The Batting (Interview) Order – Does it Really Matter?

Many candidates often ask if the order of the person being interviewed has any real impact on who is ultimately selected. Some candidates compare the interview order to a vendor selling SW and services to a CIO. Somehow they feel they will be in a better position and have a better outcome if they are the last one interviewed. If you are selling technology there is a chance you might leave the economic buyer with a better memory of what was said or which products were presented.

Not true when talking about human capital.

Let’s take a look at the perceived pros and cons of the interview order (kind the batting order in baseball) and test the concept. Shall we?

OK – Who’s on first?

1st at bat – I guess many believe that one can “set the bar” if they are the first candidate interviewed. This is a false sense of security and while to think you can set the bar high – another candidate that is better prepared and has more experience and better people skills will quickly re-set whatever bar you think you may have set. Being first does not matter.

2nd at bat – The candidate in the middle sometimes may think that the interview team will be more “in tune” after going thru their first interview and somehow going second gives them an advantage. Once again – it will not matter what the dynamics are with the interview team if your interview is scheduled after the first candidate – if you are not prepared. Myth dispelled!

Clean-up batting 3rd – this is the order of the interview schedule that probably creates the most attention. Many candidates not only ask me where they are in the interview schedule – they lobby to go last. Go figure. Does this help the outcome? Nota bit. I have seen my share of candidates that were interviewed last walk out of the room like they were just sent home by Simon and Randy on American Idol.

In the end – your best strategy as a candidate is to:

  • Be prepared (know your audience and company background)
  • Be prompt (The Vince Lombardi Rule: arrive 15 minutes before your meeting)
  • Look professional (Dress for success- dark colors always work and so do polished shoes)
  • Display confidence (Firm handshake – and be prepared to articulate why you deserve the job)
  • Ask intelligent questions (have 3- 5 intelligent questions prepared. Write them down).
    • Follow up (Usually within 24 hours. Get business cards from each person involved in the interview. Never write the same f/u note to everyone you interviewed with- Never! Hand written and e-mail messages are both acceptable.) – GAME OVER!