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Job interview lessons learned from the dating scene

job interview lesson

Be on your best behavior when meeting the parents and the VP of the department!

Job interview lessons from the dating scene

Last week I posted up on job interview lessons from the dating scene. The feedback I received was interesting and came in two attitudes. In one camp,  a few candidates didn’t’ think that job interview lessons could be learned from dating. In the other camp a number of agency recruiter friends that said they really appreciated the post. The information posted was very similar to what the recruiters tell their candidates before they send them to interviews.     

I thought last weeks list of job interview lessons was really short and I could have added an additional dozen similarities with no effort or imagination. With the nay’sayers feedback in mind, I am going to try this one more time. For me, each step in a job interview is like getting to the next base when dating. The goal is to get an offer letter or the equivalent of home base. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a one-night stand this Friday night or a long-term relationship, dating and interviewing are the same.

Job interview lesson number 1  

Finding a date is tough, finding a date you want to spend the rest of your life with is harder.

Finding a job is tough, finding a job you want to work for the rest of your life is harder.  Just like a marriage, if you want the relationship to last, you need to put a lot of effort (into the company, direct manager, and position) 

If you are having a tough time finding a job (Mister Right), just remember that finding “Mister Right” when dating is the equivalent to finding Mister Right Job in a career search.  The biggest difference is that the hiring manager isn’t just looking for a date to spend some time with. The hiring manager is PAYING YOU for a Long Term Relationship and these types of relationships don’t come cheap. Hiring managers pay a salary and like anyone paying for a service, they are going to be picky and want their money’s worth. 

Dating and interviewing are similar. What job interview lessons can we learn?  

Dating has Match, Tinder, and the home wrecker There is a website for every demographic. I personally use LinkedIn, Indeed, Ladders and of course my favorite, Craigslist when on the prowl for candidates.  

Dating has it’s Facebook stalkers. When interviewing, candidates stalk the hiring manager on LinkedIn. We use YesWare to see if our emails were opened and we are constantly checking our phones to see if the recruiter emailed or called us back. Sound familiar?     

First dates are like the first interview

Both have us on our best behavior and hopefully with an appropriate outfit. Brushed my teeth? Check. Haircut? Check. Shaved my legs? Check.  Sexy underwear? Won’t need it on the first date. OK, so maybe we just showed up on time, but you get the idea.  We showed some effort and got excited. When there is interest, we just can’t help ourselves.  Excitement on a first date is human nature. No excitement, no second date.  No excitement, no second interview.     

If successive dates start to take a turn for worse, it’s easy, we just stop answering phone calls and texts. If your interview goes badly, it’s just as easy. I just stop answering phone calls and emails. Regardless of how much effort or money you spent, just like dating, you may or may not get a Dear Jane letter from your recruiter.    

Imagining the future with both dating and interviewing

When first dates go really well, we begin to think about the future and how much of an emotional investment we want to make at each step. In some cases, there may be a physical investment, and in more and more cases, it may be on the first date. In the corporate world, you get excited about a new opportunity. The further in the interview process the more emotionally invested we become. Hopefully, there isn’t a physical investment, but we do ask the question:  Is this job worth shaving my legs for? Should I wear some sexy underwear or are my XL comfy cotton grannies OK? 

When dating, we take mental notes on how messy or clean our potential mate’s house is kept and how many prescriptions are in the medicine cabinet. When interviewing, we visit the company to get an idea of culture.  Is there collaboration or confrontation? Is this place dysfunctional or compatible?  

Introductions to inner circle

If we like our potential mate, we introduce them to our immediate friends. In the corporate world, candidates are introduced and interviewed by additional co-workers.  The circle of trust gets larger.   

If we get serious about the dating relationship, we introduce Mr. Right to the parents. A special dinner may be in the cards and the parent’s grill our potential mate to see what their intentions are.  In the corporate world, serious candidates will we interviewed by the patriarch VP or Head of the department. Dinner may or may not be involved, but intentions are definitely discussed. Are you good enough for my little baby? Are you good enough for this department I built and raised?    

Instead of marriage documents, we have the job offer

Dating has a honeymoon period. The corporate world also has a honeymoon period and it is called the on boarding process. Designed to get you excited about the new gig, complete with company swag and a paid lunch. Like the honeymoon, don’t expect this experience anytime soon moving forward.        

The first few months of marriage is the honeymoon phase where everything is great. Sex every night and 2 times a day is the norm. Years later, you are cleaning out the garage and watching the kids in hopes that enough points are built up so that some alone time “might” take place on a birthday or an anniversary. In the corporate world, praise from our manager and company recognition is the sexual equivalent. Praise from our managers will get the endorphins going and keeps us working harder for more. 

Honeymoon period

In your first few months of employment, praise is coming from your manager on a regular basis. After a few years, your manager is holding a meeting with you and banging out emails at the same time. The equivalent of coming out of the bathroom in hair curlers face covered in the night cream and an old ratty bathrobe. It ain’t happening tonight honey.     

Instead of divorce papers, the corporate world has pink slips and release notices.   If we are lucky there is no legal representation involved    

Interviewing for a job is actually TOUGHER than dating

The hiring company is trying to figure out if your skills and time is worth PAYING for a this is what makes interviewing so difficult.  This isn’t just two individuals hanging out and putting up with each other so they can get what they want. The Employer is making a financial investment. Dating doesn’t have to cost anyone anything except time and the ability to put up with the idiosyncrasies the other person. What would you expect out of your +1 if you had to pay them $60K a year? You want perfection. We want every night to be New Year’s Eve and every morning to be Christmas. You want sex like you have hot and cold running water, at your fingertips. If there is an exchange of money on a date, that is an entirely different type of relationship and this is only an R rated blog.  

Legal gets involved in both

When there is a marriage separation there are arguments over who is going to get the house and the kids. When a company and employee part ways, it gets tougher because when one party gets tired of the other, legal can get involved and no big corporation likes to deal with a messy legal situation. Wait, marriage has it’s divorce lawyers. This is the same as dating! 

So if you still believe that dating doesn’t share any similarities with interviews, I would look at the two again and re-evaluate how you are treating dating, interviewing or both.

Treat your interview like a special date. Effort, consideration, sincerity, and a smile will go a long way, and yes, can even trump experience.  

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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