Early-bird interviewee has advantages

If you want everything to go well during your so hard-to-get-job interview in an employment market saturated with job seekers — here’s a wake-up call for you: Try to schedule it for early in the morning.

The Seattle Times

At least that’s the conclusion of a study of 1,400 chief financial officers by Accountemps, a temporary-staffing firm. Their finding: More than two-thirds of the respondents said they prefer to do hiring interviews between 9 and 11 a.m.

Over the years, job seekers have told me the job interview is a terrifying experience to go through — though it certainly doesn’t have to be. Nonetheless, I agree with this description of it by Brian O’Connell, writing in his book, "The Career Survival Guide":

"It is not easy selling yourself to a company, especially in a gut-wrenching one-on-one interview process that would make the Marquis de Sade wince."

While I don’t know if O’Connell wrote that graphic description in the morning or late afternoon, I do see some merit in the Accountemps finding: If the hiring officer or the job candidate is a morning person, the advantage is obvious.

If the interviewer has several people to talk to in one day, that first impression might be the lasting one. And employers may be worn out by the time they get to a 4 p.m. interview.

Job seekers who are morning people like me know the burst of energy and confidence they exude before noon. For everyone else — well, that’s why Starbucks was invented. The secret, of course, is for hiring officials to do their interviews when they are at their best. Unfortunately, job candidates usually don’t have any say about scheduling.

Though I am enthusiastic about early-morning job interviews — the general feeling is that the sooner they’re over the better — I still have to ask the next-best question: Does the time of day you are interviewed have any effect on whether you actually get the job?

"According to research in the field of psychology, the time of day really doesn’t matter — we could not find a connection to whether people did get the job," said Richard Wellins, senior vice president of global marketing for Development Dimensions International, a Pittsburgh-based global human-resources consulting firm.

Wellins, who has a doctorate in social and industrial psychology and was formerly an assistant professor of psychology, says his firm trains hundreds of hiring managers and recruiters each year.

"We want to make job interviews consistent over time, whether that time is morning or noon," said Wellins, author of "Empowered Teams."

Yet Wellins, who supervises 50 people, admits he likes to do his own interviewing early in the day.

"I tend to be a morning person … and I know I would much rather do interviews then because I’m more alert and attentive," he said. "I approach each morning fresh, so by the time I get to the fifth candidate I find I consciously have to keep my energy up to maintain the same quality of the interview."

The executive points out that research shows something that does affect hiring: It’s better to be the first or last person interviewed. "Avoid being the middle of the pack," he warned.

At any time of day.

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at [email protected] Copyright 2003, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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