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How First Dates Can Help You Conquer Job Interviews

By Chris Jones - Marketing Exec

First dates and job interviews. Two of the most nerve-wracking experiences you're likely to encounter.

Think about it: you're often stuck at a table with a person you hardly know, answering personal and challenging questions about yourself for a fair length of time - all whilst trying your hardest not the blurt out something inanely stupid which could have an impact on the next few years of your life. No pressure.

But it's surprising how many of the same skills can be applied to both in order to be successful - from preparation all the way through to following up to make sure you left a lasting impression for all the right reasons.

Unfortunately my girlfriend and current employers here at Oscar are against me conducting any further research into either of these events, but here are my top tips for conquering job interviews - and dates!

Do Your Research

No, we don’t mean stalking all the way through to Malia ’12 in their Facebook feed.

Doing some early texting before the big date often allows you to find common ground, such as hobbies and interests, making it easier to make conversation on the day.

Similarly, doing your research on a company ensures you will know exactly what they are looking for. What products or services do they provide? What size is it? Who are their competitors? Are there any areas where you feel you could make improvements?

Your consultant will be able to provide you with a considerable amount of information about the company, but you should also conduct your own research through the company’s website, social media portals, promotional materials etc.

Pick out your skills or achievements that are directly relevant to what this company is looking for and rehearse these.

Know the Plan

A pretty simple one, but make sure you know the time, place, and what the day will involve. There are few things worse than arriving a few hours late to find that your date has just hammered their 7th mojito whilst waiting for you.

Your recruiter will give you all the information you need about how the day will be structured in order to help you to plan your preparation – whether you will be taking part in a face-to-face interview with one or a panel of interviewers, or expected to complete a task to show your technical skills.

If you are held up, please let us know in good time so we can inform your interviewer.

What to Take With You

Make sure you’ve got everything you’re going to need. Wilting flowers from the garage are not acceptable for dates or interviews.

  • Relevant certificates and references
  • Notepad and pen for notes - If you want to take notes during the interview do make sure that the interviewer is OK with this
  • Your prepared questions – if you don’t write them down beforehand you may forget what you wanted to ask!

First Impressions Count

Dress to impress in something suitable and that you are comfortable in.

Your consultant will be able to advise you as to what to wear, but a suit and tie for gentlemen and a trouser suit or jacket and skirt for ladies is usually the recommended choice.

If possible, wear something slightly different if you’re invited back.

Conducting Yourself

Make sure you give the best possible account of yourself. You’re understandably nervous, so make sure you’re suitably filled with knowledge and personality (rather than Dutch courage!)

  • Switch off your mobile
  • Shake the interviewer’s hand firmly when he/she offers
  • Look alert and sit upright; eye contact is important
  • Be yourself and be honest at all times

Making Conversation

Asking and answering questions is often the most important part of the day, so be prepared for anything they could throw at you.

Again, you consultant will be able to advise you on some potential questions they may ask.

Answering Questions
  • Listen carefully, concentrate and don’t interrupt
  • Show interest
  • Talk slowly and clearly
  • Keep your answers clear and to the point
  • Take time if necessary before answering a question or ask for clarification if you are unsure of the meaning
  • Don’t be afraid to admit if you can’t answer the question
  • Don’t criticise your ex, or reveal confidential/controlled information/documentation
  • Find opportunities to sell yourself, relating your skills. An employer is looking for determination, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn
  • Concentrate on positive words
  • Steer clear of cheesy line and cliches, such as giving "110 per cent"
Asking Questions

Asking questions on the following topics are generally good practice. Remember - do your research and make sure the answers to your questions are not readily available on their website.

  • Training opportunities
  • Who you would report to
  • Who you will be working with
  • Promotion prospects and career progression
  • How the role is important to the company
  • What direction the company / dept is going
  • What projects are current / on the horizon
  • Whether there is a second or third round of interviews
  • When you are likely to receive feedback / get a decision
  • How long the interviewer has been with the company and why they like it there
  • Ask if there is anything the interviewer is unsure about regarding you and if they have any queries you can clear up

The Follow-Up

Apparently it’s recommended to wait a few days after a date before contacting them again to avoid looking too keen. Lurking in the bushes outside their home is also ill-advised. I digress.

After your interview, it’s good practice to follow up soon afterwards with a message thanking your interviewer for their time. This also gives you an opportunity to ask any further questions you may have about the role.

Your consultant will be in touch with you shortly after the interview to see how you thing you got on and will let you know what the next stage of the process is.