Is It Better to Interview First or Last? Analyzing the Ideal Interview Order

Image of a man sitting in a chair surrounded by several people conducting a job interview. The man appears confident and friendly, maintaining eye contact with his interviewers. In the background, other job candidates can be seen waiting for their turn. The man seems to be pondering whether the order of the interviews might impact his chances of getting the job.

When it comes to job interviews, the age-old debate has been whether it’s better to interview first or last. This question has left job seekers and employers alike considering various aspects of the interview process in order to determine the ideal position. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both scenarios and delve into relevant research that aims to solve this dilemma.

Interview scheduling can significantly impact the potential outcome, due to factors such as the interviewers’ memories, their comparison of candidates, and an individual’s ability to leave a lasting impression. Each position within the interview order may have distinct advantages and drawbacks, influencing the likelihood of success. To make a well-informed decision, it is essential to comprehend the implications of interviewing first or last and be prepared for either situation.

Pros of Interviewing First

Interviewing first in a series of candidates comes with several advantages. The most evident benefit is being able to set the bar for the remaining interviews, allowing you to make a strong initial impression on the hiring team.

Another advantage of being the first interviewee is that you may face less competition, as interviewers have not yet formed comparisons with other candidates. This could provide you an opportunity to outshine others and be more memorable in the employer’s decision-making process.

From a scheduling perspective, interviewing first often ensures that decision-makers are fresh and undistracted, allowing for a concentrated evaluation and conversation. Additionally, a primacy effect could occur, where information presented at the beginning of a list or series is retained more effectively than information that follows. This phenomenon is often called “decision fatigue.”

Furthermore, the hiring team is likely to have a higher energy level and interest during the first interview, leading to better engagement and potentially fruitful discussions. Interviewing first may also present an opportunity to address any qualifying concerns or job requirements immediately, setting a clear path for subsequent interviews.

In summary, interviewing first offers benefits such as:

  • Setting the bar for other candidates
  • Less competition with other interviewees at the time of the interview
  • Undistracted interviewers and higher engagement levels
  • Opportunity to address concerns or requirements right away
  • Possibility of primacy effect working in your favor

Interviewing first can be a strategic part of your job search, positioning you to stand out to the hiring team in various ways.

Cons of Interviewing First

While interviewing first comes with advantages, there are some significant drawbacks that should be considered. In this section, we will discuss a few cons of interviewing first for a job opportunity.

Another potential drawback of interviewing first is that you might miss out on critical context regarding the position or the company’s priorities. This crucial information can often be gathered from other conversations with interviewers or through interactions with other candidates. When interviewing last, you can better tailor your answers and demonstrate your qualifications based on the insight gained from this additional context.

Furthermore, early interviewees might be at a disadvantage due to a lack of time for preparation. In some cases, candidates chosen to interview first may not have sufficient time to research the company, the role, and the specific challenges faced by the organization. Conversely, candidates who interview later might have more time and resources to better understand these aspects and be better prepared for the interview.

Finally, when interviewing first, you are exposed to a higher degree of comparison with other candidates. As the interviewers progress through the process, they subconsciously create a benchmark based on your performance. This benchmark can then influence their evaluation of subsequent candidates, who they may judge more favorably or unfavorably depending on how they compare to your interview. This adds an element of uncertainty to your candidacy that could negatively impact your chances of getting the job.

In conclusion, while there are some advantages to being the first candidate to interview for a job, it is crucial to consider the potential disadvantages as well. The main cons include decision fatigue, missing vital context or information, potential lack of preparation time, and the higher degree of comparison against other candidates. Ultimately, the best strategy for a candidate depends on their ability to evaluate the interview dynamics and maximize their chances for success.

Image of a woman seated across from a female interviewer in a job interview setting. The woman appears confident, dressed professionally and maintaining eye contact with the interviewer. However, she can be seen nervously fidgeting with a pen, possibly indicating anxiety or nervousness.

Pros of Interviewing Last

One advantage of interviewing last is the opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the interviewers. As the final candidate, you will likely be fresh in their minds while they evaluate the applicants. This position can be especially beneficial if you have a strong interview performance and are able to confidently convey your skills and qualifications.

Another benefit of interviewing last is the chance to learn more about the interview process and tailor your approach. By gathering information from those who went through the process earlier, you can identify questions that may be asked and develop responses that showcase your strengths. This knowledge allows you to refine your interview strategy and better address the concerns and priorities of the hiring team.

Being the last to interview can also provide you with additional time to research the company, role, and industry trends. This added preparation can enhance the quality and relevance of your answers, setting you apart from the competition. Demonstrating comprehensive knowledge of the organization and position shows your dedication, which can help you stand out among the other candidates.

