What Dating and Interviewing Have in Common
Let’s face it, interviews and dates have a lot in common. Whether you go on 1, 2, 3, or 4 they’re all about getting to know the other person and seeing if you are the right fit for each other. Here are ten questions I feel you should be prepared to answer for both.
1. Why are you applying? (Why are you on the date?)
When you go on the first date, both people usually try to get a sense of what the other person is there for. Do they just want to hookup? Meet a new friend? Have a long-term relationship? This is similar to a job interview when employers are looking to determine exactly why you are applying for the position. Are you looking for a short-term job or in it for the long haul? Either way, make sure that you are honest and clear about your reasoning—this is your chance to reassure them you are there for the right reasons!
2. Why are you/did you leave your last position/relationship?
This might not be something brought up on the first date, but either way both parties want to know it. Were you too needy? Was infidelity involved? Knowing this gives insight into the type of person they are looking for in the next relationship. Similarly, a job wants to know this as well. In fact this was the first question asked in my most recent interviews. If you are leaving because there was too much attention to detail required and multiple projects and deadlines, this might be a red flag to them if this is what the new position requires. This question can be a deal breaker—you don’t want to give away too much information about yourself and talk poorly about your past relationships/job. You do want to give them just enough detail so that they know you left for the right reasons, and that the other party is missing out.
3. Are you applying other places? (Dating other people?)
Unless you’re on The Bachelor, no one wants to date someone that is dating a bunch of other people at the same time as you. There are too many others out there that would be interested in dating only you. This question has also come up in every single one of my interviews to date. Some may advise to be honest, but I personally think your answer should always be no. You wouldn’t want to hire someone that applied to every open position on Craigslist, and either do they.
4. Tell us a little about yourself.
When you answer this intro on a date or in an interview, always keep the answer short and sweet. Stick with where you went to school, where you live, and current job. On a date you can be a little more creative, but no one likes a rambler.
5. What do you know about the person/company?
I reference The Bachelor again here, but nothing made me cringe more than hearing one contestant spout off everything on his Myspace page. There is one word for that and the police like to call it stalking. If you are introduced from a mutual friend or family member it doesn’t hurt to know one or two things about them like a common friend or where they went to school—great conversation starter. With a job, you should have researched extensively. You don’t have to memorize their whole Web site—anyone can do that. But you should read articles in the news (be sure they are credible sources) and info that proves you went above and beyond what is expected. They don’t want someone that read the “About Us” section but they do want someone who has a deep understanding of the company.
6. What are your salary (lifestyle) requirements?
I doubt anyone on a first date is going to ask what the other person makes. But I can guarantee that both people are trying to figure out what the other person’s lifestyle requirements are. Are you someone that is high maintenance, likes everything bought for you, and only settles for steak dinners? Or are you perfectly happy renting a movie and making dinner? Always be prepared to answer this in an interview as well. Look up the base amount for the job you are applying for and let them know you understand it is dependent on your experience and the job requirements. You don’t want to sound greedy, but you also don’t want to underestimate your worth and ask for less than they’d pay.
7. Do you have any questions for us?
This the deal breaker for dates and interviews. The worst date you’ve been on probably goes like this: guy/girl talks about themselves for hours while you think of exit strategies and filing taxes. It shows they are more interested in themselves than you. In an interview, if you ask questions it shows you are paying attention. I wouldn’t even come with questions prepared, just listen attentively to what they say and ask them to expand on them in the end. One question I would recommend asking is, “What qualities are you looking for in someone to fill this position?”
8. What are your future goals?
What was that? You want to be the world greatest Wii champion and live off of your spouse? Enter text from friend here, that needs my help in an undisclosed location immediately. Also, if your goals are completely off, say if you see yourself traveling the world in ten years with no children and the other wants to be married with children, that is also a red flag. Showing that you have ambition, passions, and goals that are somewhat in common with the other person is a good sign. In an interview, they also want to know you have goals that are in line with the company’s. If you “have no idea where you want to be in ten years” or “see yourself working as a stewardess if you are applying for a finance job,” you probably won’t get the position. If you see yourself working at their company, let them know that! They’d love to hear it and it proves you would be dedicated to the company and position.
9. What experience do you have that may help at the current position/relationship?
If you haven’t had any long-term relationships this may be a sign that you are not good at commitment. If you’ve never done research, you may not be the best match for a marketing research position. Make sure to relate past experiences in the best way possible to the prospect. For example, “ I haven’t had any long-term relationships because I haven’t found the right person” or, “ I don’t have experience in this specific program, but I am a fast learner and have taught myself how to use other complicated programs such as x.”
10. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
In this situation, my best advice is to “avoid the cliché.” Any guy that says, “ I’m really romantic, love to take long walks on the beach, and hand you the remote even when I’m watching football” clearly Googled “perfect lines to say at a date.” Similarly, anyone that says “proactive, reliable, and creative” can expect the interviewers to sigh in their heads from boredom. Instead, be honest about both and tailor them to the position you are applying for. Saying you can “effectively handle multiple projects and deadlines” at an administrative or project management position would be better than just saying “creative.” On both dates and interviews, you want to get to know the other person first before you say your weakness.
If you say “I’m really messy” when they’ve announced several times they are obsessively clean may send the other person running. Saying “I’m really bad at math” at a position that requires formulas and data entry might not be a great choice as well. No matter what you say, end on a positive with how you are working on it. After, you can reevaluate if you are the best fit for the position.
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