As you know, I am fond of comparing interviewing to dating. And why not? The goals are the same: a prosperous, long-term relationship.
Sadly, I’ve heard from more than one friend lately who thought he had made a wise commitment, only to learn after the honeymoon was over that it was not a good match. In retrospect, he realized more questions should have been asked before making a commitment.
I know what you’re thinking. Is Claire referring to dating or employment?
Here are some questions that would serve us well to ask before taking the plunge – whether you’re on a date or a job interview.
- How long was your prior relationship? How about the relationship before that?
Here you’re looking for a track record. If past tenures were all short, this could be a potential red flag.
- What happened to the last person in this position? Did he/she choose to leave or was the person summarily dismissed? Why?
Again, you are looking for patterns and potential problems. Is everyone heading for the hills for the same reason? Does this person have standards that are impossible to reach?
- What have you learned from your prior relationships? If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently?
With these questions you are trying to determine if your potential partner becomes wiser with experience or if he/she continually makes the same mistakes. You are also looking for signs of humility; does the person admit fault? Or does blame always get passed along to others?
- What are you looking for in your next relationship? What are the traits that will make this person successful? And how do you define success?
Are you what they want? Or would you have to pretend to be someone you’re not to keep them happy? Do you share the same values? And do you think success is attainable as defined?
- If I were to ask the people who know you best for their honest assessment of you, what would they tell me? Would you mind if I talked to some of them, including the person who was last in this position?
If the person breaks out into hives when you ask these questions, you may have touched a nerve. Are they trying to hide something? Or do they welcome the opportunity for you to learn more?
- What can you tell me about long-term possibilities and growth?
Here you are trying to asses your long-term potential with this partner. Do you see opportunities for growth or are you sitting down with a commitment-phobe who doesn’t have your best interests at heart?
- If I were to join you, how are we going to change the world?
Does your potential mate have a vision for the future? Does his/her response inspire you?
- Are you a dog person, a cat person, both, or neither? Explain.
Clearly, this question gets at long-term compatibility.
I’m curious to hear from you about your own experience. What questions have you found to be valuable? And what questions have you kicked yourself for not asking? And is anyone aware of a cat person and a dog person who live together in harmony?