Job interviews can be stressful. Not only are you under pressure to come across as a calm, confident and likable person, but you also need to convince your interviewers that you’re the perfect match for the job on offer. In fact, we reckon that job interviews have an awful lot in common with first dates.
Here are six reasons why the two are so similar, along with our top tips for interview success.
1. They both involve preparation
We’ll begin with the practicalities. Preparing for a job interview involves making sure that you turn up looking and feeling your best, so take the same care over your personal appearance as you would if you were meeting your dream date.
If your interview is in the morning we also recommend having a hearty breakfast, as you won’t come across well if you start to feel ‘hangry’. A cup of coffee can help to keep you alert and focused too, but avoid multiple cups or you risk becoming a little twitchy. Not a good look for the interview room.
Whether you’re planning a first date or a first interview, turning up on time is essential, so make sure that you know where you going and how long it will take to get there. Pop a contact number in your phone in case you do encounter a delay and if you’re travelling by train we suggest popping any tickets in a memorable place.
Whether you’re planning a first date or a first interview, turning up on time is essential
2. Social media can help
First dates often go better if you put some thought into them, and having a quick scroll through your date’s social media accounts can give you a valuable glimpse into their interests, their accomplishments and their aspirations. Of course, social media accounts come in equally handy when you’re preparing for your next job interview, as following companies on Facebook and Twitter will enable you to keep up with their news and discover any important developments.
It’s also worth following potential employers on LinkedIn. Doing this will give you access to information about current employees, and you may find that you have a few things in common with the person who will be interviewing you, which can make them seem less intimidating.
While social media is helpful for interview candidates, it’s also very helpful for hiring managers, so we recommend taking a detailed look at your accounts before you hand in that application form. Use each platform’s privacy settings to ensure that your accounts are as private as possible, delete any inappropriate content and refresh your profile pictures, so that they look polished and professional.
of recruiters check applicants’ social media as part of their interview preparation
3. The right outfit is key
The success of a first date may not depend entirely on your appearance, but it does play a part in how you’re initially perceived. It’s the same with interviews, which means that you need to dress appropriately to land your dream job offer.
The ideal interview outfit should combine style with simplicity and look smart. How smart depends on the company you’re applying to work for and the job you’re going to be doing. For example, if you’re applying for a job in the financial sector, government or the civil service, you’ll probably need to opt for formal business attire. If you’re hoping to work for a graphic design company, a digital marketing agency or a magazine, you can afford to dress more casually.
Some invitations to interview will include an indication about what’s expected, but many won’t, so you might need to do a little detective work by checking out pictures of the hiring manager and their employees either on LinkedIn or their website. If you’re still unsure after doing this, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and wear a suit.
• Interview outfit options for men •
• Interview outfit options for women •
If you’re starting out on your career and your budget won’t stretch to an expensive outfit, it’s perfectly possible to look smart on a shoestring. Why not start by checking out the contents of your wardrobe, as you may find that you only need one or two extra items. Once you know what you need to buy, visit a few inexpensive high street stores and you’ll discover that there are plenty of sharp suits, budget blouses and attractive accessories on offer.
When it comes to the night before your job interview, we recommend ironing your outfit, trying it on and checking for any tiny holes, loose threads or pet hairs. If you’ve bought new shoes spend some time wearing them in, make sure they’re scuff-free and you’ll start the day feeling comfortable and confident.
3. It’s important to make a good first impression
On the day of the interview the most important thing (apart from being on time) is to make a good first impression. Just as you’d be on your best behaviour when entering a restaurant with your date, make sure that you’re polite and friendly to any company employees you meet when you arrive for your interview, particularly if they’re receptionists.
Hopefully you’ll have a bit of spare time before your interview, so we suggest using this to pop to the bathroom, take some deep breaths and check your appearance. By the time you’re called in you should be feeling relatively composed and well-prepared.
When you first enter the interview room it’s really important that you come across as warm, friendly and confident, so smile, shake the interviewer’s hand firmly and make sure that you maintain eye contact as you introduce yourself. Adding an introductory comment can help to fill any awkward silence, although you might find that the interviewer does this anyway.
Don’t sit down in the interview room until you’re offered a seat, as courteous behaviour will be noticed by your eagle eyed interviewers.
5. You need to create a connection
If the introductions went smoothly, you’re over the first hurdle and you now need to convince your interviewer that you’d be a great catch. On a first date you might have several hours to do this, but in an interview, time is more limited. How do you make yourself memorable in such a short space of time? You establish a connection.
The connection you make (or the interviewer makes) might be something as simple as the fact that you both went to the same university. It might be a particular aspect of the company that interests you or a new a development you know something about. Try to make this connection authentic, and never pretend to be someone you’re not, as this will only lead to disappointment.
You can also create a connection by being an engaging storyteller. On a date you might tell stories about your family, whereas at an interview you could tell stories about the times when you received recognition or saved your company money. Use the interview questions to connect by tying your answers to specific examples.
Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of humour or wit into your stories, as humour shows personality and builds rapport, strengthening the connection with your interviewer.
6. Both involve a conversation
“Tell me about yourself” is a question your date’s unlikely to ask, but it’s still worth thinking about how to answer probable questions when you’re meeting someone for the first time. In the same way, your interview preparation should include carefully considering and practising your replies to common interview questions. Doing this will keep the conversation flowing, boost your confidence and help you to highlight how your experience relates to the job description.
Of course, a great interview (or a great date) isn’t simply a matter of questions and answers, and every interview should really be viewed as a conversation. So if you treated your last job interview as a one way interrogation, try approaching the next one as you might approach an important first date. Adopt a mindset of discovery.
As with any conversation, the interview process is also a chance for you to demonstrate your superb listening skills. Listening well shows hiring managers that you’d be particularly good at understanding instructions and negotiating. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions either, as this shows that you’re serious about the job. For example, you could ask about the company’s future plans, what they’ll expect of you if you get the job and what the work environment is like.
Just like a first date, a job interview should end as politely as it started, with a courteous but genuine
‘thank you’ and a positive, friendly exit. It’s also worth sending an appreciative follow-up email or even a short personal thank you note.
Follow our dating-inspired interview tips and you’ll walk into your next interview feeling positive, prepared and supremely confident. If you need any extra pointers in the meantime, you’ll find plenty of career-related tips and job search tips over on our blog. Check it out today!