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The Mating Ritual – Job Dating (Simple Rules For Interviewers and Interviewees)

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 19, 2009 in Interviewing Skills

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In the jungle, the mating ritual is simple.  It’s an animal’s most basic survival instinct: to mate, procreate, and continue its species.

For much of the human species, mating starts with dating. 

In the workplace, the mating ritual is translated into succession planning, and dating starts with the interview.

Just like dating, interviewing has a few “rules” that both the interviewer and the interviewee should adhere to for best success in the relationship.  Etiquette applies for all parties, so take heed of these ideas to be a good interviewer/interviewee.

FOR COMPANIES – The interviewer

The new economy does not mean you should wait weeks to call people back!  Just as in dating, the three day rule applies.  If you want a candidate to remain interested in working for you, whether they are unemployed or not, you should give them feedback and/or second interviews within 72 hours of their first interview.  In the past few months companies have been dragging out the interview process for weeks and many of the people they started with a month or two ago have moved on…they are already dating someone else seriously and your inability to move your process along often means they don’t want to see you again.

Think long and hard about how many people should be involved in the interview process. You need time before introducing your new love interest to all your friends. Adding even a single person to the interview process empowers them to give you their opinions, which will encourage them to offer their opinions when you may not want them, thus adding to the length of time.  Keep the process tight, and only involve those people who are in direct reporting line and decision makers who are in good standing with the company.  One disgruntled person in the mix can ruin the recruiting process.

If you were dating someone, you wouldn’t call all of the person’s former boyfriends and girlfriends for their opinions as they have already broken up and moved on. Similarly, you shouldn’t check references “off list”.  Many people are searching confidentially and by asking questions of people they currently work with you breach that professional courtesy making you and your company less trustworthy in the marketplace.   Besides, let’s face it, work is work and we often have professional disagreements with people in the workplace.  Reference checks should be limited to the former supervisors, peers, and subordinates the candidate has provided to you as their references.  These are people with whom they have developed working relationships and the former co-worker you may know from church, LinkedIn, or other civic groups may not be able to speak to the true skills and abilities of the person interviewing.  Besides, who’s to say they weren’t in the race for the same promotion in the past or something, even worse, what if they dated outside the office in the past? Many people look for open avenues to gossip about others so don’t fall victim to some people’s need to focus on negatives when we can all find something positive about everyone when push comes to shove.  

FOR CANDIDATES – The interviewee

Many companies do phone interviews first, something they are placing increasing emphasis on as in many cases they save time and money. Answer your phone professionally and in a positive manner at all times.  If you are busy and can’t speak, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE.  You only get one chance to make a first impression and if you don’t impress someone on the first call, you’re unlikely to get a call back.  You need to be equally prepared for these interviews as if you were sitting in front of the CEO of the company him- or herself.

Express interest and enthusiasm, even if the topic may not be at the top of your list.  Just as when you’re out on a first date and the conversation veers to something more mundane, you maintain interest if you’re attracted to the person physically.  If you’re attracted to a company financially, you should be astute in all conversations with any parties involved.

Don’t expect a proposal on the second, or even third date.  A recent article in the NY Times reiterated what we are seeing in the market, longer, more complex interview processes leading to protracted job searches. Don’t get discouraged! Just make sure you have that fabulous interview outfit for the next meeting ready to go.

Always send a thank you note!  Common courtesy goes a long way.

For more job search tips, please visit where you can find resources on interviewing, resume writing, and making a great first impression!

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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The Koala – Clinging to Success After A Bad Interview!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 23, 2009 in Interviewing Skills, Job Search, Lessons Learned, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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Have you ever left an interview thinking that you could have done better? Or maybe it was the interviewer who prevented you from showing what you are worth? It seems that bad interviews happen more than good ones and we shouldn’t cling to the negative aspects. Companies interview more than one person for every available position; and it usually takes more than one interview to finally obtain the job. It is understandable that you can’t ace them every time. 

“BAD INTERVIEWS” can fall into a couple of categories:

 1 – An interview where you feel you performed poorly or

 2 – An interview where the interviewer was not prepared or ill-equipped to perform the interview

1.     There’s nothing worse than getting in the car, cab, or subway after an interview and remembering something you wish you would have said better.  It’s the old “shoulda woulda coulda” game and it happens to everyone at some point. Knowing how to let go of the bad and cling to the good is how the Koala stays in the tree. Keeping a journal or jotting down your thoughts helps you to avoid the same mistakes twice and recognize and avoid the “weak branches”.  If you are keeping a well organized job search folder, you can refer back to your previous notes as reminders before the next interview. 

Then there’s the time where you realize you said something you shouldn’t have.  Again, making notes of what went well or poorly will help you avoid repeating mistakes. Do your best to avoid negative topics like, what your boss does wrong, what you don’t like or (worse yet) who you don’t like. Even if you’re feeling comfortable with someone, don’t let them drag you into the gossip mill. Find something positive to say about all those people instead of the easy to point out flaws. The more positive or stronger the topics or branches, the higher you will climb in the interviewer’s regard. For example, working for a boss that is never available could be re-worded to something like “my boss was very active in many parts of the company which required me to make special effort to get on their calendar to get my questions answered which, ultimately, made me a better time manager.”

2.     It is possible a bad interview stems from the interviewer themselves being not adequately prepared or in the proper frame of mind to focus on you at the appointed time. The interviewer seems distracted reading their emails, taking phone calls, or someone pops in. In today’s hectic business climate, interruptions are expected. Don’t take them personally!  Arriving well prepared with a list of questions about the job, the company, and specific projects that have been going on the past six months or so help you to bring these frequently distracted interviewers’ focus on you, the job, and why you are the fittest for the climb.

There’s also the interview where you just don’t hit it off with the person with whom you are interviewing.  There are certain techniques you can use to establish rapport quickly to ensure you navigate the sparse branches and make the best first impression every time. For instance, people like to talk about themselves, so attempt to draw them out!

Remember, interviewing is a subjective exercise. There’s no way you can predict the outcome so the best way to win is to listen carefully to the questions being asked, thinking about “what’s in it for them (the company)” not “what’s in it for you”.  Focus on the company’s needs as they state them and offer specific examples of how you have performed those duties in the past or could contribute directly. 

Be like the Koala and steer clear of the weak branches of conversation, look out for opportunities to climb high on positive topics, and be prepared to wade through a sparse tree and help the interviewer focus.

A few quick tips to keep in mind: Show good manners. Say please and thank you to everyone you meet, not just the decision maker. Dress professionally, even if it’s a casual environment Sit up straight, be engaged in the conversation, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research the company so you know what they do and who their major competitors are so you can ask thoughtful questions. Show them you’re into them…and always send a thank you note!

For a webinar on this topic, please visit

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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