Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eyes Wide Open: Should You Be the First to Interview?

Whether hiring a key executive or selecting an agency or AMC, associations and other organizations normally involve a committee and ask candidates to interview. Many set an interview schedule that involves having three to five candidates come the same day.

Colleagues often ask me ...

  • Should they be interviewed first or last? 
  • Should they to be first or last to present to a potential new client? 
(Both questions assume you have a choice on the order you are interviewed or meet with a potential client.)

Over the years, I’ve heard rationale for both. 

  • Some argue you should go first, make a great impression early, set the bar high for those who follow. 
  • Others say you should go last since those making the decision will remember you more than those who come early.
In preparation for her presentation at the upcoming ASAE Annual Meeting (ASAE14), I’ve been reading Noreena Hertz’s Eyes Wide Open. My goal was to get an upfront idea of Noreena and have an idea of what she might discuss.

In her chapter titled “Monitor Your Emotional Thermostat,” I discovered a research study that may help answer the question about when to interview.

Hertz shares research on the impact of food and sugar levels on our emotions and decisions. She reports on a study on parole decisions in Israel that “determined whether or not a judge granted parole was not the gender of the prisoner, their ethnicity or event nor the severity of they crime but whether or not the judge had eaten recently!”

The study showed the judge’s decision about parole was strongly influenced by the judge’s blood sugar level. Prisoners who met with the judge before his ten o’clock mid-morning snack of a sandwich or piece of fruit had no chance (0%) of getting parole. Meanwhile, a prisoner who appeared before the judge after his snack had a 65% chance of parole. Before lunch, only 10% of prisoners received parole; after lunch parole granting jumped to 65%.

Tips for Candidates and Associations:

When should I interview?
  • Avoid being interviewed before a mid-day snack or before lunch.
  • Be sure you have a snack before you interview or present.
How should I organize the interview committee
  • Be sure to have snacks (fruit, etc.) available in the interview room.
  • Don’t over schedule ... too many candidates in the morning or afternoon. It’s better to place the interviews over a two day period.
  • Be sure your committee “breaks” between each candidate.
What have you found either in being interviewed or in conducting interviews? Feel free to share at

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