With sweaty palms and a dry cotton mouth, Jane Smith opened the door and walked in. She approached the greeter and requested to meet with a certain person. She checked her hair and makeup in her hand mirror and then tried desperately to calm her nervous stomach. When she looked up, she saw the person that she was meeting, and she took a deep breath. “Here we go,” she thought. Is this a date or a job interview?
On the outside, the excitement of the first meeting, nerves and newness of it all give the interaction of an interview compared to a date an appearance of being the same. Candidates are in a vulnerable state when they walk into a job interview and going on a first date can produce similar feelings of vulnerability. But are they the same?
The largest difference between a date and a job interview is the power of the interviewer over the candidate. The interviewer decides when the interview will take place, its location, time of day, the agenda, whether there will be a second interview, whether the candidate gets the position and whether the candidate receives a “no thank you” for not retaining the position. All of the power sits with the employer. In dating, the 2 people come to the table as equals.
This power difference is why employers struggle with interviewing. They are often as uncomfortable with the power differentiation as the candidate, unsure of how to get around an environment that brings about one individuals desire to please and the others role to choose. Their sole desire is to make a good assessment for their next hire, yet candidates are just telling them what they want to hear. And of course they are! They are trying to find a job and willing to bear sweaty palms!