How Early Should You Arrive For An Interview?

Congratulations on getting an interview! Your head is probably swirling with to-dos and questions to prepare for it, including how early you should arrive. And it’s a valid question. You want to make a good impression without awkwardly waiting around for ages.

Arriving at your job interview at the perfect time can make all the difference. Being overly early can backfire, but unexpected delays are also possible, making you late. So, what is the ideal arrival time?

The Ideal Timing: 10-15 Minutes is Perfect

You want to start your interview off the right way – calm and collected, with just the right amount of time to spare. Arriving 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview time shows you’re punctual and respect the interviewer’s schedule.

It also gives you a chance to catch your breath, review your notes, and mentally prepare for the interview without feeling rushed. These few minutes can set the tone for how good (or bad) the interview goes, which ultimately can change your life and career path.

5 Minutes is Okay, But Cutting It Close

Life happens, and sometimes you might find yourself racing against the clock. While arriving 5 minutes before your interview is better than being late, it leaves little room for error. You might feel a tad frazzled, and there’s a risk of running into unexpected delays like traffic or difficulty finding parking. It’s doable, but you’ll feel more at ease with a bit more buffer time.

If you are already feeling anxious or nervous, don’t make the interview any harder for yourself by cutting it too close.

Too Early? More Than 15 Minutes is a No-Go

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being too early. Arriving more than 15 minutes before your interview can catch the interviewer off guard. They might still be preparing, wrapping up a meeting, or dealing with other candidates. Being overly early can disrupt their schedule and create an awkward situation where you’re left twiddling your thumbs and staring at the receptionist.

If you arrive at your interview too early, hang out in your car, wait in the lobby (if there is one), or walk around a little to pass the time until you hit that ideal time to check-in.

Account for Your Commute and Parking

Don’t forget to factor in your commute time and parking logistics. Whether you’re battling rush hour traffic or navigating public transportation, give yourself ample time to arrive on time and stress-free.

Scope out the parking situation beforehand if you’re driving, ensuring you know where to park and how long it takes to walk to the interview location.

What to Do If You’re Running Late

First things first, don’t panic. It happens to the best of us. Being late doesn’t automatically mean you’re out of the running.

If you find yourself running behind schedule, the key is to communicate. Give the interviewer a heads-up as soon as possible. Apologize sincerely and provide an estimated arrival time. Most employers understand that unforeseen circumstances arise, but how you handle the situation will make a big difference.

Handling it right could demonstrate responsibility, professionalism, and composure. But freaking out or making up excuses will leave a negative impression and indicate you lack respect for others’ time.

Punctuality is just one aspect; your overall demeanor and preparedness will also significantly affect how you are perceived during the interview.

What About Video Interviews?

For video job interviews, the guidelines on timing still apply. Arrive “on screen” 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview time.

However, one important difference is that you’ll want to make sure your tech works beforehand. Ideally, you should try logging into the platform (especially if you are unfamiliar with it) well in advance. It will give you time to troubleshoot or run updates if needed. You don’t want to sit down at your computer ready to interview only to have nothing work.

Striking the Right Balance

So, how early should you be for a job interview? Aim for that golden window of 10-15 minutes to make the best impression for your big day. Remember to account for your commute and parking.

And if you are running late, don’t panic – let the employer know ASAP and do your best to remain confident. They are interested in meeting you. Don’t let a few minutes derail you from showing them your skills and qualifications.

Best of luck out there!

Related Articles:

Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN,, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.

Leave a Comment