interview reschedule policy of the company, try to reschedule as soon as possible, while being very accommodating to a rescheduled time based on the hiring manager’s schedule and not your own.