Q&A: How Early Should You Arrive for a Job Interview?

Updated June 24, 2022

If you have an upcoming job interview, it's important to plan ahead so you can arrive early. Arriving early is one way you can show a hiring manager that you're professional and you may be a good fit for the position. Understanding what time to arrive can help you plan effectively, which may enhance your confidence during your interview. In this article, we explain how early you should arrive for a job interview, why it's important and how you can plan to arrive at the ideal time.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Job Interview Etiquette

How early should you arrive for a job interview?

Unless the hiring manager asks you to arrive at a specific time, you should arrive 15 minutes early for a job interview. Some candidates may use the 15 minutes before their interview to review their resumes, complete paperwork or prepare mentally. When you arrive, you can also alert the company's administrative assistant or receptionist so they can inform the hiring manager you're available. That way, the hiring manager can greet you, review your resume before meeting with you or begin the interview early if they prefer.

Related: Bringing Notes to an Interview: Should You Bring Notes to an Interview?

Why is it important to arrive early for a job interview?

It's important to arrive early because it can improve your performance during the interview, which may help you attain your target position. If you arrive early, you may also have time to get a drink of water, use the restroom and register with the office manager or receptionist before your interview. Additionally, arriving before the scheduled interview time allows you an opportunity to complete any necessary paperwork the company may require, such as candidate screening documents.

With extra time before your interview, you can also perform relaxing exercises such as deep breathing or visualization before you meet the hiring manager. Entering your interview in a relaxed state of mind may help you answer interview questions thoughtfully and comprehensively, which can make you a more memorable candidate. Relaxing before your interview may also improve your confidence, which can help convince a hiring manager that you have the skills you need to be successful in the position.

Related: 12 Tips for How To Get Over Interview Anxiety

When should you arrive if the hiring manager asks you to arrive early?

If a hiring manager asks you to arrive early, you can think of their request as a change to your interview time and plan accordingly. For example, if you have an interview scheduled for 2 p.m. but the hiring manager asks you to arrive 15 minutes early, your new interview time would be 1:45 p.m. To arrive 15 minutes before your revised interview time, you could plan to get there at 1:30 p.m.

A hiring manager may ask you to arrive 10 or 15 minutes earlier than your interview time to fill out paperwork and give the office staff time to put your information into their system during your interview. Depending on the position for which you're applying, you may need to complete background check authorizations, candidate surveys or employee eligibility forms. These forms may require you to provide proof of identification, so remember to bring a photo ID like a driver's license to all of your job interviews.

Related: How to Ace Your Next Interview: Tips and Examples

How can you plan your trip to ensure you arrive early?

To ensure you arrive 15 minutes early, you can research the time it takes for you to commute to the location of your job interview. When you're planning your commute, consider your method of transportation. For example, if you plan to drive and your interview is close to the beginning or end of the workday, your commute might take longer than it would in the middle of the day due to traffic. In comparison, if you're taking a bus or train, you could plan to take an earlier one in case there are any delays.

If the location of your interview is unfamiliar to you, consider practicing the commute before the day of the interview. You can commute to the company using the same method you plan to use on the day of your interview and note how long it takes for you to arrive at your destination. Then you can use that information to plan your departure time on the day of your interview. On the day of your interview, consider setting an alarm on your watch or phone to remind you to leave at the time you planned.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

What can you do if you arrive over 15 minutes early for a job interview?

If you arrive more than 15 minutes early for your interview, you can use the time to get to know the area. You can do this by waiting somewhere outside the office's lobby, such as in a nearby shop, library or park. Depending on where your prospective company is, you could also take a short walk around the area. This can help you determine if the location of the company aligns with your personal preferences. Before the day of your interview, research the area to find a comfortable place to wait if you arrive earlier than expected.

For example, if you're attending an interview in a city and you arrive 30 minutes early, you could wait in a local coffee shop. While you drink your coffee, you can review your resume or check the company's website. This can help you prepare your responses to common interview questions and to formulate specific questions to ask the hiring manager during the interview. To ensure you arrive for your interview 15 minutes before the scheduled time, you can set an alarm to remind you when to leave.

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