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Author Topic: First or Last: Does It Matter For Job Interviews  (Read 7015 times)
spksvlms
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« on: September 12, 2007, 11:42:15 am »

According to a career expert on monsterjobs.com, its usually not a good sign to be the first applicant to interview first for a specific job. Why? her theory is that, applicants who interview first are always forgotten and never remembered. So I have a really good interview coming up and now I  am thinking of changing the dates so I can interview last.  Any truth to this?
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pink_
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2007, 11:50:21 am »

I don't think so.
Best, IMO, to worry about the things that you can control--your performance, for example.  I've certainly been in circumstances where the first person went in and knocked everyone else's socks off, and the rest of the pool had to try and then measure up. A lot of committees get really tired and burnt out by then end, so it can be difficult to get them excited, or in some cases, even interested.  Just do your best, where-ever in the line-up you fall.

Just don't try to create a memorable impression by wearing a red suit or something.  You want to be remembered because you did a great job, not because you were a fashion victim.
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larryc
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WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2007, 12:29:56 pm »

No.
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This rant was brought to you by the society for accepting the things that you cannot change.
trabb
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2007, 12:47:55 pm »

The best place to interview is in the middle because the first and the last are so busy worrying about being last and being first (and the first shall be last) and all that they totally screw up the interview.
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georgia_guy
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2007, 12:59:09 pm »

Do some committees actually tell candidates what position they have in the interviews? We generally try to avoid giving that information.
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mozman
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 1:38:16 pm »

Don't worry about being first or last.  Just worry about being best.

mm
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postmodern
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 2:38:07 pm »

Do some committees actually tell candidates what position they have in the interviews? We generally try to avoid giving that information.

Surprisingly, I've been told the interview orders at every interview I've been to. They never come right out and tell you, but you can deduce the order through comments made. I think this is an unusual practice too, despite my experiences. When I've served on SCs, I've certainly not mentioned other candidates at all.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 3:16:11 pm »

I can almost guarantee that changing the date after the interview has been set up will make you . . . memorable. In a way you don't want to be.

Certainly has never made any difference in my experience. If anything, when doing 10 45-minute interviews in one day in a stuffy hotel room at MLA, the person I saw when my brain was still working was the one I remembered best (but not always the person the committee liked best, since other things can matter a lot, and since we do take notes as we go along).
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copper
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Suckin' it up like Buttercup.


« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2007, 7:12:28 pm »

An industrial psychologist whose area of research (applied psychology of labor management) included this question told me that in a search where all interviews happen in a short period of time, there is a slight advantage to being first.  In a search where all interviews take a long time, there is a bit more than slight advantage to being last.  I don't have a citation, though.

Anecdotally, the post-docs in my post-doc dept noted that we never made an initial offer to the first interviewed candidate (n > 15, 4-6 candidates per search).  We began to call it the "kiss-of-death" slot.
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"The most exciting things in life require more courage than we currently have." -- Jack McPhee, or whoever wrote the 4th season of Dawson's.
svenc
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2007, 2:35:49 am »

I have served on several search committees in the last few years (growing department) and each time I am confident that we made the first offer to the best candidate.  We spend a lot of time with each candidate, and as academics, we know how to take notes.  Any benefit to being last, if it exists, is certainly slight ... and could easily be outweighed by negative feelings that could be generated by asking to reschedule an interview.

If you were to reschedule, what excuse would you use?  Certainly you would not tell the SC that you don't want to be first.  "Sorry, something has come up" will be interpreted as "A more interesting interview has come up and this one needs to be pushed aside."

If you want the job ... be the best candidate!
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In foris veritas.
sibyl
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2007, 1:25:23 pm »

Sometimes it is best to be first.
Sometimes it is best to be last.
Sometimes it doesn't matter at all.

I think the latter is true in the overwhelming majority of cases.  But there is simply no way of knowing which is true in this particular case.  Take the interview whenever it is and do such a good job that it doesn't matter where you are in the sequence.
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"I do not pretend to set people right, but I do see that they are often wrong." -- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
allbutfoundajob
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2007, 1:27:50 pm »

I was the first to interview and got the job.  I found out I was first because they asked me how the logistics of the interview went and what could they change to make the interview process better for the next two candidates.

When scheduling my interview, I was emailed a a time frame and asked which dates I would be available for a 2 day interview.  I replied that I was available for the entire time.  I figured the search committee would be grateful for my flexibility.  I had heard that the middle candidate from a group of three is at an advantage, but I did not want to be a diva and try to force being the middle candidate.


c
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liquidambar
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2007, 6:03:15 pm »

Last year I had two interviews.  In both cases I was the first candidate to be interviewed, and I was also the first to be offered the job.  Being first wasn't a disadvantage in those departments, at least.
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Itís not enough to bash in heads;
Youíve got to bash in minds!
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cms99
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2007, 6:37:47 pm »

being last means that you have the least time to wait to find the results.  In our search last year we had six candidates, offered to the two middle ones first.
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jack0034
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2007, 6:39:22 pm »

I was the first to interview and got the job.  I found out I was first because they asked me how the logistics of the interview went and what could they change to make the interview process better for the next two candidates.

c

"I think making them wrestle an alligator right before the job talk would be a good idea."
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