The Best (and Worst) Times to Schedule an Interview
In the excitement of receiving an interview invitation, it’s tempting to schedule the interview as early as possible (or—if you’re panicking—as late as possible).
But before you jump the gun, you should know that research shows that the order of your interview can impact your chances of getting the job.
Of course, you can’t always control what time a recruiter sets up the meeting, but it’s good to have this info in your back pocket in case you can.
Keep these four tips in mind.
Don’t Be the First
This probably isn’t news to you. Common sense tells us that interviewing early in the morning could have drawbacks. Your interviewer might be groggy—or, worse, late.
Or, more likely, contrast bias will kick in. Interviewers subconsciously compare a candidate based on the previous candidate—and if you’re the first, you’ll be the benchmark against all others (meaning you can never really surpass the benchmark). It’s likely only a very mild impact, but being first isn’t to your advantage.
Don’t Be the Last
Just because you don’t want to be the first, doesn’t mean you want to be the last either. As it turns out, decision fatigue—the notion that the quality of your decision making deteriorates after a series of choices or as the day progresses—is a very real thing, and it can work against you if you interview too late in the day.
Here’s some proof: According to a study done by the National Academy of Science, judges were less likely to grant parole to applications later in the day. Decision fatigue starts impeding critical thinking abilities as the day goes on, and judges generally start getting more cautious or defaulting to rejections as they stop being able to examine applications thoroughly.
Don’t Be in the Middle
You read that right—you don’t want to be in the middle, either. Ideally, you want to be a bit before the middle. A study conducted by Wharton and Harvard shows that interviewers are impacted by narrow bracketing, or the tendency to give fewer positive ratings later in the process if they’ve already given a certain number of positive recommendations in order to (unconsciously or consciously—it’s unclear) even out the recommendations they’ve already given.
Shoot for the Middle of the Week
So, now you know that you’re aiming for that late morning time range between 10 AM and 11:30ish, but what about day of the week? Looks like that matters, too. As explained by this post on Glassdoor, Tuesday is the optimal day for an interview. Knowing this—and the facts that we all hate Mondays and aren’t nearly as focused on Fridays—if you have the option, scheduling your interview somewhere in the middle of the week is likely ideal.
Of course, all of this only has a minor effect compared to the amount of preparation you put into the interview and your fit for the position. So, while this is interesting to read about and certainly worth exploiting if you have the power to do so, nothing is going to be as important as how you actually do during the interview. Go ahead and try to schedule your interview for Tuesday at 10 AM, but in the end don’t look for excuses to not put in the work.
Photo of clocks courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.