Interview Wisdom: When is Early too Early?

Early = on time, and on time = late. We all know that bit of interview wisdom. But when is early TOO early?

Recently, a candidate showed up an hour before the interview. That’s too early.

I had one hour of unscheduled (i.e. meeting-free) time that day, which “Mr. Smith” disrupted with his uber-early arrival. When the receptionist told me that Mr. Smith was there,  I had to stop what I was doing and respond. Had I, God forbid, made a mistake in scheduling? It was unlikely but possible. The receptionist checked for me, and it turned out that no,  Mr. Smith *knew* he was an hour early. I asked the receptionist to suggest Mr. Smith go out and get some coffee.

These exchanges left me growing more and more irritated. I forced myself to focus on my projects at hand,  pushing Mr. Smith out of my mind. But it was a bit of a struggle and an annoyance to boot.

Honestly, by the time his interview rolled around, I was feeling a little pissed off. If you’re a job seeker, that’s not the way you want to start an interview, right?

Arriving an hour early for your interview is like showing up an hour early for a dinner party. It’s disruptive to your host, not to mention presumptuous.

When you interview, obviously it’s great to allow extra time in your travel route, and it’s great to show enthusiasm, etc. But if you arrive as early as Mr. Smith, do yourself a favor and kill some time before making your entrance.

  • Go get coffee.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Meditate in the park.
  • Practice your interview answers.
  • Read or listen to music in the car.
  • If you live in DC, go drive around the beltway one more time.

And then, ten minutes before the appointed time, saunter in relaxed and prepared. Perfect timing!

Image by LeoReynolds

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