A job interview doesn't start when the first question is asked — as soon as you walk in the door, your behavior is judged.
According to William Vanderbloemen, the CEO of executive search firm Vanderbloemen Search Group, interviewers pay close attention to one thing in particular: what time you show up for the meeting.
"It always amazes me how many people arrive even two minutes late for an interview with a fresh cup of coffee in their hand," says Vanderbloemen, who has interviewed over 30,000 job candidates.
Of course, most hiring managers are empathetic to last-minute emergencies, technical difficulties and bad traffic — but Vanderbloemen says showing up late to a job interview without prior notice is a "red flag" to hiring managers that sets a bad tone.
"Punctuality is the first test of whether or not you're taking this job seriously and can be trusted with the responsibilities of the role," he explains. "When you set a meeting with someone, you're making an agreement, and when you choose to break that agreement, it's going to make people start to question your integrity and dependability."
Arriving too early for a job interview can also be risky. "If I'm in the middle of another meeting, or taking a break between calls, it's not helpful to have someone waiting on me for 15-20 minutes before our scheduled call," Vanderbloemen says. "It can make the interviewer feel uncomfortable or frazzled."
The best time to show up for a job interview is five minutes before the scheduled start time, he says. Showing up at the right time — not too early, and not too late — might seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of a job interview, but it can help you stand apart from your competition.
"Job interviews can be stressful, but acing it becomes a lot easier when you show up prepared," Vanderbloemen says. "Being punctual is the first step in proving your readiness."
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