Job Search & Interview

How Early Should You Be For An Interview: Interview Etiquette 101

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences. One of the most common questions that candidates ask is, “how early should you be for an interview?” The answer to this question can play a crucial role in making a good first impression.

According to a study by Simply Hired, 93% of hiring managers agree that tardiness is a strong factor negatively impacting a candidate’s chances. This article will delve into the importance of punctuality and how it contributes to creating a positive impression during a job interview.

How Early Should You Be For An Interview? The Ideal Arrival Time

The consensus among career experts is that you should aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early for a job interview. This timing is not arbitrary. It’s based on the idea that arriving within this window allows you to show respect for the interviewer’s time, while also giving you a few extra minutes to compose yourself before the interview begins.

This punctuality also conveys your reliability and organizational skills, traits highly valued in any professional setting.

Advantages of Arriving Early For A Job Interview

Arriving early for an interview has several advantages. Firstly, it shows the hiring manager that you are serious about the opportunity and respect their time. Secondly, it gives you time to relax, use the restroom, and mentally prepare for the interview. Lastly, it provides a buffer in case of unexpected delays, such as traffic or difficulty finding the interview location.

Showing up early allows for a smoother start to the interview. Instead of rushing in at the last minute, potentially flustered and breathless, you’ll be calm, collected, and ready to make a strong first impression. 

As someone who has been on both sides of the interview table, I can attest that those first few moments can set the tone for the entire meeting. So, aim for 10-15 minutes early—it could make all the difference.

Read More: What To Expect During Interview With HR After Interview With Hiring Manager

The Risks of Arriving Too Early For An Interview

While it’s important to arrive early, showing up too early can also have its drawbacks. For instance, if you’re wondering, “is 30 minutes too early for an interview?” the answer is likely yes. I’ve seen how excessive earliness can lead to unintended negative impressions. Here’s why:

  • Disruption of Schedules: Arriving more than 15 minutes early can disrupt the interviewer’s schedule and create awkward situations. A survey by OfficeTeam found that 30% of senior managers found it annoying when candidates arrived too early.
  • Perception of Desperation: Stephanie Fogle, Business Insider’s director of talent states, “Arriving too early can actually hurt your chances at landing the job… There is a fine line between showing interest and looking desperate, and you don’t want to send the wrong message.” It’s important to appear eager, but not desperate.
  • Increased Nervousness: Waiting for a long time can increase your anxiety levels, potentially affecting your interview performance. According to a study by Everest College, 92% of Americans are stressed by at least one thing about the job interview process, often the anxiety due to the long wait. 
  • Disrespect of Time: It can also be seen as a lack of respect for the interviewer’s time. They may have other tasks or meetings scheduled, and your early arrival could put unnecessary pressure on them. 

In conclusion, aim for 10-15 minutes early, but not more. It strikes the right balance between punctuality and respect for the interviewer’s time.

The Consequences of Arriving Late

On the other hand, arriving late for an interview can have serious consequences. As a seasoned career advisor, I’ve seen how tardiness can negatively impact a candidate’s chances. Here’s why:

  • Negative First Impression: Punctuality is often seen as a reflection of your professionalism and respect for others’ time. Arriving late can create a negative first impression, which can be hard to overcome.
  • Questionable Reliability: Consistent tardiness can raise questions about your reliability and time management skills, crucial traits in any job role.
  • Missed Opportunities: If you’re late, you might miss important information shared at the start of the interview or even the interview itself.
  • Increased Stress: Rushing in late can increase your stress levels, potentially affecting your performance during the interview.

It’s always better to be early than late. Plan ahead to ensure you arrive on time and make the best possible impression.

If you find yourself running late, it’s crucial to notify the interviewer as soon as possible and provide an estimated arrival time.

Read More: How To Cancel An Interview Professionally (with Examples)

What If the Hiring Manager Asks You To Arrive Early?

In some cases, the hiring manager might ask you to arrive earlier than the scheduled time. This could be to complete paperwork or to accommodate other scheduling needs. In such cases, treat the requested time as your new interview time and plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early for that.

Planning Your Arrival

Planning your trip to arrive early for an interview is crucial. A proper planning can alleviate stress and contribute to a successful interview. Here’s how to do it:

  • Research the Route: Use apps like Google Maps or Waze to understand the route and estimated travel time. 
  • Consider Traffic: Account for potential traffic, especially during peak hours.
  • Plan for Parking: If you’re driving, research parking options near the interview location.
  • Do a Trial Run: If possible, do a trial run of the commute. This can help you identify potential issues and feel more confident on the day of the interview.
  • Leave Extra Time: Finally, always leave extra time for unexpected delays. It’s better to arrive early and wait nearby than to be late.

What to Do If You Arrive Too Early

If you find yourself arriving too early, consider waiting in a nearby coffee shop or park. Use this time to review your resume, prepare answers to common interview questions or presentation for interview topics, or relax and mentally prepare for the interview.

How Early Should You Be For A Zoom Interview?

When it comes to virtual interviews, such as those conducted via Zoom, the rules of punctuality differ slightly from in-person interviews. The following practices can contribute to a successful virtual interview:

  • Log In Early: It’s advisable to log in 5-10 minutes early. This allows you to check your technology setup and ensure everything is working correctly. A survey by Robert Half Technology found that 93% of managers said that technical difficulties during a virtual interview negatively impact a candidate’s chances.
  • Join On Time: While you should log in early, avoid joining the meeting more than 5 minutes before the scheduled time. This respects the interviewer’s time and prevents awkward early arrivals.
  • Prepare Your Environment: Use the extra time before the interview to ensure your video background is professional and free from distractions.

Preparing Yourself While Waiting

Preparing yourself while waiting for an interview is an important step that can help you perform at your best. Following the following practices can make a difference:

  • Review Your Notes: After you show up for an interview and check in with the receptionist, use the waiting time to review your notes, refresh your memory on key points about the company, and rehearse your answers to potential interview questions.
  • Relax: Try to relax and calm your nerves. Deep breathing exercises can be particularly effective.
  • Visualize Success: Visualize the interview going well. This can boost your confidence and help you maintain a positive mindset.
  • Stay Alert: Pay attention to your surroundings. The waiting area can provide insights into the company culture.

What Is The Best Time To Schedule An Interview?

The best time to schedule an interview can vary depending on several factors, including the industry, the specific company, and even the day of the week. However, research from Glassdoor suggests that the optimal time for an interview is between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM for two reasons:

  • During this time, interviewers are likely to be alert and focused, but not yet bogged down by the day’s tasks.
  • This is not the peak hour, so you can minimize the risk of arriving late.

In overall, it’s best to schedule an interview during the middle of the week, ideally on a Tuesday or Wednesday, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This allows the recruiter to be more engaged and focused on the interview, without worrying about catching up with work or being distracted by the end of the week.

Lastly, consider your personal energy levels. If you’re a morning person and perform best early in the day, aim to schedule the interview before lunch.

Final Words

This article has covered a lot of ground, but the key takeaway is this: when it comes to job interviews, timing matters. 

Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, showing up early—but not too early—can help you make a good impression, feel less rushed, and perform at your best. Being punctual not only demonstrates your respect for others’ time but also reflects your overall professionalism.

Now you know the answer for the question “how early should you be for an interview”. So, plan ahead, consider all the factors, and aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Your future self will thank you.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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