How Narrow-Bracketing Affects Your Job Interview
How Narrow-Bracketing Affects Your Job Interview

There are few things more nerve-racking than job interviews, especially if you’re fresh out of college and trying to break into your career field. You can study the company, have mock interviews and dry clean your best suit. Success is not guaranteed. However, there are some ways you can improve your chances at landing that entry-level sales position.

Here’s one: If you have an option, try scheduling one of the first interviews of the day. Interviewers who see multiple job candidates on the same day are more likely to give lower scores later in the day. That’s according to a study published recently  in Psychological Science by Uri Simonsohn of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School.

Why Early Birds Get Higher Ratings

This theory is called narrow-bracketing. It refers to the idea that someone makes a decision without realizing the consequences of making the same decision multiple times. If an interviewer has three days of interviews scheduled, they will judge the candidates on a day-by-day basis as opposed to judging candidates from all three days at once. This means your biggest competition comes from the people interviewing the same day as you.

Simonsohn and Gino studied more than 9,000 MBA interviews that took place over the course of a decade. Their findings correlated with the original idea that interviewers give higher scores during earlier interviews. Even if someone interviews eight people with similar qualifications and experience, the people in the afternoon will receive lower scores. This is not because the later people are less deserving. The interviewer simply didn’t expect so many qualifying candidates on the same day.

How to Beat the Tendency

The researchers used a five-point scale to score each interview. They found that, on average, interviewers score early interviews 0.75 points higher. Even if these numbers don’t seem like much, they make a big difference when it comes to narrowing down similar candidates.

Notice the pattern does not extend to multiple days. If there are three days of interviews, the ratings from the first day will not affect the ratings from the second or third day. It all has to do with patterns. If an interviewer gives the same score to two people in a row, the third person will more than likely receive a different score, even if all three candidates are equally qualified.

To give yourself the best possible advantage, choose one of the earliest interview times available, especially if there are going to be several candidates with qualifications similar to yours. Knowing this piece of advice will help improve your interview scores, but don’t forget the old-school tips as well. Dress professionally, ask good questions and follow up with your interviewer. Combined with your knowledge of how to use narrow-bracketing to your favor, you should have no problem impressing your interviewer.


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About the author
Stephanie Bauer
Stephanie Bauer works as marketing specialist, brand strategist, social media enthusiast and all-around whiz at Worldwide Express' corporate office in Dallas. Find me on Google+

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