Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Interviews are Like First Dates

Carole Martin

Dating and interviewing -- how can two things so different be strangely similar? Let's observe two scenarios: Bob's blind date and Jane's first interview. Imagine Bob in the interviewer role in the blind date situation and Jane as the candidate in the job scenario.

Pre-Interview/Date Thoughts

Bob: "I really need someone in my life. I am willing to take anyone who is a warm body."

Jane: "I really need a job. I'm so desperate, I'll take anything."
Desperation vibes can be detected immediately in both scenarios. Avoid sending them by staying focused on the experience, rather than the result.

First Impressions and Chemistry

Bob feels a connection with his date: "She is exactly what I've been looking for."

Jane gets a negative feeling from the interviewer. He's so stiff and formal.
Lasting impressions are made within the first 10 seconds of meeting someone. Chemistry (or lack thereof) is determined and an opinion is formed based on appearance and body language.

Getting to Know Each Other

Bob watches and listens intently to confirm his first opinion of his date.

Jane can feel the interview turning around as she answers the questions with specific examples of her past successes.
First impressions are not always the final ones, as in Jane's situation. Both processes involve conversations to learn if there is a match.

Past Experiences

Bob learns more about his date from the stories she tells about her past.

Jane gives specific examples of her past work, letting the interviewer know she's had similar experiences in other jobs.
Stories are the proof that you've been there and done that. Stories reveal patterns -- both good and bad.

The Questioning Period

Bob has a million questions he wants to ask his date: Do you like music? When was the last time you went dancing? Are you a movie buff? Do you love Italian food?

The interviewer asks Jane if she has any questions about the job. She politely answers, "No, I think you've covered the basics."
In order to make a more informed decision, you need to start asking questions like Bob did. This will help you figure out whether you want to take this relationship to the next level.

Warning Signs

Bob's date begins to tell him about her ex-boyfriend in a negative way.

Jane left her last job because of her boss. She avoids saying anything negative.
Whether on a date or an interview, it is best not to bad-mouth former relationships.

Meeting the Family

Bob is excited and wants to introduce his date to his family and friends.

Jane is given a tour and introduced to potential peers.
The next level of a relationship is to meet the other people involved in the relationship -- whether they be friends, family or coworkers. Remember: You should never underestimate the impact of third-party feedback.

The Competition

Bob compares his date to the other women he knows.

Jane is told there are five candidates for the job. She starts to panic, thinking all the other candidates are probably more qualified.
Faulty thinking about the competition is a mistake. You are unique and should be confident in your strengths and positive qualities.

The Waiting

Bob tells his date that he will call her for another date next week.

The interviewer tells Jane that the hiring decision will be made a week from Wednesday.
Waiting for a call is one of the most difficult parts of either process. Trust in the process and let whatever is going to happen occur.

The Commitment

Bob calls for a second date and she accepts. Time will tell whether that original spark will continue or fizzle.

Jane waits two weeks for her call back. She is offered the position and accepts.
Just as not every date will end in a commitment or even a second date, not every interview will end in a job offer. Sometimes it just doesn't work, for whatever reason. Let go and move forward. There will be other dates and other interviews.