Q. I would like your perspective on what I perceive to be a frustrating trend: job applicants showing up too early for interviews. When I have interviewed for positions, Iíve made it a point to arrive about 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time. If I arrive earlier to ensure Iím not late, I make it a point not to enter the facility until the 5-10 minute window.
In my current position, Iím often required to interview candidates and have noticed theyíre showing up earlier and earlier. Often I get a call from the reception desk that my candidate has arrived as much as 30 minutes ahead of the appointment. I often have a full calendar and cannot take time out to go and greet them, even though it makes me feel uncomfortable keeping somebody waiting idly in reception.
H.S., Mansfield, MA
A: My number one piece of advice for job seekers, and perhaps the most important, is to be on time: not too early and not too late. Being late, even just a couple of minutes late, is a sure fire way not to get the job. Youíre starting off on the wrong foot, and youíre making the interviewer wonder if thatís the way youíll treat clients, prospects, and fellow employees.
Being on time also means not arriving too early. Not only does it create an awkward situation for the interviewer, who feels responsible for your comfort during the wait time, it also can create difficulty for other interviewees, who may not want to be seen interviewing. Often, interviews are staggered so that candidates donít meet in the waiting area.
For the interviewer, instruct your receptionist/administrative assistant to ask an interviewee who arrives too early to wait perhaps in an empty conference room if necessary. Their early arrival is their problem, not yours. For the interviewee, avoid creating a difficult situation for your interviewer. If you arrive more than ten minutes early, find a place to wait: your car, a local diner, or a shop where you can browse for a few minutes, and then show up on time.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.