It’s almost that time of year… you know the heart shaped chocolate holiday we’re talking about. Maybe you’ve got a special someone, maybe you’ve got a date…or *maybe* you’ve got an interview with a potential employer. Exciting!
At a glance, there are several parallels between dating and interviewing. In both cases you have two separate parties asking increasingly probing questions, each vetting the other person and trying to determine the odds of the relationship ever going south. Sometimes it’s over coffee, sometimes there’s a structured activity involved; whether it be a flirty game of mini-golf or a sweaty palms-inducing mock sales pitch to the company CEO, one could argue that the stakes are equally high.
…but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. The worst thing you can do is brush these two paradigms with the same broad stroke. You most definitely should NOT interview like you date (and vice versa, for the record). Follow along as we go through five dating strategies that, when applied to the interview process, will almost always ensure that you do not get that final rose.
1. Playing hard to get: While this is already a questionably effective strategy in the dating world, when applied to the interview process, it is a surefire way to make an employer question why they ever decided to interview you in the first place.
We’ve seen many a candidate say something like, “If they’re really interested in me, they’ll be able to make the time for our meeting.” However, your being hard to get a hold of or difficult to schedule with makes employers feel like an afterthought in your career search. You will be measured against candidates who make themselves available to interview at reasonable hours, so your after-hours requests won’t fare well in comparison. When engaged in the interview process, make sure that you have time available in your schedule to dedicate to it; otherwise, best to hold off until your schedule calms down.
2. “If it’s meant to be, the conversation will flow naturally”: On a good date, the conversation should take off from the awkward small talk, naturally venturing into new territories. Interviews, however, are not only about “just getting to know one another,” so it’s important you’re not just wingin’ it-- always go into it with a game plan! Your buttoned-up approach will ensure that key information about your background does not go unsaid.
The most important part of the interview process is the preparation you put in before you’ve even arrived. Prepare to walk through your career narrative and think through answers to questions they’re likely to ask in ways that highlight your background as relevant to the position. Beyond that, do some digging to make sure that you are not only acquainted with the job description, but the company history and any recent news about them or their product as well…. Which brings us to our next point:
3. Pretending not to have stalked their entire online existence: So, you’ve done some digging before the first date. After a quick run through their socials, you already know where they work, where they went to school and maybe even more than you should about their politics and that spring break trip they took in ’07…. But God forbid you admit to knowing any of it.
In an interview, you want to broadcast that you’ve not only sunk your teeth into everything you should know about the role, product, and company, but thought critically about what you learned from that research. Your research should shape at least three targeted questions that you have in your back pocket going into the interview. Think: “I saw that company x recently adopted an ad-supported subscription model, how will you integrate paid advertising without detracting from the subscriber experience?”
4. Not texting first: Ah the post-date game of chicken: Should you text him first or sweat it out until he texts you? vs. No, you’re not going to text him first, you’re a * lady *! vs. Who cares about antiquated norms, text him first so he knows you’re not messing around!
…This step is much more clear-cut in the interview process. As a rule of thumb, you should always follow-up with your interviewer within 24 hours of your interview--just not the second you’ve left the office. Even if an employer has already reached out with next steps, the best practice is always to send a gracious note, not just thanking them for their time, but highlighting what you learned from the meeting and why this role is as good of a fit for you as you would be for the role. A strong, personalized note will help you to burnish the solid first impression you made, and sometimes even to recover from a shaky one.
5. Ghosting: Ah, the new way of telling dates (and sometimes even boyfriends/girlfriends!) we’re no longer interested, without actually telling them we’re no longer interested...
Recently, candidates have been stretching this strategy into the job market as well. Saturated with interesting opportunities, we’ve seen candidates completely fall off the face of the earth during the interview process, sometimes even after an offer has been extended. While the current job market is a candidate’s market and you may not pay for this in the immediate future, markets do change, people remember, and, boy do people talk.
Rather than tarnishing your personal brand, use this as a relationship-building opportunity—the same people who are interviewing you could one day be an important contact. Perhaps they become a client of yours, or your dream job later opens up on their team, or maybe they can make an important introduction. A quick gracious note letting them know you will be withdrawing from the process is simultaneously a great opportunity to cement the positive relationship you’ve built throughout the interview process, even if you don’t end up working together that time around. *Want to be an over-achiever? Call them! There’s nothing that eases the blow better than personal interaction, showing you genuinely appreciate them taking the time to meet with you.
If you ever find yourself getting too comfortable with the interview-date analogy, refer back to these 5 pointers, and please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for some additional interview pointers— We’re happy to be here as a resource and sounding board for you throughout your career!