Job interviews are one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in your career. They’re all about making a good impression and the first impression counts the most. A key part of that first impression has to do with how early you arrive for your interview. We’ve got information that can help you plan for the best arrival time so you start things off on the right note.

The fifteen-minute rule

You may have heard that the ideal time to arrive at an interview is about fifteen minutes early. This is classic, good advice. It makes sense and may be pretty similar to arrival times you’ve had for other meetings with past employers, even when they weren’t job interviews. This amount of arrival time means that you’re prepared, willing to put your best foot forward, and have the time management skills to arrive with time to spare.

Other benefits to early arrivals

Besides making a good impression, there are plenty of benefits to making a fifteen-minute early arrival. You’re calmer and not rushed, and this advance time allows you to compose yourself, build focus, and take one last check in the bathroom mirror so you can confirm you’re looking your best. Arriving fifteen minutes early can also forestall any problems you may have with delays. If there’s a lengthy check-in process at the receptionist’s desk, if the elevator is slow, if parking is hard to find, your fifteen-minute window has you covered.

Is too early a bad thing?

While being early is great, being too early can be a surprisingly bad thing. In extreme cases, some interviewees have arrived up to an hour early, and it didn’t necessarily help them make a good impression on the interview team. In part, that’s because in a job interview, while you want to appear ready to work and eager, you can take things too far. Being too early is one of the surest ways to come across as overeager and unconfident. This is compounded by the fact that if you’re too early you’re going to be spending more time than necessary in your potential employer’s lobby. That’s a lot of time to sit awkwardly, thinking about being nervous, and flipping through dull magazines or newspapers while avoiding eye contact with the receptionist.

There are other reasons that arriving too early can be a problem.  It can be disruptive to the interview team and make them feel rushed. If they’ve scheduled candidates back to back, they may feel pressure to hastily finish talking to the person who was scheduled before you. If they have non-interview related work, they may feel that they have to finish it early. They may also wonder if you’re arriving so early because you’re desperate for the job. None of these scenarios will work in your favor when it is your turn to talk to them.

Tricks to help you arrive at the right time

If you’re focused on arriving at the right time, there are some tricks that can help. One trick experts suggest is to map out the route ahead of time, and if you’re particularly concerned about getting there, take a practice drive. If you do take a practice drive, get a sense of the area you’ll be going to, where parking is, and if there are any places to wait, like coffee shops and bookstores, in case you’re too early.

On the day of the interview, put the address of the meeting into your GPS and check for traffic conditions. Plan to leave so that you have about a half hour to spare. That should help you avoid getting lost and to be sure that you don’t have to be rushed or harried before arriving. All of these tips can help you to have the best chance you can at landing the job. If it is your dream job, arriving at the right time can make the difference!