This is a guest post by Carol Schultz
That was the first time I’d heard the concept. Of course, interviewing is like dating, I thought. It made perfect sense. And now, I use it all the time when coaching people. Interviewing really is like dating, and both sides—the interviewer and the candidate—should keep the following in mind.
DON’T BE TOO AVAILABLE
You’re sitting at home on a Friday night, flipping through the channels on your TV. All you can think about is a guy you’ve been recently seeing, hoping to hear from him. And then, suddenly, he calls you out of the blue. You panic. Should you answer?
This is a big mistake. You don’t want to come off as too available, and when it comes to interviewing, the same rings true.
If a company calls you unexpectedly and asks if “now is a good time” to talk, the answer should always be: “No, now isn’t a good time.” Because it’s not a good time! You’re not prepared.
Simply put, you don’t want the company to think you’re sitting around with a bunch of free time on your hands, waiting for a phone call. You need to research the organization and practice interviewing, so agreeing to an interview—or even a conversation on the spot—can hinder your success.
Instead, ask to schedule a call for a time when you can prepare in advance.
Common sense, right? Wrong! I’ve seen many cases where an employer or candidate lies—or hides the truth—hoping to impress the other. It might not be an outright lie, but leaving out significant details can be just as damaging.
Employers: Don’t pull a bait and switch where you describe a position much differently than it is in reality. Do you think your new employee won’t notice you misled them? They will notice, and it will propel them to look for another job. Be truthful in your position descriptions and clearly communicate how long the process may take.
This advice goes both ways. Candidates: Don’t lie on your resume. If you have interest from another company, be upfront with both parties. Just like dating, you don’t want to string someone along if you have intentions of going in another direction. If this means a company has to wait for your decision, they’ll wait if they’re interested enough; if they don’t, it wasn’t the right fit. Talent-centric companies want the best people and will wait to get them.
START WITH A TWO-MINUTE ICEBREAKER
Whether your interview is in person or over Zoom, notice what’s in the interviewer’s office and comment on something. Use this technique to get to know each other before getting to the hard topics. A humorous, light conversation always leads to a smoother interview. But make it brief, as the goal of the meeting is still to talk about the position.
During interview prep, I once had a candidate say to me: “Oh! Did you kill that antelope?” referring to the skull on a table behind me. I chuckled and replied, “Actually, no, I did not. I found it when I was out riding one day.” And instantly, the mood changed.
WATCH OUT FOR RED FLAGS
Do you go on a first date and then get engaged the next day? No, or at least I hope not. You go on a first date to see if you like the person enough to go on another date with them. It works the same way in interviews.
If you’re going to walk down the aisle with an employer, you’d better be sure it’s a fit for both parties. Companies should schedule several interviews to get to know you. It’s a red flag if a company makes you an offer after speaking just once. This tells me they’re desperate or they don’t have a solid process, and therefore, employee turnover is likely to be high.
DON’T BE SHY IN SHOWING INTEREST
You’re on a date with someone, and although they appear to be hearing what you’re saying, they keep looking around and avoid eye contact. And they’ve only asked you one question so far. It feels one-sided.
Just like when you’re on a date, in an interview, both parties must express interest. As a candidate, ask smart questions geared around how you can help them rather than how they can help you.
As a hirer, ask meaningful questions: “What are you looking for, Mr. Candidate?” “Why did you get into this field?” The further you get into the interviewing process, the more you should be selling the candidate on why they would want to work for your company. Why should the candidate choose you? It doesn’t matter how successful, large, or famous your business is; you must sell it.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
All in all, going to an interview isn’t that far off from going on a date. Subtract the romance, and the same rules apply. Be honest, communicate openly, start light, evaluate red flags when you see them, and if you’re interested—let them know.
About the guest post author:
CAROL SCHULTZ, founder and CEO of Vertical Elevation, is a talent equity and leadership coaching and advisory expert with 30 years in the business. She’s helped hundreds of companies transform their organizations and create sustainable, talent-centric cultures that run at maximum efficiency. Her new book is Powered By People: How Talent-Centric Organizations Master Recruitment, Retention, and Revenue (and How to Build One). Learn more at verticalelevation.com.