Whether you are interviewing first or last can often have an impact on your interview at times. While some companies ensure that the interview slot will not impact employee selection by preparing their recruiters accordingly and rotating them to avoid fatigue, there are specific psychological implications that cannot be ignored.
Knowing when you have your interview slots can help you prepare accordingly. Both the first half of the day and the second half of the day have advantages and disadvantages when appearing for interviews. However, most candidates do not know whether to appear first or last for the interview.
The most significant factor that plays a role here is the interviewer’s perceptions. Moreover, as a candidate, you will have a better frame of mind in the morning than in the evening. However, you make a more significant impact by appearing for the interview in the evening, as that will allow you to make a more significant impact by finishing with flair.
Hence, you should be prepared for all situations, work around all time slots, and make the most of them. Time is an external factor, and irrespective of when you appear for the interview, you should perform well to the best of your abilities.
How to Answer if You Want to Be Interviewed First or Last?
Some companies will simply tell you a time and ask you to be there at the appointed time. It could be in the morning, or it could be during the post-lunch hours. They expect you to be there, but if you have a problem during that time, you can ask politely for another time or postpone the interview time. In most cases, the recruiters will accommodate the request.
In other instances, the company might ask you when you would like to come in for the interview. It would be best if you had an answer ready for that.
Tell them you can be there at 10:00 am or at 3:00 pm on a particular date, whichever time seems most comfortable for you. If the recruiters already have some other interviews lined up at that time, they will tell you and suggest an alternative date and time.
Communication is the key, and you should not fumble about the date and time. That can make you come across as indecisive. You can also call the office the day before the interview is set and confirm you are coming.
What is the Best Time Slot for the Interview?
The best time slot for the interview depends on how the company operates. If the work day starts at 8:00 am for a particular company, then 9:00 am can be a good time if you want to interview in the first half. Again, if the day starts at 10:00 am in another company, then 11:00 seems a good time.
Giving the recruiters an hour to settle down and take care of the documentation and procedures is an excellent way to avoid rushing them. You can also choose the time slot depending on whether you want to interview first or last. If you want to appear last, you have to enquire how long the interview will go on and choose a time in the second half.
Pros of Interviewing First
Considering you have been given a choice about when to interview, there are certain advantages of interviewing first. Here they are.
1. More Energy
You and the recruiter will have more energy in the first half of the day and when you are interviewing. You will be in a new state of mind and won’t have to undergo much pressure that often sets in the second half of the day from waiting in the lounge all day long. You are more likely to remember all the points you plan to make during the interview.
On the other hand, your recruiters are also going to be more alert. They will pay more attention to what you say, and you will have better chances of making an impression. They will be more focused and will probably remember you as the first or second candidate who appeared on the day.
2. You Look for More Confident
If you have been given a choice about whether you want to interview first or last, and you choose to go first, you may get some brownie points for your confidence. Of course, that will not be enough to secure the job, as the final results will depend on your interview performance.
However, it will show the recruiters that you are not one to shy away from a challenge. It will also show that you are interested in the position and are confident to go first for it.
3. Better Perception
One definite advantage of going first is that your interviewer will hear all you have to say for the first time during the day. Yes, there are specific questions with similar answers, and if you go last, the recruiters will feel like they have heard it already.
Going first will give them the novelty, and you will be able to make a better impression than those who come after you. You also won’t get much time to overthink during the day, which can often destabilize even the strongest candidates.
Cons of Interviewing First
While there are definite advantages of interviewing first, there are sure flip sides as well. Here are some of them.
1. Arrival Worries
If you are interviewing first and the interview time is set very early in the morning, you have to be prompt about arriving on time. This can be a concern if you live far from the office and there are transport issues to worry about.
You will probably have to rush to get on time, which might leave you dazed and flustered, and you have to appear calm and not let it affect your performance.
Moreover, if your recruiters are very strict about timing and you miss your slot, you might not get another one. Hence, it would be best if you considered the factors before interviewing first.
2. Not Gauging the Mood
Sometimes, you can get an idea of the atmosphere inside the interview room from the candidates who go before you. They will often step out, and if you have time to chat, they might often say that the recruiters were too strict or straightforward.
Even if they do not give away specific details, there are signs you pick up from their demeanor. You can modify your behavior or make little changes to your practiced responses while waiting your turn.
