You have probably never thought about it, but there are several similarities between job interviews and first dates. Here are a few:
YOU GOOGLE EACH OTHER BEFOREHAND
Before going out on a date with someone, you probably spend some time googling their name and checking them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You want to know more about them, know their likes and interests, see whether they are the kind of person that you would like to spend time with, and so on.
The same happens during jobs interviews.
Before your interview, the interviewer will most likely Google your name and check out your profiles on various social media platforms.
Actually, a survey by CareerBuilder shows that 70% of employers screen job applicants on social media platforms before inviting them for interviews.
Similarly, smart job seekers also Google the company they are about to interview with as well as the hiring manager.
This makes them more prepared and allows them to anticipate what they might encounter during the interview.
YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT TO WEAR
During a first date, you want to impress your first date as much as possible, and therefore, you are usually careful about what you wear.
Clothes have an impact on the first impression you make on people, and you don’t want your date to form the wrong perception of you before you even get to speak to them. You probably even have to change your outfit several times to find the perfect one.
The same applies to job interviews. How you dress to an interview has an influence on how the hiring manager is going to view you, which in turn affects your chances of getting the job.
Therefore, before an interview, you spend some time making sure that you are dressed in something that portrays you as a professional and makes you feel more confident.
YOU MAKE ASSUMPTIONS BASED ON VERY TRIVIAL THINGS
A first date can be a very nerve-wracking experience.
Since you don’t know much about the other person, you tend to make assumptions about them based on very trivial things. She’s wearing glasses? She must be a geek.
He leans back in his chair with his legs wide open?
This guy must be very arrogant. In most cases, however, these assumptions tend to be wrong.
The same scenario plays out during job interviews. Since you want to know more about the hiring manager and understand what is going on in their mind, you might find yourself making assumptions from the silliest of things.
She waited a second longer before asking the next question? She probably didn’t like my last answer. She looks so serious? She probably won’t be a good boss.
Like I said, however, your assumptions will probably be wrong.
THEY ARE WATCHING HOW YOU TREAT THE STAFF
On a first date, your date doesn’t know much about you and your personality, so they will look for any cues that might help them learn more about you.
One of the things they will use to evaluate your character is by watching how you treat the staff.
If you are rude to the waiter, your date will conclude you are probably not a nice person, even if you are being nice to them. Of course, this might make them think twice about going on a second date with you.
Similarly, during a job interview, an evaluation of your character starts from the moment you enter the compound.
How did you treat the watchman? Were you nice to the person at the reception desk?
All these things show who you are and have an influence on your chances of getting the job.
YOU WILL BE WAITING FOR THEIR CALL FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS
You had a great time on your date, and you believe that everything went well.
However, you’ll still be anxiously waiting for them to call you.
If they call you, it means that they had a great time too and liked you, which means that there is a great chance you will get to spend time with them again.
Similarly, no matter how good you feel you did in a job interview, you will still remain anxious until you get the call or email informing you that you are hired.
The above are some of the similarities between a first date and a job interview.
What’s worse, you need to do this without coming across as a desperate person. This can make for a very daunting, awkward, and uncomfortable experience.
WHY BEING LIKEABLE IS IMPORTANT DURING FIRST DATES AND JOB INTERVIEWS
Being likeable plays a very significant role in the outcome of first dates and job interviews.
If you want to go on another date with the other person or maybe get in a relationship with them, then this person needs to like you. If they don’t like you, that’s the end of it all.
While this is obvious for first dates, it also applies for job interviews, though it’s a lot less obvious during job interviews.
Emotions play a huge role in all sorts of human interactions. While the interaction during a job interview might feel painfully artificial and objective, focusing so much on the candidate’s skills and qualifications, emotions still play a significant role in influencing the hiring decision.
In most job interviews, there are usually several candidates with the right skills and qualifications.
So, how do hiring managers decide which candidate to hire?
In such situations, most hiring managers will often opt for the candidate they feel will be the best fit for the organization. In other words, they will hire the candidate they see as the best potential colleague.
So, what determines whether a job candidate will be seen as a “best potential colleague?”
Well, research shows that the best colleagues, those that people like working alongside are not the most experienced, the most educated, or the most competent, but rather the most likeable.
In a bid to find out how important likeability is during job interviews, two professors examined more than 10,000 workplace relationships under five different settings.
Their first two findings were not surprising.
