I was having a conversation once with a neighbor of mine, who happens to be an executive recruiter. As we got to talking, we found more and more similarities between looking for a job and looking for a significant other. Are they, in fact, essentially the same? Not quite — I wouldn’t end an interview with a hug, for example — but the similarities are certainly worth noting.
1. First impressions are everything.
Whether we like it or not, we only have one chance to make a first impression, and there’s no taking it back. Yes, a company and potential mate should love you for who you are, however, when people first meet you, they don’t yet know the real you; they only know the you sitting in front of them, or preferably next to them (remember that I recommend sitting next to each other or catty-corner to make having an intimate conversation easier).
Simply said, dress to impress for the situation. Going for a clean and put-together look can send a great first impression. This actually allows for the other person to concentrate on what you are saying and not on what you are wearing.
A few additional pointers to keep in mind:
DO wear something that makes you feel confident and attractive.
DON’T wear something you took out of your hamper.
DO dress in a style that’s “you.”
DON’T second guess your fashion choice once you’re on the date or interview. Own it.
DO have a few go-to outfits ready so you never have to stress out about it.
DON’T forget that what you wear will never outweigh hygiene.
2. Identify whether their goals align with yours.
As a brunette, how would it make you feel if a date indicated, while on the date, that he or she really preferred redheads? On the other hand, why would an employer hire you if you indicate your real passion is acting but you are applying for a research role? Although honesty is key, it is best to keep answers about the future open-ended. This is one of the top reasons that companies pass on candidates, and you certainly are not setting yourself up for success in dating with these types of closed-minded responses.
As I’ve said before, it’s best to keep doors open and then close them if and when you’re ready.
3. Too much personal information is a turnoff.
A client recently told me that her date went into his less-than-stellar medical history and actually talked about his urologist on the date. Another told me that his date shared too much (very bitter) information about her ex. Keep it brief and light, and professional in the interview setting. Your date does not need to walk out knowing the names of all 30 of your first cousins, and your potential future employer has no interest in hearing how awful the administration is at your current job. It is imperative to remain positive and professional while allowing your personality to shine.
4. Pay attention to the end.
This is one of the most telling factors in the failure or success of your first meeting. Let your interviewer or date know your interest level at the end of the meeting … and don’t forget to smile. In addition, always come prepared with questions. People think you’re more interested if you ask thoughtful questions.
Lastly, always send a “thank you” note (email for interview, text for date) if you are interested in following up.
5. Everyone loves to be loved.
Do you feel like he’s the one? Have you met your dream boss? On the interviewing front, it is a common misbelief that you should always take a day to accept a position. And on the dating front, it is a common misbelief that you should always wait three days to contact the other person to play hard-to-get. This is silly — don’t make them wait. How would you feel if someone said I love you and you replied, “Let me think about it and I will get back to you.” Exactly. Just go for it.
Now you’re ready — go get that job and that date!
(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often-intimidating world of online dating.)