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Job Interviews, when should I show up?

job interview

Job interview? Don’t be late, but don’t be too early either

When to arrive for a job interview

This week’s topic is a job interview no-brainer to many, but I feel it is important. Based on a long history of conducting interviews, this is a topic that needs to be explained. Show up too early or too late to a job interview and it will be over before it started. Just like Goldilocks and the three bears, our arrival time needs to be “jussstttt righhhhtt”.

There are plenty of blogs titled “When to show up for an interview”. What is missing is the “WHY” it is important to show up at a specific time. By providing this background, I hope candidates will understand why timing is so important and can start the interview off on the right foot.

Confirm the location the day before

I do agree with the advice of visiting the place where the interview is going to take place the day before. This ensures you know exactly where you need to be. In a day with Google Maps on phones, there is no reason folks should be using the excuse, “Sorry I am late, I couldn’t find your office”. Inexcusable. 

Sorry I am late, I got lost

If we are late and use the excuse “I got lost and could not find the place”, the interview is over. If you are lost or running late, it’s easy to salvage the interview. Text me, phone me, email me or send me a homing pigeon. Just give me a heads up 15 minutes prior and not when the interview is going to start. With all the various forms of technology out there, a heads up is a courteous thing to do. This way I can give the folks who will be conducting the interview a heads up. Hiring managers don’t like to be kept waiting and no one wants anyone wondering “Where the hell is the candidate?”

My advice is to show up 10 minutes early in the lobby of the desired company and let the interviewers know you made the appointment. I think that more than 15 minutes is a too early. Conversely, 5 minutes is a little too late. As a candidate, waiting too long or feeling rushed in the lobby will only add to your anxiety factor and we want to start the interview relaxed. Ten minutes will give us time to use the restroom or check out any company literature in the lobby.

Don’t stress the interviewer before the meeting starts

This will sound very selfish, but interviewers have schedules to keep. I realize that interviewers run late ALL THE TIME. This blog is about landing a job, not about the candidate experience. Managers want the assurance that their schedules are on time because running late affects the next meeting. If the manager has a hard stop, a late-starting interview late gives us LESS time to prove we are the worthy candidate. As a recruiter, I rest easy when I know the candidate arrived 10 minutes early. I don’t have to worry about you not showing up, or worse, showing up late. Showing up late is a lack of courtesy and can potentially put an entire day behind. As a candidate, we want to make the best impression that we can.

I am not asking you to suck up or act submissive to the hiring manager. I don’t want you to think that the hiring company has all the power. Most recruiters want to make as good an impression on the candidate as the candidate wants to make with the recruiter. It’s a two-way street. Believe it or not, good recruiters and good managers worry about the candidate experience. I just want candidates to take as many liabilities off the table as possible. The ability to show up on time is critical. It is a predictor of showing up on time for work, meetings, and functions with clients.

Don’t be too early

Over the years, I have had seen many candidates show up 30 minutes early. This is too early. As a host, I feel like I need to rush what I am doing so the candidate doesn’t have to wait so long. The reception person feels bad that the candidate has to wait this long. If we do arrive 30 minutes early, stop at a coffee shop and show up 10 minutes before.

Requisite dating example

Let’s say I have a first date with a woman I am sincerely interested in and she is sincerely interested in me. (Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut!)  If I commit that I will come to her place to pick her up at 8:00 PM, I shouldn’t ring the doorbell at 7:30. I shouldn’t even ring the bell at 7:45. Hair is going to be in disarray, multiple outfits are going to be laid out over the bed, 6 pairs of shoes are going to be in front of the full-length mirror and general panic will ensue. At least that is what would happen if she showed up at on my doorstep 30 minutes early. I will feel like I need to rush while she is awkwardly waiting in the living room.

For both of us, each minute passing is the proverbial “dog minute”. Each minute feels like 7. I am sure that by 8:00, I will be frazzled and not happy with my outfit. She will feel like she should have waited in the car around the corner. 

Job Interview

This guy wasn’t supposed to be here for another 15 minutes!

Keep em’ updated

If I am picking her up, the courteous thing to do would be to text her at 7:50 and let her know I am about 10 minutes away. She doesn’t have to worry if I am going to stand her up, and knows I am the punctual type.

If I show up late with no notice, every minute after 8:05 feels like an eternity. We could have taken this concern off the table, instead, we just started the first date off with anxiety. If I want to send the message that I really don’t give a shit, I just need to show up 20 minutes late and not give her courtesy text.

Not just your reputation is at stake

If I am going to be late, I send a text. I think most people are very forgiving when they receive a heads up.

Remember, the recruiter is putting their reputation on the line when they ask you to interview with the hiring manager or the VP. They want to know that they can count on your to show up on time, well dressed and with minty fresh breath.

Next time you have an interview, treat the event as if it is the first date with someone you are interested in having an LTR with. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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