When Being Early Isn’t A Good Thing

I was debriefing a candidate recently and she mentioned that she had arrived at her interview 15 minutes early and was a bit confused that the interviewer seemed irritated. (I wasn’t surprised that the interviewer was irritated. I would have been too!) She went on to say that she thought it was a best practice to arrive at an interview 15-minutes early and didn’t initially understand why it was a problem.

The advice I gave her had her completely rethink this strategy.

NEVER ARRIVE 15-MINUTES EARLY

The traditional advice about arriving at an interview 15-minutes early was originally intended to be a safeguard in the event that you get stuck in traffic or experience another time delay that is out of your control. The 15-minute rule was meant to give you buffer room to deal with the unexpected.

I’m not saying don’t arrive at the building 15-minutes early. (Always arrive at the building 15-minutes early.) What I’m saying is don’t arrive at the interview 15-minutes early.

PUT YOURSELF IN THE INTERVIEWER’S SHOES

If you arrive at the interview 15-minutes early and the receptionist lets the interviewer know that you are there it creates a problem for the interviewer. While you may think that you are appearing keen, in reality you are actually interrupting the interviewer’s day. The person will have to think through considerations like:

  • Should I stop what I am doing?
  • Is it rude to keep you waiting?
  • They might feel guilty for not starting your meeting early.
  • Often they will feel frustrated.

You have just created the exact opposite of what you want going into the interview. The interviewer is now feeling irritated, resentful or guilty and this will affect their view of you.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

ARRIVE AT THE INTERVIEW BUILDING 15-MINUTES EARLY BUT DO NOT GO TO THE OFFICE OR RECEPTION AREA.

Instead do these things:

  1. Buy a bottle of water. That way you don’t have to waste your precious interview time for the interviewer to serve you water.
  2. Sit in your car and take a few minutes to review your interview notes or the search brief.
  3. Find a quiet place and visualize being your best SELF. Visualize the first 30 seconds where you smile and confidently shake the interviewer’s hand.
  4. Just take a few moments to breathe… when people are nervous we tend to hold our breath. When your breath is connected to your body, you are more centred, grounded and powerful. Your mind is more focused when you breathe.
  5. If you are nervous, go to a private place (even a bathroom stall will work) and put your hands on your hips or raise your hands above your head in a “victory” pose. This will immediately have you feeling more confident.

GO TO THE RECEPTION AREA 3-5 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW TIME

After you let the receptionist know that you are there, take a seat and keep your body language open. Do not look at your phone or answer emails. This is your time to breathe, focus and get “in the zone”. Observe the reception area. A reception area can tell you a lot about a company and what the people there truly value. Watch people going in and out. Do they seem happy? In other words, try to get a read on the culture and environment. Gage for yourself if this company and its people could be a good fit for you.

If you take the time to do this, you will enter your interview focused, present and confident. The interviewer will note that you were early (but not too early). In other words, you will have a good shot at making a great first impression!

Here’s to your success!!