We’ve all been on that first date. And we all experience the same
feelings: excitement, anticipation, hope and sometimes disappointment.
I’ve had my share of first dates, and observed many more from a third person perspective. The more I see, the clearer it becomes that the way we think during a job interview is comparable to how we think during a first date.
Here are my tips to make your next interview – and maybe your next first date – a success:
Don’t be Late…but Don’t be Too Early
Arriving on time for an interview (or date) is a given. However, you can be too early.
Arriving too early can send a message: “I’m too anxious, or even desperate.” Not a good first impression.
Don’t be the guy waiting downstairs while your date is scrambling to finish getting ready. Same with an interview: Don’t make the hiring decision-maker feel she needs to accommodate you because you’re pretending to read the magazines in the lobby.
Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. If you arrive even earlier, wait in your car. Before entering the building, give yourself a pep talk; get a little fired up!
Don’t Try too Hard
During your first meeting, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to convince anyone that you belong there; they already think that, or you wouldn’t be meeting.
Just like the date who has already decided that they’re attracted to you and wants to get to know you further, the hiring manager already knows you’re qualified based on your resume, online presence, and phone interview.
Your job now: Don’t mess it up.
Be yourself, be confident. Be a good listener. Show a willingness to learn. And turn the iPhone off!
Looks matter, in the first 5 seconds
For the person sitting on the other side of the table – date or hiring manager — looks matter, at least until you’re five seconds into the conversation.
Dress appropriately, and professionally. Groom conservatively. Wait until your second date… then show a little more of your wild side.
Some would argue that in the first five seconds, the hiring manager
has already decided whether she wants to hire you. Same with a date, perhaps. In the next 30 minutes, you’ll convince her she’s made the right decision – or prove her wrong.
Know What to Say…
You’re enjoying each other’s company; you’re hilarious and charming, and she’s laughing. Then comes the inevitable few seconds that feel like an eternity: the awkward silence.
Perhaps you ran out of things to say, or an uncomfortable topic came up. Whatever the case, these moments seem to slow time to a crawl.
What do you do next? How do you survive “conversation creep”?
One of the single most important aspects when preparing for an interview/date: Have a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
And don’t save these questions until the very end when the interviewer asks you, “Do you have any questions for me?” Constantly engage the interviewer/date, asking sincere, relevant questions to show your interest in the opportunity, and next steps.
…And When to Shut Up
Conversation going well… she still thinks you're hilarious; a winner.
Confident and enthusiastic, you can’t wait to share things with her that you wouldn’t normally tell others.
At this point, slow down just a bit. Wait a bit to talk about the new tattoo, or that moment when the tequila won. Wait few months before that Vegas weekend and that unusually tall girl with suspiciously manly hands comes up. And, set aside your “World of Warcraft” paraphernalia until she deems it a cute, if quirky, hobby.
Similarly, you want the hiring manager to become enamored before you
reveal your idiosyncrasies. Be honest of course; companies can run background checks to verify employment record, education, and credit history. However, now is not the time to reveal your negatives. Sure, you get distracted easily. Facebook is the devil. My weakest point? …how much time do you have?
No need to reveal any of that during the first “date”. Again…be honest, but don’t be too honest – yet.
By now, I’m sure you agree: First interviews and first dates are very similar.
How else are these two necessary and perhaps nerve-wracking aspects of life similar? Tell us your thoughts and tips, and we’ll post them on our blog. Leave a comment below or tweet us your thoughts via @YouTern
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