Thursday, July 30, 2009

You’re Hired – Part II

Ok, Part I is out of the way. We’ve gotten past the basics and you’ve made yourself an exemplary exhibit of pre-date preparation (trimmed nose hairs, ironed shirt, manicured nails, etc.). The real heart of this “laissez-faire” dating vs. “interview approach” debate now is over whether there should be strategy used in going to the date, i.e. thought-out choice of topics, subtle self promotion, well-planned time management, etc.

As previously discussed, there are men and women who fashion themselves “practical” people and yet they believe in this notion that you can step into a date and say anything that comes into your mind and it should be fine (I myself will admit to having done the aforementioned in the past – it is not a good idea). These romantics (though they would never see themselves that way) posit “why should you monitor yourself? why should you be so calculating in choice of topics and answers?” This is who YOU are after all.

But is there really virtue in complete transparency at such an early stage of the dating ritual? Let’s revisit the “interview approach” ...

We all know that one cardinal rule of interviewing is that you NEVER bad mouth your prior employer. Even the dullest of light bulbs out there knows that this is not a great idea if you are expecting to get hired.

So, why is it that when it comes to dating, some otherwise bright light bulbs think it’s totally appropriate to air one’s dirty laundry to a stranger – ok – maybe by the time the smelly socks are on the table you’ve spent 2 or 3 hours together. However, this person is still a virtual stranger who doesn’t know you well enough to find your quirks, insecurities, and flaws loveable – or, at least, excusable.

At the risk of sounding too “self-helpish,", a few examples can be thrown out to debunk the “laissez faire” theory. Here goes…

Spin City

Let's think about one discussing his or her prior dating life like discussing a resume. If a prospective employer scanned your Work Experience painstakingly described in your CV and asked “how did you enjoy working at Smith and Smith LLP?,” would you respond:

“It sucked, that’s why I left.”
“I swear to God, my boss was such an *%!$#* and we butted heads all the time.”
“I slept with my supervisor and then things just got awkward…”

Obviously not.

We are back to the basic interview rule about putting a positive spin on a job you hated ( was a great job, but after a while I felt I was ready to do a different type of work.”). We all know that after 2 years in an office where you are highly regarded you can then reveal to your now boss/friend that you in fact hated your prior employer – at this point, he or she knows you and appreciates that you are a solid worker who is good at what you do – you see, your current employer knows you well enough to see that it was clearly your old employer’s issue.

So why would an otherwise sexy, savvy vixen proceed to explain to her eager suitor how her ex hurt her to such an extent that she now has serious trust issues (read: baggage). Why would someone advertise on a first date that she was cheated on by her ex (possibly prompting someone to wonder why did this ex stray)? Why would you tell the sweet woman across the table that your ex girlfriend of five years was a shallow gold digger (prompting one to wonder what makes you a person who would be attracted to such an unlikable soul).

Years ago, I politely asked someone I was on a date with about his divorce. That was it – a whole can of worms poured out into my gnocchi with pomodoro sauce. Forty-five minutes later, we were onto another topic and I was thoroughly turned off (it didn’t help that he repeatedly mentioned how much money he was forced to give her throughout the conversation -- in a precise dollar amount. Another news flash to men: to the right girl, talking about how much money you have on a first date is not a turn on. It betrays major insecurity.

Brought to its essence a date boils down to the fact that the person across the table is judging you on limited information in a limited timeframe. When you think about it in interview lingo, what information do you want to get across? Is it the fact that you hate your ex or that you go to the Met regularly and have even taken a few drawing classes yourself?


Ok, I raise one more example re: that age old ridiculous interview question …

“What is your biggest weakness?”

Possible answers:

“I am lazy. I really don’t like to work that much.”
“Everyone I work with usually hates me – I tend to be an arrogant jackass.”
“I’m not very good at what I do.”

I thinkest not. You come up with some benign answer that we all know is b.s. (“I can sometimes be too detail oriented”) but which shows that you’ve duly prepared for being asked this question and move on. Standard interview protocol.

So why do hopeful daters reveal to their equally hopefully counterparts their true “weaknesses” about which they are terribly insecure. Prime example, women disclosing on first dates that they need to lose weight – finally, men, a news flash for the women: discussing your insecurities about your body on your first date is a major turn off. Men like confident women. Ladies, telling your date how all of the other bridesmaids in your best friend’s wedding party are sizes 2s and 4s and you’re a size 6 - not gonna get you hired. That’s talk you save for drinks with your girlfriends. Think of a guy telling you he got a crappy bonus at work and his dog hates him – uh, check please.

You’re Hired Part III?


  1. Great blogs Marni! The argument that a person should "just be themselves" and do or say whatever comes to mind, not only is an ineffective strategy, it almost always ends up conveying to a potential partner one's most negative past experiences, and one's present lamest qualiities. A healthy relationship is a genuine opportunity for a person to express their best self. Of course a person may feel bitter and resentful about an ex, but they can also be forgiving and positive in understanding the lessons learned. Airing dirty laundry on a first date says "I am stuck in the past, want to wallow with me in it?" The sane person will always respond "No thanks - Life is too short for that."

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to write something so thoughtful and well written. You are right on and I absolutely love the way you put it! Perhaps a guest blog appearance is in order?!