The Best Time to Interview for a Job

Anita,

I recently had an interview just before a 3-day weekend. I could tell the interviewer was not really paying attention. It’s been weeks and I haven’t heard back. Should I give up? In the future, I don’t think I’ll make any appointments before a federal holiday! Are there any rules for the best time to schedule an interview?

Appointment entries for job interviews

Dear “Put Time on Your Side,”

As the saying goes, timing is everything. Even if your interview was scheduled for the Tuesday after the three-day weekend, it probably would not have gone any better. On non-holiday weeks, avoiding Mondays and Fridays is advisable.

SmartRecruiters, a web-based recruiting platform used by 70,000 companies, did some research on timing trends in the hiring process. Tuesdays are the trifecta for job hunting and hiring activity.

  • More companies post jobs on Tuesday (20%) than any other day of the week.
  • Not surprisingly, based on the previous factoid, more people (18.5%) apply to jobs on Tuesdays, too.
  • Tuesday also happens to be the most common day people get hired (21.5%), narrowly edging out Thursdays at 20%.

The time of day may even have an effect on the outcome of your interview. Wharton research shows that candidates who interview later in the day end up lower in the rankings because of a phenomenon called narrow bracketing. If interviewers give earlier candidates high marks, they are subconsciously hesitant to give another high mark, even if the last interviewee merits it.

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Woman sitting in waiting room and text messagingEarly morning interviews can also backfire, depending on the circadian rhythms of the interviewer. Don’t take a chance that the you’ll be interviewing with a morning person. At least try to schedule an appointment after they’ve had time for coffee and emptying their email inbox.

If you’re sneaking out from your current job on your lunch hour for job interviews, be aware pre- or post-lunch appointments have their drawbacks, too. A pre-lunch interview may end up getting cut short (a growling stomach may be a dead giveaway). A 1:00 p.m. interview time can be sabotaged by an inattentive waitress who causes your interviewer to return late from lunch.

Keith Harris, CTO of WhenIsGood.net online scheduler, found early afternoon on Tuesday is the optimal meeting time.

Another interesting stat – email reply rates are highest in the morning (about 45% according to Yesware). Try using the delay delivery option when emailing your résumé or follow-up letter, timing it for the hiring manager’s inbox right before starting hour.

Who knows, one week later, you may add to the numbers in the Tuesday hiring statistic. To celebrate… well, it’s Taco Tuesday!

Readers: Tell us about a time you felt “bad timing” sabotaged your interview.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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The Poppy Seed Effect: Urban Legend?

Hello, Anita,

Is it true that eating a poppy seed bagel can cause you to fail a drug test? It’s my favorite breakfast!

Poppyseed_Bagel_iStock_000020753418Dear, Positively Negative,

Rumor-busting website Snopes says TRUE! Back in 1998, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that oversees federal workplace drug test regulations upped the threshhold for opiates (drugs produced from poppy plants) from 300ng/ml to 2000ng/ml. But not all drug testing companies that serve the private sector use this higher threshhold.

Employers use drug screening as a tool to maintain a safe workplace. I, for one, am glad drug testing is federally required in certain industries where safety is imperative. In addition to pre-employment drug screening, tests can be performed when there is reasonable suspicion of drug use by a supervisor, after an accident at work, before returning to work after substance abuse treatment, and when the company has a policy of random or periodic testing.

Most employers request the standard 5-panel urinalysis drug screen that detects street drugs such as cocaine, PCP, opiates (heroin, codeine, and morphine), amphetamines (including meth), and THC (found in marijuana, but also in lesser quantities in hemp foods and cosmetics). A 9- or 10-panel screen additionally tests for prescription drugs such as oxycodone, benzodiazepines (mood elevators like Valium, Librium, Xanax), barbiturates (downers), propoxyphene (Darvon), or methaqualone (quaaludes).

Many drugs stay in the system 2-4 days, though some drugs may linger longer. Chronic marijuana users may test positive up to 3-4 weeks after their last use. And for chronic bagel-eaters? MythBusters TV show hosts tested positive just half an hour after gorging on poppyseed pastries – all in the name of science.

What about that Medical Marijuana card? Even in states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes, the legal protection is generally construed to be from criminal prosecution, and is not considered a free pass for any positive employment drug test results. Recent court rulings seem to favor employers over employees, so you may want to switch to a cinnamon raisin bagel and avoid hemp milk for your morning meal.

Readers: Have you ever failed a drug test for non-drug use? Tell us about it.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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