Interview Tip: Arriving Early

By Megan Kuethen

So you got an interview! In your excitement, you wake up four hours early (no more lounging around in your pj’s, scouring the web for new opportunities to apply for while eating your third bowl of Lucky Charms), iron your shirt, try on three ties (or ten pairs of shoes, ladies), eat breakfast, brush your teeth twice, and stand around (no sitting–wouldn’t want to wrinkle the suit!) for twenty minutes before deciding that, with traffic, you could probably leave now and arrive at a reasonable time.

But you don’t. You arrive to your interview an hour early (oops), sit in your car for thirty minutes, and decide that waiting in the lobby for the remainder of the time is better. Plus, the hiring manager will see how eager you are and it will win you bonus points!!!!


 The receptionist at the front desk will call the hiring manager, who will say, “Already? He must not have anything better to do,” or, “Great, because I’m not in the middle of twenty things.” He’ll then inevitably feel pressured to wrap up his plans early, or he’ll begrudge you just for sitting in the lobby. Either way, it’s not a good way to start things off. You won’t be thought of as punctual, but rather as an inconvenience.

So when should you show up? Fifteen minutes early, check in with the receptionist. Sure, you can give or take two or three minutes in either direction, but that’s a good number. It shows that you are eager and punctual, but doesn’t send a message of desperation, and most importantly, doesn’t inconvenience the interviewer.

I can give you story after story of candidates who have showed up at our offices an hour early, only to find that the staffing manager is at lunch (causing an awkward, “Oh, hi, give me a minute” moment when he walks in with his leftovers and a soft drink) or in a meeting. Sometimes worse, we’ll be with another candidate (just what everyone wants–for you to meet your competition in the hallway, leaving you both wondering if she is more qualified than you), or just busy on the phone, always one call away from being done. Whatever the case, I think I speak for us all when I say that we dread the internal IM saying, “Your candidate is early!”

In short, be reasonable. If the hiring manager was coming to you, how would you feel about him showing up at your door forty-five minutes before the scheduled time? Wouldn’t you appreciate a little extra time to straighten up your space, grab a cup of coffee, and review the company information without knowing he was standing on your front porch?

If you arrive to an interview more than fifteen minutes early, rather than waiting in the lobby and flipping through old copies of Highlights magazine, stay in your car. Look over your notes on the company, reread the information you have on the position you’re interviewing for, think through your answers. And if all else fails, play some Angry Birds on your phone.

Megan Kuethen ©  2010.

Amtec Bitz Newsletters

Essential industry highlights & expert insights every month.

Latest Posts

View all posts