Dear Matt: Does it really matter what day and time I interview?
Matt says: Ninety-nine percent of interviewees would rather be anywhere else on the planet than at an interview, says career development coach Vicky Oliver (vickyoliver.com), author of “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions”. There’s a tendency to want to get the interview over with as soon as possible — so if you have a choice, choose a morning time slot for your interview.
“Studies show that people who interview in the morning are offered the job more often than those who take afternoon interviews,” says Oliver.
Also, midweek days are better interview days than either Mondays or Fridays. On Monday everyone has too many meetings to give your interview the attention it deserves. On Friday most interviewers are ready to leave the work week behind. Interview on a Friday and there’s a chance your interviewer will be on to more pressing issues by Monday and any momentum is lost, says Oliver.
But no matter when your interview is scheduled, preparation is key. Many job seekers assume that since they have an interview they have the inside track. But for each job there could be as many as five to 10 people interviewing, and even if your HR contact or recruiter seem excited to meet you, shouldn’t they be excited about all the candidates? In other words, your work is far from over. If you know someone who works at the company — or even know someone who knows someone — get in contact with them and ask questions to learn everything you can about the company management, new initiatives, general morale, even the personality of your interviewer.
“Having a deep knowledge of both the industry and the actual company where you are interviewing will help separate you from those with only a superficial understanding,” says Oliver. “You’ll ask smarter questions and be more memorable as a result.”
When it’s time to ask questions, providing industry observations or kudos for recent company successes are good lead-ins. Then ask questions that determine if the company will be a good fit for you: “What type of employees tend to succeed here?” Never ask questions about perks until an offer is made and steer clear of questions that suggest you’re not the right person for the job, such as “Will I really have to travel two days a week?”
Most interviewees believe the in-person meeting with the hiring manager is the last step. Unfortunately, it’s only the first step. After a great meeting, begin your campaign for the job. Send a handwritten thank-you the same day and plan out a communication strategy for reaching out to the interviewer again.
“You are on a campaign for a job until you land the job,” says Oliver — no matter what day and time you interview.
Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.