Is there a best time to schedule for a job interview?
Here are some good insights from HR experts to give us an idea.
Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., PHR Emeritus
Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)
Since interview candidates are often offered multiple time slots to choose from, they should try to schedule an appointment that best suits their individual energy levels. For example, if somebody is most energetic in mid-morning (but runs out of gas by 3:00 p.m.), he or she should try to avoid a late afternoon interview slot. The hiring managers should see folks at their energetic best — when their mental ability to provide complete and concise answers in response to questions is at its peak.
Even if your energy level is wonderful the first thing in the morning, taking an 8:15 a.m. interview appointment may not be wise if you live in a metro area with significant rush-hour traffic congestion.
Why risk a late arrival due to a traffic tie-up if there’s a later morning slot available at 9:45 a.m.?
Beware of taking an interview slot on a Friday afternoon. By 2:30 p.m., a great many managers (and their staffers as well) start thinking about their weekend plans — and may not be completely focused on the quality of the answers that you provide during your Q&A session. If you’re stuck with a Friday interview, go for a morning appointment.
One final tip: Always arrive at least 25 minutes early. This is so that you can spend several minutes in the restroom to get yourself looking your absolute best before you meet the receptionist. That will also provide some allowance if parking problems occur. Further, if you live in the general area but have never been to this organization’s location in the past, it might be a good idea to make a “dry run” beforehand to familiarize yourself with the exact locale and the amount of time needed to get there.
CEO, Amplio Recruiting
Over the many years of interviewing candidates across different industries, I have noticed that timing can have an impact on the outcome of the interview.
In my experience, mid-mornings and early afternoons, preferably between Tuesday and Thursday are ideal.
I like to dedicate early mornings to myself to set the right tone for the rest of the day. I use the time between 7 am and 9 am to catch up on some reading, scheduled podcasts, social media, and to get other pending non-interview related tasks out of the way. By the time mid-morning rolls in, I am not only feeling good about myself but I have also completed some of the day’s most important tasks.
At this time, I have done some preliminary preparations for the upcoming interview and I am in a good headspace to receive the candidate and give them my full attention. Of course, from the candidate’s perspective, there is the risk of comparison bias if you are the first one to interview but on the hand, you could set the tone for the rest of the interviews if you make a particularly great impression.
Early afternoons, meaning the period between 1 pm and 3 pm also make for a good time to hold a productive interview. I prefer early afternoons because much of the morning rush has dissipated, the day is in flow, and the distractions are generally few.
I admit that there have been times when an interview fell right before lunch and I was eager to get done and dodge out for a bite. A good way to get around the afternoon slump is to get together and do the interview over a lunch break meal whenever possible.
Mondays and Fridays tend to be problematic for most people for a variety of reasons. Personally, I like to reserve Mondays for planning the week ahead and to thoroughly prepare for upcoming interviews. They call it Monday Blues for a reason– no one wants to have intense long meetings first thing in the morning after a weekend.
Friday afternoons can also be a slippery slope because everyone is looking for ways to start their weekend as early as possible, including the candidate himself so there is a chance that what would be an otherwise great interview will be interrupted, feel scattered, or go awry simply because one or both parties are eager to leave already.
In conclusion, if you have control over the time of your interview, consider setting it up for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 10 am and noon or 1 pm and 3 pm.
Of course, even if you come in at the perfect time, how well you do during the interview will ultimately determine whether you get the job.
Laurie Berenson, CMRW, CEIC, CPRW
Certified Master Resume Writer | Owner, Sterling Career Concepts, LLC
The best strategy to scheduling a job interview is a balance of two things – when you (the interviewee) are at your best and when you might make the best impression on the interviewer.
First, if you are not a morning person, don’t let anyone talk you into securing the first time slot. It’s not worth the risk of poor performance. Similarly, if you know you’re never at your best at the end of the afternoon, avoid interviewing then.
