Candidate Order: Is it better to be first or last?

When I took Latin poetry in highschool, our teacher, (Brutus Hill), told us that the first word and last word in a line are the most important. It makes sense. Since both positions are free of other words on one side, they are not so easily lost in the mass.

Apparently, this is a general psychological rule. In any sequential presentation of information, the first and last items tend to stand out. It can apply to interviews, as well. The first and last candidates might be the most memorable for that reason alone.

One way for an interviewer to combat this bias is to document each meeting with detailed notes. And, to grade the various candidates on the same list of qualifications.

There is a problem here too, however, in that the deeper I get into a search the more I understand the requirements of the job so I might not have asked as many of the right questions at the start. This can make it possible for me to get a better handle on the value of the later candidates.

What can a candidate do? Well, she can invite the interviewer to call if any other questions come to mind. And then check in during the course of the search to see if any issues that weren't covered during the meeting have come to the fore.

Also, the candidate can figure out what he thinks the important issues are in the job and try to make sure that most of them are covered during the meeting.

Sometimes, candidates call me to add additonal information after the interview but they often catch me when it is not easy for me to add the information to my existing notes. So, I would advise them to make the call but also to follow it up with an addendum to the resume containing the information in easy-to-read point form with bold headings over each different topic.

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