Guide for Arriving at Your Interview Early…or Too Early

By Gary Jones, Owner of Pines Career Services.   We offer Premium Resume Coaching and Interview Preparation at a discounted price.   Contact and please attach a copy of your resume if you are interested in individual sessions.


Part 1 of the Interview Preparation with Purpose series

Congratulations, when preparing for your job interview, you took great advice from your Recruiter.

You woke up plenty early, allowed time for a good and hearty breakfast, fired up Google Maps for directions, and Shazam(!):  You beat the traffic and arrived 30 minutes early, and you located the building where the interview takes place.

You did everything so far by the book.   Great job.  You deserve a right pat on the back.

With 30 minutes left before the interview,  you’re in the car deciding whether or not to enter the building and report for the interview.   Should you walk into the company’s lobby?

*Spoiler alert, the answer is “NO!!  STOP!!”*

Definitely, avoid reporting more than 15 minutes early to an interview

From personal experience as a hiring manager, when a candidate reports too early for an interview, I get a little nervous having them sit out in the lobby.   I realize I’m being unfair, but my first thought is, “what are they doing here so early?  That’s weird.”   Being the people pleaser I am, sometimes I’ll drop regrettably drop everything, and conduct the interview right on the spot.

I recall an interview where my candidate showed up a full 1 hour and 20 minutes prior to the scheduled interview.   For countless reasons, I couldn’t have this candidate sit out in the lobby for that long.  Plus, I had a meeting upcoming with my team so there’s no way I could meet him early.   So, I greeted the candidate and an offered him to leave and return in about an hour.    His reply without hesitation, “Or, we can we just do the interview now.”

I shared this story only for entertainment purposes.  I certainly wouldn’t assume anyone in my audience would be this audacious.   I’m certain our super punctual candidate was acting in good faith, but managers, receptionists, anyone else in the office will highly appreciate your arrival 15 minutes or less to the interview for the following reasons:

  • The office or building may be closed prior to your interview.  Camping outside a closed building like you are waiting for Pink Floyd tickets is not a good look.
  • Showing up too early may come across like you are hoping to interview on your time, not the managers.
  • For your sake, if you sit in a lobby for a long time, you’ll naturally get a little bored and even drowsy.   Yawning during the interview, again, is not a good look.

Do this if you arrive at the interview location extra early:


Even though showing up to the office 1/2 hour early is not recommended, parking your car somewhere (safe) near the interview site is fine and dandy.

In Minnesota, where I live, the weather is completely bonkers most of the year.  When I interview, I give myself an extra 45 minutes to account for the possible blizzard, rain, and that occasional tornado.  I typically arrive very early near the job site with more than enough time to spare.  Perfect.   This offers enough time for the following:

  • Review notes one more time.
  • Relax, listen to music, envision the interview going well.
  • Take a short walk, if the weather is nice, and maybe stretch out a little.
  • Stop in the restroom.  Quite frankly, the bladder will be nervous and full from all that liquids you drank (see next bullet point), and it’s the last proper opportunity to check your appearance.
  • Before you leave the house, map out a coffee shop near the interview site.  If you have plenty of time, stop by the coffee shop and grab a beverage.
  • Phone a friend.   Yes, talking to a friend can help you put your mind at ease.  Is there anything better than words of support and encouragement before the interview?

It’s important if you take any of these steps you are keeping close track of time and make sure you can find the interview site if you park nearby.  I hope you find this article helpful.    Like and share!

I encourage you to check out my book recommendation of the week titled, “Resume: The Definitive Guide on Writing a Professional Resume to Land You Your Dream Job.”  This is a great starter book on resume writing which I highly recommend: 



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