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When is the best time to have a job interview?

best time for an interview

When trying to secure yourself a new job you should always be looking to gain a competitive edge over the other candidates. One of the ways in which you might do this is by scheduling your interview for the optimum time.

Jenna Alexander, National Head of Internal Recruitment, Hays UK.


 
 

Obviously, you won’t always be able to choose when your interview will be scheduled, but it’s not uncommon for employers to offer candidates a few different time slots.

When they do, it’s useful to have an idea of the various consequences of arranging your interview for different times of the day, or different days of the week.

Here are a few things to consider:

Day of the week

If you’re already in a job, but are looking to move, then Monday can seem like the obvious day to schedule an interview. Having had the weekend to prepare your resources and conduct your research, you’ll likely want to get the process over with whilst all this information is fresh in your mind.

However, remember that what works best for you might not work best for the employer. After all, the interviewer probably hasn’t spent as much of their weekend thinking about the interview as you have. They’ve likely been refuelling for the week ahead and may not hit full speed until Tuesday or Wednesday.


More interview advice from us


Another reason why Monday might not be the best day to arrange an interview is the fact that it’s often a day that most of us spend tying up loose ends from the Friday previous, or replying to emails received over the weekend, whilst also trying to map out our diaries for the week ahead. Give your interviewer a chance to grow into the week.

In general I would advise against scheduling an interview for either day each side of the weekend, or any other holiday period. You want to minimise all risk of the interviewer’s mind being distracted by non-work matters.

My personal preferred day for conducting interviews is Wednesday. Wednesdays are advisable because your interview will have completed their ‘beginning of the week to-do list’, and will be yet to move onto their ‘must action before the weekend pile’.

It’s a period of limbo for most where we can actually focus on our own tasks and projects, rather than making sure we’re hitting deadlines for others! By interviewing on a Wednesday I feel as though I have control of my week. It also means that you may well know the outcome of your interview by the weekend.

Time of day

The morning is your perfect opportunity to jump in there and impress the interviewer before anyone else has the chance to. Come the afternoon, the employer may have already seen a quantity of remarkable candidates which they’ll be measuring you against. By being one of the first up, you get to set the bar.


"By being the first one up, you get to set the bar"


You’re also likely to be more alert. Numerous studies have reported that we’re at our most productive in those first few hours after waking up. Considering an interview is essentially a presentation of yourself, as well as an exchange of ideas, you want to book yours for the period when you are at your most lucid and articulate – for the vast majority of us this is the time shortly after we’ve allowed our body and mind to fully awaken.

An interesting phenomenon to bear in mind when arranging a time for your interview is ‘decision fatigue’. If we’re asked to make too many decisions in a given day, then our ability to do so competently deteriorates – this is known as decision fatigue.

This is demonstrated in a study that examined the time of day during which judges are most likely to grant parole. The study found that prisoners who appeared early in the morning were granted parole around 70 per cent of the time, while those who appeared in the afternoon were granted parole less than 10 per cent of the time.

If you want to make a logical case for why you should be hired, and appeal to the interviewer’s intellect and rationale as opposed to the reactionary part of their brain, then arrange your meeting for the first half of the day, when the interviewer has yet to make too many taxing decisions.

Having said all of this, don’t schedule your interview first thing either. You don’t want to risk your interviewer or, even worse, yourself turning up late. If you’re given the option then aim for those golden hours between 10 and 12 am.

10am on a Wednesday

Should you be so fortunate as to secure yourself for an interview for 10am on a Wednesday then congratulations, you’ve gifted yourself a small advantage over your rival candidates.

However don’t get too carried away, how much preparation you do (you can find a guide on effective interview preparation here) and your suitability for the role are still the most important factors as to how well it all goes.

Do your best to book yourself a favourable appointment slot, but, having confirmed your time, don’t then take your eye off the ball, believing that the ride has suddenly become a lot easier.

There’s still a lot you need to do to impress your interviewer, some of which my colleague Susie Timlin has outlined in her blog, ‘Make your interviewer love you’.


About this author

Jenna Alexander internal recruiter

Jenna Alexander, National Head of Internal Recruitment for Hays UK & Ireland

Jenna is responsible for recruiting people to work in Hays’ 100 offices across the UK & Ireland, leading a team of 24 internal recruiters.

Following a career in Insurance, Jenna Alexander joined Hays in 2006 as an associate recruitment consultant working on a start-up desk focused on contact centre recruitment. By 2008 Jenna managed the contact centre, banking and wealth management teams based in Brisbane, Australia.

In 2011 Jenna moved into internal recruitment, managing the internal recruitment and training function for the state of QLD in Australia. In January 2013, Jenna relocated to the UK to head up the national internal recruitment function for Hays UK & Ireland.

Email Jenna to find out more about working for Hays UK & Ireland 

Click here to read more recruitment blogs written by Jenna