How Early Should You Arrive for an Interview?

When you apply for your dream job and get a response inviting you for an interview, one of the first things you’ll be concerned about is when you should arrive for the interview. This may look like a straightforward decision but it can be quite challenging, especially if the interviewer doesn’t offer you a specific deadline.

This article advises you on how early you should arrive for an interview.

How Early Should You Arrive for an Interview?


In today’s work environment, where companies allow their employees to work remotely, it’s not easy to come up with a definitive timeline for arriving for a job interview. Many employers are now moving their job interviews online where they can interview potential employees from the comfort of their homes. With programs like Zoom, Skype, etc., you can easily attend a job interview at a time and place of your convenience.

However, some interviewers will give you a specific timeline for the online interview so that you can prepare yourself adequately. Human resource experts recommend that you arrive for your zoom interview 5 minutes ahead to make sure your equipment (laptop, smartphone, tablet, earphones, and Zoom) are working properly before the interview begins. You should wait until the equipment fails you in the middle of the interview.

In most cases, your interview will judge your suitability for the job by the kind of equipment you use for the interview and your preparedness. Letting your equipment fail during the interview only proves that you didn’t take your time to prepare for the interview, which ultimately implies that you didn’t take the interview seriously. You might end up losing the job opportunity just because of a bad internet connection or poor sound from your mouthpiece.

With that being said, you shouldn’t open your Zoom application and make the video call earlier than five minutes before the scheduled start of the interview. As long as you’re confident about the aptness of your equipment, you should log in five minutes before the interview. Joining the interview 20 or 30 minutes ahead of the set time will confuse the interviewer or catch them off-guard.

You don’t want to be interviewed by someone who feels like you are trying to rush them. It might also send the wrong message because your interviewer might assume that you’re full of yourself.  Even if you feel the urge to join the interview and get it over with, you should exercise patience. You can use the extra minutes to go over your notes once more to see if you’re missing an important piece of information.

Nonetheless, it’s also important to keep time and prepare yourself adequately well in advance to avoid last-minute disruptions. Get everything set up and launch the video calling program at least 10 minutes before you join the interview. This will give you ample time to test everything and detect and fix possible technical hitches before the interview begins.

For instance, you should spend the few remaining minutes making sure that the video calling app is fully updated and your internet connection is strong enough for the video call. Five minutes are enough to get a good feel of the entire interview setup and gather your thoughts to start the interview on the right foot. It will also boost your confidence because you’ll have everything ready.

Use this time to visualize the entire interview from start to finish and try to look at the positive side of it. This will help to calm down your nerves and be more involved throughout the interview.

Arriving for an In-person Interview

In person

An in-person interview works pretty much the same way as an online interview. The only difference is the fact that an online interview happens remotely in the comfort of your home. Also, the risk of running late for an online interview is less compared to an in-person interview because it eliminates the long commutes and unexpected delays due to traffic.

Therefore, the arrival times for the two interviews vary significantly. For an in-person interview, you have to factor in the amount of time you’ll take to get to the office where the interview will be happening. The longer the distance between your house and the office, the earlier you have to leave the house to avoid traffic snarl-ups.

Moreover, the time you arrive for the interview will depend on the type of building you’ll be entering. For example, if the building where the interview will be held is heavily guarded with security screening and other protracted security protocols, you’re likely to find guests lining up at the entrance. So, you might end up missing the interview or arriving late if you get held up at the entrance.

In that case, you should arrive much earlier to have enough time to go through the security protocols before the interview begins. When you’re calculating your arrival time, anticipate these delays. If you suspect that the traffic snarl-up and security protocols might take up to ten minutes, factor them into your calculations to know how many extra minutes you’ll need to get to the interview location in good time.

Unlike an online interview where you only need five minutes to prepare and settle in, you should arrive at the interview location about 10 to 15 minutes before the start of the interview. If you anticipate any of the delays mentioned above get to the interview location 15 to 30 minutes before the interview. You need the extra 15 minutes to get through traffic and security checks.

However, don’t arrive at the interview location too early because you might end up rushing the interviewer. That’s not the best first impression you want to make on your interviewer. They might also be forced to postpone or abandon other important tasks to attend to you.

Arriving at the interview too early will make you look desperate for the job. Although employers want someone with enough passion for the job and who’s fully dedicated to it, they’re likely to turn you down if they feel like you are too desperate. Desperation and passion are two different things. Never let your potential employer know you are desperate for the job because even if they don’t reject you, they might end up exploiting you.

It will be very hard for you to negotiate for the right remuneration if your employer knows you desperately need the job. Surprisingly, showing up too early for the interview could make you more nervous. Sitting for half an hour waiting to be interviewed could leave you feeling stressed and anxious. It’s also a waste of time and a sign that you don’t know how to manage your time.

Then again, don’t arrive for the interview too late because it shows poor preparation and a lack of enthusiasm. Every employer wants employees who are fully excited and passionate about their new roles. Therefore, showing up late will be considered to be a major red flag.

If you arrive late at the interview location and get delayed at the entrance, you’ll end up missing the interview. Besides, you won’t have enough time to prepare yourself and settle in before the interview starts. This could negatively affect how you handle the entire interview.

Arriving for the interview on time shows the interviewer that you are reliable and eager to start working. It also gives you ample time to relax your nerves and calm your mind. That way, you can answer every question calmly and confidently. In summary, you should work with the schedule provided by your interviewer to determine the best time to arrive for the interview.

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