People prefer working with the lovable star who is both very likeable and highly competent, and no one prefers working with the incompetent jerk.
The next finding, however, was a lot more surprising. Given the option of working with a lovable fool or a competent jerk, what would people choose?
Turns out that people prefer working with the likeable but incompetent person compared to the competent jerk. In other words, likeability trumps ability when it comes to determining who the best colleague is.
With this in mind, it is very important to ensure you present yourself as a more likeable person on first dates and job interviews.
While factors like your education, skills, qualifications, and experience are all important, the most important single factor that influences the outcome in these situations is how likeable you are.
So, question is, how can one make themselves more likeable?
Under such conditions during a job interview or a first date, most people resort to something known as impression management, whereby they highlight their successes, achievements, and talents in the hope of impressing the other person and making themselves more likeable.
On a date, you might enthrall your date with tales of your awesome piano skills, your achievements as a bike racer, your talents as a soccer player or as an artist, and so on.
The hope is to show your date that you are a great and accomplished person, which will hopefully result in them liking you enough to want a second date and possibly a relationship with you.
The same thing happens during job interviews.
During a job interview, you talk about all academic qualifications, your professional achievements, all the professional awards and accolades you have received, and so on.
Just like with a date, the aim here is to show them you are a great person that would add value to the company.
The better job you do of convincing them that you are a great, skilled employee, the higher the likelihood of them giving you the job.
The tendency to self-promote and talk about your achievements during interviews and first dates is something natural. From a young age, we learn that achievements are a great thing.
We get praised for winning games, earning high marks in school, winning competitions, and so on. We also learn that successful people are more likeable.
For instance, during childhood, kids who are good at something, such as soccer, basketball, dancing, and so on usually have a lot more friends. People generally tend to get attracted to talented and successful people.
Therefore it is not surprising that most of us resort to self-promotion as a way of getting hiring managers and our dates to like us.
HOW YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS YOUR LIKEABILITY
While talking about your successes and achievements can make you more likeable, the secret lies in how you go about talking about these successes.
Typically, there are two ways through which people attain their success and achievements. The first one is through talent.
There are people who are naturally good at some things. Things come easy to them, and they often do well without seeming to struggle.
The second one is through effort and hard work.
There are people who are not naturally good at something, but they still manage to perform well by putting in a lot of effort.
Since whatever they are good at does not come naturally to them, they face a lot of challenges, but they work hard enough to overcome these challenges and achieve greatness.
So, when talking about your success and achievements to a hiring manager or your date, how should you put across your achievements? Should you present yourself as a talented person who didn’t struggle much to achieve all that you have achieved?
Or should you present yourself as a hard working person who goes through a lot of struggles and challenges, but manages to achieve greatness despite these challenges? Which of the two options is going to make you more likeable?
Science suggests that the secret to being more likeable on first dates and job interviews is to shift your focus from all your success and achievements to the hard work and effort that led to the success and achievement.
In a bid to find out whether focusing on talent or hard work and effort is more important in influencing likeability, Dr. Steinmetz conducted a series of three experiments in a study that was published in the journal Basic and Applied Psychology.
The experiments involved participants from the Netherlands and the United States, with the ages of the participants ranging from 18 to 7 years, and with an even balance between male and female participants.
Two of the experiments were designed to simulate the conditions of a job interview and were targeted at working adults, while the other experiment was designed to simulate a first date and was targeted at students.
In the experiments, participants were required to either play the part of the impression manager (the “sharer” on a date or the job candidate), or the receiver (the “listener” during a date or the hiring manager in an interview).
As part of the interview, the impression manager was asked to talk about themselves in a way they felt would present them in the best light and make them more likeable.
The receivers were then asked to report what kind of information made the impression manager come across as more likeable.
Results from the three experiments showed that people are more likeable when they talk about their struggles and challenges, instead of solely focusing on their successes and accomplishments.
The study also found that most people have a flawed approach to impression management, especially during dates and job interviews.
In all the three experiments, participants playing the role of sharers and job candidates were more likely to put greater focus on their talents and achievements.
Those who played the role of hiring managers and listeners, on the other hand, reported that they preferred to hear more about the hard work, effort, and struggle that it took to achieve these successes.
According to Dr. Steinmetz, in situations where people need to manage their impression, such as during dates and job interviews, a lot of people try to present themselves as competent.
This is because being seen as competent boosts their esteem and enhances their social capital.
