Landing your next job: make first impressions count

So you have managed to land a first date with a potential suitor. How do you prepare to make those first impressions count? Adrian Everett continues his series on how you can bring your dating expertise to the recruitment world.

 

It is something that people are doing constantly, it is something that many may be doing right now as you read this article. However, it is surprising how many people still manage to make a mess of the first date! The key to success on that first date starts long before the actual event itself and finishes after you have already completed your interlude with the potential suitor.

Preparation

If you want to stand out as exceptional to your suitor, then the key is in your preparation. This includes:

  1. Know why you want the date, what is attractive about the other party, and why you can see at least some sort of future with them. Adopt the mindset (without being overconfident) that you are also interviewing them, and you need to know what you want from your prospective partner.
  2. Research everything you can about your potential partner. From LinkedIn to Facebook to Google News, there is a wealth of information available about every person or company in the public domain. You might be even more proactive and look at their website to understand them better. Bookmark your research and review it on the day of the first date (otherwise known as an interview) – you never know what additional information you might remember that can be used to impress your ‘date’ further.
  3. Talk to their ex or current partner! In the days of social media, the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory (or first, second or third connections if we are talking LinkedIn!) is even more valid. Talk to someone who has dated your prospective partner in the past, or even someone who is currently in a relationship with them. Their advice can be an definite advantage in converting your first date into a second date or a long-term relationship.
  4. Understand their culture – and match yourself to it. Use the information you gained from the above steps to match yourself to this culture. It is even helpful to write yourself a profile of your date’s ideal partner to ensure that you understand what they want to see in you, and consider it from their perspective.
  5. Ensure you have a copy of the position description. Preempt the questions you may be asked by considering each point in the position description and identify an experience of your own to discuss against each point. This will ensure you have real examples of your past relationships to prove you are qualified. You want to avoid talking about the bitter divorce three years ago simply because you blurted out the first answer that came to mind when you were asked how you handled a difficult situation.
  6. ‘I can do it’ – having a positive outlook and confidence is one thing. However, considering all aspects of the position description, ensure you can do it! Make sure you are confident in each and every aspect and write yourself examples to remind you of when you have performed in each area in the past. If you are stretching yourself to try a new challenge in this relationship, make sure you have thought about how you are going to meet that challenge and please your potential partner.

On the day of the date, what might seem most obvious is often overlooked.

  • Print out several copies of your resume to have on hand in case your suitors are underprepared or running late. Make them feel good and in control so they don’t get flustered or start the interview on a negative note.
  • Have a list of your past relationships (the good ones only) ready in case your date goes well, and your suitor wants to qualify you further before progressing the relationship.
  • Dress to suit the context. If you are going to a theme park, then don’t wear your best tie. If you are going to a black tie ball, then bring out the shoe polish and the best suit possible.
  • Leave your phone in the car or don’t bring it at all! Even on silent, the buzzing of a mobile is sure to add discomfort for both parties.

The date: key points of etiquette

So you’ve done all the research and preparation possible. It’s time to wipe the sweat off the palms, calm the nerves, and make your entrance.

  1. Arrive early – it can take some time to settle in and relax to ensure your mind is clear and all your research doesn’t fall apart at the last minute. There is nothing worse than turning up to a first date perspiring because you ran from the train station as you were running late.
  2. Treat everyone with respect and courtesy from the moment you arrive, even if the janitor is filling in at reception and shows you the way to the table for your interview.
  3. Remember names – there’s nothing worse than calling a key prospect by the wrong name.
  4. The handshake is all important – show firmness and confidence, but don’t rip the person’s arm off. Remember, you still have to sell yourself before any more contact will happen so don’t hang onto the handshake forever as if you are already bound for life.
  5. Stick to the point. Don’t bore your date by rambling off on tangents or telling irrelevant stories that see them slouching forwards, leaning on their elbows (if this happens, walk out of the date as you have already blown it). The best way to stay on topic is to use numbers, facts, and the real examples you have gathered from your preparation.
  6. No bull. If you don’t know something, you don’t know it. Allow your date the opportunity to express their knowledge and opinions, and listen if they are imparting something to you. Ownership of what you know and what you don’t is a credit to you, and not a negative.
  7. Ask questions. The best and most thorough preparation should have created more questions than it solved. Have educated and well-researched questions ready to ask your interviewer, remembering communication is a two-way street, so you need to listen to their answers with genuine interest.
  8. Close the date – what are the next steps and with what timing? Is there anything they would like you to add before you leave? Remember, use your interviewer’s name while farewelling with your non-arm ripping handshake, and be respectful to the janitor on the way out again.

Post-date

The date is over, but the memories still linger. Before they fade, write down your recollection of the interview for your records. Include who was present (if it was a group date) and their positions, what questions you were asked and what examples you used in answer. What was the general body language of each person on the date and what was your general feeling as to how it went? Most importantly, where do you think the date could have been improved and why? This information can help you improve your performance next time around.

Follow up the date with an email to say thank you. Be polite and concise, and don’t try to recover any questions from the interview which may have gone slightly askew.  

It’s that easy, nothing to it.  So you should now be on your way to being the CEO of BHP or the Prime Minister. Just don’t forget the little people once you achieve your dating success from here on in!

Adrian Everett is the managing director of Everjoy Consulting. Adrian has more than 14 years of SAP industry experience specialised in human resources and recruitment. Everjoy Consulting is a specialist recruitment firm focused on business transformation projects with further information available from www.everjoy.com.au.

This article first appeared in Inside SAP Winter 2014. 

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