Interviewing is like dating: What can you do to improve your chances?

First dates can be rough—the nerves, the excitement, the bouts of self-doubt and the what-if questions… What if I get spinach in my teeth? What if I spill red sauce all over my shirt? What if I laugh so hard my drink comes out of my nose? Sadly, first dates and eating do not go well together in my world. And, of course, what if I say the wrong thing or I get tongue tied or I forget what to say entirely? Still, dating is kind of necessary in the process toward finding the perfect match.  

The same can also be said for interviewing. It’s a necessary step in the selection process, as any hiring manager who has the unenviable task of interviewing job candidates knows. Interviews and dates are so similar, in fact, that you may even find yourself in a “love at first sight” scenario, but more on that pitfall later.

If you are new to hiring people, you may not have had time to recognize the dating parallels. Or perhaps you use your time much more wisely than thinking up useless parallels; luckily you have me for that! But, if you’ve had experience finding new talent, a lot of this may sound eerily familiar. Either way, here are some ways that finding and interviewing job candidates is almost exactly like looking for a soul mate.

The of Recruitment

Like most things these days, our comparison starts online. Online dating services are as widespread as online job boards. People start online more often than not when searching for anything from a car to a perfect mate.

But the comparison doesn’t stop there. Like dating sites, when signing up on a job board site, like Indeed, there are usually several things you need to do to start searching for the right fit to fill the position in your company.

  1. Create a profile.
  2. Upload information about your company and the job description.
  3. Answer questions about the job/company.
  4. Initiate searches using keywords that will direct you toward viable candidates.
  5. Sort through possible candidates for skills that match what you are looking for.
  6. Make first contact with an initial email/phone interview.
  7. Set up a first interview (date) in person.

Let’s Not Forget Social Media

The advent of Social Media channels has made it easier to find out more about a person than what they choose to reveal in their dating profile.  These, plus channels like LinkedIn, have made it possible to uncover more about potential candidates than what’s on their resume.

However, if you use social media as part of your selection and hiring process, make sure you understand the legalities. When you review public postings, you are automatically aware of protected attributes, like gender and race, as well as less obvious things like religion and age. You might consider waiting until after you’ve met in person, but whatever path you choose, be consistent. Conduct the same searches at the same time in the process for all candidates. When in doubt, it can’t hurt to get some legal advice from an employment lawyer and then write a social media policy for the selection process.

Finally, be sure your company’s social media presence reflects your mission and core values in a way that will attract the right talent.

First Impressions

As a hiring manager, you’re an important representation of the credit union, and pardon the over-used quote, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

When deciding where to have a first date, a lot of thought goes into whether it should be coffee, drinks or a full meal. For interviews, choose an appropriate spot, like a conference room or an office with enough space to converse comfortably with the applicant. If you hold the interview in your office, be sure to turn off any potential distractions, like email notification noises and the phone. Give the applicant your undivided attention.

Likewise, candidates should be conducting themselves in a way that reflects well on them and their professionalism. If they are late, respond to texts and/or calls or start swearing in the interview, these are good indicators they are not right for the job.  

And Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Body Language

Thanks, Ursula… extra points if you knew that was from The Little Mermaid. Yes, I have kids. That said, does any of this sound familiar?

“He’s leaning back in his chair; he must be pretty arrogant.”

“She’s not making eye contact. She must not be interested/listening.”

First dates and job interviews are stressful. This can lead a person to behave in ways that aren’t typical for them, and they may not even be aware of it.

If a person looks good on paper, you may want to consider taking a little care to make the interviewee as relaxed and open as possible so you can really get to know them and see if they are going to be a good fit. And that’s not to say you should let them off the hook on answering questions or that you shouldn’t deduct points for body language that is unappealing or inappropriate, especially for the kind of job they are applying for. If a person can’t make eye contact for a sales position, that’s a problem, but it might be understandable for a shy data entry clerk or IT programmer.   

Love at First Sight

Whether in love or in a positive work environment, chemistry is important.

Can “love at first sight” happen in a job interview?  Absolutely! Especially if you’ve spoken to so many awful candidates that you might see an okay candidate as a great fit.  You may want to hire on the spot, but wait! Desperation can lead to a huge mistake, as anyone who has picked the wrong person knows. That’s why an objective assessment of a job candidate’s strengths and challenges can help avoid any self-imposed blind spots.

Sure, that candidate was a great conversationalist, but will that be an asset in your back-office data entry position where human interaction is almost nonexistent? Perhaps the candidate was super accommodating and thorough, but your forward-facing sales position needs someone far more aggressive and big-picture oriented. Using a behavioral assessment, like The Omnia Profile, can help you steer the interview in the best possible direction and keep you on track to ensuring the candidate really is a good fit. Too bad you can’t make your date take a behavioral assessment!

Final Thoughts

In dating and in job interviews, sometimes there is a connection, and sometimes there isn’t. When there is, it can definitely become the start of a beautiful relationship. If not, both parties should keep looking for the right fit.

Kim Busse

Kim Busse

Kim Busse is the Key Relationship Manager at The Omnia Group, a behavioral assessment and employee consulting firm. She partners with her clients to select top talent, manage more effectively, ... Web: Details