Ask the Pros: How early should I arrive for my interview?

Ask the Pros:  How early should I arrive for my interview?
To help prepare you for the real world, our Ask the Pros series is here to help answer some of your most common questions about interviewing, job-hunting and working in the world of publication and media art and photo departments.

Got a question you want answered? Send it to us at and we'll put it to our experts! A varying panel of professionals will give you their take, and then it's up to you to put their advice to work.

And if you're a working professional yourself, we'd love to hear your opinion too ... don't hesitate to add it in our comments or email us to be on one of our panels.

Our panel today gives you some feedback on interviews and when to show up...

I know I shouldn't be late, but how early should I arrive for my interview? Is there such a thing as too early?

PRO: Soni Khatri - Designer, Sunset Magazine
You should arrive about 10 minutes early for your interview. Any earlier than 15 minutes is too early. We're quite busy and may have other appointments lined up or may not be at our desk to have security send you up! 

PRO: Sarah Garcea - Deputy Art Director, Inc. Magazine
It's not good to be too early, but late is very bad. 

PRO: Jason Lancaster - Senior Director of Design, ESPN the Magazine
Show up approximately 5 minutes early. Late or too early can be a problem, keeping to a schedule is one of the many skills needed to be an asset to a design team.  

PRO: Iris Johnson - Art Director, 20/20 Magazine
15 minutes early is early enough. That said, being too early is always preferable to being late. 

PRO: R. Scott Wells - Associate Art Director, Popular Mechanics
As Chris Rock's dad said, "There's no such thing as early. There's on time, and there's late. That's it." However, as a practical matter, yes, I think it is possible to be too early -- it's a little awkward if you are camped out in the lobby for 30 minutes or more. My advice is to arrive to the neighborhood no less than 30-40 mins before your interview. This gives you plenty of cushion time if the trains hold you up, or if you get lost looking for the building, etc. Once you've located the building, find the closest Starbucks, read the paper, and just try to relax -- there's nothing better than walking into an interview with a cool head. Now you can stroll up to your interview at the ideal time -- you'll want to be at reception about 10 mins before your scheduled interview time.

PRO: Andrea Dunham - Design Director, PEOPLE magazine
I won't likely know it if you're early, but I'll notice if you're late. Call on the day of to confirm the meeting (schedules get hairy on the job), show up on time, and acknowledge the meeting with a brief email later that day or evening. Can't hurt.

PRO: Jenn McManus - Deputy Art Director, Brides
I would arrive about 10 minutes before the interview, because you'll need extra time to get into the building and up the elevator. It's definitely possible to be too early. If someone is expecting you at a certain time, showing up half an hour early only adds stress to their day -- that's not a good way to start an interview.

  • One thing you definitely DON'T want to do: show up an hour early (or worse, two hours early!) and expect to be seen. If your interview is here in NYC, you'll likely need to deal with building security, so definitely plan on getting there 15 minutes before your interview, and if you arrive more than 20 minutes early, hang out a bit before going inside the building.

    Be prepared to check in with the building's security desk in the lobby, where you'll need to show a Government issued photo ID (drivers license, passport, etc.). You may also need to have a photo snapped and/or your bags scanned. Once done, they'll send you to the floor where you're interview will take place, but if the company's reception area is on a different floor, you'll have another elevator ride once the interviewer is ready for you.

    So, just like at the airport, give yourself plenty of time, and if you're there early, just chill until it's time to go.

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