However, if you are going in first, there is no way to determine all that, and you will have to face what comes your way. You need a great deal of confidence to do that.
3. Others May Look Better
While you will create the perfect first impression if you do well in the interview, you will also make the other candidates who come after you look better if you make any mistakes.
Any candidate who gives a marginally better response will seem better than you. Hence, you will be pressured to do so well that others cannot match up to you.
Pros of Interviewing Last
If you feel too much pressure to interview first, you may opt to interview last. There are some definite advantages to it.
1. You End on a High Note
Your recruiters will have been interviewing throughout the day and could be tired. If you retain your energy and bring some cheer and vibe to the interview, they will remember you.
You have the opportunity of ending with a bang! If you can work through your anxieties and still manage to enter the room on a high note and give a fantastic interview at the end of the day, your recruiters will remember you.
2. You Bring Contrast
Try to bring something unique to your responses, which will set you apart from all the other candidates who came before you on the interview day. You will be able to bring something fresh and unique to the table, and the interviewers will probably remember you for your different answers.
Try to show why you are ideal by preparing for the interview with your unique perspective and drawing from your own experiences. This will contrast with other candidates who might have given safe and staple answers to everything. You can show you are a risk-taker, which will stay with the employers.
3. You Are More Relaxed
Although it varies from person to person, some candidates are more relaxed at the end of the day while appearing last for the interview. If you are one of them, this could work for you.
You do not have to rush in the morning to get on time, and much of the initial hullabaloo in the office has died down. You may have let the office ambiance sink in while waiting in the lounge and picked up signs from the candidates who left before you. You could make all this work to your advantage by appearing last.
Cons of Appearing Last
There are certain cons of appearing last in the interview as well. Here are some of them.
1. Recruiters are Tired
By the end of the day, the recruiters are tired. They have probably sat through dozens of candidates and are now looking forward to returning home. They might not be very alert and might not invite questions from you since they want to get it done.
You need to perform very well to make them sit up and listen to you because chances are they have already encountered some brilliant candidates before you. You have to make sure you are better than them.
2. Employers Have Decided
The recruiters are less objective towards the end of the day. If they have already seen some promising candidates in the first half and made up their minds, then they might be interviewing you for the sake of formality because your name is on the list.
You have no way of knowing that, of course. Still, you have to perform so well that they are forced to become objective again and listen to you with renewed interest, double-checking their decision.
3. Recruiters Are in a Rush
Recruiters are often in a rush at the end of the day. They sometimes give way too much time to the candidates in the first half and not much to the candidates in the second. So if you are the last one at the interview, you may feel rushed. That could make you flustered and miss out on points.
You won’t get much time to have a deep conversation, which might leave you dissatisfied. You may feel that the interviewer is not in a good mood anymore, and you have to overcome all these challenges to make a good impression.
Does it Matter if You Appear First or Last in an Interview?
In most cases, it does not matter whether you appear first or last in the interview. Companies who are strict about maintaining objectivity will ensure that the timing of the interview does not affect the candidate. Moreover, other factors determine whether interviewing first or last will matter to you.
- The length of the interview
- The designation you have applied for
- The mindset of the interviewer
- The self-confidence of the candidate
- Number of candidates being interviewed
Only once you have details about all these factors will you be able to make an informed decision about whether you should interview first or last. However, that is not possible in most cases, and you must do your best in whatever time slot you have been allotted.
Does it Mean Anything if the Recruiter Interviews You First or Last?
In most cases- especially in first-round interviews, where the recruiters have not met you before- it does not matter whether the interview calls you first or last. They could call you alphabetically or simply based on the number of resumes they have for the day. They might follow an in-house serial rule.
In some cases, they may interview you first or last, depending on how many years of experience you have. However, these are internal decisions, and you have no way of knowing about them.
Hence, it would be wrong to assume that there is any bias involved. It would be best if you focused on your performance rather than on external factors like interview timings.
It depends entirely upon whether you choose to opt for an interview first or last. In some cases, you might not have the option to choose. In the case of others, you must choose based on external factors, irrespective of what you want.
Hence, it is vital to keep focusing on your performance and preparation so that you feel confident no matter what time of the day you appear for an interview. You can also speak to HR about your options and choose a slot that makes you feel the best about yourself.
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