Should You Show Up Early for a Job Interview?

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Showing up early for a job interview

Should You Show Up Early for a Job Interview?

There’s an age-old adage that you should always show up early for a job interview. However, the world is changing rapidly, and it’s worth reevaluating old trends to see if they hold up to modern standards. So should you still show up early for a job interview in the 21st century?

Well, the answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as you might hope. There are caveats and guidelines that make this issue a bit less straightforward than it might seem at a glance. But fret not, because we’re going to untangle this issue and explore the etiquette of showing up early.

Here are some pointers about perfecting the fine art of showing up at exactly the right moment.

Never show up late.

Okay, so this is obvious, but we figured we’d get it out of the way immediately. If you show up late for an interview without a bulletproof excuse (you were in a car accident, for example), then you can kiss your chances at landing that job goodbye.

You’ll be expected to show up on time for the job, and your first chance to prove you can do this is to show up on time for your interview. If you show up late at this phase of the process, your employer will assume you would be regularly showing up late for the actual job.

And that’s a fair assumption to make, right? If the only in-person interaction you’ve had with this company is the interview, and you arrived late, then you’ve been tardy 100% of the time so far. And since the potential employer can only evaluate your work ethic based on that one interview, you’re showing evidence that you have a tardiness problem, and no evidence that you don’t.

Simply put, be on time.

How early is too early?

There’s a flipside to this, however. Showing up too early just makes things awkward for everyone involved. The receptionist might feel compelled to entertain you or provide you with snacks and coffee, which they might not be comfortable with. Current employees might be wondering what you’re doing there, since they’ve never seen you before. Your interviewer might be in the middle of doing something else, and your early arrival is an unanticipated interruption. And perhaps weirdest of all, you might end up running into the other people you’re competing against for the position.

So what is the right amount of early? Different employers have different preferences for an exact number, but these numbers almost always fall between 10 and 20 minutes. About 15 minutes early seems to be the perfect amount.

What about remote interviews?

This is an excellent question, and one that is getting asked more frequently as remote interviews are becoming more and more common. The answer to this will vary, but it depends on the interview format.

If your interviewer is calling you on the phone, then all you need to do is be ready to answer your phone when the time comes. Plan on the interview being early, but also know that your interviewer might not be on time. Remember, the employer has the leverage here, so their tardiness is not seen as a dealbreaker in the same way that yours would be.

With an interview over an app such as Skype or Zoom, you’ll be connecting with that person via the app. No matter which app you use, you’ll need to be ready when the interviewer tries to connect. This might be 10 minutes early and it might be 10 minutes late. You have very little control over this, so you should be ready to connect 10 to 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

We’ve made a pretty extensive guide to remote interviews, so you can check that out for more tips that will help you ace any offsite interview.

How can you make sure you show up on time?

There are several tricks to showing up on time. One that we give often is that you should know exactly how long a trip to the interview location takes. Practice driving there a few times and see how long it takes you. Ideally, you’ll do this during the same timeframe that your interview will be taking place. So, for example, if your interview is scheduled for 2 p.m. on a Thursday, you could plan on driving out to the interview location at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Of course, you don’t need to drive right up to the parking spot. Simply drive past the location and watch your clock.

You could also plan on being in that neighborhood. You could, say, grab a coffee and hang out a couple blocks away. Perhaps read a newspaper or a novel while you’re waiting, or even better, get out your laptop and try to look busy.

Keep in mind that if you’re close to the facility you’d be working at, there’s a chance you might run into employees of the company – or even your interviewer – in such a location. Avoid awkwardness, be polite and courteous, try not to stand out, and treat that location as if it were your interview location. You’re probably nervous just before an interview, and it might cause you to make emotional decisions that you wouldn’t normally make. Perhaps your temper is a bit shorter than normal and you cuss out the person in front of you in line. What if that person ends up being your interview just 15 minutes later?

Treat every person like a potential interviewer. That’s as important at any potential waiting location as it is at the interview location, so take this seriously.


While we’re living in an era in which the job-hunting process no longer requires you to buy resume paper, the tradition of arriving early to an interview is still very much in practice. There are guidelines, but they’re easy to follow as long as you follow the advice laid out in this article.

Looking for more job interview tips? Check out our article about interview mistakes you should avoid.

And if you’re currently on the hunt for a new job, get in touch with Staffing Proxy today. We’d love to connect you with your next dream job.