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For interviews, time of day matters

Apr. 1, 2013 - 03:10PM   |  
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Your chances of being hired may have a lot to do with how many others interviewed on the same day, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that employers who have just interviewed several strong candidates are more likely to view the next applicant negatively.

“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,” Uri Simonsohn, of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Francesca Gino, of Harvard Business School, explained in a news release for the journal Psychological Science, which published the study. “We were able to document this error with experts who have been doing the job for years, day in and day out.”

After analyzing 9,000 interviews involving MBA candidates that occurred over the course of a decade, the researchers found that interviews conducted early in the day had a negative influence on perceptions of candidates interviewed later in the day. Once several favorable scores were given to applicants, the scores to follow were likely to be lower.

The researchers measured the effect at roughly the equivalent of 30 extra points on the GMAT, 23 more months of experience or 0.23 more points in the assessment of the applicants' written application. The effect of “narrow bracketing” was twice as large following a series of identical applicant scores as with different scores with the same average.

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