There are different schools of thought – first, last, or the first one after lunch or another break of time. I tend to lean towards the theory of scheduling one of the later time slots so that your conversation is more recent and the impression you make is more top of mind.
When you interview early on in the process, while you do have the chance to set the pace and become the frontrunner, you also risk not being memorable and passed over by subsequent candidates.
At the end of the day, don’t place too much of a priority on which time you schedule the interview. Prioritize making sure you’re prepared for the interview – that you’ve read up on the company and the position, practiced answering commonly asked questions and your reasons for wanting the job and formulated answers to any questions or concerns specific to your background. That’s how you’re going to ace an interview!
Founder & CEO, Career Bloom
Avoid “First Thing in the Morning” Interviews
The interviewer or the candidate can run late due to rush hour or other unforeseen circumstances. Also, many people are not morning people so depending on who is interviewing or being interviewed, being grumpy or stressed out can contribute to the success of the interview.
Don’t Be the Last Person
Research shows that decision fatigue kicks in as the day goes on, and people start getting more cautious or attentive; hence less likely to pay close attention to the applicant’s qualification and expertise levels
Choose Between 10 and 10:30 AM
If you can suggest an interview time, choosing a morning time slot between 10 and 10:30 helps with making sure that both the candidate and the interviewer are alert, have taken care of the important and pressing matters before the meeting.
Avoid Scheduling Interviews Before and After Other Important Meetings/Commitments You Have
Interviews can be stressful as is, so avoid scheduling them on the days right before or after important commitments and/or meetings you may have in order to avoid the added stress.
Founder & CEO, Hire Talent
At a time that is convenient for your candidates!
I strongly promote the use of self-scheduling tools. The endless back and forth trying to figure out when and how we are going to do an interview is annoying and unprofessional for both the candidate and the interviewer.
For more in-depth or long interviews I generally see them at the end of the day is best. It’s easier for candidates to take some time off at the end of their working day than have to take the entire day off from their current job for the interview or have to cut the interview short to go back to work during the morning or lunch interview.
If you do it at the end of the day both the interviewer and the candidate have more flexibility to let the meeting run long or complete an additional task such as assessment testing.
Emily Frank, M.A.
Career Counselor & Coach, Denver Career Catalyst
Many people advise certain best times for the interview (early in the morning so you’re their first, late in the afternoon so you’re their last, etc.) but honestly, it’s more individual than that.
We are naturally wired to be morning, evening, or in-between people, so the best time to schedule an interview is when you’re at your best.
This is true for the time of day as well as the day of the week. Some people are morning people and get a bump of energy around mid-week, so 8 a.m. on a Wednesday is ideal, whereas some people are going to be much better at 4 on a Monday.
It’s worth considering things like anxiety and prep time, as well. For my clients who are very nervous about an interview, I generally recommend earlier in the day so they don’t spend all morning fretting about it. Other considerations, of course, include travel time to the interview site, availability of time off a previous job, and family needs (like getting the kids to school, walking the dog, etc).
Furthermore, it’s important that interviewees know the format of the interview since some include a presentation or multiple sessions with key stakeholders, which may take several hours. Meaning that people who are prone to getting hangry or know their stomachs are particularly noisy, for instance, should avoid running up to their regular lunch hour!
HR Consultant, BuzzARooney, LLC
For job candidates, many times you don’t have many options on what time you can select. However, if you have options, schedule your job interview for the time of day when you are the most alert and focused.
If you are not a morning person, don’t select an 8 or 9 am interview slot; you won’t be able to put the best version of yourself forward if you’re grouchy because you don’t want to be awake yet! If you are a person who hits a slump after lunch, don’t select a 2 or 3 pm slot; you will be sluggish and not sharp.
Another suggestion for job candidates is to schedule your interview toward the middle to the end of the interview process. Recency bias is real! Hiring managers tend to remember and lean toward selecting the candidate they spoke to most recently when making their decision. If you the option, you want that recent person to be you!
