A few years ago, we shared a post with general dating advice and compared it to your job search. As we noted then, “Finding a recruiter, building your relationship and working to get a job through them can be a long, complicated, some-what awkward and sometimes painful experience… not too different from dating.” The advice followed the entire job search/dating process. Let’s look at a more specific stage and dive into how to make your first meeting successful, using this Readers Digest “First Date” article as a guideline. They summarized 9 secrets for a perfect first date that can all be applied to that first interview with either a recruiter or a client.
1. Reassess Your Expectations
Be sure you’re realistic going in and understand what can or cannot come out of this interview. Is the recruiter just meeting you to understand your experience, or is there a specific job already available? Are you one of the only contractors the client interviewing and the job’s a sure-thing, or is this just the start of a long competition?
2. Dress to Impress
While many workplaces and clients’ sites are leaning towards a more casual culture, dressing to impress your job interviewer never goes out of style. That’s not to say you must wear a suit and tie. Jeans and a nice shirt can look professional and appropriate, but they can also make you look like a slob. Choose a new, clean pair of jeans and a collared shirt with a neutral design and no words or logos.
3. Pick a Safe and Comfortable Environment
If there’s a chance your interview environment isn’t going to be safe, you might want to reconsider this job opportunity all together. But, there is still some job interview validity to this piece of dating advice. Often times, the first meeting with a recruiter will be over a casual coffee and they will let you choose a location. Select a venue that is comfortable, close and not loud to ensure a great conversation.
4. Be Courteous
We can take Reader’s Digest’s dating advice on this point almost word-for-word for job interviews: Manners say a lot about a person. Punctuality is essential, so if you are running late, give your [Interviewer] a call to let him [or her} know. During the [interview], keep your cellphone on silent mode and answer only urgent calls. Most importantly, say “please” and “thank you.”
5. Keep the Conversation Light
Your first interview is rarely the time to get into nitty gritty details and bargain for rate. Focus on understanding each other, giving the interviewer the best impression of who you are and what you can do. Don’t forget, a conversation goes two ways. Listen actively and ask follow-up questions to guarantee you fully understand the opportunity, the client and hiring process.
6. Split the Costs on a First Date…But Offer to Pay if You Made the Invitation
There shouldn’t be any costs to your first date except for maybe coffee, in which case sure, split it or offer to pay. You might also incur costs like parking or transportation. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances or a previous agreement, you will eat these costs. Handing your interviewer a receipt to reimburse half of your Uber is unlikely to create the ideal first impression.
7. Make Your Intentions Clear from The Start
IT contractors enjoy flexibility in where they work, when they work and for whom they work, but they also need to respect their client. When you plan to work from your home office, take a specific vacation, or juggle multiple contracts, be up-front about your intentions. If it is a major issue (which it rarely is), you can end the interview and both move-on. Otherwise, it prevents surprises and tricky conversations down the road.
8. Smile and Have a Good Time
In this section, Reader’s Digest says, “A date is supposed to be more fun than a job interview.” Ouch! Job interviews should be human and real. While we don’t recommend cracking jokes and telling stories about your college days, you can smile, laugh a little, and leave your mark as a positive person.
9. Remember, There Are Plenty of Fish In The Sea
You might realize part way through the job interview that it simply isn’t for you. Maybe it’s in the wrong part of town, your skillset doesn’t match the requirements, or you’ve had a bad experience with the client. No problem! End the interview early to avoid wasting anyone’s time and keep on moving.