Polls / April 23, 2012

When interviewed for a job, would you rather be the first, middle or last candidate to be questioned?

Forty-four percent of respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll prefer to be the first candidate to be interviewed for a job.

Can you come in for an interview?
Is the first, middle or the final interview slot the best?
Given that strengths, weaknesses, job history, education and many other factors go into deciding who gets a particular job, the order of interview slots probably slips into insignificance. However, there is some evidence that the order of appearance does matter in competitions – with research on the Eurovision Song Contest showing a preference for performances in the second half of the contest.

I’ll take the last one
In Love thy Neighbour, Love thy Kin, economists from universities in Cyprus and Canada found the order of appearance is “very important” in how a song was judged in Eurovision. The “fading memory effect” was a possible explanation – with jurors failing to recall earlier performers at the same time as later contestants spring to mind.
Similarly, there is evidence that the “last” of something often seems the best, with a study on chocolate cited in The Atlantic showing a “positivity bias for end experiences”. In other words, chocolate tasters given several types of the treat were much more likely to rate their last chocolate as the best – regardless of the flavour.
But – as with so many notions – there is a paradox. Studies show that in other contexts, people prefer things they are exposed to earlier (including original songs over cover versions).

Life is like a ...
Given that job seekers cannot usually chose to be interviewed first, in the middle or last, it’s difficult to draw particularly helpful advice from these studies. Perhaps it might pay to try to make your interview memorable (like the song competition) or your talent scarce (like the final chocolate), or full of original ideas (like the song).


eZonomics team
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