No, Dating Is NOT Like An Interview


Name: Naima

Question: Hi! I’ve checked out your blog and see that you recommend not to include what you’re looking for on a dating profile. But I’m curious, what do you think is the best response when a date outright asks what you’re looking for? I get this question often and I find it difficult to answer.

Ultimately, I am looking for a long term relationship, but I’m fully aware that what I am looking for takes time to develop organically. So I guess I’m online looking to meet new people, with the hope that one of these dates may eventually lead to a relationship. But that sounds so complicated to explain to a man…

I don’t want to say “I’m looking for a relationship” and have him freak out thinking I’m trying to lock him down. But saying “I’m just looking to meet new people” seems so casual, and I don’t want to give off the impression that I’m just looking to hook up.

What do you think is the best response?
Age: 30


I happen to find the, “What are you looking for?” question to be bad form. If someone poses that question to me I think one of three things. Either they’re:

A. Just looking to get laid


B. On a mission to find a partner.


C. Suspicious or otherwise mistrustful and don’t want to waste their time unless this stranger they just met is on the exact same page as they are.

Now, none of these people sound appealing, do they? No, they don’t, which is why this questions shouldn’t be asked. If it is, take it as a red flag and politely recuse yourself. All you need to do is check off the respective boxes on your profile that cover what it is you’re looking for and that’s that. No need for further explanation. It’s a waste of valuable real estate.

You’re absolutely right that compatibility takes time to develop. An experienced well-adjusted person knows this, which is why those people never ask such questions. They know they’re putting someone on the defensive. If they don’t, they’re an uncouth idiot. Only someone with no situational awareness or social graces would ever think they are owed an answer to such an inquiry.

For the most part, I think the “what are you looking for” query is used by guys looking for a hook-up. They don’t want to come out and say that they’re not looking for anything serious. Instead, they broach the topic by asking the woman what her intentions are first in order to feel her out. That conversation opens the door for them to share what they’re looking for. It’s a trick, basically, and and old one at this point. People still employing this tactic are showing their respective asses.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard an example where this line of questioning has resulted in a relationship.

The next time someone asks this question, turn it around on them. Ask them why they’re asking.  If they’re rude enough to put you on the spot, then you’re well within your rights to do the same thing. See how they like it.  This also goes for people who ask when your last relationship was, how long your longest relationship was, why you broke up with someone, why you are single, how many people have you slept with etc. The bottom line is that the answers to these questions are nobody’s business.

People take the “first dates are like an interview” thing far too literally, and questions like this are the end result. No, a first date isn’t like an interview. In an interview, the power dynamic is almost exclusively one sided and only one candidate is being vetted, not both. A date is a date; it’s an opportunity to get an idea of someone’s personality and interests. First dates are not the time to shove someone under the microscope or fire questions at them, they are for getting to know each other. It’s difficult to get someone to open up when they’re constantly trying to dodge hidden land mines. In their attempt to “get to know you”, people who assault dates with stupid questions are almost ensuring they’ll walk away from the date learning nothing that person.


Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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41 Responses to “No, Dating Is NOT Like An Interview”

  1. Rocky Says:

    who are all the people who ask this question all the time? I don’t think I have ever been asked this question on a first date. I’ve been asked it on the second and I think it’s fine, a normal enough question, though I wouldn’t ask it quite yet myself.

    But if you are asked, I think you should just answer. If your dare brings up the question, and then can’t tell the difference between “I want a relationship” and “I know I want a relationship with you,” do you really want to date them? The former basically implies, “I’ll drop you if I determine there’s no relationship potential and it’d be nice of you to do the same for me.”

    It just seems to me that if a person can’t handle a matter of fact, “I would like to find something serious,” especially when they ask the question, scaring them off is probably a *good* thing for the LW.

    But I fully agree with Moxie in that you shouldn’t ask this question on date one.

  2. Missy Says:

    I’ve had so many dates ask me exactly that pretty much as soon as we sit down. If they even wait til we meet! And I do think moxie is right, it’s usually guys who just want to get laid, who then lie when I turn the question back on them… Tho in some cases I think they are just avoidant and don’t know it. They think they’re looking for a relationship… But they’re really not. They’re looking for “one special lady” and think they’ll know her when they find her. It’s just that, somehow, they think I might be the one … Until after sex.
    So i definitely see that question, and related questions, as a big red flag. One guy asked why my marriage had ended, which is just a ridiculously personal question. When I asked what exactly he was trying to find out, he said he just wanted to avoid being hurt again or something. Red flag! I much prefer to go out with men who aren’t at risk of being hurt on a first date … And who are willing, later, to take the risk.

    • PGH Gal Says:

      Moxie hit the nail on the head with this. I am very clear in the boxes I’ve checked that I’m looking for something that could develop into a relationship. Since I also tend to get a lot of messages from men looking to get laid (generally to check off the “fucked a black chick!” box), I do mention wanting a relationship within my profile as well. I have kept it short and blunt, but still get the “what are you looking for” in lots of messages and occasionally on dates. I always say something to the effect of “I was very clear about that in my profile” and immediately red flag him in my mind.