Since talking about accomplishments makes people feel competent, this is what most people emphasize during impression management situations.
Unfortunately, this is counterproductive. As the results from the experiment show, the key to being likeable is to talk about the effort and the challenges you had to overcome – talking about your struggles shows the human side of you.
Dr. Steinmetz goes on to explain that impression management is all about story telling. Every gripping story involves challenges that the protagonist must overcome. This is something that movie directors in Hollywood have perfected.
For instance, in one of my favorite TV shows, Prison Break, the protagonist tries to break his brother from prison, but he has to deal with unexpected challenges all the way – other inmates find out about his plan, the prison blueprints tattooed on his back get burnt, the weakened drainage pipe he had planned to use as his escape route gets replaced, and so on.
Such obstacles and challenges are what make the show entertaining.
The same thing applies during impression management. As Dr. Steinmetz explains, a success story cannot be complete without a highlight of the effort that went into achieving this success.
Therefore, whenever you are in such situations, you should always find ways to put more emphasis on the behind-the-scenes stuff that made the success possible.
For instance, if you are in a job interview and are telling the hiring manager about the successful project you oversaw, talk about some of the challenges you encountered during the project that threatened the successful completion of the project, as well as the what you did to overcome these challenges.
Similarly, during a date, if you are telling your date about a mountain you climbed, don’t just talk about the thrill of getting to the summit, but include details about all the training you had to undergo to make you ready for the climb, the challenges during the climb, and so on.
OTHER KEYS TO BEING MORE LIKEABLE
In addition to putting greater emphasis on the hard work and effort behind your successes and accomplishments, there are other things you can do to make yourself more likeable during job interviews and first dates. These include:
Being Warm and Competent
According to the stereotype content model, which was proposed by psychologist Susan Fiske, two major factors people use to judge others is their warmth and competence.
According to this model, people who portray themselves as warm – that is friendly and non-competitive – are more likely to earn the trust of other people, which is an important aspect of getting others to like you.
On the other hand, people who portray themselves as competent tend to earn the respect of other people.
Therefore, in situations such as first dates and job interviews, you should start by demonstrating warmth to earn the other person’s trust, and then show your competence later.
Another key to being more likeable is to be authentic. If the hiring manager or your date feels like you are trying to present yourself as someone you are not, you have just thrown your chances of getting them to like you out of the window.
The key to presenting your true authentic self lies in feeling comfortable. Job interviews and dates can be quite nerve-racking, and being authentic in such circumstances can be difficult.
However, if you shift your focus from the outcome of the interaction to the interaction itself, it becomes much easier to get comfortable and enjoy the conversation. Doing this will allow you authentic self to shine through.
Another secret to being authentic is to resist the temptation to feel as though you have to prove yourself. If the other person has already agreed to a date with you, it means that they are already attracted to you.
If you have received an invite to the job interview, then this shows that the employer believes you are a qualified person who can do the job. In other words, you are halfway there.
Therefore, don’t feel a lot of pressure and try to be someone you are not. Just go and showcase the real you that got them interested in the first place.
Embrace The Small Talk
Engaging in small talk also has a lot of influence on your likeability.
During first dates, this is somewhat obvious. You cannot go on a date and immediately start asking the other person some deep questions about them. You need to engage in some chitchat as a way of building rapport with your date.
However, most people do not do this during job interviews. They simply walk into the interview room expecting the interviewer to immediately launch into an interrogation.
Here’s the thing however.
The interviewer is not just trying to know whether you are qualified and experienced. They can easily learn that from your resume.
During the interview, they also want to get a feel of you, see whether you are someone they would enjoy working alongside with.
Engaging in some small talk with the interviewer allows you to showcase your personality and make you more comfortable (allowing your authentic self to shine through), which will make you more likeable.
Therefore, before the interview (or a date), prepare for small talk by acquainting yourself with the things that have been in the news lately, and whatever is making the buzz in your city at the moment.
This way, you won’t run out of things to say, or get caught unawares when the hiring manager or your date tries to talk about something you have no idea of.
Whether on a first date or a job interview, getting the other person to like you is very important. It determines whether you will get the job or go on another date with them.
When it comes to impressing the other person in order to get them to like you, don’t just talk about your success and accomplishments, but emphasize the hard work and effort you put into it as well.
This shows that you are truly human, and is the key to likeability. In addition, you can also increase your likeability by being warm and competent, being authentic, and embracing small talk.