When should you really schedule that job interview?

Scheduling job interviews

Mornings or afternoons, first or last: when should you really schedule that job interview? Time matters more than you think

There’s a lot that goes into job hunting. We update our CVs, clean up our social media accounts to present ourselves at our absolute best, and make sure to research the company and look into the kind of questions we can expect to be asked.

However, in the preparation phase, there’s one thing that’s often overlooked, and that is the timing of your actual interview. Because one’s efforts are usually focused on the potential content of the interview, little thought is actually given to the day and time the interview should take place.

Of course, not every hiring manager or recruiter provides you with the option of choosing a time when your interview should take place.

However, if the option is there, it is important to avoid being too hasty because you're in a hurry to get that potential job and just want to get the interview over and done with.

So what factors should be taken into consideration when you decide on a time? Which days should you avoid? And how do your concentration span and energy levels fit into the equation?

Before you even consider the time that best suits you, think about your personal and work habits. What are the peak times at which you function? Knowing and understanding the times when you're at your highest functioning level plays a vital part in the interview process.

You can have all the answers at the tip of your finger, but if you're being interviewed late afternoon during a time you often experience a slump, chances are that the level of your responses won’t be at its best.

Research has also shown that there are certain times of the day and specific days in the week that work better for everyone involved.  So, how do you utilise this to your advantage?

We list a few do’s and don’ts that will come in handy.

READ MORE: Thinking like a recruiter: how they choose the one

Don’t: Schedule an interview between 08h00 and 09h00

According to Rusty Rueff from Glassdoor, technically early mornings should be ideal for interviews since people are most alert then, but the downside to this is that early mornings often mean that hiring managers and recruiters haven’t had the time to sit down at their desk and plan and prioritise the rest of the day yet.

Most people use the first hour of work to settle in, check emails and take care of anything that might be a distraction during the rest of the day, so arranging for an interview during this time is often considered counterproductive.

Do: schedule between 10h30 to 12h00

The ideal time for an interview is the period before lunch and just after the first hour and a half of the morning. 

The hours between 10h30 and 12h00 are considered golden because it's the period where no difficult decisions or any major meetings have taken place yet and as a result, reduces the chances of decision fatigue creeping in. Lily Zhang reveals in a piece for The Muse.com, that as the day progresses, so does your ability to make reliable decisions. This is why it’s also recommended that you don’t schedule your interview too late in the afternoon as well.

This can work against both recruiter and candidate as the hiring manager could gloss over or not take in enough essential details and you as the candidate could perhaps not be at your best since afternoon slumps impact on you as well.

Don’t: opt for Mondays, Fridays or days preceding a long weekend

Mondays are generally never considered a good idea for interviews (or for any meetings for that matter) because you not only spend time recovering from the weekend and gearing yourself up for the week ahead, but because Monday is often used to tie up loose ends left over from Friday. Friday is just as bad except, by then, most people are looking forward to the weekend and their focus is far from work and on anything that requires intensive decision-making.

The idea behind your interview is to ensure that you create a memorable impression – you want people to remember you, which is why doing interviews before a long-weekend is also not advised because, according to career expert Rusty Rueff, people tend to be more focused on trying to get other work done before going on holiday

Instead: aim for mid-week interviews between 10h30 and 12h00. Tuesdays have been known to be particularly useful days for meetings and interviews as people are far more productive then.

If at all possible, avoid being the first or the last candidate

As much as we try to evade it, there are specific biases that unfortunately do come into play. While you may find yourself benefiting from primacy bias (particularly if you are a solid candidate), you are also competing against many other candidates vying for the same position.

Setting the benchmark means you can’t really surpass it and interviewers will inadvertently compare you to other candidates, says Lily Zhang.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be the last candidate either. While you certainly want to aim to be the most recent interviewee on the hiring manager’s mind, recency bias won’t really hold up against a bad interview

You might, as mentioned above, also run the risk of being subjected to decision fatigue, which may lower your chances of getting hired.

When it comes to finding new work, the number one focus is always ensuring that you are well prepared and have the experience and examples to back up your “sales pitch.”

However, learning to be strategic about scheduling your interviews can go a long way in giving you an extra boost.

Writer | Tammy February