The Job Doc Blog

For interview, don't arrive too early

Q. I would like your perspective on what I perceive to be a frustrating trend: job applicants showing up too early for interviews. When I have interviewed for positions, I’ve made it a point to arrive about 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time. If I arrive earlier to ensure I’m not late, I make it a point not to enter the facility until the 5-10 minute window.

In my current position, I’m often required to interview candidates and have noticed they’re showing up earlier and earlier. Often I get a call from the reception desk that my candidate has arrived as much as 30 minutes ahead of the appointment. I often have a full calendar and cannot take time out to go and greet them, even though it makes me feel uncomfortable keeping somebody waiting idly in reception.

H.S., Mansfield, MA

A: My number one piece of advice for job seekers, and perhaps the most important, is to be on time: not too early and not too late. Being late, even just a couple of minutes late, is a sure fire way not to get the job. You’re starting off on the wrong foot, and you’re making the interviewer wonder if that’s the way you’ll treat clients, prospects, and fellow employees.

Being on time also means not arriving too early. Not only does it create an awkward situation for the interviewer, who feels responsible for your comfort during the wait time, it also can create difficulty for other interviewees, who may not want to be seen interviewing. Often, interviews are staggered so that candidates don’t meet in the waiting area.

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For the interviewer, instruct your receptionist/administrative assistant to ask an interviewee who arrives too early to wait perhaps in an empty conference room if necessary. Their early arrival is their problem, not yours. For the interviewee, avoid creating a difficult situation for your interviewer. If you arrive more than ten minutes early, find a place to wait: your car, a local diner, or a shop where you can browse for a few minutes, and then show up on time.

More from this blog on: Etiquette at Work , Interviewing