When to Arrive at an Interview

When going to a face to face interview, many job seekers wonder when the best time to arrive is.  Should you get there exactly when the interview is scheduled?  Should you arrive early, and if so, how early?  Will you kill your chance of getting hired if you are late?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to these questions that will hold in every situation.  There are some guidelines you can follow to maximize your chance of success.

First, you should arrive at an interview early.  The further you must travel, the more time you need to add to your trip.  In major cities with significant traffic congestion, you also need to plan around delays.  Ideally, you want to arrive at the company fifteen or twenty minutes early.  This will give a little leeway in case you are delayed. 

If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, you should wait to enter the facility.  Walking in too early can start the interview on the wrong foot.  The hiring manager scheduled the interview for specific time and will expect you to arrive then.  If you walk in earlier, the hiring manager will have to do one of two things.  He might feel he should adjust his schedule to start the interview early, or he will make you wait in a lobby of conference.  If you have any anxiety about interviewing, waiting without anything do can raise the tension much higher.

A better strategy is to arrive at the company’s location and wait in your car until five minutes before the interview.  This will give you the opportunity to review your interview prep notes.  If you are significantly early, driving around the area can help learn about the region (especially important if you are considering relocating).  With more time, finding a restaurant where you can sit and wait.

If you are early, you just need to kill some time.  But what if you’re late?  There are interviewers reject any candidates that are late.  Most interviewers will take into account the circumstances.  If you are running late and call ahead to let the interviewer know you are going to be late, you should be ok with most interviewers.  Once you are late, there’s not much you can do. 

Getting stressed out because you are late can destroy any chance you have left.  You will not be able to change the interviewer’s impression.  Apologize and go forward confidently and professionally.