Lately, a few of us have represented LoyaltyOne at speed dating-type tech-candidate networking events. ‘Women Who Hack’ and ‘HackerX’ are two that I’ve recently attended.
These events typically include 10-20 employers and up to 100 candidates who are interested in talking to some or all of those companies. Candidates line up and move through the company representatives at 5-minute intervals. At the end of the 5 minutes a bell rings and you move on to the next company.
Companies generally pay a hosting or participation fee and hope that they meet as many candidates as possible in a short period of time. The face-to-face meeting is much better than sorting through hundreds of resumes to determine who to bring in for a first interview.
For candidates, entry is usually free and allows them to talk to many companies that are hiring in one night. They get to learn about available jobs and what differentiates one company from the next in a very short time frame.
If this first meeting goes well, there’s the potential to move on to an interview – or ‘first date’, depending on how you look at it.
The good, the bad and the knock-your-socks-off
For both candidates and company representatives, the two hours of non-stop talking, listening and evaluating can be exhausting but also extremely valuable. I have seen some really good approaches to this format and some really, really bad ones.
There’s a lot of research that says decisions on whether to hire someone or not are made within the first few seconds or minutes that you meet. In an article by Peter Harris research shows that 30% of interviewers made up their mind in under 5 minutes. However, the largest block – 52% of interviewers – made their decision between the first five and fifteen minutes of the interview.
When you meet with a representative of a company, you don’t know whether they’re a five-minute or a fifteen-minute decision-maker. So, it’s best to be prepared to make a positive impression in short order regardless.
Here are my suggestions on how to do just that:
- Make eye contact and introduce yourself clearly with a handshake
- Dress to impress
- Provide a copy of your resume to the employer
- Be prepared with a one-minute intro of who you are and what you are looking for
- Be prepared to answer questions in a quick format
- Research the companies that will be present before you show up
- Have 1 or 2 questions that you want answered about the company and make sure that you ask them before the time expires
- Just sit down and expect the employer to read your name tag
- Wear ripped jeans and a t-shirt unless you know that the one company you want to meet expects that
- Wing the intro and expect it to go well
- Come prepared. Do your homework on the companies who will be attending
- Spend the entirety of the five minutes answering the first question
- Attend just to eat the food
I really love and appreciate the opportunity to get out and talk to different types of people with different backgrounds and to evaluate who might be a good fit for LoyaltyOne. I hope this list helps prepare you for these types of events so that you get more ‘first dates’. I’m looking forward to talking to you at the next event!