While it’s definitely not the worst offence you can commit during the interview process, showing up way too early for an interview is a very common — and easily avoidable — mistake that many job candidates make.
“Most candidates who arrive very early do so because they’re incredibly nervous and were afraid of being late, so they over-budget how long it will take them to get to the office,” says Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert at TopResume. “While you certainly don’t want to arrive late to an interview, arriving way ahead of schedule isn’t earning you any brownie points with the recruiter, either.”
Why it's not a good idea to arrive too early
Recruiters may read you showing up too early as a sign of desperation, she says. 'Much like in dating, you want to appear interested, but not desperate or overly eager. When you show up incredibly early for an interview, it's off-putting and sends the signal that you don't have anywhere else to be.'
Also, showing up before your scheduled appointment may put some unnecessary pressure on them to rearrange their schedule or rush to finish up whatever they're doing. And you definitely do not want a flustered, annoyed hiring manager conducting your interview.
'Remember, they likely have other appointments and meetings scheduled,' Augustine says. 'When you show up too early, you could throw a curveball in the interviewer's schedule. Rather than wowing them with your punctuality, you could inadvertently frustrate the hiring manager before the interview even begins.'
How to avoid showing up too early
If you're feeling nervous about getting there on time, consider doing a dry run a day or two before the interview. 'Commute to the office location at the same time of day your interview is scheduled to take place so you are familiar with the route and can properly budget your travel time,' Augustine says.
If that isn't an option, take advantage of apps like Google Maps and Waze to plot your commute and take into account any reported traffic or travel delays. When in doubt, give yourself an extra 30 or so minutes to avoid showing up late due to an unforeseen issue.
If you arrive to the location more than 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment, have a plan. Find a nearby coffee shop or park where you can hang out until you're ready to head into the building.
When you should arrive
'I usually recommend candidates show up at least 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment. This way, you have a few minutes to check in with the receptionist, use the restroom to freshen up, and get your bearings before going into the interview,' says Augustine.
Also, ask your point of contact with the company if you're expected to arrive ahead of your scheduled interview to fill out paperwork. Some recruiters will ask you to come in 20 to 30 minutes early for this reason.
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