  3. nia Says:

    The only case I could make for these questions (and not on the first date) is to find out in a roundabout way how they talk about dating in general–do they say they’re just “seeing what happens” or do they have a clear vision and goal?—or to find out how they talk about their ex. Will you too someday be a “good person who wasn’t right for me” or “that crazy !&##(*&# who left me with nothing!”. It’s pretty revealing how people talk about their past and their exes, but it should be their choice or come up organically, not be part of the job interview for being my boyfriend/girlfriend.

  4. Katie Says:

    I’ve occasionally had the “what are you looking for on this site” come up when I’ve done online dating, in addition to the “have you been on any dates/met anyone through xyz site” questions. It’s usually a question they ask online, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked either in person. In both cases I find the questions kind of lazy, like the person can’t find anything better to talk to me about, and also probing as to see whether the girl is an “easy lay” or not. I agree with Moxie that these kinds of questions are red flags.

    As most previous commenters said, I think it’s important to point out on the site what you’re looking for – doesn’t have to be specific (like a hubby, 3 kids and a white picket fence), but at least that you’re looking for something that will lead to a relationship, if a relationship is what you want. If the guy probes with more of the questions like above, it’s better to just ignore them or cut them off. A guy asking me those questions have never led to a date in my experience.

  5. TTFK Says:

    The whole “first date as an interview” and other unwelcome lives of questioning was also just covered in a good article over at Baggage Reclaim:

    • BostonRobin Says:

      Yeah, I consider these “interview questions” to be a power play. They just want to see if you’re good enough for them. Control freaks, either to throw you off balance or because they’re anxious types who actually think that they can figure someone out by checking off ticky-boxes. I’ll pass on either one, thanks!

      • Eliza Says:

        BostonR: “Powerplay”? That’s a great way of compelling people with actual potential to walk in the other direction. Not a good strategy. at. all. After the first question…I turn mute and block…end of game…they lost. Not sure how that eases their anxieties! lol

        Again, like I have said. Ignorance is bliss.

  6. natalie Says:

    Disagree. There are no boxes to check on apps like tinder and Bumble, so I usually ask this question before meeting a guy for a first date to avoid the guys who just want to hook up. Nothing wrong with not wasting my time.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      I would guess a large majority of the men you ask either lie or tell you what you want to hear. Asking achieves nothing. Unless you’re a human lie detector, and most people aren’t, you’ve been bamboozled numerous times and don’t even know it.

      • natalie Says:

        Some lie but the majority tell me if they aren’t looking for something serious and just want a casual hookup/fwb. They don’t want to waste their time and pay for a date of their goal is just to get laid and mine isn’t.

    • Lucy Says:

      What often happens to me is that the guy will ask me “What are you looking for on this site?”. And then ask me “How is this site working out for you?” or something like that. The latter question I don’t really like but the first question has some merit.

  7. Steve Says:

    Nice male bashing Moxie.

    Like, it’s a male specific phenomenon.

    Write a column about women asking about a man’s financial security on a first date.

    Yeah, hmm….

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      Tell you what, you whiny little beta bitch, write a letter depicting that exact situation and I’ll HAPPILY call women out for that. You know, if it actually happened and isn’t just some fabricated pulled out of your ass scenario you concocted because you got butt hurt.

      • Nia Says:

        I agree Moxie, I haven’t been a fly on the wall on every date this guy’s gone on, but I have many, many female friends who have zero concerns about a man’s financial security, and would never ask about that on a first date. I feel like these women are in the minority and easily spotted/avoided.

        To take the question a bit more seriously, if you look at a woman’s profile and she’s 22 and works as a barista, or she’s 26 and lives at home while she’s “working on her degree”, or she’s 24 and is a model/dancer/actress and she doesn’t talk about her education or career goals, there’s your *possible* red flag.

        If she upgrades the date from coffee to drinks/dinner, there’s your red flag.

        If you’re 52 and she’s 27, there’s your red flag.

        If her profile says things like “I like the finer things in life, G6 and Dom wut!?! LOL!” then there’s your red flag.

        If she’s a super hottie posing in her yoga pants and you’re like “why is this cutie online dating?” and her profile says things like “I want someone to spoil me, I’m a Princess” there’s your red flag.

        Are there women out there who shamelessly ask about financial security on a first date? Sure. My guess is that they’re perhaps artlessly trying to determine if this guy is secure enough to support *himself* and that she won’t be sucked into a whirlwind of debt and collection call emergency- move- before- getting- evicted drama.

        Women and men both have a right to politely and appropriately ask about someone’s ability to take care of themselves. If you’re looking to merge your life with someone, their financial stability absolutely, totally matters. Should this “detective work” take place on the first date? No. But just as many women have been burned by financially irresponsible or unstable men as men have been “burned” by women who asked “So, do you own your own house?” on a first date.

        • Sandra Says:

          BTW, OKC no longer has the drop down menu for what you do for a living on the “details” section. And almost no one discusses their job / career on the ” what I`m doing with my life” section. This essentially forces you to ask what someone does for a living ( not salary) unless stated in the written profile section. It is a very uncomfortable question to ask, but you have to. OKC needs to fix this.

