Why answering interview questions is like your first date

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Oct 23

When you walk in for that first face-to-face interview, you are understandably nervous, wondering how the interview will go and ponder what it would be like being with your prospective manager most of the waking day. Just like a first date.

And, really, what are you trying to accomplish on that first face-to-face interview that is different than a first date?

You are trying to find major areas of agreement

On a first date, you are trying to find commonality across many different areas of your life — what you like to do, where you like to live, and your values.

At the first interview, you are trying to find out if your job skills really match the job, whether management is to your liking, and whether the direction of the department or company is to your liking.

You are socially polite and try to not ask tough questions

On a first date, you will overlook irritations to concentrate on the big areas of commonality. And you try and not do a huge blunder that will embarrass you in front of your date.

For our first interview, we studiously implement all the right social customs of going on an interview: you arrive early, bring ten copies of your resume, practice answers to your interview questions and wear the proper attire.

We hide our perceived flaws

On a first date, it’s easy to mainstream what we do and avoid the quirkiness of our spirit. We want to fit in, not differentiate ourselves from everyone else on the planet. Like me first, then love me for my differences.

During the interview, we try and show only our best side, because companies only want to hire the best. We edit what happened during a project to show only the good stuff, how we overcame obstacles and leave out the part where we felt overwhelmed.

We are unsure how we should answer questions

If I answer the question this way, will it be all over? If I answer it that way, will it help us? You can have a position on something and still answer about that position many different ways.

When you are in a first interview, it is easy to try and frame your answer to an interview question based on what you think you want the manager to hear.

In the end, you need to be yourself

While first dates and interviews will make you nervous, it is better to just be yourself. Trying to figure out how to look your best or trying to determine the “right” answer to a question borders on gamesmanship.

By being yourself, you get to whether the relationship will work out faster, you won’t second guess yourself later, and you will get better responses during the date…er, interview.

Tell me about a time when you went out on an interview and problems started to develop….how did you overcome that….?