Picking an Interview Time Slot

Today's tip is one of those small ones that may or may not give you an advantage, but it's worth considering.

There's a well-documented phenomenon in psychology called the serial position effect, which has two parts: the primacy effect and the recency effect.

When people hear a list of items, they are most likely to remember the very first thing in the list (primacy) and the very last thing on the list (recency).

With this in mind, when given a choice from among a series of interview time slots, I've often tried to pick the first or last one. (I may not be the first person they call to schedule, so I try to gather where the remaining spots fall in the grand scheme of things based on other clues like, "We're conducting interviews all this week.")

As far as I could find, no one has actually studied the primacy and recency effects in relation to job interviews (though plenty have speculated about it), and I certainly don't think that the timing of your interview in relation to other candidates is going to offset a bad interview or weak credentials. But it's possible that it could provide a slight advantage, all else being equal.

The idea is that, if I believe I'm going to do a stellar job on the interview (and I do), I don't want the memory of that excellent interview to get muddled in the interviewers' minds when they sit down to talk about 10 different candidates they've interviewed. Either I want to go first, so that they are mentally comparing every subsequent candidate to me, or I want to go last, so that the positive feeling they got from my interview is most fresh in their minds when they're ready to discuss.

Obviously, the most important thing is that you select an interview time slot that is going to lead to you having the best possible interview. So if you're not a morning person, an 8am time slot is probably a terrible idea, unless your greatest priority is working around an existing job.

But if your schedule is open and any time slot is as good as any other as far as you're concerned, consider picking a slot that doesn't put you smack-dab in the middle of a long line of other candidates.