Bringing romance into the workplace is generally not a good idea. Bringing it into the interview process is a recipe for a lawsuit.
But when you think about it, dating and interviewing have a lot in common. Both require selecting the perfect outfit, flossing, avoiding awkward silences, and answering a lot of questions about yourself. You’re as likely to be catfished by a glamorous-sounding job spec as a modelesque Tinder profile, and recruiters perfected ghosting long before Charlize Theron made it the break-up method du jour.
So, if you’re finding that the course of job hunting isn’t running so smoothly, you may have more luck applying some love lessons to your interviewing technique. After all, our jobs take up a lot of our time and energy. Your future happiness depends on making sure that your next role is The One.
The Perfect Job Interview Technique? Pretend It’s a Date.
1. Focus on Finding a Good Match
No matter how desperate you think you are, being single is better than being in a bad relationship. Similarly, never settle for a job that will make you miserable. Despite the assumed wisdom that a CV gap risks leaving you permanently on the shelf, it’s worth staying unemployed a little bit longer in order to take the time to find a role that suits you and makes you happy.
Of course, holding out for the right job is not the same as demanding a perfect one. Just like people, all jobs will have some flaws and elements you dislike. The trick is to simply find something (and someone) that makes you more happy than unhappy.
It’s also important to be realistic in your job expectations. You’ve probably accepted that you’re not going to marry Tim Hiddleston, so you should also accept that you’re not going to walk into a C-Suite executive role straight out of school.
2. Don’t Pretend to Be Someone You’re Not
Being on a date with someone we really like is awesome. But sometimes, in our desperation to impress them, we find ourselves telling little white lies to make us sound better or more suited to them than we really are.
Perhaps they love soccer, so you say you do too, even though you couldn’t pick David Beckham out of a lineup. Or you tell them about the time you were on Wheel of Fortune, neglecting to mention you were an audience member, not a participant.
We do this sort of truth-massaging in job interviews too, and in both cases, it’s a bad idea. Even if our exaggerations get us the job or relationship, we can’t keep up the act forever, and the truth will soon come out. In some instances, their disappointment at our real self could be enough to get us unceremoniously dumped. More often, it means we end up in a situation we’re not actually comfortable in.
The best way to ensure that you get a job you are well-suited for is to just be yourself. Someone will want you for exactly who you are. Promise.
3. Learn from Past Experience
Crazy bosses are like crazy exes: an amusing pub story, but not something you ever want a repeat of. So, if you’re interviewing for a job that is exhibiting warning signs of those same characteristics you hated about your old employment, take the hint and run for the hills.
The point of experience, whether romantic or professional, is that it equips you with the information you need to make better choices going forward. Once you’ve had a couple of jobs, you should be aware of which habits work for you and which don’t. Use this knowledge to filter which jobs you apply for and which you ultimately accept.
If you hate a work-hard-work-hard culture, seek out positions that emphasize a strong work-life balance. If you need flex time to avoid a three-hour rush-hour commute, make that a deciding factor when considering an offer.
A relationship where one party just wants something casual and the other wants to get married and start a family is never going to end well. The same holds true for candidates and companies.
Before you go into an interview, think about your career goals and how you’d want this job to help you achieve them. Are you looking for a company you can advance quickly in? Or are you after a low-responsibility role that will allow you to prioritize other aspects of your life, such a side projects or childcare?
It doesn’t matter which work style you want, but it does matter that you choose a company that wants the same things you do. The best way to ensure this is to ask detailed questions in the interview about company expectations, practices and culture. Specifically, find out what they think a great worker looks like, and be honest with yourself about whether you fit that bill or not.
5. Have a List of Deal Breakers
Fill in the blank: “I would never date someone who…”
We all have relationship deal breakers, and we should all have professional deal breakers too. Figuring out what those are ahead of accepting a job helps us ensure that we won’t find ourselves stuck in a role which makes us miserable or offends our ethical code.
Before an interview, make a list of your deal breakers, alongside questions you could ask to figure out whether the company would trigger them. So, if you cannot stand micromanaging supervisors, you could ask your boss-to-be to describe her management style and listen carefully for clues that she wouldn’t be as hands-off as you’d like.
Remember it’s easier to turn down a job offer than to quit a job, so if a deal breaker is mentioned, take it as a sign that this one just isn’t meant to be. After all, there are plenty more fish in the sea!