By Gershon Sonnenschein, LGPC ,NCC ,MS
Interviewing for a job and dating have a lot in common. These two experiences may sound totally unconnected, but in fact, both are all about attempting to get to know the other person and seeing if you are the right fit for each other. Okay, so you still don’t believe me?
Let’s take care of one big concern first: nerves. Whether you are going on a first date or first interview, of course you are a little anxious. That’s natural. It’s perhaps because you’re afraid you are going to fail at making a great first impression. Meeting new people does that to many of us. But think about it. Someone actually wants to meet you and get to know you. You are one step ahead of the game already! You have an “in,” you have been “pre-approved.” Now all you have to do is be yourself. Know in the back of your mind that you are there because there is interest in you, and that should allay some of the nervousness. Trust me, it will go well. Do you want to know why? Because the meeting is about YOU! No one knows you better than yourself, and that is who they want to get to know better.
Let’s look at a number of questions you are almost certain to be asked during a job interview, and how the analogy with dating can be applicable and helpful.
Tell me a little about yourself.
Here is where you need to keep it short and sweet. On a date, when you are just starting to learn about one another, you don’t have to spill all the beans. Let there be some level of mystery so that the other person will want to learn more about you. The same applies on a first interview. Your answers should be concise and to the point. Too much talking can be annoying. If the interviewer wants more information, he or she will ask for it.
Why are you applying for this job?
On a first date, people are likely to ask each other, “Why did you want to go out with me?” Beyond high school, many people are looking for someone who will demonstrate serious intentions of moving in the direction of a long term relationship. Similarly, companies want to know what compelled you to apply for the position. They want to see if you are a serious candidate who is looking for a long term relationship with the company. They want to know that you are there for the right reasons. Your intentions should be clear.
What are your future goals?
Here you have to be very careful. Imagine that on a first date you share the information that you would like to spend the next ten years traveling and that children are out of the picture, while the other person says he or she wants to get married and have children right away. That is going to be a red flag. On the other hand, showing that you have ambition, passions, and goals 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 those of the company. If you have no idea where you want to be in ten years or see yourself working as a stewardess, although you are now applying for job in finance, you probably won’t get the position. On the other hand, if you envision yourself working at their company, let them know that! They’d love to hear it and it demonstrates that you would be dedicated to the organization.
Do you have any questions for us?
This is deal breaker for interviews as well as for dates. The worst date you’ve been on probably went like this: guy/girl talks about him/herself for hours, while you desperately search for exit strategies and think about filing taxes. This kind of conversation shows that the other person is more interested in him/herself than in you. In a job interview, if you ask questions, it shows that you are paying attention. You don’t necessarily need to come with questions prepared. Just listen attentively to what the interviewers say and ask them to expand on a couple of points toward the end of the conversation. One good question is: “What qualities are you looking for in someone to fill this position?”
Whether you are going on a date or a job interview, the same questions are probably in the back of your mind: Will this lead to a long-term commitment? Is this “the one”? I bet you can think of even more parallels. Good luck!
By Gershon Sonnenschein, LGPC NCC MS, Career Counselor, Jewish Community Services Career Services, Baltimore, MD
JCS offers a full range of career services. To learn more about these and other ways JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles, visit http://www.jcsbaltimore.org, or call 410-466-9200. Jewish Community Services is an agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.