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To Crack that Interview, go on a Different Date than the Strongest Contender

Update Date: Jan 18, 2013 03:44 AM EST

The success of a person in an interview depends on who else has been shortlisted for the same day. This is according to a recent research published in Psychological Science, which is a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

This research took the result of an earlier research on the gambler fallacy, and based on that, Uri Simonsohn of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School presented a hypothesis that the interviewer often performs "narrow bracketing" on the candidates. This means that they judge an applicant based mainly on the basis of other applicants interviewed on the day instead of considering the total list of applicants.

Gambler's fallacy, popularly known as the Monte Carlo Fallacy, is where a person believes that if a series of random events are occurring, then the next series of events will have higher chances of occurring in the opposite direction. For example, if a person tosses a coin and repeatedly gets 'heads', then the gambler fallacy predicts the next flip of the coin to be 'tails'.

"People are averse to judging too many applicants high or low on a single day, which creates a bias against people who happen to show up on days with especially strong applicants. We were able to document this error with experts who have been doing the job for years, day in and day out," Simonsohn and Gino stated in a press release.

To test their hypothesis, Simonsohn and Gino considered data from 9,000 MBA interviews spanning about 10 years. It was found that the interviewers tend to give a higher score to the candidate during the first half of the day, whereas candidates appearing on the later half had a comparatively lower score.

If the first candidate's average score increased by .75 (on a scale of 1-5) then automatically the score of the second candidate will drop by .075. The drop may seem insignificant, but in reality it is not so. To make up for the drop, the candidate will then need to score approximately 30 more points in GMAT, the work experience expectation would increase by 23 months, or .23 more points in the written test. As the day progressed, the drop became more noticeable and it became harder for the applicants to make up for the loss.

The researchers pointed out that this phenomenon affected all walks of life, be it in a job interview, applying for a house loan, or being a contestant in a reality show. So to succeed, make sure that there is no strong contender on the same day of the interview.

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