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I have a job interview with a corporate company in a couple of weeks time, and I am one of the last candidates they are interviewing based on their schedule. It's in the IT industry for a project manager role. I chose that slot since it was the only day I could take off from work. I have to give work 2 weeks notice given that we are a small team where I am a critical team member.

During my phone interview, I explained my situation to the interviewer and he told me that he is not looking to make a decision quickly, and said that coming in after 2 weeks will be fine.

From experience, does it hurt your chances if you do not interview quick enough? Or does it not matter where interviewers will interview all shortlisted candidates before making a decision?

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    I think this needs an industry, because there's a big difference between someone operating a supermarket register or hiring a specialist for something. – Erik Jan 24 '17 at 8:48
  • I'd make time to go in as soon as possible. If they hire like I do, when I see someone I like, I immediately hire them. Even if I tell them I still have other interviews scheduled, in my mind, I have already hired the first person. So no, interviews are not first come, first served, but unfilled positions are, so I would still go as soon as possible. – Teacher KSHuang Jan 24 '17 at 8:48
  • You need to give two weeks notice for a personal day/sick day? – Teacher KSHuang Jan 24 '17 at 8:57
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    @TeacherKSHuang yes since I work in a small company as the only project manager and a critical team member. We are also in a busy period right now. – bobo2000 Jan 24 '17 at 8:59
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    For IT interviews, we prefer to interview everyone before making a decision but can be first come, first served at times - if there is a very strong candidates who is interviewing elsewhere then we'll offer immediately, we won't wait in case they get an alternative offer. – strmqm Jan 24 '17 at 9:09
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The answer is "It depends".

It depends on a number of factors

  1. How desperate they are for staff
  2. How good the other candidates are
  3. How good you are on paper compared to the other candidates

If a candidate truly impresses before you have your interview, then they could easily be hired almost there and then. I have had it when before I had even gotten home I had a voicemail with a job offer.

If they aren't in as such a rush for the appointment then generally you will get time. Remember youy'll have a notice period too, so an extra couple of weeks isn't that much really, unless they are desperate for staff.

From the comment:

From your experience, does it happen very often where companies hire somebody before the process hasn't completed? 2 weeks just doesn't seem like a long time imo.

This depends on so many factors.

Lets say John is interviewed today. He's absolutely nailed the interview and everyone is left really impressed. Your interview is in 2 weeks.

Next week, however, John calls the company and says "Hey, I have a job offer from another company. I am in a position where I would accept that offer, but was wondering if you guys would be looking to make an offer too as i'm really keen to work for you".

Now the company have a decision to make. Do they wait another week for you (potentially losing the chance to hire John), or do they make an offer to get John (as if this doesn't work, you are still scheduled to be interviewed)?

There isn't a definitive answer to this, it purely depends on the people making the decision.

I have been involved in processes where I was interviewed first and given a job offer 30 mins after the interview, I have also been the last interviewed and got roles. I haven't yet had a situation where an interview was cancelled as they hired someone else, but this is all personal experience.

  • Ok cool, the hiring manager told me that he wasn't since he has a contractor doing the role until March. I am just worried that they will hire somebody on the spot. – bobo2000 Jan 24 '17 at 9:16
  • It sounds like they will follow through with all interviews. Although, it could still be that someone comes in and nails it. If he then tells the company he has other interviews, they could be forced to act. It's really hard to tell as there are so many variables. – Andrew Berry Jan 24 '17 at 9:18
  • From your experience, does it happen very often where companies hire somebody before the process hasn't completed? 2 weeks just doesn't seem like a long time imo. – bobo2000 Jan 24 '17 at 9:19
  • I'll add an edit to my answer – Andrew Berry Jan 24 '17 at 9:23
  • Ok great, reassuring to know that you have interviewed last and got roles. – bobo2000 Jan 24 '17 at 10:00
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You can't make a generalization on whether it's better to be early or late in the process, but very very few jobs are going to be first come, first serve. If you're scheduling an interview, you can be confident you have a fair shot at getting the job.

Being early can be nice - if the people doing the interview don't do them often, they might have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and enjoy the interview more. On the flip side, those people might not be as prepared or practice so time you would normally spend knocking their socks off is spent on logistics or some other waste. So it's a roll of the dice.

Being late in the process can also go both ways. If you're late and you're following some real rock stars, your interviewers might be just kind of going through the motions and the bar is a lot higher for you. They also could be tiring of a long interview process. On the flip side, they could have a bunch of unqualified people or bad fits that accidentally got an interview. So another roll. Just as you'd expect in any interview.

Bottom line, you have to go into the interview assuming it's a fair interview and do the best you can to represent yourself and find out what you can about the company and people during that interview. If it's not fair, you'll find out about it soon, or you just won't hear back from them. Nothing you can do to change it, so don't worry about it. You've got enough to worry about in your job search already!

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Are interviews first come, first serve?

No. At least not in a well-run interview process. As long as you apply within the deadline and your profile matches what they're looking for, they'll interview you. Jobs postings virtually always contain a submission deadline or are simply taken down when the company closes its submissions. Even then, you can probably still send in an application and have it added to the pile as long as you appear to be a potentially strong candidate.

For medior and senior profile and above, hiring processes are typically slow and done meticulously with all potential candidates being considered through various rounds. Hiring managers and HR want to find the best candidate for the job and they won't disqualify someone for applying late in the submission window. As mentioned even applying too late won't normally be a deal-breaker, though while I consider it a bad practice, some people in hiring are sticklers for punctuality and do cut people out when they apply too late. The public sector is particularly notorious for this.

For entry-level jobs or unskilled labor the process is faster and particularly for the latter people are still hired on the spot sometimes. So applying late in those cases can cause the hiring manager to close the pool and reject remaining applicants. But for a position that requires more experience a decent hiring manager won't do that.

All of this is assuming that the company uses rational hiring practices. People who are bad at hiring can have all sorts of quirks that could lead to a rejection or an interview stop.

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In my experience, interviews aren't really on a first come, first served basis. In your case, it seems that the company has a role to fill starting at a particular date (financial quarter start, maybe) and is interviewing people up to a certain date.

At the end, all the candidates are discussed and assessed before a decision is made.

Sometimes, budget/planning reasons mean that none of the candidates are taken on (or none really meet the mark). I've seen this happen a few times.

Basically, in your case, you're not at a disadvantage. If anything, being toward the back of the interview period leaves you fresher in their mind and they'll likely ask more appropriate questions (because they've already asked x amount of people before for the same role).

Having said that, if they see someone who's an exact fit early on in the process, they might well jump early and close down subsequent interviews.

So, if you still have the interview, you're in with a shout.

  • Thanks Pete, I can see the advantages of going last, how often does it happen where somebody gets hired before you. Or do most companies as you say, especially the large ones interview then discuss all candidates – bobo2000 Jan 24 '17 at 9:11

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