Can you affect fate in job interviews? Clemson says yes

By: Staff Report

CLEMSON — Ever feel you were doomed out of the gate in a job interview?

Although a belief exists that a job candidate’s fate is determined very early in the interview process, research conducted by a Clemson University psychology professor and researchers at Old Dominion and Florida State universities may indicate otherwise.

Analysts found that though about 25 percent of interviewers made decisions within the first 5 minutes, nearly 70 percent of the judgments occurred after 5 minutes.

“The interview structure, an interviewer’s experience and the number of people being interviewed in succession all play a role in the decision making on a job candidate,” said Patrick Raymark, psychology department chair at Clemson. “But the time it takes to make that decision may be longer than many people think.”

Research data was collected at a university job fair at the Michelin Career Center at Clemson University involving nearly 700 applicants and approximately 165 interviewers. Though some interviewers made snap decisions (4.9 percent made up their minds within the first minute), nearly 23 percent reported making a decision sometime after completion of the interview, research revealed.

Raymark said the research project examined how quickly interviewers made decisions about applicants, as well as factors that affected their decision-making time.

“For instance, experienced interviewers tend to make quicker decisions on a candidate than those with less experience,” Raymark said. “And, a more structured interview where candidates are all asked the same questions tend to discourage quick decisions.”

Conversely, the research showed less structured dialogues, where a person is encouraged to establish a rapport with the candidate, generally lead to quicker decisions.

The research showed interviewers tend to take longer as they evaluate the first four applicants, but then the decision-making starts to become progressively more rapid as they evaluate successive applicants. This may not bode well for applicants who are interviewed late in the scheduling process, in that they may have less time to fully demonstrate their qualifications for the job.

“An organization may benefit from limiting the number of candidates an interviewer conducts in succession to four,” Raymark said. “It may decrease the reliance on more automatic information processing.”

Joining Raymark in the research were Rachel Frieder, assistant professor of management at Old Dominion University; and Chad Van Iddekinge, professor of management at Florida State.

Staff Report