Is There an Ideal Time to Schedule an Interview?
You’ve got the call back you’ve been waiting so patiently for. So, what job interview time slot should you go for, given a choice?
After what seems a drawn-out nail-biting wait, it has finally happened! An interview offer! But hey, back up a sec. Don’t let that adrenaline rush fog your judgement when it comes to suggesting a time slot to the hiring manager… if you’re lucky enough to get that luxury. I have to admit, I’ve never been given a totally free choice in this respect. In most cases, it has been a matter of negotiation around my current work hours and the interviewer’s availability, which felt like quite a dance. Sometimes, a suitable time just can’t be worked out unless leave without pay is taken.
Even if you haven’t been given a choice of time, and the interviewer has sole control over the timing, it pays to know a bit about the psychology of hiring managers. Forewarned is forearmed if you turn this to your advantage.
Despite at times, contradictory advice from hiring and career experts, be mindful of both the best time for the interviewer as well as yourself, or at least be aware of possible intrusions and pressures. If within your control, the best time slot is a strategic one, so give it some thought.
So, what’s in the minds of hiring managers?
The most professional ones excel at time management and organization skills. Their professional survival depends on making the right decisions to get the job done. As such, they usually aim to compress the interview time frame, for example, into two weeks, typically running from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Scheduling your interview too early within the sequence could mean it’ll be hard for them to recall you later or you’ll be used as the benchmark above which you can’t rise, resulting in contrast bias. Other commentators say, going last will mean you’re fresh in their minds when they’re considering who will move on to the next hiring stage. However, there’s disagreement over this later slot depending on what day of the week this falls e.g., it seems most would agree that Fridays are off-limits since we all want to ‘get out of dodge’ and on with our own lives as quickly as possible. Hiring managers are no exception and likely to be daydreaming about Friday night drinks or planning their kids’ weekend activities etc. rather than focusing on your interview.
How can you get around this? You could ask, after the interview invitation, what’s the time span for interviewing? You can justify this by adding, you’re particularly busy meeting a looming deadline in your present job at the moment. Hopefully, they’ll supply you with the date range. Then at least you can avoid the first day of interviewing and assess which of the other days is best for you and the interviewer. In the latter regard, a suggestion to gauge the mood, schedule and pressures the interviewer is under on a given day, is to ask the hiring manager’s assistant how that day is looking for the manager. As well, if you know anyone working in the company, get the inside low down on the best days and times for an interview meeting.
What does research tell us?
- Avoid end of the day, time slots. There may be an issue with ‘decision fatigue’ whereby the interviewer’s decision-making deteriorates as the day progresses. Critical thinking skills become impaired, and s/he may miss your incisive answers or inaccurately assess your overall performance. (National Academy of Science study as cited in www.muse.com).
- Choose a slot just before the middle of the day around 10 to 11ish a.m. According to a study by Wharton and Harwood (www.muse.com), interviewers can suffer from ‘narrow bracketing’ later in the day or hiring process. This could impact your interview negatively whereby if the interviewer feels s/he has given more positive ratings earlier, they will want to redress the balance.
What do the HR experts say?
According to 21 HR experts (www.upjourney.com) :
- Avoid Mondays and Fridays. Mondays are the busiest time of the week when weekly priorities and schedules are established. This is also a day when interruptions from staff are likely, with questions, clarifications, and report submissions. Your interviewer may not be quite on his or her interviewing game with these distractions or could suffer from an early Monday sleep haze or blues. Not ideal for being receptive to you and focusing on what you have to offer. As for Fridays, as alluded to earlier, it’s nearly as chaotic as Mondays since everyone is trying to get done so they can get out of the office.
- Try to get an appointment that best suits your energy for an optimal performance.
- Always arrive at least 25 minutes before an appointment.
As also noted by www.job-hunt.org, this leaves Tuesday to Thursday, or the mid-point in the hiring process generally, as the best days for an interview.
Tips from others in the game:
- Some recruiters tell us that between mornings and early afternoons, managers are knee deep in their number one priorities so avoid this time range.
- Others say 2 p.m is the best time since most of the day’s tasks are well under way so there’s less pressure on the interviewer and s/he will be more psychologically prepared to be alert and engaged with you.
- As explained on Glassdoor, Tuesday is the optimal day for interviews. Most people are productive on Tuesdays and won’t feel rushed by the time they meet you. By 10 a.m. the recruiter has had time to check emails, have a cuppa and get ready for your arrival.
- Avoid pre and post lunch appointments. Before, and your interview could be cut short. After, you could have a lengthy wait and late start.
- Don’t choose long weekend and holiday bookends for similar reasons to Mondays and Fridays. Also, it’s a time when managers are in a rush to get things done in compensation for the time off.
Most Importantly, you need to remember:
If you want the job, do the preparation for it. Don’t rely on an optimal time slot to seal the deal. Time slots overall, will have a minor payoff compared to your prep and ‘fit’ for the position which will largely determine whether you get the job.
For more advice to help you navigate your next interview, check out some great tips here!