They say timing is everything and this week I want to investigate an interesting psychological phenomenon related to how other peoples’ perceptions of you can change depending on how many people they meet before or after. For example if you want to make a good impression at a job interview are you best being the first interviewee of the day or the last? If you are accompany pitching for a contract against numerous other businesses are you going to be more memorable if you go first or last?
Well, as so often in these cases, the answer depends on the context. In an interesting column I read recently psychologist Steve Martin cites research by a gentleman whom I’ve mentioned previously on these Meetology® Minutes – Professor Adam Galinsky who suggests that when there are numerous other candidates / business in the equation then going last is advantageous. He mentions that over a 5 year period EVERY successful candidate interviewed in a particular establishment actually went last. He widens this observation outside of job interviews too by noting that that “analysis of the Eurovision Song Contest from 1953 to 2003 found those who perform later in the competition score much higher. The same appears to hold true for American Idol and The X Factor. Perhaps the judges’ memory of early candidates simply fades”.
However, things change when you are up against just one other candidate or business as, in this scenario, going first is the suggested option. It’s an interesting area of psychology called ‘primacy and recency’ and really worth knowing about as a relatively small change on your side (asking for a different time slot) could make a big difference in terms of how you or your company are perceived.
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“The benefits of going last”, Steve Martin – Business Life November 3rd, 2015. businesslife.ba.com