In Adam's post, he talks about the pressure to be perfect in the job interviewing process and how that causes problems down the line.
There's a real analogy to dating here. Interviewing for a job is a lot like dating. One similarity is that in both cases, both parties put their best foot forward and try to show themselves in the best light, while also trying to peer behind what may be a mask and see their opposite number for who they really are. In both cases, judgments can - and by necessity kind of need to be - summary and harsh, even if expressed kindly.
Resumes and dating profiles both beg for this to happen because they implicitly put us into a sort of car-shopping frame of mind. In a job interview or a date, either party may be the "buyer," and these spec sheets encourage the buyer to pick and choose or hold out for someone better.
In my own life, I try to resolve these issues as follows:
- When I'm the "buyer," I do not people-shop.
Humans are not resources. I really dislike the phrase human resources. Humans are like me: real people with thoughts and feeling and aspirations. It's important to consider those and to leave other people room for mistakes. I try my best to overcome my own biases, especially the biases that form from first impressions. I'm not the only one who has the occasional bad hair day. When I meet an applicant who basically satisfies the job requirements and seems like an OK sort of person to work with, I push to make an offer. I'm able to do this because I remember that everyone requires some management or scaffolding, and if they're willing and basically able, we can usually make the thing work. Really, how badly do we need the position filled if we are willing to pass up three, or five, or nine pretty candidates, holding out for solid gold?
- When I'm the "seller," I check myself for pretense and airs.
I try to relax. None of this is ever as big a deal as it feels like at the moment. I just try to be myself. I don't mean I go into "fifth date" kind of stuff on a first date. But here's what I mean. I'm 5'4" tall, bald, and middle-aged. My options are two: (a) have a massive Napoleonic complex, or (b) be comfortable in my own skin.
I choose my own skin. The way I do that is by:
- Always try to keep a 30,000 foot view.
From that altitude, you can see the whole big picture and most stuff isn't really a big deal in the big picture. This reflection helps release some pressure.
- Be OK not knowing everything.
I mean, you don't know everything. Nobody does. So why fake it? It's the smartest people I know who feel most comfortable saying, "I don't know." The ones who fake it often just look foolish.
- Own my mistakes and show how they've helped me grow.
None of us come from the womb fully formed.
- Laugh at myself, not at others.
Especially when others are nervous or stressed, I try to help them feel at ease. Owning my mistakes, teasing myself, etc., helps others to settle into their own skin, even if just for the space of a job interview or a date, and I think that goes a long way.
I do these things when interviewing candidates and even while being interviewed myself. I think they take the edge off and give everyone involved permission to start getting to know each other a bit more than we otherwise might.