Avoid Being the Last Interview of the Day

Susan Hall

Being the last interview of the day could sink your chances for a new job, according to Knowledge@Wharton.

In a research paper published at Psychological Science, Wharton operations and information management professor Uri Simonsohn and Harvard University professor Francesca Gino compared those interviewing at the end of a day and after a series of strong -- or a series of weak -- candidates.

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The research dealt with interviews for MBA admissions, but could apply to job applicants as well, they said.

They found interviewers don’t always take the long view with interviews that span multiple days, nor with a slate of candidates on a single day. If you’re one of five candidates coming in on one day, you could be rated lower than you normally would if the four previous candidates scored highly.

What to do? Said Simonsohn:

"There's no magic in this for the user. You can't see who you're competing against and often can't control the timing of your interview.... When the candidates are spread out over weeks and weeks, your competition is the entire applicant pool and not a subset of that. But in reality, your competition is drawn from two pools -- everyone and the other applicants who get interviewed that day."

The researchers advise a decidedly low-tech approach for interviewing companies: Use spreadsheets to keep track of multiple candidates’ scores on various factors.

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