Best Time To Interview: What It Is And How To Schedule It

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 10, 2020

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Congratulations – you landed an interview for your dream job, and the hiring manager is asking you for your preferred date and time.

Beyond finding a time with no conflicts, you’ll want to put a little extra thought into this decision to ensure you’re scheduling the best interview time possible.

What Makes an Interview Time the Best?

The best interview times are the ones that will set you up to have the most engaged and interested listeners possible.

If you were planning to teach a class, you’d probably avoid certain times if you wanted your audience to be alert.

First thing in the morning, for example, probably isn’t your best bet, and neither is the last class of the day on a Friday. Students will either be half (or totally) asleep, or their minds will be wandering to their weekend plans, making your eloquent lecture useless.

The same goes for an interview. You’re presenting yourself and your qualifications to an audience, so it’s in your best interest to schedule that presentation for a time when your listeners will be at their best.

The Importance of Scheduling Your Interview at the Best Time

While you won’t be able to make up for poor preparation and lacking qualifications with your scheduling choice alone, there are some ways that the date and time of your interview could impact its success.

  • Decision-making fatigue can play a part in hiring managers’ decisions. If you are one in a long line of interviews, chances are the candidates will all start to blend together for recruiters by the end of the day.

    This increases the pressure on you to stand out, making it even more challenging to make a good impression.

    Also, as the day wears on, hiring managers will often become aware that their decision-making skills are lagging, making them warier of enthusiastically recommending someone.

    This is especially true if, during the afternoon, they realize they’ve recommended far more candidates than they’ve crossed off, and they realize they need to start narrowing people down.

    Job type you want
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    Don’t let this scare you, though, as there’s also a chance that you’re the first ray of hope they’ve seen in a few hours, making you even more memorable.

  • Having your time cut short could cause you to miss out on sharing vital information. If your meeting bumps up against lunchtime or the end of the day, there’s a chance that you’ll have to end the meeting sooner than you would’ve liked.

    This isn’t always a problem, but it can result in you not being able to share all the information or ask all the questions you would’ve liked to and reduce your chances of being able to connect with your interviewer through further conversation.

    No matter what time you schedule your meeting, there’s always a chance for unexpected conflicts to pop up and cause this same problem, but choosing your interview slot carefully can help cut down on this risk.

  • Building relationships will be easier with more engaged listeners. If recruiters are alert and engaged, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll be able to connect with them on a level beyond interviewer-interviewee.

    Their focus and energy can result in more in-depth conversations, which will build rapport. This can benefit you greatly, as people are more likely to remember and recommend those they connected with, especially if you’re just as qualified as several other candidates.

    After all, wouldn’t you be more likely to hire someone who you know you’d enjoy working with?

When You Shouldn’t Try To Schedule Your Interview at the Best Time

If a recruiter gives you one or two specific options for interview times, the only reason you should ask for a different time is if you absolutely can’t make it to any of the ones they offered.

Do everything in your power to move your schedule around to accommodate those times, but hiring managers understand if you can’t do this. Just be sure to explain as much as possible about why you can’t make it, apologize, and then offer a few different times that would work for you. Don’t make them try to guess your schedule again.

Asking to move the interview time for no good reason makes a poor impression on a potential employer, as it shows that you value your own time more than theirs and that you aren’t willing to be a team player.

Assume that the meeting time you were given is the best time for your interviewers and then do everything you can to show up at your best. Drink some coffee or wake up a little earlier and go for a run if you need to.

How To Schedule an Interview at the Best Time

If you have the option to schedule your own interview time, here are some tips for doing so. None of these by themselves will make or break your interview, but they can set you up for better success.

  1. Think about the times you’re at your best. Even if your audience is at their best at the time you set, it will do no good if you aren’t at yours.

    If you’re a morning person, a morning interview will likely be when you’re most enthusiastic and clear-thinking. If, on the other hand, you know you take a couple of hours to get going in the morning, setting a time in the late morning or the afternoon will be the best way to set yourself up for success.

    You should also keep in mind any scheduled activities that might hinder your interview time from going longer than anticipated.

    For example, if your interview is scheduled at 2:00, and you have to pick up your child at 4:00, you’re likely going to be stressed if your meeting gets pushed back at all. This will prevent you from focusing and will add more stress to an already stressful situation.

    Instead, leave yourself plenty of buffer time so that you can be fully in the moment without worrying about what’s happening next.

  2. Avoid early mornings and late afternoons. Both of these times of day aren’t usually the ideal meeting times for anyone, including your interviewers.

    Not only is this when people tend to be a little sleepy, but they also are less likely to be totally focused on the matter at hand during these times.

    Their minds will be on whatever just happened at home when they were coming in, what they need to do during the rest of the day, or where they’re going as soon as they clock out.

    If something unexpected comes up, your meeting scheduled during these times will likely be pushed back or be cut short.

    Try to schedule a time that gives hiring managers a chance to settle in and is far enough within the workday that they won’t want to just get the meeting over with. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon meetings are usually best for this.

  3. Leave a buffer around lunchtime. Few people can stay concentrated just before lunch, and even fewer are wide awake and enthusiastic just afterward.

    Also, lunch meetings, strict lunch schedules, or just a long line at the restaurant could cause your interview to start late or be cut off early.

    Avoid this by trying to schedule your interview before 11:00 a.m. and after 1:00 p.m., unless it’s a lunch meeting, of course.

  4. Aim for a day mid-week. It’s generally a consensus that Mondays are the worst day to interview.

    People are walking in from the weekend tired and distracted by whatever was going on at home and slammed with their to-do list that magically grew over the weekend.

    Fridays aren’t ideal either, especially in the afternoon as most people are mentally checking out for the weekend, but they’re better than Mondays. Hiring managers will have been in the groove of work for a while, and they’re often able to prepare their schedules for your interview.

    If you can, though, try to schedule your interview on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

  5. Pay attention to holidays. Scheduling an interview right after a long weekend or holiday is like scheduling it on the ultimate Monday.

    Try to wait a day or two to give interviewers the chance to get back in the swing of things and catch up on all the tasks that were waiting for their return.

    If possible, avoid scheduling your meeting right before a holiday as well, as hiring managers will be distracted thinking about the upcoming festivities and because it will be more difficult for them to remember you when they return to discuss the candidates.

    Whether your interview butts up against a holiday or not, following up with a thank you note is always a good idea. It can help jog recruiters’ memories and keep your good first impression going strong.

  6. Provide several options. When you respond to a recruiter with your time of choice, give a few dates and times that will work for you. This shows that you’re considerate of the interviewers’ time as well as your own and will go a long way in making an excellent first impression.

    It also allows hiring managers to choose when would be best for them instead of having to squeeze you in on their busiest day of the week or in between stressful meetings.

    Having them make this choice can be just as beneficial to you as getting your ideal time of 10:30 on a Tuesday would be.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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