Last month, people celebrated “Valentine’s Day”, a day to celebrate romance and love, a day to be extra-nice to your partner, and a day that flower, card, chocolate and gift shops reap obscene profits.
As a tribute to this special day, this month’s column will explore dating. Dating is so similar to job interviewing that we’ll actually explore both of them simultaneously, using my one true love, conditional text, to distinguish each version.
Text that applies to interviewing is in blue; text that applies to dating is in, (what else?), red. Regular (black) text is unconditional and applies to both versions.
Playing The Interviewing Dating Game
Good interviewing dating skills are perhaps the most important skills you can have. After all, you will spend a significant amount of time at your job with your mate, so you want to be sure you make the right decision. Perhaps the only thing more important than interviewing dating is dating interviewing.
Both these activities are very similar: two people meet, often under stress, and try to size each other up within a relatively short time, in the hope of establishing a meaningful long-term relationship. One major difference is that at the end of an interview, date you probably won’t end up naked working for that person.
Finding the right job person is not easy. You need to be well-connected. You need to establish a network of contacts who know you are “on the hunt”. And you need to update your 1970’s wardrobe. Disco is dead – get over it.
Sourcing Your Info
There are basically two sources of information you can tap into: public and private. Public sources include job hunting dating websites, services and advertisements. Note with public sources, you’ll be competing against many other people, which why the success rate is often quite low. Therefore, don’t spend too much time using these; instead, focus on the private sources of information.
Private sources include your various friends and contacts. Most potential “jobs” “mates” are not advertised. You need to tap into this hidden “job” “mate” market. The highest success rates are found by people who approach potential companies mates directly, or through a mutual contact.
Before an interview date, you want to be well-prepared. You should know yourself and be aware of your needs and wants. You should also try to find out as much as possible about the job other person as possible. What are their needs and wants? What are their problems? What do they value? What are they looking for in an employee mate?
Dress well before the interview date. Be appropriately groomed and styled. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the location. If you are running late, drive as quickly as possible before any police can catch you.
When you meet your interviewer date, be relaxed, cordial and friendly. Recognize that they are probably just as nervous as you are. Start with some small talk to break the ice, for example, the effect of the proton-to-electron mass ratio on the formation of the universe. Then you can move on to more complex topics.
It’s always helpful if you discover something in common. For example, you may find that the other person worries if their documents clothes are up-to-date. Mention that you also worry about that and perhaps talk about ways that you’ve overcome this problem. It can make for great conversation.
Don’t forget to maintain eye contact with the other person, to nod occasionally, and of course, to smile. These are all signs that you are listening carefully to what the other person is saying. Avoid drooling – it’s not considered very professional romantic.
Don’t dominate the conversation. The most successful interviews dates are ones in which both partners do about the same amount of talking. That’s why it’s important to listen as well as talk. Or as my crazy Uncle Fritz used to say: there’s a reason God gave us one mouth and two ears. (Uncle Fritz himself had two mouths and one ear, but that’s another story.)
Let the conversation flow freely and easily. Ask insightful and meaningful questions to find out more about the company other person. What are their biggest challenges? Where do they see the company themselves going? What makes the company them unique? Is that their real hair colour?
Ask And Ye Shall Receive
When you are asked questions, give simple, straight-forward answers. Don’t ramble on, and don’t forget to actually answer the other person’s questions. Don’t be a politician, who responds to questions, but doesn’t answer them.
Be genuinely interested in the position other person, but not aggressive or desperate. You want to convey the message that you like the job other person, but that you don’t need it them. One trick is to say that you have another interview date later that day. Be careful, though: jealously is a useful technique. Like weapons-grade plutonium, it has to be handled with care, otherwise it will explode and destroy your whole village. (Boy, I learned that the hard way.)
It’s very important to be yourself. There’s no practical reason to pretend to be something you are not. If you do, you will end up stuck with a job someone that is not compatible for you. If you sense things aren’t going well, and that’s there’s no “connection”, be pleasant and polite, finish up the interview date as cordially as you can, but later let the other person know you’re not really interested in the position a relationship. And no, throwing rocks through the other
person’s office bedroom window is not considered a tactful way to terminate the relationship.
If you find you are genuinely interested in the job other person, you can start to “market” yourself. Casually tell them in a non-boasting way about your strengths. You don’t want to appear boastful, but neither do you want to sell yourself short and be too modest.
Again, you need to strike the right balance. Don’t lie about your exploits – you will be caught. Especially if you say that you single-handedly created single-sourcing the polio vaccine.
All’s Well That Ends Well
You will know if the interview date is going well if the other person begins to loosen up a bit and starts talking about how you might “fit in” with them, especially with the staff their family. And if they start talking about benefits and salary kids and marriage, well then, you’ve really hit the jackpot.
Don’t be afraid of rejection, and don’t take it personally. If other person is not interested in you, it doesn’t mean there’s anything is wrong with you. It simply means that you and the other person just weren’t a good “fit”. Remember – there’s plenty of other jobs people out there. Every rejection is simply one step to closer to finding the right job person. Just like every day is one step closer to the day you die. (OK, bad example, but you know what I mean.)
Thanks for the Memories
After the interview date is over, thank the other person for their time company, and follow up with an email phone call. (Showing up unannounced on their doorstep is not a good idea.) If you both think you want to move on to the next stage, you can arrange another interview date.
You can continue this until you both decide that you want a committed work relationship. At some point, you may be asked to sign a contract pre-nuptial agreement. Review this carefully, ideally with a lawyer. Note that the lawyer should not be the same person who interviewed dated you.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
You may decide after some time, that the job is they are not really right for you, in which, you need to be honest with yourself and with your employee mate, and tell them it’s not working out, and then go your separate ways. Always leave on good terms – you don’t want to burn any bridges, because then you will be unable to cross the river of life.
This process repeats itself with other jobs mates, until you find the one you are looking for. And
when that happens, you will find true happiness, because you will have the job mate that helps you be the best you can be. (This is assuming you don’t completely burn out first, in which case, you’re screwed.)
A Perfect Ending
As you play the interviewing dating game, recognize that you are not perfect, and that your potential job partner is not perfect. The goal is to find one that is perfect for you. And if you can’t find an employer mate who is “Mr. or Ms. Right”, you can always opt for “Mr. or Ms. Right Now.”
Best of success in your hunt!