For hiring managers, always schedule interviews for the times of day when you are the most alert and focused. The decision to hire someone into your organization is important. You need to have your listening ears and curious mind on high! That cannot happen if you’re not yet caffeinated enough or feeling hungry or feeling sluggish.
Be considerate and reasonable with candidates, who are often hiding the fact that they’re interviewing from a current employer, in the time slots you offer. However, be mindful that your level of focus will set the tone and either aid or hinder your decision accordingly.
Ciara Van De Velde
Client Engagement Manager, Simple Resume
The best time for a candidate to schedule a job interview is typically in the morning between the times of 9am-11am from Tuesday – Thursday.
It’s always a good practice to avoid scheduling an interview during the beginning or end of the week.
When scheduling interviews during the middle of the week, the hiring manager doesn’t have to worry about catching up with work and can spend more time dedicated to your interview. In the same concept, avoiding setting up interviews during the late afternoons.
This assures that hiring managers/interviewers won’t be in a hurry to finish their tasks before the end of the day and can take the extra time to get to know you.
HR Manager & Career Expert, EndThrive
If you have the luxury of choosing the day and time to schedule your interview, then your best bet is Tuesday or Wednesday around 10 am.
For many people, Monday seems like an ideal choice. After all, you’ve given yourself the weekend to practice and prepare. Plus, everything is fresh on your mind so you’re ready to nail it. But here’s the thing. Scheduling your interview for the middle of the week is much better than scheduling it on Mondays or Fridays.
Why? Because for most HR professionals, Mondays are focused on getting things lined up for the upcoming week. Friday’s are used for wrapping everything up before the weekend hits. As a result, both of these days can get a little hectic.
And when the HR managers are feeling stressed, it can trickle down to your interview. After all, they’re humans too. So you want to try to catch them when they’re at their best.
This is why I recommend scheduling your interview on Tuesday or Wednesday during the mid-morning hours. By this time, your interviewer has completed their beginning of the weekly to-do list. They’ve gotten several important tasks finished so they’re less likely to have several things demanding their attention.
As a result, they will feel more prepared for your interview. This can make all the difference in how smoothly the process goes.
HR Manager, Styled Story
Most of the time, companies would decide on the interview timing. However, if they do provide you with the option, you’re one of the lucky ones!
To determine the best time to schedule an interview, you may need to know your interviewer or potential employee well. One of the factors that determine the best time is the nature of their work.
If the company is a corporate office, you should consider scheduling interviews in the morning when most people would feel fresh and awake. On the other hand, if they’re remote workers, schedule it in the late morning e.g. 11 am or evenings at 5 pm.
If you do somehow manage to find out the working style of your interviewer, you’d know if he/she is a morning person or night owl. Use this to your advantage and schedule the interview according to that as they’ll be more awake and receptive to your responses.
No matter what timing you pick, you should always avoid 3 pm when lunch food coma sets in. This is when it will take a lot more to impress them (and keep them awake).
Another scenario would be when you’re aware of other interviewees competing for the same job. In that case, you should pick the timing that is earlier than the others. If by the end of all interviews, the company is still impressed by you, they’ll be more affirmed that you’ve left a lasting impression on them.
COO, Surf Search
Mornings. You want to connect with the recruiter or hiring manager when they are fresh and have had their first cup of coffee. The end of the day is generally not the best time because folks have one foot out the door and who knows what kind of day they’ve had?
Generally speaking, if you are going on-site for a series of interviews, this will be out of your hands but again, mornings rule. And it’s never a good idea to end up in a panel type interview just after lunch when that team has slid into “post-lunch” food coma. That should be avoided at all costs.
The best time to schedule a job interview is towards the middle of the week.
Mondays are usually hectic and people often lack concentration on Fridays. In addition, you don’t want to be the first candidate to be interviewed. This is because interviewers will use your interview as a comparison to the rest throughout the day. Unfortunately, that means you can never surpass that standard set by being the first candidate.
