Interview scheduling is one of the lesser discussed topics when to comes to cracking an interview. This is often overlooked but there are nuances to scheduling interviews which can help you perform better during the interview and succeed.

Over a period of time, I have realized that your ability to interview well matters a lot more than your actual skills and background. When I was interviewing in 2020, I had no guide on how I could improve and optimize my interviewing process. Over 60 interview conversations, I learnt tricks that helped me not only perform better but also improve my conversion. This is important because you don’t have to perform at your best in just 1 interview on one day but in 10s of interviews that will happen over a period of time. So let’s jump right in!

Just like you interview with multiple companies and choose between multiple offers, companies also interview multiple candidates for the same role. Duh. So if you are interviewing with a company, assume that you are interviewing with a pool of candidates.

Once you land an interview opportunity with a company, your goal should be to clear all the interview rounds as soon as possible to get ahead in the queue of candidates who are completing their interviews.

Companies more often than not take decision on a candidate as soon as they finish interviewing and not wait until everyone in their pipeline has finished interviews. This means that if a hiring managers really likes someone and fits the role, they’ll extend an offer to that candidate and reject everyone else in pipeline either immediately or once they finish all their interviews. You do not want to be at the tail end of this hiring pipeline. Try and schedule interviews at the earliest available slots. I recommend scheduling subsequent rounds within the next 1 week of the current interview round.

Once you have applied to enough places, you’ll start getting emails from recruiters for phone screenings. Create a cohort of 4–5 companies and start interviewing for them within the same time frame of 2–3 days. The reason why should be doing this is so that the subsequent rounds of interviews for these companies happen during the same time frame. For example, schedule all the recruiter screenings in week 1, then all the hiring manager interviews in week 2 and so on.

Interviewing in cohorts helps you to start and end interviews for a group of companies in the same time frame. This enables you to make a quicker decision in case you land multiple offers and do not have to wait for other interview processes to end.

This makes it easier for the companies as well as they do not have keep waiting for your response once they extend you an offer. Companies like to hear back within a few days after extending the offer and you can only do that if you have heard back from all the companies that you were interviewing for and then make an informed decision.

In line with tip #2, scheduling same type of rounds on same days/same time frame, helps you build a rhythm and improves your chances of making it to the next rounds.

Scheduling same type of rounds in a small time frame reduces your preparation time as you are answering the same type of questions over and over again and reduces the cognitive load of context switching.

For example, if you have a recruiter phone screening for 4–5 companies within 2–3 days, it helps you prepare better as you only need to prepare for a fixed set of 4–5 questions for each of those companies. Imagine scheduling a recruiter screen, hiring manager interview, and an onsite interview — all within the same week! This can get really chaotic really fast.

I recommend scheduling interviews between 9 AM — 1 PM. This no doubt has become tougher with Covid as interviews happen across timezones. If that is the case, try and ensure that the interviewer gets the above time slot as your success depends a lot on the mind frame of the interviewer as well.

Mornings are the best time to schedule interviews as both you and the interviewer are fresh in their heads and there is no mental fatigue.

You should avoid scheduling interviews post-lunch and late in the evenings. Post-lunch interviews can be hard as it is one of the most unproductive times of the day and people find it really hard to focus. For evenings, there is just a lot of mental fatigue for someone pull off an engaging interview.

You want companies to make a decision on your candidacy as soon as possible. If there is a long break or an upcoming holiday, try not to schedule an interview during that time as the hiring committee won’t be able to make an immediate decision. They can only make that decision once they are back from the break. This can hurt your chances of making it through the interview as they lose small signals from the conversation that can work in your favor and only have interview notes to look at while making the decision. It is hard to capture all the subjective information in the interview notes and the interviewer loses all the context when they are actually making a decision.

During interviews, interviewer’s recency bias works in your favor.

Scheduling interviews after long breaks is tricky as well as people are still recovering from the holiday ‘hangover’ and have not reached their peak productivity/focus/attention yet. Interviews scheduled mid-week away from the holiday season work the best.

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