Job Interviews Are Like First Dates

African American woman shaking hands, job interviews

A couple of years ago, I heard this saying, Job interviews are like first dates. Good impressions count; awkwardness can occur; and outcomes are unpredictable. At that time, I was only 12 years old and wasn’t very concerned about first dates or their outcomes… But today, when looking for a job involves more than just getting the go-ahead to run the neighborhood lemonade stand, I realize the depth of this quote and the truth within its gentle humor.

No doubt, the job search can be tough, and interviews tend to wake up every nerve and jitter inside of us, especially when it is for a job that we really want. In order to combat those pop-up anxieties before job and internship interviews, I reflected upon my experience in this area and tried to see what I did well in the past and what I can do better in the future to be at an advantage in any interview situation. Here are my findings – I hope they’ll work for you as well!

When you present your unique skills and talents, the right employer will hire you for your skill set and potential at the job that’s fit for you.

First, and probably most importantly, know yourself and be that self. Often during an interview, the temptation might arise to be someone else, act like someone else, or even look like someone else, thinking that this will get us the job we want. However, doing that will only be a set-up for disappointment for the employer, the employee and the entire team. After all, if a company thinks they are hiring a young lady with 5 years of experience in sales and an outgoing personality but then finds out that the new hire has only 1 year of experience and is an introvert by nature, the consequences may lead to a loss for both. However, when you present your unique skills and talents, the right employer will hire you for your skill set and potential at the job that’s fit for you.

A second rule of thumb is to present yourself in a professional, friendly, and respectable manner. This can be done by smiling, dressing presentably for the job you’re hoping to get, and being courteous to the person giving the interview and to the other people around the office/location as well. In fact, after obtaining a hard-to-get internship during a summer in college, I had a talk with the supervisor who gave me the interview.

When I asked her what quality or trait pushed her to accept me for the position, she said, “When you came into my office for the first time, you smiled bright and greeted me with such professionalism and confidence. After that initial address, and the rest of the meeting, I knew that I wanted someone like this on my team”. This helped me realize how much a little thing like smiling can make a difference, and I’ve learned to use the simple, confident smile all the time to make a good first impression.

Furthermore, show the interviewer that you are interested in the organization and the work that it does. You can accomplish this with a short internet search on the company, some fact-finding on the interviewer and his/her qualifications and interests, and the general mission of the agency or business.

Once you have this information, you can bring some of it up during the meeting and use is as an icebreaker, a trust-builder, or as a sincere anecdote of respect for the organization. This step is simpler than one might think, but is often overlooked before an interview. However, if you remember to do it, you will give the impression that you are not only interested in getting the job, but that you admire the organization and can see yourself working in that environment.

Know your value – this includes both strengths and shortcomings.

Finally, never underestimate your personal power of confidence in yourself. Knowing your value – and this includes both strengths and shortcomings – will help you aim for the jobs that you want and make the right impression on employers who are seeking a person like you. Being aware of your strengths and knowing how to bring them up during the interview process will shed light on talents that others might not know that you have.

Also, being open and honest about weaknesses in any area may be very helpful for you – especially when you can point out how you would like to grow in those areas over the course of your employment. Knowing what you’re good at and being confident about it will extract a level of respect from others that will really do you good in the long run. And to finish off with real confidence, take the extra measure and send a small note or email of thanks to your interviewer – a short note of gratitude can go a long way.

Those tips are just a few pointers that I’ve found useful in any interview and new job situation, and I hope they work well for you, too – whether you use it for another job interview, or even if you choose to use it on that aforementioned first date!