Being Punctual

A man in a suit checking the time

Punctuality is a critical quality for any professional and is one mark of a good worker. From arriving on time to the office to submitting punctual work, meeting these timing expectations creates a solid foundation for your career. While this may seem obvious, many professionals need help learning how to be punctual. From constant distractions to an over-reliance on navigation app ETA predictions, it’s easy to be late accidentally. Even unemployed job seekers must know timeframes and deadlines when interviewing and applying for jobs. For now, we will focus on the importance of being punctual for a job interview and provide some rules to help make sure you are always on time in the future.

Rule #1: Don’t be late.

  • If you realize ahead of time that you are running late for an interview, call your interviewer immediately and let them know your situation. Be sure to apologize for the inconvenience, and don’t make up any crazy excuses if it’s not the truth. Hiring managers deal with this constantly– they can tell when somebody is not being genuine.
  • In a tough job market, hiring managers have their pick regarding capable candidates. Being punctual is critical – even showing up five minutes late for a job interview could disqualify you for a position.
  • If a hiring manager can’t trust you to show up on time for an interview, they have no reason to trust that you know how to be punctual or will submit work on time. Remember, this is their first impression of you. Even if being late is out of character for you, the employer won’t know this and will be forced to decide based on this interaction.

Rule #2: Being too early is the same as being late.

  • Being punctual is better than being too early. Only show up at most fifteen minutes early for a job interview unless you were otherwise instructed. 
  • Showing up too early for an interview can make you appear desperate to hiring managers. Think of a job interview as attending a party—you wouldn’t want to arrive too early as it would be impolite and you would look too eager. Plus, you could inconvenience a busy hiring manager by being too early.
  • If you are early for an interview, a hiring manager will attribute your showing up a half hour early to your bad time management skills rather than think of you as punctual. Instead, if you find yourself too early for an interview, you can find a nearby coffee shop where you can wait. You may even be able to do some last-minute interview prep while you’re there!

Rule #3: Know where you’re going ahead of time.

  • Just like you would plan out project milestones in advance to ensure punctual work, you’ll want to plan your route to the interview to ensure a punctual arrival time. If you have time and are unfamiliar with the area, visit the company’s office before your interview so that you can prioritize being punctual by knowing exactly where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there.
  • Suppose you don’t have time to scope out your route physically; use the Internet to plan it. Think about all the steps involved, such as figuring out where you’ll park or if your car has enough gas. You don’t want to be late because it took twenty minutes to find a parking space.
  • While scoping out the route and the area to plan for your interview, take the time to review whether this commute would work for you and if you could be punctual to work in the long term. Remember, job interviews go both ways. You are also deciding if this office is the right fit for your needs, and your commute and surrounding area are two critical factors in job satisfaction.

Rule #4: Show up early, but don’t go in.

  • The best advice we can give you is to allow extra time for your interview. Even if you run into unforeseen trouble, such as traffic or delays on public transportation, cautious planning will help you to be punctual. It’s better to waste some of your own time by adding wiggle room into your commute than to waste your hiring manager’s time.
  • If you don’t hit any delays and end up outside the office twenty minutes early, don’t go in! As mentioned above, find somewhere nearby you can kill time before your interview, such as a coffee shop or deli. Use the extra time to review your notes one last time.

Additional guidance and advice

At Whitman Associates, Inc., we’re rooting for you! We aim to help you find the perfect fit for your next job. Being punctual is just one of many attributes potential employers seek. For more insightful career advice, explore our blog for additional tips and guidance. Want some more personalized job-hunting strategies? Reach out to Whitman Associates today with your resume!

WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.