Executive Director, Nigel Wright Group
One of the best things you can do as an interviewing candidate is to ask what times would most suit the hiring manager.
By appearing flexible you will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position, and they will suggest times when they are most likely to be able to give you their full attention and not be distracted by other priorities and tasks that you simply won’t be aware of.
Without asking this question, you will only be making assumptions as to how the hiring manager works, such as that they prefer to focus on key tasks and priorities in the mornings. Not every hiring manager is the same.
Ask the hiring manager what the timeframe is for interviews. This will then allow you to consider where you should position yourself within that period to work to your strengths. If you know you’re most articulate and alert in the mornings, schedule an interview for then. If you feel you would benefit most from refreshing your memory on the potential job interview content the morning beforehand, schedule an interview for the afternoon.
Choosing a time at the latter stages of this timeframe will often mean that hiring managers are more likely to remember you better and also that they will have had time to refine their requirements for the role over the course of the interviews, making your interview experience more concise and relevant.
It’s best to avoid Mondays as this is when people are usually at their busiest. Fridays are when people are winding down for the weekend and therefore also not a great option. An interview first thing in the morning could be sabotaged by one or both parties being late and one at the end of the day may mean that the interviewer and interviewee lack focus and energy.
Mid-morning or mid-afternoon during the middle of the week is usually the most optimal time for both the hiring manager and candidate.
Founder & CEO, Docudavit Solutions
My interview sweet spot lies somewhere between 9:30-11am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Why? Because Mondays can sometimes be hectic and Fridays, well who feels most motivated on a Friday? Mid to late morning doesn’t force your interviewee to sit through commuter traffic, assumes ample amount of coffee has already been consumed, and most immediate tasks have been addressed so you can solely focus on the interview. There’s also still plenty of time to discuss feedback with the team after the candidate has left.
Baron Christopher Hanson
Lead Consultant & Owner, Red Baron Consulting, LLC
Depending on your industry and the exact job role, it is best to schedule job interviews at the most critical times that any prospective new employee will be required to get to work, perform their work, or be expected to be at their best.
If the job requires a candidate to be at work before 7:30 AM each day, part of the interview should be to see how well they arrive at that hour, and if in fact, they are “morning people.” If the job is a universal 9 am to 5 pm role, see how well they navigate standard rush hour traffic in your city by hosting a 9 am interview.
Other out of the ordinary job times may require out of the ordinary interview times. If you are hiring a live television co-host who will go on-air each evening at 11 pm, conducting interviews from 10 pm to midnight would be highly relevant and an ideal HR strategy.
Since it is ideally a best practice to conduct two to three different interviews before you finally hire any level of employee, schedule them differently and accordingly to when they will be required to show up, be at their best, or when any historic breakdowns in job productivity occur.
You want to schedule a job interview on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday and, ideally, before 11:00 am. Also, you don’t want to interview around holidays or in August. Why?
First, Thursday and Friday are toward the end of the week, which is when people begin to check out and think more about the weekend than the work left to be completed. When you interview, you want the interviewers to be fully attentive to your answers, questions, and overall interview experience. Their attention spans shouldn’t be compromised on thinking about weekend activities.
Second, people are sharpest in the morning, when workday fatigue hasn’t reduced mental energy. After lunch, employees like to dig in and use the rest of the day for their work. You don’t want to compete with their priorities.
Third, interviewing around the holidays will make your life difficult. The interviewer might be thinking about his or her plans and not your interview. Furthermore, if you interviewed before the holidays, they could forget about you during their days off. If you interview right after, they might be catching on work and not pay full attention to your interview.
Additionally, August is a tough month for interviewing because some interviewers might be out of office since the summer is ending and they want to get their vacations in. This makes scheduling in August tough. Regardless, if you schedule in August, you might not get all the interviewers in on your interview because some of the team might be gone.
Overall, your approach should be to have the interviewers pay most attention to what you have to say. You’re already competing with other applicants, so why compete with employee priorities when your task is already difficult?