When interviewing last, you might also be in a position to take advantage of the fatigue, stress, or lowered recall that may affect earlier interviewees. By presenting yourself as a well-prepared, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic candidate, you can potentially shine compared to those who experienced challenges earlier in the interview process.

Another advantage related to interviewing last is the potential for the interviewer’s assessment to be influenced by recency bias. Recency bias occurs when an individual places greater emphasis on the most recent information they have encountered. In the context of interviews, this could mean that the interviewer may unintentionally favor the last candidate they spoke with, as their interaction is freshest in their mind.

Finally, with the knowledge of the performance standards set by earlier interviewees, you may be able to better adapt your answers to highlight your unique strengths and qualities. Playing to your individual assets and abilities helps differentiate you from other applicants and can leave a lasting impact on the hiring team.

Cons of Interviewing Last

Just as there are advantages to interviewing last, there are also potential downsides that should be considered when scheduling an interview. Let’s explore some of these factors:

One risk of interviewing last is the possibility of the interviewer suffering from decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is a psychological phenomenon wherein an individual’s decision-making ability is hindered due to mental exhaustion, often arising after making a series of choices throughout the day. As a result, the interviewer may not be as engaged or focused when speaking with the final candidate.

It is also possible that, by the time the final candidate interviews, the organization may have already developed a strong impression of earlier candidates, making it more difficult for the last candidate to stand out. This could impact the candidate’s chances of being seriously considered for the position if they do not perform exceptionally well during the interview.

Finally, if multiple strong candidates interview earlier, the hiring team may begin to feel pressure to make a decision quickly, rather than waiting to see all potential hires. This could potentially lead to a premature decision, even if the final candidate would have been a better fit for the role.

While it is essential to acknowledge the potential drawbacks of interviewing last, individual factors and circumstances will ultimately determine the impact of these issues on a candidate’s overall performance and chances of success.

Image of a woman engaged in a job interview with a female interviewer. The woman is shown actively speaking and appears to be concentrated on the discussion. Both individuals are seated facing each other in a professional setting.

Factors to Consider

When deciding whether to interview first or last, several factors should be taken into consideration. These include the interviewers’ preferences, the number of applicants, the candidates’ qualifications, and the type of interview.

The preferences of the interviewers may influence their decision-making process. Some interviewers may be more inclined to favor the first interviewee, as they set the bar for the subsequent candidates. Others might find the last candidate more memorable, as they are the freshest in their minds when making decisions.

The number of applicants is another aspect to consider. If there are only a few applicants, the order of interviews might not be as important, since the interviewers will have more time to devote to each candidate. However, in cases with numerous candidates, the order can become crucial, with first and last candidates potentially gaining advantages over other interviewees.

Table 1: The impact of scheduling among a high volume of applicants

Applicant positionAdvantagesDisadvantages
FirstSets the standard, fresher in the interviewer’s mindCan be overshadowed by subsequent candidates
MiddleNo distinct advantagesCan be overshadowed by both first and last candidates
LastMost recent in the interviewer’s memoryRisk of interviewers experiencing fatigue and decision fatigue

Another consideration is the qualifications of the candidates. A highly qualified candidate might prefer to interview later, allowing them to showcase their abilities after others have set the standard. On the other hand, a less qualified candidate may wish to interview earlier, to leave a strong impression before the interviewers have a chance to meet more qualified applicants.

Table 2: The impact of qualifications on interview scheduling

QualificationsBetter to interview firstBetter to interview last
Highly qualifiedNoYes
Less qualifiedYesNo

The type of interview also plays a role in the decision. Group interviews may be more advantageous for candidates interviewing first or last, as they have opportunities to stand out from the rest. In one-on-one interviews or panels, the advantages and disadvantages of interviewing first or last may be less pronounced.

In conclusion, while there are advantages and disadvantages to interviewing first or last, each candidate must weigh the factors based on their unique circumstances and preferences.


In summary, both first and last interview positions have their own advantages and drawbacks. However, it is essential to remember that the ultimate decision hinges on an individual’s performance and the impression they create during the interview. As such, it becomes pertinent to focus on important aspects such as preparation, effective communication, and presentation, rather than pondering over the interview’s order.

Nevertheless, it is worth understanding potential biases, such as the primacy and recency effects, with a view to adapt one’s approach accordingly. For instance, interviewees adopting an early position should attempt to create a strong and lasting impression, while those appearing in the final stages should strive to remain memorable and highlight their unique selling points.

Given that the interviewer’s perspective and preferences also play a crucial role, it is vital to remain adaptable and flexible in any given scenario. To put it succinctly, prioritize the interview’s content over its timing, and maintain an unwavering focus on personal growth and development.

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