Future of Work

The perfect time to show up for a job interview

Kathleen Elkins
Editorial intern, Business Insider
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Future of Work

The big day is here. You’ve worked so hard to perfect your résumé and prepare for the interview.

To show you’re responsible and committed to this position, you decide to show up early.

But then you wonder, how early is too early?

We asked a few career experts and hiring managers the ideal time to show up for a job interview. The consensus was 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

“I usually recommend candidates show up at least 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment,” says Amanda Augustine, a career management expert and spokesperson at TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals. “You want a few minutes to check in with the receptionist, use the restroom if necessary, and to acclimate yourself with the office.”

If you’re nervous about making it on time, Augustine suggests trying a dress rehearsal, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area: “A week beforehand, commute to the location at the same time of day you are scheduled for your interview so you can budget your travel time appropriately.”

While it is important to allow yourself plenty of time to settle in, arriving too early can actually hurt your chances at landing the job.

Business Insider’s director of talent, Stephanie Fogle, tells us, “There is a fine line between showing interest and looking desperate, and you don’t want to send the wrong message.”

Also, arriving over 15 minutes early can be frustrating for a hiring manager. There is a reason the interview was scheduled when it was, and your early arrival could throw a curveball into their schedule.

If you find yourself running way ahead of schedule, both Augustine and Fogle suggest killing time by ducking into a coffee shop or walking around the neighborhood. And if you’re running behind, don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world as long as you handle it appropriately. “There are always going to be situations where people are running late,” says Fogle. “Apologize, show authenticity in your apology, don’t harp on it, and move on with the interview.”

Still nervous about the protocol?

Augustine says it can’t hurt to reach out to somebody within the company. “Check with your point of contact to find out if you need to arrive before your scheduled interview to fill out paperwork,” she recommends. “Much like visiting a doctor’s office, you may be asked to come 20-30 minutes before the actual interview to fill out paperwork for HR.”

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Kathleen Elkins is an editorial intern at Business Insider.

Image: A Japanese new graduate, who wishes to be called Shinji (R), speaks with a counsellor inside a compartment at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Labor Consultation Center in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao 

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