When is the best time of day to interview?

Ever since reading about a disturbing parole study in Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, every time I’m asked to interview or set up an interview for a candidate I’m representing, I strive to schedule the interview for 1:00 pm, 8:00 am or shortly after. I never schedule interviews for late morning or late afternoon.

This came from a study on how likely judges are to grant parole and the finding that the biggest factor was, how long ago did the judge have a break or something to eat.

“The authors of the peer-reviewed paper looked at more than 1,000 rulings made in 2009 by eight judges. They found that the likelihood of a favourable ruling peaked at the beginning of the day, steadily declining over time from a probability of about 65% to nearly zero, before spiking back up to about 65% after a break for a meal or snack.” (Bryant, 2011)

We do not have to assume that the judges are consciously making decisions based on the rumblings of their stomach, rather,  from a psychology point of view, we simply need to assume that (1) denial of parole is the default position (less risky) (2) overcoming the default position requires intellectual effort (3) intellectual effort depends on your circumstances, including the consequences of being wrong. (Caplan, 2012)

When is the best time of day to Interview?

Applying this to interviewing candidates, I would contend that hiring decisions made by interviewers follow a similar pattern and I will make these assumptions (1) not hiring a candidate is the default position, since a big risk is taken when offering someone a job (2) overcoming the default position requires intellectual effort (3) intellectual effort increases after a rest and/or having something to eat.

In the future, I would like to study whether or not the time of day an interview happens, impacts whether or not the candidate is moved forward in the hiring process, to see if it’s as significant as the impact of the time of day parole hearings happen. Until then, I’ll keep scheduling my clients’ interviews for just after lunch or first thing in the morning.

Message me on LinkedIn if you’d like your organization to be part of a study of whether or not the time of day an interview happens, impacts the hiring decision!

My LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/caseydrengler/

Bryant, B., 2011 Judges are more lenient after taking a break, study finds: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2011/apr/11/judges-lenient-break
Caplan, B., 2012 Kahneman, Mental Effort, and the Scary Parole Study: https://www.econlib.org/archives/2012/01/kahneman_mental.html

My Top Question to Ask Interviewers

You’re getting close to wrapping up your phone or in person interview and you really want to land this new job. After you’ve asked all your other questions and the interviewer sounds like they are about to end the interview, finish with this question:

“Do you have any reservations about moving forward with my application?”

This does two things:

  1. Uncovers any reservations or objections that the interviewer did not bring up and gives you a chance to address them before ending the interview.
  2. Takes advantage of Dr. Cialdini’s 2nd principle of influence: commitment and consistency from his book: Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion.

If you are interviewing for a sales position, consider being even more forward and asking for the position or for the next interview. Always be closing.

Why You Need to Shorten Your Hiring Process

Making a new offer is often stressful, so much could go wrong, if you hire the wrong person, it will reflect negatively on you, make your job more difficult, take up your time, your team’s time, cost the company money, hurt moral, cost customers, hurt the company’s reputation and it could even lead to lawsuits.

The temptation is there to increase the length of your hiring process, to make sure you don’t make a hiring mistake: have a long application to get all the details you want (not need), send multiple assessments, have many people interview, (that way you can share the blame), etc.

This is counterproductive.

You will often lose the best candidates with an unduly long hiring process. The best candidates know their worth, and will feel that you cannot see their worth if you make them interview several times, often answering the same questions, over and over. I’ve witnessed it many times, where the best candidate gets frustrated with endless interviews, starts to wonder why she has to meet so many different people (she’s also most likely working, so getting time off for interviews is a challenge). Often, she drops out of the process since she feels you failed to see her value.

A few stats to support shortening the hiring process:

  • 60% of candidates quit job applications due to excessive length or complexity (CareerBuilder)
  • Organizations lose 20 percent of candidates after waiting just three days to schedule an interview (Filho, 2018)

The average interview process takes 23.7 days! (Cherian, 2017) It does not take 23 days to make a hiring decision, shorten your interview process and make more and better hires, before your competition steals them away.

If you can make a hiring decision in 10 days or less, you will lose fewer candidates to the competition, since candidates will continue to job hunt while interviewing and it won’t take long for the best candidates to receive additional offers. An unduly long process puts you at risk for losing the best candidates and for competing with additional job offers.

Coming soon: How to shorten your hiring process 




Cherian, J., 2017, 5 Ways Your Losing Good Candidates In the Recruitment Process https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/losing-good-candidates/

Filho, O.G., 2918, How Recruiters Can Foster ‘Hire’ Engagement with Hiring Managers https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/recruitment-onboarding/how-recruiters-can-foster-hire-engagement-with-hiring-managers/