Posted Jan 17
Early is the new late. AKA - Plan ahead, people.
This one's not rocket science, but it is an important reminder: first impressions in any interview are critical and, perhaps the very first impression is - did. you. get. there. on. time?
Planning ahead to make sure you give yourself enough buffer for anything that could go wrong helps to calm your nerves, lets your interviewer know you're accountable and, perhaps most importantly, gives you a chance to build allies and get a high-level look at the company's culture.
By arriving 15 minutes early, you'll likely get some time to chat with an associate or assistant. Use this time to build rapport with someone who isn't an interviewer but could help to advocate on your behalf ("I remember this candidate - she was really friendly..."). And, just as important, you can use the time to check out the unspoken culture of the firm - do the people working there look happy? Do they talk to one another? Those types of things.
Finally, if you are running late - be proactive. Call your interviewer and explain that you're behind schedule. Set expectations for your arrival by defining how much longer it will take you to get there. And, of course apologize. Then, when you arrive in person, call out your lateness directly and get the interview underway quickly. For example:
"I'm so sorry I was late. I know that's really unprofessional. I thought I'd allocated enough time to get here, but there was an accident that shut down the highway. However, I'm excited to chat with you and look forward to getting started."