Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

Why Dating Is Like a Job Interview: Be a Smart Dater

In some ways, a first date shouldn't be much different from a job interview.

Hands down, the most effective way to conceptualize dating is to view it as informational interviewing. Don’t confuse this with testing your date - resorting to psychological manipulations to figure out who he or she really is. However, an informational interview is innocent enough – you need to find out certain things about a person and you accomplish this by asking honest questions.

The important point about dating as informational interviewing is that it keeps the focus on you – what are you looking for in a partner? Is this the right person for you? Is this going to be a good match in the long run?

Too often dating triggers insecurities, causing men and women to fall into the position of wanting to be wanted or liked. The reality: who cares? If so-and-so isn’t into you, why does it matter? It’s only going to work out if the two of you both like each other, so…next!

Dating as informational interviewing acknowledges that you can’t presume anything about a person – you need to get to know a person to figure out who he or she is. Dating in this manner allows you to ask questions that are important to you, but you must take careful notice of the answers. Feel a red flag lurking in the distance? Don’t overlook it just because you’re sexually attracted!

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The second point is that dating as informational interviewing is necessary but not sufficient for you to get a true sense of the person you’re dating. The other half of the equation comes down to their behavior –does their walk match their talk? If he says he’s organized and sensitive, does he arrive on time and listen to you talk about your day? If she says she’s ambitious, that’s great – but is she actively working toward some sort of career goal?

Finally, relax and allow your date to interview you, too. When you answer, tell the truth about your life and who you are. Though you may fudge a little bit in the truth department in week one or two, your date is going to start to see the real you sooner or later. And that’s a good thing, right?

Ultimately, dating is about compatibility. It's a simple numbers game where you have to meet a fair number of people in order to find the right match. You should never take it personally when someone isn't interested in you, because it doesn't reflect on you alone: it only reflects on the fact that the two of you don't make a good match.

Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

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