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/

Sources:
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