Does your first round performance affect the offer decision?
When you successfully secure a first-round interview, does your CV matter anymore? The answer is not especially. Only candidates with strong CV's will get selected to begin with - transferable skills are important but not especially influential when it comes time to make an offer. But what about your first-round performance? Click through to see why it has more of an impact than you think.
Many students will breathe a huge sigh of relief when they get invited to a second-round interview, and stop thinking about their first-round. This is the right mentality - after all, why stress about something you can't change?
However, your first round performance DOES play a role in the decision to give you an offer - in 2 scenarios:
1. You blew your case away in the first round. You've been marked as a star, and your interviewer is strongly pushing for you throughout the process. If your interviewer is senior enough, this can have a BIG impact on the decision process. Even if your performance is not as strong in the second round, your first-round performance serves as an anchor and you might have an edge over someone who did well the final round but was iffy in the first round.
2. You did well in your final round, but are not a clear 'Yes'. The interviewers are deciding between you and another candidate - while aspects such as fit are critical, all else equal a candidate with a strong initial performance will likely get an edge over a candidate who did just as well in the final round but not as well in the first round.
Ultimately, a strong first-round performance is important because it builds your reputation as a candidate. Your interviewers will be pushing for you, it gives you an edge in final rounds, and if you do nail the final rounds then it gives you a lot of leverage once you get an offer.
On the other hand, a "good but not great" first round performance is not the end of the world, it simply means that you have a higher bar to pass come final round. And remember - your final round will test the areas in which you were weaker (be it structure, math, communication, etc.) so you need to prove that you have addressed any of the concerns from the first round.