7 Ways You Should Treat Your Job Interview like a First Date
First dates and job interviews share some uncanny similarities. For example, there is a good chance you’ll put more thought into your outfit than you normally would, you’ll do a little pre-meeting research via social media, and, if you’re prepared, you’ll probably have some talking points in mind to ask the other person as well as some things you’re excited to share about yourself.
When approaching these professional and social situations, there are a few essential things to do to ensure a second interview — or second date:
- Do Your Homework. We all scan social media to learn more about friends or romantic interests – there’s no use pretending we don’t. So it’s also smart to assume that employers do the same thing when considering job candidates. Just as you might approach a first date, take a look at what your target company shares via social media and be sure to research the role you’re applying for so you walk into the conversation with thoughtful insights and questions.
- Dress to Impress. First date attire is a balance: dress nice enough for the occasion without going overboard or “trying too hard.” When it comes to interviews, as on a first date, confidence is key. Try on a few options and find the outfit that puts you in the right frame of mind. (Note: While feeling confident and comfortable is important, we don’t recommend showing up in yoga pants to dates or interviews!)
- Be Your Best Self. Job interviews, like first dates, are a fun opportunity to highlight your “wins” and the things you care most about. First date “red flags” include diving into overly emotional territories that de-rail the levity of this initial time spent together. In a job interview, keep energy high but professional, and focus on your strengths, plus a few memorable achievements you’ve had. First dates and job interviews are the perfect time to exercise your humble-brag skills – i.e. to flaunt your best traits without coming off too egotistical. It’s all about balance!
- Stay Positive about Past Relationships. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow – don’t speak negatively about your ex on the first date. While most people know to follow this rule in their dating life, many don’t apply it to their job interviews. When commenting on previous positions, never paint an ugly picture. Frame any negative experiences as challenges and always focus on how you overcame them or how they helped you grow. Negative attitudes work against you in both professional and romantic settings.
- Make it a Two-Way Conversation. Avoid rambling through long stories pontificating about your worldview too much in an interview (and first date). People naturally enjoy contributing their own insights when engaged in a conversation, so be sure to give the floor over to the other person so that they can participate, too. This process is easier if you have already done your homework: in an interview or a first date, having a few go-to questions or topics in your back pocket can go a long way. If there’s a lull in the dialogue, lean on a pre-selected topic and keep the energy going.
- End Strong. Final impressions are just as important as the first one. Ending a first date on a high note is subjective, but everyone can agree that it’s your time to shine as you say goodbye, if you want to see the person again. The same principle applies to ending your interview on a strong note. If you did your homework and took mental notes during your interview, now is the time to showcase those observations. A great way to end strong is to ask informed questions or to reiterate your interest in the position. It’s also important to spend the last minute or so with a firm, friendly handshake while reiterating how much you enjoyed meeting the interviewer, while wearing a nice smile – and by all means, do not falter in that last thirty seconds by the elevator. Remain attentive and personable!
- Say Thank You. You wouldn’t “ghost” a great first date companion, and likewise, always follow up with an interviewer! Sending a hand-written thank you note or a thoughtful email if your timeline is crunched shows that you’re invested, interested in pursuing the opportunity, and that you respect the other person’s time. Although some might argue that a quick follow up after a first date isn’t “playing it cool,” it’s always better to communicate than fall off the grid. As with most first-date and interview best practices, find the right balance. In this case, look for the best way to stay top of mind without being overbearing/desperate, and you’re most likely to keep a natural progression going.
First dates are tricky — and so are job interviews — but keep these guidelines in mind for both occasions and you’ll be picking out your second date – or first-day-at-the-office — outfit in no time.8