The Similarities Between Job Interviews And Dating
I have recently revisited the Myers-Briggs personality test, and yet again I have been labeled as an extrovert. In my case, extroversion means I am good at making conversation. This comes in handy during job interviews, either as a recruiter or a candidate.
Unfortunately, no matter the personality type, in both cases, I often discover we are not truly open for dialogue. Or better said, we tend to focus on what’s in it for ourselves. I am a strong believer that, primarily, interviews are supposed to be dialogues, not interrogatories or negotiations. At least not the first interviews.
I must say that in writing this, I am already frustrated that I will never have the means to convince everybody I meet on how long of a way an empathetic dialogue will take them.
Before heading a step further into the matter, I would like to recommend a great read, Adam Grant’s Give and Take, I think it illustrates what empathetic really means. Givers, takers, and matchers are the three main types he constructs his argumentation on.
The main takeaway for me is that even though we live in a world of takers, those who are self-taught (not necessarily natural), givers experience long-term satisfaction and better results in both their professional and personal life. Stepping away from what seems a truism, I’d like us to think of a job interview as a dialogue between givers. Let’s dissect it a bit.
I’m sure by now you’ve read articles on how to prepare YOUR questions for the interviewer. Most of them are pertinent questions meant to help you better understand the job requirements and overall context. But I ask you, what would a giver ask?
Yeah, it’s a dog eat dog out there, we’re all in it for the paycheck and vacation time. I assume you are not accepting a job and already thinking about your resignation and compensation. Then, why not transform your mindset in such a manner that you find out what the employer NEEDS?!
● What do you need from a future colleague?
● For how long have you been searching for the right candidate?
● What are your blockages in finding a good match?
Please, don’t just focus on asking your next question, take the time to listen and empathize. Put yourself into his/her context: a team that expects a new hire, and pronto, while being overloaded with the missing colleague’s work.
I am sure that if you ask the question with the willingness to understand and asses if you’re the right person to fulfill the need, you’ll not only grasp the basic requirement but the key for you to successfully do the job. It takes practice, and it will drain your energy. The stake is higher, though: you are not trying to have a great interview, you are looking for a satisfying, long-term career move.
My two cents: invest on understanding and asking the in-depth questions, and then assess if you are the right one for the job. You don’t have to [over]sell yourself; you just have to find out if you and that particular employer and job are compatible.
Is the Interviewing Process Similar to Dating?
I’m sure you’ve all been dating before committing to a relationship. In my opinion and as crazy as it sounds, date scenarios are more suitable than the candidate drill. Be genuinely interested and open to finding out if this is a potential employer-employee relationship.
Try to keep in mind the bigger picture, don’t let yourself charmed by the correct working hours/paycheck ratio. Assuming you know what you want in a professional partner, ask if they are willing to do what it takes:
● Support your learning projects.
● Be understanding of your personal context.
● Be flexible with you ideas and work style.
● Investigate what their preferences are.
● What’s negotiable and what's not.
● What they value the most in a team member.
You’ll have to be quick on your feet and juggle in between roles: asking, processing and assessing, and then respond. I do not wish to give you a recipe on job interviews, but rather change your approach: you are in a room with a stranger, and the only way out is to talk to each other. Aim for a meaningful dialogue, and for a win-win closure. It doesn’t matter if you get the job, it all comes down to getting the RIGHT job.
And be assured, I am actively pleading with employers to take on the same approach with potential employees. Best of luck!