Job interviews parallel first dates in the most negative of ways: sweaty palms, rapid-fire heart rates, awkward small talk, wardrobe doubts and a judgmental inner dialogue.
Both situations provoke angst at some level. Studies show interviews induce anxiety in 92% of U.S. adults and by the amount of alcohol that seems to be consumed on first dates, that number is probably equaled on dates.
And why wouldn’t these settings induce anxiety? You’re being instantly sized-up in a matter of minutes. It’s much easier to reveal your personality over a series of encounters. But unfortunately you don’t have that much time before a decision is made. In a recent survey of 2000 bosses, 33% indicated they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview if they will hire that candidate. This makes the first impression crucial to your success.
So the question is: how do you ignore fears, be yourself and get past the first interview (and for the sake of the parallel, dates)?
Related Article: How to Get Further in the Interview Process
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like when you face the bathroom mirror to practice talking to your future dates (admit it), you should you also practice interviewing. You should even consider taking a video of yourself doing a trial with a friend. Switching to a third person observer role lets you identify odd mannerisms and off-putting ways of answering questions.
Maybe you think you’re making eye contact, but in reality, you’re staring out the window. Or maybe you assume you’re calm and collected, but you’re really moving your limbs like a crazy person. 67% of job applicants fail at making eye contact and 33% fidget excessively. Also analyze your smile and posture—38% of interviewees don’t smile enough, and 33% exercise poor posture.
Go a step further and review the recording with an HR professional. Companies like InterviewStream provide online resources for students and job seekers who want to prep for job interviews and review their skills. Many schools and career centers will also offer interview-rehearsing sessions.
Talk With, Not At
Nothing kills a romantic date (or an interview) like one-sided conversation. Rendezvous and interviews are not one-way streets. Although you may feel like the spotlight is solely centered on you and your resume, there is still another human being in the room. Engage in conversation, not Q&A sessions.
Ann Demarais, author of First Impressions: What You Don't Know About How Others See You, advises candidates to be socially considerate of the interviewer. "Make the interviewer feel smart, talented, accomplished,” she tells Monster.com. Get him or her talking by asking questions regarding company goals or culture, and respond with relevant experiences.
Related Article: 9 Stupid Interview Questions You Should Never Ask
Rather than waiting for the other party to inquire about the seven-year gap on your resume (and/or romantic life), be upfront about stints of unemployment. Address potential red flags at the most appropriate time, not at hello and not when you’re shaking hands farewell.
But if you explain your lack of hire at the appropriate time, the elephant in the room won’t distract the interviewer, nor will it appear that you’re trying to hide something.
Know the Company
This seems incredibly obvious, but when you’re going out on a first date or interviewing for a new job, at least educate yourself on the basics of the other party. Name, mission statement, history, and position requirements are baseline info for going into an interview. But unfortunately, 47% of people fail at background research.
The most common mistake job seekers make during interviews is having little or now knowledge about the company. Utilize LinkedIn, blogs or the company website to familiarize yourself with the interviewer and the company.
Don’t Wear Bright Colors
We’ve all heard it from our mothers and career professionals: dress to impress. Whether you like it or not, your wardrobe will influence the interviewer’s decision-making process. In fact, 65% of bosses surveyed confessed that attire could be a deciding factor between two equal candidates. Thankfully fixing your get-up is an easy solution.
According to the Undercover Recruiter, you should be clean, groomed and not too flashy. Bright colors are a turnoff. An upwards of 70% of employers prefer candidates not to be too trendy or fashionable.