Interviewing and Dating: Are They Really That Different?
You’re dressed in your very best outfit, your hair is groomed to perfection, and you’re feeling nervous but excited simultaneously. Congratulations, you’re in an interview.
Finding your career soul mate is challenging. Applying for jobs, going through screening rounds with recruiters, then finally interviewing with the hiring manager on the phone, on Zoom, and/or in person becomes exhausting. But to find the one that’s meant to be, you must put in the effort and sometimes fail along the way. Many of us have made career mistakes and settled for jobs that weren’t good enough for us, but these duds can teach us what we really want in an occupation and, perhaps more importantly, what we don’t want.
In interviewing and dating, there are multiple phases of the process that must be completed to ensure we end up with the right one. We can weigh the pros and cons of interactions and make decisions based on facts and feelings. We can learn from the past, and we can learn from listening to our gut or from talking it over with loved ones. Whatever we need to do to ensure we are comfortable with our final decision.
One Night Stand
We all know the one. It’s going nowhere. You passed a resume scan and maybe a quick phone screen from the recruiter, but you know this will be the last time you hear from them. Perhaps they didn’t think your experience matched the position, or you think you are overqualified. Whatever it is, you can both agree that this won’t work. Even if you are desperate and needed a new job yesterday, don’t fall into this trap. It’s best to keep your options open and know that you can find something suitable for you. It’s unfair to you or the company to be miserable in a job you hate. If you are confident that this position won’t make you happy, end things now before anyone gets hurt.
An automated rejection email from the company is acceptable at this point—bonus points for a personal email from the recruiter. If you are the one calling it quits, let them know while you’re on the phone with them or send them a quick email afterward. Thank them for their time, then let them go. As for “dating,” no conversation is needed… you both (hopefully) knew what this was.
It’s nice getting to know more about each other. You’ve talked to a few people in the company now, and you have a good vibe that this position and team could be for you. It’s wise to perform a lot of research at this stage. Take an in-depth (and unbiased) look at the company’s website, scan some of their recent press releases and news stories, and read reviews from employees on a site like Glassdoor, so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
The recruiter or the hiring manager should personally reach out. An email will suffice, but it needs to be personal and, ideally, provide constructive feedback the interviewee can use in future interviews.
In a Relationship
This feels good. We’re clicking now. You’re now in the final interview stages and are confident that this job could be for you. You know how you feel about the team, the position, and the company. They know how they feel about you. You’re both on the same page and ready to take things to the next level… or you’re not. Maybe you loved the team members until you got to the one where you weren’t vibing with the finance guy because you’re a visual person, and he’s a numbers person, so you felt the two of you would clash in meetings. Also, if you get a terrible feeling for any reason or you’re just sure this career isn’t for you, speak up. I learned the lesson personally to trust my gut (and have learned the consequences of not doing it). Honestly, you never know what may be the dealbreaker at this point because you’ve both put in some time and effort by now and want to try to make it work. But neither of you should have to settle.
IMO, I believe that a personal phone call or quick Zoom meeting are the best and most respectful options to end things at this point. You wouldn’t break up with someone in an email or text if you were dating (that is if you have any backbone or decency at all), so why should it be acceptable in a professional environment? Suppose a hiring manager avoids the “breakup talk” because it’s tough or they don’t want to hurt any feelings. In that case, the interviewee misses a valuable and very important opportunity to learn vital information about their interviewing skills and what led to them no longer being considered for the position.
If you had a bad experience or your situation has changed and you wish to withdraw your candidacy, pick up the phone and have the courtesy to say something now. Be as honest as possible without revealing all the details about your fabulous new opportunity (ya know, so they’re not too jealous). Bottom line: Just have the talk.
NOTE: Should a representative of a company not personally inform me that I am no longer being considered for a job after an on-site interview where significant travel was involved, i.e. I take time off from my current job and drive 4 hours or I am flown out for the opportunity, I no longer consider them as a future employer... ever. I let this one go. The organization is a bad egg. If they treat me like this before I work for them, how will they treat me as an employee? There are no excuses for bad manners. My mama taught me that.
You received a fair offer and accepted it. Congratulations! This makes sense for both of you and you’re ready to take the risk to gain the ultimate reward – a career you love with a company who loves you. After all, they say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Isn’t the time to begin now?
In job searching as in any aspect of life, know your worth. Understand that you have value. You’re the one who excelled in school, took on extra projects and harnessed the skills to succeed in your job. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back and realize that you have accomplished many great things. Eventually, the career you want will come to you and you will live happily ever after.
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