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Hiring is Like Dating – A Guide for Employers

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Hiring is like dating. A quick disclaimer before we get started… we know this sounds like a creepy concept... rest assured that we are absolutely not suggesting you assess the people you interview as potential romantic partners. But when it comes down to it, the basics of these two kinds of human relationships can be uncannily similar. So, with that out of the way, let’s begin.

You don’t propose on the first date and you shouldn’t offer the job at the first interview

(The second date is totally more appropriate.)

Honestly though, just like you take the time to talk relationship decisions over with people you trust, and find out more about the person first, when you are considering hiring someone, talk to your Recruiter, get some references, and if it’s an option, see who else is in the market before you go rushing into anything.

Of course, if an amazing person presents themselves, you shouldn’t keep them waiting too long either, or you will very likely lose them to the competition. It’s all about knowing the market and how many people are out there that can both do the job you need them to do and share your core company values. A good Recruiter should be able to advise you on this – if they can’t, it’s time to look elsewhere, because you are not getting what you are paying for.

Beware the ‘honeymoon phase’

If you don’t show a true representation of yourself right at the beginning, the gloss eventually wears off and that rarely ends well. Of course, you don’t air all of your dirty laundry when you first meet someone either…

Don’t oversell the job or the company; inflated promises of on-target earnings or telling someone everything is rosy financially when it isn’t, means that when they realise you haven’t been honest, you have broken trust, which never works in a relationship and can be devastating to business morale.

Poor retention is devastating financially, and it damages your brand – just like no one wants to date someone who hasn’t held down a relationship for more than 6 months, remember that candidates can see your poor retention record, and will wonder what is wrong with your company. Manage new-starter retention by getting your recruitment and selection process right, and then making sure you have a thorough, structured onboarding plan that goes for at least 3 months, where you identify and resolve problems as they occur, instead of waiting to the end of probation to say something.

First impressions count

Just like you wouldn’t go on a date without taking a shower, or bring a date to your house without cleaning it (we hope), don’t invite candidates into your dirty office and expect them to be impressed.

Remember that when people come for an interview, they are going to be imagining themselves working there, so it is worth putting some effort into making them feel welcome and ensuring your place of business is a place they would be happy to spend most of every day in.

Of course, if your business is necessarily a messy place, or if you are quite happy with things a bit dusty and cluttered, don’t overdo it on the make-over if it’s only going to degrade again quickly. Just know that if you don’t meet someone else’s basic standards of living, then they simply won’t be happy working there – you either need to find someone who matches your ethos and your environment or make some permanent changes!

No one likes someone who makes it 'all about them'

Studies show that people who ask a lot of questions (and then actually listen to the responses) are way more likely to get a second date, and it’s no different for interviews.

By all means, give some context and tell the company story, but then do your best not to hog all of the conversation! You’ll never find out about someone’s personality or values, or whether you get along or not if you don’t let them speak.

Asking well-considered questions leads to better conversation

Interviews, just like first dates, can be pretty awkward. So, you need to avoid asking any question that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

No one likes small talk either… in fact, you might want to keep away from the standard generic questioning altogether – informal interviews are a very bad predictor of retention – instead, think about some of the situations that the new person is likely to encounter in their job, and ask them about how they have handled a similar situation. While you’re at it, try to design questions based on your company values, mission and vision – you really only get one chance to find out whether someone aligns with your company culture or not – use it!

Obligatory shameless plug

If you want to talk to Recruitment and People & Culture professionals who ‘get it and actually care about making your business better, contact us.

Don’t want to work with us? You can still drop us a comment – we’d love to hear your recruitment stories. Tell us what worked, and what didn’t!

Article by Anne-Marie James, People + Culture Advisor

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