By Ezinwanne Onwuka
Imagine the scene. You are dressed up in your best outfit, primped and preened, feeling a little tense, butterflies in your stomach and your heart all aflutter. You are waiting for a stranger to appear and you are on your best behaviour.
Doesn’t it surprise you how easily this scenario could relate to going on a first date just as well as going to a job interview? Consider the following also.
If you use a online dating site, and that leads to a meetup, you have already crossed the first threshold. Your profile details shared on a dating site are integral to whether a man or woman wants to meet you in the first place.
That’s the same as a good resumé and/or cover letter getting you into the doors of a company you desire to work in for an interview.
So, if a first date feels like a job interview, that’s because it probably is. However, if you still have your doubts about the similarities between the two, the following analogies might convince you.
Interview: As you probably know, the key to succeeding in an interview is to research the company that you are trying to join. You spend ample time studying the company’s history, it’s mode of operation, the hierarchical structure, the responsibilities connected to the position you are interested in, the clients they are involved with and its social media sites.
Knowing some background history about your interviewer and the company will allow you to target your conversation and target your sales pitch better.
First Date: This also applies to a first date. As much as you hate to admit it, you Googled, LinkedIn-ed, and Facebook stalked your date. Maybe you even went as far as to look into every person he/she had their arm around on their Instagram pictures. You did this to find out more about them in order to know what to bring into the conversation and avoid being labelled ‘boring.’
Dress for success
Interview: Your appearance matters. This is the company’s first impression of you so you’ll try everything to make it a good one! You’ll make sure that you do not go for a very casual look. As a matter of fact, you dress in a way that you feel is appropriate for the role as this shows that you take the interview seriously.
First Date: First lesson here is to prepare as much as you can. Just as you wouldn’t wear a T-shirt to a job interview, don’t wear a T-shirt on a first date, unless it involves some outdoor activity where it is practical.
Interview: Prior to the date of your interview, you make sure you get every necessary information on where and when it is taking place. If you take it seriously, before the day, you make every plan on how to get there. This includes checking your route, and how long it will take you to get there, and you time it so that you arrive early, by at least 15 minutes. Reason being that if you show up late, you are setting yourself up for disaster from the start.
Date: Try not to be late for the same reasons as an interview. You are trying to make a good impression here and turning up 10 minutes late, absolutely flustered may not be the way to win his/her heart! Showing up on time is a sign of respect.
Prepare a short list of questions
Interview: When going for an interview, it is necessary that you have a list of questions about the company to ask your interviewer. Some of these may come from your research and others can be focused on finding out about the culture of the company. Ask about the role you are applying for, is it newly created or have they had someone in the position previously? Ask about the company, what type of plans do they have for the future?
First Date: Again, this is useful for a date but try not to walk in with a sheet of A4 paper in your hand and a list of questions ranging from his/her mother’s maiden name to their family medical history. They may think you are trying to involve them in a scam! Instead, run over a quick list in your head, before you meet up, of what could be good date conversation, and try as much as possible to avoid small talks about the weather unless you really have too.
Honesty is vital
Interview: We all know the role honesty plays during an interview. Employers value honesty. You might want to impress and all but do not lie. Never lie on your resume and don’t lie or exaggerate during the interview. Don’t put up a front you can’t keep up with. Be as honest and open as possible, but still do your best to sell yourself.
First Date: Just as you wouldn’t lie during an interview, you are expected to be your authentic self during a first date. If you are looking for a long term relationship, first dates are the time when you make the bed you will lie on. Surely, you don’t want to set the relationship up for failure from the start. It is always best to be yourself and not try to be what you think the other person wants you to be. White lies have a way of rearing their ugly heads eventually.
Desperation is a turn-off
Interview: You might not be aware but desperation might be the reason you were never contacted after that interview. In an interview, desperation screams, “I want this job or I die” and employers detect this perfectly. Rambling about your previous employers, complaining about how hard life is as a jobless person are subtle signs of desperation. When it comes to interviews, the biggest red flag for a recruiter is tearing down your former employer, nobody likes that. And guess what? It turns employers off!
First Date: Desperation is never sexy. You don’t want to come across as desperate in a job interview in the same way you do not want to appear as trying too hard on a date. When going for a first date, you don’t want to appear needy and desperate, why show the person that you are single to stupor and in need of love? Don’t go on a first date and think that tearing down your ex’s reputation will make you look like the “perfect partner”. Instead, it might get your date thinking you are the problem. Desperation scares potential partners away.
First impression matters
Interview: First impression isn’t just about your dressing but it’s actually also about the little things. It’s about your attitude, your smell, your composure, your speech, your timing etc. This can make or mar your chances of getting considered by a recruiter. Because an interview is pivotal in determining the direction and possibility of a potential relationship, a recruiter will take note of how you treat the receptionist and relate with potential coworkers.
First Date: Like an interview, a first date also determines the direction and possibility of a potential relationship.
He/she will notice the minute and, maybe, insignificant details about you. Such as the way you walk, your mannerisms while you speak, how you treat the restaurant staff etc. In as much as creating a good impression is important, do not pretend or totally change your personality, simply because you want to impress.
Furthermore, some inevitable questions comes up after the date or interview. Did you impress him/her/them well? Will your date/interviewer call you again? Will there be a second date/interview? What about a long-term relationship/employment contract?
From the foregoing analogies, it is clear that going on a first date can be a lot like going to interview for a job that you really want. Both could be nerve wracking experiences.
Generally, everybody gets jittery on a first date or job interview. However, there is need for you to be calm, kind and confident, and you might be walking down the aisle soon with that woman/man.
Enjoy your interview…I mean, date!