Remember all those great movies that caused you to sit up and really take notice?  Those films that you couldn’t wait to watch over again and had you raving to your friends the next day?  These movies always had a few memorable scenes that grabbed your attention and propelled you to a climactically-explosive ending.  You can’t remember how long they were, who exactly was in them, or all the specifics of the plots, but you know you loved them!  This feeling, in essence, is the Peak-End Rule.

To be a little more scientific (we enjoy that) people have a tendency to judge experiences based on how they were at their most intense point(s), or peak, and how they were at their end.  Of even greater interest is that neither the duration of the experience, nor its overall pleasantness or unpleasantness seem to impact the final evaluation as much as the peaks and end.

Think about it – this is powerful knowledge that can help you land the job you want, or if you’re on the hiring end of things, prevent you from getting swayed by a candidate’s impressive interview when the focus should be on objective data.

Candidates: Hitting a Home Run Interview

Using the peak-end rule in your finance and accounting interview can definitely give you an edge over the competition.  Keep the following in mind:

  • Employers are invested in the hiring process, but they never remember the whole interview.
  • What they do remember are the peaks and the finish – so plan a few peaks.
  • For example, during the interview offer a particularly relevant story that illustrates a strength of yours and tie it into the company’s goals.
  • Make sure your voice becomes particularly animated and that your body language supports that you are saying something worth paying attention to.
  • Make sure the end of the interview is powerful – don’t forget to ask for the job.

Candidates: Crafting an A-Team Resume

  • The peak-end rule can be incorporated into a solid resume strategy.
  • For example, include a number of notable accomplishments under each of your roles.
  • Think in snapshots and format your resume accordingly.
  • Use active, outcome focused language.
  • Avoid monotonous word choice.

Employers: Using the Peak-End Rule When You Hire

You leave an interview feeling an overall great vibe about the candidate.

You keep coming back to one or two points that you’re sure will wow your team and convince superiors about your great candidate/hire.  Your team and superiors, who have only seen the resume, aren’t sure that these few points and your general aura/feel are as important as you think.  You sense pushback. Who is right?

Well, YOU were there in the interview, so you must have the upper hand in evaluating this candidate?  Right? Maybe.  So what can you – as the client – do?

  • Be aware of the peaks and the end of the interview.
  • Know which peaks matter and which don’t – evaluate how important these factors are against standardized, objective metrics.
  • Candidates who finish stronger will be viewed as stronger.
  • If the role requires the candidate to have strong closing skills, for example, then an ability to have an impressive finish should be weighted when considering candidate suitability.  If not, then consider other metrics when making a decision.
  • Be wary of using the duration of an interview as a proxy for how well it went.  Using objective evaluation metrics avoid letting common heuristics like the duration of the interview and the peak-end rule to bias your interviewing process.

If you’re writing your resume or plotting the flow of your upcoming interview, be sure to plan a few peaks and finish strong.  Remember to think in snapshots and to highlight your accomplishments.  If you’re hiring, on the other hand, keep in mind that you can be swayed by a fantastic interview. In response, try to develop some key metrics that can keep you on the objective track.  Data should drive your decision making process if possible. Knowledge of how the peak-end rule functions offers both candidates and employers advantages in the hiring process.

Want to read more about the peak-end rule? Check out what Wikipedia has to say.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment.  Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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