Interview early to get that job
A new study says reviewers tend to give applicants higher scores at the start of the day.
A new study is acknowledging what a lot of job-hunters have long suspected: The early bird does indeed catch the worm when it comes to job interviews. And your cause isn’t helped, either, if your interviewer sees other strong candidates that same day.
Researchers from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Harvard Business School decided to go a step further with the so-called "gambler’s fallacy" -- the idea that a run of luck can only last so long -- and expand it to admissions interviews.
They analyzed a decade of data from more than 9,000 MBA interviews. And they found those interviewers eventually had a hard time seeing the forest for the trees when it came to applicants, becoming stuck in a concept called "narrow bracketing."
"Much like gamblers bet on red after the wheel stops at black four times in a row, an interviewer bets on 'bad' after she interviews four 'goods' in a row,” said a press statement from the Association for Psychological Science, which published the researchers' findings. "The difference in this case is that the interviewer controls the wheel."
Interviews done earlier in the day, according to the study, had a negative impact on the interviews that followed. In other words, if the interviewer had already given high marks to earlier interviewees, the following scores were likely to be lower.
And this trend held true even when a variety of applicant and interview scenarios were taken into account.
"People are averse to judging too many applicants high or low on a single day, which creates a bias against people who happen to show up on days with especially strong applicants," said the researchers.
And this phenomenon, they note, was twice as strong "when a rating followed a set of identical scores (e.g., 4, 4, 4), compared to a set of varied scores (e.g., 4, 3, 5) with the same average.”
The researchers say their findings are relevant to more than just job interviews, and can apply to many other situations where human judgment comes into play.
"So, if you want to get that job, or that loan, or make it onto that reality show,” the Association for Psychological Science concludes, “you might want to make sure the strongest contenders stay home that day.”
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