When to Schedule a Job Interview

by Sharon Elber

When to Schedule a Job Interview

Congratulations! You have made the short list of candidates that have moved from the application stage to the interview stage. That dream job is one step closer!

The next question most people ask is: “What is the best time to schedule the job interview?”

This article will give you the most important, research backed tips to make that decision.

1) Try to Assess the Interview Window

One of the most important bits of information that can help you pick the best time to schedule an interview is to find out the timeframe for the interview process.

Sometimes you will be given this information with the original contact to assess your availability. For example, you may be sent an email listing 10 different time slots over the course of the next week.

In other cases, you may be able to politely probe to get this valuable insight. Make sure that your inquiry is courteous and only comes after you have properly thanked the HR representative for the opportunity to interview. For example:

Thank you for the opportunity to interview with XYZ. I look forward to meeting the team and showcasing my skills, talents and experience relative to this position. I have some potential scheduling conflicts in the coming week. Are you able to share the range of dates and/or times available for appointments?

Generally speaking, interviewing closer to the end of the window boosts your chances of being fresh on the interviewer’s mind when the actual hiring decisions are made. It is one way to be sure you are making the most impact with your face-to-face time with prospective employers.

2) Best Days of the Week to Interview

The main tip when it comes to the optimal day of the week is to simply avoid scheduling an interview on Monday or Friday whenever possible.

Monday is usually a big day for readjusting to the work routine and catching up on email and other correspondence that has been ignored over the weekend. While it might seem like scheduling for Monday morning might make you look highly motivated, that is unlikely to be the kind of impression that is going to stick through the hiring process and make an impact in the final decision.

Fridays, on the other hand, can be a time when people are distracted with the upcoming fun activities they may have scheduled for the weekend. You won’t be the center of attention if the folks on the interview team are daydreaming about an upcoming kayak trip or mentally planning a family reunion while you talk about your experiences in graduate school.

In addition to giving weekends some clearance, avoid scheduling the day before or the day after a holiday. The same kinds of concerns about people not being at their most focused will apply here as well.

3) Best Time of Day for a Job Interview

Have you ever noticed that you are able to see people in the most positive light when your own state-of-mind is at its best? If you are hungry or tired, however, you are more likely to be irritated by the little things.

Neuroscience has demonstrated that our mood is known to have an effect on our perceptions of others. Armed with this knowledge, choosing the right time of day for an interview may come down to avoiding the worst times to schedule this important meeting.

Ideally, you want to meet the interview team when they are likely to be feeling the most focused, productive and engaged. That way, you are making the most of your interview by selecting a time most likely to be associated with these elevated mood states.

While you may not be able to have full control over the time your interview is scheduled, it might be helpful to rule out a few appointments if you are offered one of several available time slots.

Times of day to avoid include:

  • First thing in the morning: Give the interview team a chance to have their morning coffee and start working towards their optimal productivity zone, generally an hour or so after the work day has started.
  • Right before lunch: There is a term for it: “hangry.” You don’t want to be the target of munchie madness by being interviewed right before lunch hour.
  • Right after lunch: A big meal at lunch can trigger afternoon sleepiness thanks to the extra energy that digestion uses up as well as several hormonal responses that can be triggered by a large meal. If you don’t want the interview team to be on the verge of napping during your job talk, avoid this time of day.
  • Before the end of day: The end of the day can be a time of anxiousness and distractions as people begin to transition to their after-work activities. Looking forward to going to the kid’s baseball game or meeting a new romantic interest for dinner can be stiff competition for grabbing the attention of interviewer(s).

Finally, research has shown that the evaluations that interviewers make may become more negative as they progress through several interviews in a day.

The reason is that people seem to be reluctant to give multiple very positive reviews of attributes over and over. Since all of the candidates that make it to the interview stage are likely to have significant strengths, this can result in deflated relative scores for subsequent interviewees.

If you know the available time slots when interviews will be taking place, it is important to avoid being near the end of a long day of back-to-back interviews.

4) Know Thyself

While the previous interview scheduling tips are focused on trying to hit the most likely sweet spot for the interview team, this one is all about your optimal performance zone. While it should not be the only factor you consider, give yourself room to be thoughtful about your best time of day or day of the week.

For example, are you a morning person that feels sharper and more charismatic after that first cup of coffee and before the day gets long? Or, do you really only hit your stride after 2PM, sometimes preferring to work late because of the boost of afternoon productivity you experience?

Likewise, if the interview window overlaps with a large project you are working on, scheduling after the big deadline might make a major difference in terms of the amount of preparation and focus you can bring to the table for the job talk.

If you know yourself enough to realize you have a clear best time of day or day of the week, that might be an overriding factor to weigh when deciding on what time to schedule a job interview.

5) When Doesn’t Compare to What

If you do your best to schedule the optimal time for the job interview, but still get stuck with a Friday afternoon appointment, don’t let that get under your skin. After all, what you bring to the table is much more important than when you have the chance to strut your stuff.

Having the right professional qualifications, a positive attitude, and plenty of preparation is still the most likely way to shine in any job interview. Those are all aspects of the hiring process you have control over, so make the most of them!

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