I often use the analogy of dating when discussing the steps of a career search to college age audiences as the analogy resonates with the demographic since dating is an ever-present topic in their lives. So how are dating and applying for jobs similar?
Beyond the First Date:
Most individuals play it safe on the first date. Conversation is basic (skip the “How many children would you like?” type questions) avoiding any hot topics. Venue is safe, for example dinner at a restaurant versus a cruise to the Caribbean. Expectations are measured – there is no long-term expectation in the first meeting, rather it is an opportunity for each person learn about each other.
Move past the first round of dating and the tenor begins to change. Conversations begin to become more probing and topics will become more serious (ie: faith, family, desired location, etc.). Gone are the basic questions: How many brothers and sisters do you have? They are replaced with deeper questions: Do you see yourself having a big family, just one or two kids, or no kids?
Even the venue may become more telling – attending a party/wedding/family event as a ‘couple’. When one does attend an event the “and guest”, inevitably the other person’s friends, family, colleagues will weigh in with opinions. They will offer their impressions, both solicited and unsolicited, about the potential match.
While the first dates establish the basics such as attraction and basic interest in each other, further dating begins to peel back the layers to ascertain if there is long-term compatibility between two individuals. This process allows each person to better understand one another and decide if each person wants to make a commitment to the other person.
Second Round Interviews:
The career search follows a similar path. The first round of interviews tend to cover some of the basics (tell me about yourself, why are you interested in the position, etc.). The commitment level is low as many first interviews will be a phone screen or a brief meeting with an HR rep. Both sides would like there to be future interviews, but if the initial effort does not work out, it is easy to part ways as neither side has invested too much time into the other.
But as one progresses in the process, the questions and process become more in-depth. The organization may fly you to their headquarters, arrange for travel, lodging, meals, meetings with executives – they are showing a deeper level of interest in you. Employers want you to see their operations, understand the culture, while all the time getting to know you better.
Often there are multiple interviews during an ‘on-site’ interview. As we saw in the dating scenario, having multiple interviews allows several individuals to weigh-in on your candidacy and the potential match with organization and position. Gone are the basic questions, replaced by ones designed to elicit more information about your ability and personality.
These additional rounds of interviewing allow the employer and candidate to better evaluate if there is a ‘fit’ – candidate’s ability to be successful in the role, a desire to perform the role, and a match culturally with the overall organization.
Dating and interviewing is a process, each step leading to a deeper understanding of each other. While most of us will experience rejection, or will remove oneself from consideration, during our dating/interviewing efforts, at some point we all come to the moment of Defining the Relationship.
Tomorrow, the DTR (Defining the Relationship) talk.