Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First dates, job interviews and everything between

Dating is pressure and tension. What is a date, really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The only difference between a date and a job interview is that in not many job interviews is there a chance you'll end up naked at the end of it” – Jerry Seinfeld 

Our partner in life and our job has a lot in common. They both define us in some level, they both work on a ‘what you give is what you get’ basis and we spend a lot of time and energy finding the right one. Usually we go through several before we find it.
Accordingly, I feel first dates and job interviews are basically  the same. All we want is to leave the right impression and to get our shot.
Jerry Seifeld said "What is a date really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The only difference is that in not many job interviews is there a chance you’ll wind up naked."
Lucky for you, the regular Joe went through enough job interviews and first dates holding a solid success rate.
I gathered a few pointers and similarities between the two with some examples for each case to help you get  through it. Because the regular Joe always keeps his feet on the ground and keeping it real, we will pick a typical situation where the manager at the interview will be ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ and my date is ‘Adriana Lima’.

First encounter – keep it simple. This is not the time to stand out. Shake Mark’s hand without any further contact. Do not kiss Adriana of the cheek or anything like that. In both cases SMILE.

Sucking up – everybody loves a compliment. Just make sure you do not cross the line to look desperate.  For Mark Zuckerberg a good way to go is “it’s a beautiful office. And I love the view” it shows you can appreciate a work environment.   To Adriana you can say “I love the way your hair looks tonight” (note: every time you have nothing to say, compliment her hair. They can’t get enough of it)

Digital profile – every time I’m about to meet someone, I run a quick check up on him. And I always assume it works both ways. Make sure your digital profile is adequate.  For a job interview it is important to remove any past mentions about your ex work or ex boss. Any mentions of drugs and anything else you wrote without thinking it through. For a first date you should remove any recent flirting, embarrassing pics and off course any mentions of how you cheated on your Ex. Just give your displayed past the proper attention. Here I can mention it is important to do your homework on the subject of your meeting as well. (The Regular Joe wants to clarify it is not, in any way, a recommendation to look up Adriana Lima)

Introduction – many fear the “tell me about yourself” question. It is very likely to come up in both scenarios and I always see it as a golden opportunity. It is your chance to direct the conversation, to emphasis what you want to talk about and leave out all those things you dread of. If you excelled at your studies, mention it. If not, just say you hold a degree. If you quited many jobs before, just don’t mention it.  Imagine what you want the next question or topic to be and just direct it there. It is a good idea to have a pitch ready for that question.

Questions – ask questions!!! Express your interest. Make it into a dialogue and not an interview. It will be much more pleasant for both sides and much more informative for you. Remember, the date/interview is as much for you as it is for them. It is up to them to impress you as well.

Eye contact – many of us refrain of direct eye contact during the day. On a first date and job interview it is important to display confidence.  Direct eye contact will show you are relaxed, interested and keep you and the object at the same level. It will also help you to better know how things are going for you.

Be friendly with the surroundings – when people are so focused on the event they in, they sometimes forget their surroundings. If Adriana see that you and the bartender exchanging laughs or you strike a short conversation with the older man sitting next to you, it shows you are open, cool and that people react to you in a positive way. If after you leave, Mark’s secretary will tell him you were really nice just because you politely greeted her when you walked in, it’s a plus for you. It is always nice to ride on a good karma momentum just because you were nice all day.

Never dish your ex – “my ex boss was a jerk. Always wanted us to work late, never approved a vacation while hardly came to the office” “my ex was bitch. Every time I met with this lingerie model friend of mine she became jealous and her mother's cooking was horrible”. Never a good idea. The right way to do it is “I learned so much from my last boss; he was strict but a professional and I respected him”. It is best to avoid talking about it anyway.

Drink – I don’t have to tell you the advantages of drinking on a first date. It loosens you up (and her), give you something to do in a quiet moment and gives you an idea about your progress “yes, I would like another drink” is never bad. In a job interview you are going to talk. A lot. So always ask for a glass of water. I never ask for coffee because it can stain my shirt and it gives the feeling like the secretary is making you coffee. A glass of water is great when you want to take a short pause and think of an answer.

Don’t look at your watch or answer the phone – just don’t.

Quote a book – it’s always nice if you leave the impression of a well read man. “Adriana, you’re from Brazil? I remember reading about Brazilian cooking in Jorge Amado’s ‘Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands’. I can’t wait to try it. By the way, your hair looks great”

Give them something to remember you by – let’s say Mark Zuckerberg and Adriana Lima meet a lot of people every day. What makes you so special? One way to do it is to slide into the conversation something special about you. “Yeah I love competition. I remember when I lived in Monaco and went to the F1 race. It was really exciting” and that’s it. Now you’re the guy who lived in Monaco.

There are many more but you got the point. Just be aware of yourself and no matter how it went, leave with a smile and say it was a pleasure.

Good luck.

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