VALENTINE'S SPECIAL: How to be good at dating. And interviews

It could help your job prospects to think of a potential employer as a 'date'. Just don't try and kiss them at the end of the interview.

by Jamie Betts
Last Updated: 14 Feb 2013

Picture the scene. You walk nervously into the room, and there they are – sitting at a cosy table. It’s just you and them, and you immediately think ‘Oh god, I hope they like me’. You sit down, try to relax, and then open up completely – sharing intimate details. It all ends with a smile, and a tease – will they want to see you again?
You think about those moments constantly over the next few days – did they like me? Did I say the right things? When will they get back in touch? Should I call them? You keep checking your phone – waiting for that text message or call. Hours turn into days, and the tension builds inside you. You start to lose sleep. Why don’t they call?
And then. The phone rings. You have that sinking feeling in your stomach. You answer the call and try to sound cool and calm... Hello?
You’ve been invited back for a second interview.
Now, you’re probably thinking: yawn, the date/interview metaphor has been somewhat done to death. And you’re right. But there is also an observation in all of this that is less commonly made.
Over the past decade, interviews have moved away from being the standard ‘chat through the CV’ and are now focused on your behaviours. Both competency and strength-based interviews focus on a person’s actions – and here the similarity with dating comes into focus.
Strength-based interviews, in particular, are essentially about understanding what people can do, and what they really enjoy doing – the synergy that leads to peak performance. You probably wouldn’t go dating and talk through your CV (unless perhaps your date had absolutely no social skills… always possible).

But on a date, you will almost certainly talk about the things you really enjoy, your passions, what gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s great to talk about things you’re really engaged with – you’d probably call that a ‘good date’. But you’d also get that kind of engaging experience in a strengths-based interview.
In that sense, the old metaphor about interviews and dating is finally starting to become a little more accurate.

But how can you make the most of your dating skills in an interview situation? Here, the age-old advice comes into play – just be yourself!

If you try to play to what you think they’re looking for, chances are this will come across as insincere. They know the difference between if you’re really interested, or if you’re simply just faking it.

Likewise, choose a role that is a perfect match to your strengths – something that really engages you and makes you feel comfortable. The best dates are those where you feel completely at ease – where you really engage with the other person and enjoy yourself. Why should this be any different with your job?

This combination of enjoyment, energy, comfort and engagement is the perfect mix to a happy and long-term relationship with your career.

So when looking towards your next move, just remember - relationships complement each other. If you can find a role that you wouldn’t mind taking on a second date, you’re sure to find the perfect job partner.

Jamie Betts is principal consultant at Centre of Applied Positive Psychology (Capp).

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