          • Missy Says:

            Sandra, I don’t understand why you “have to” ask.
            Years ago at a party I met someone from France (everyone else at the party was American). We started talking, and I asked her, as one does, what do you do? She laughed and said “that’s such an American question! Everyone I meet here asks me what do I do. In France, no one asks that. ”
            It was a little bit of culture shock, and made me look at it a little differently. We do tend to think that what someone does for work is one of the most important things about them, and of course we all tend to talk about work a lot, even when we’re socializing with people we don’t work with.
            I still ask, I’m sure, but now I do try to lead with questions designed to suss out other interests and qualities. It’s fun to see how long you can talk to a new person before somebody brings up work!

            • SS Says:

              Huh. This is interesting.

              I am British and never ask people what they do for a living. Once or twice when I was absolutely and totally stuck I asked “what do you enjoy most about you do.”

              If/when someone volunteers their job title off the bat I think they have issues. Didn’t occur to me before that maybe it’s a cultural thing :)

              • Rocky Says:

                I’m a lawyer and my job is in my profile (I’ve worked it into a theme of how I don’t have a “typical lawyer personality”) so no one I mwet online has to ask me “what do you do.” I get asked “what kind of law do you practice” fairly regularly (in fact, close to 100 percent of the time). That annoys me if it is asked too early. I know they’re just making conversation, so it’s not a huge deal, but I wonder, really, so much else to ask about or start talking about and you ask that?

                Bottom line, I believe most people ask about jobs to make conversation if they are a tad on the lazy side and can’t think of better ways to advance the conversation. It’s not malicious. But I always try to be the second person who brings up work (unless I am genuinely fascinated by her job, which happens occasionally.)

                Also, it’s kind of a tangent, but I think “someone who loves their job” is a pretty silly requirement, and when I see it in a profile, it turns me off. I like my job perfectly fine and most days are good, but I always think either she wants a workaholic, or she would not support me if I decide to change jobs (or even careers) someday.

                • SS Says:

                  I agree with everything you say. ESPECIALLY: I think “someone who loves their job” is a pretty silly requirement. I feel the exact same way.

                  I have a great career and make a good living – but I’ve oft said that I work to live, not live to work.

                  I’ve worked closely with C-Level execs for the last 15 years. Most are on their 2nd or 3rd marriage and/or miserably married. Almost all have expressed to me that their success has entirely precluded happiness at home if not actively contributed to dissolution of marriage and/or estranged relationships with their children.

                  • Lucy Says:

                    I’m British too and I don’t ask guys what they do for a living. I’d rather ask questions about what they enjoy doing and that sort of thing otherwise I feel a little rude. I’m a university graduate but still working minimum wage as jobs in my sector aren’t highly paid. I’m also more of the “work to live” than “live to work” mentality despite the fact I really enjoy my job.

            • Sandra Says:

              Because in online dating ( which we are discussing, not meeting at a party and flushing in embarrassment about being so ” American,” there are many people who are marginally employed dating online, that`s why. I am not suggesting you ask someone straight up at a party or social event. No one does that. Also, every other site ( match, POF, etc) have a spot for job title or category, OKC no longer does.

              • SS Says:

                “I am not suggesting you ask someone straight up at a party or social event. No one does that.”

                But apparently needing to know someones career in advance of meeting/talking with them is different? There’s a dichotomy between the two sentiments you have expressed which completely confuses me.

                What is it about someone’s “job title or category” that is imperative knowledge for you?

                “not meeting at a party and flushing in embarrassment about being so ”American,”

                It seems as if commentary on the differences between other cultures mores upset and offended you.. why? I often wonder why people get so incredibly defensive and/or upset about nondescript comments or conjecture.

              • Goldie Says:

                In my several years of dating, I only met one man who was a real, genuine, marginally employed, living off other people, not able to support himself and proud of it, moocher. He had, not one, but TWO fairly respectable jobs listed on his OKC profile under “what do you do for a living”. Took him three dates to fill me in on what his situation really was. Took five dates for him to tell me that he doesn’t want to ever change it (at which point, I called it a day.) If it was so easy for him to make up a job title for his profile, why do you think a total stranger won’t make one up when you ask him about it on a first date? He doesn’t know you. He’s not under oath and isn’t obligated to tell you the truth. He’ll give you the answer you want to hear.

        • SS Says:

          I really like this Nia.

          I think it underscores that there must be something fundamentally missing in the due diligence or self awareness if one specific bad scenario keeps happening. We are always the common denominator.

          As you say – a 52 yo man complaining about a 27 yo being a golddigger is risible.

    • Eliza Says:

      Directed to Steve: figures, always has to be some beta bitch…crying like some little girl. I agree, with Moxie…it’s just tasteless to do – pre-screen, whether you are inquiring about people intentions long-term/relationship-wise or vetting their financial situation. It’s tasteless…and people pick up on it, and usually do NOT appreciate being interviewed! It’s NOT fun, being interrogated, Barbara Walters.

    • Katie Says:

      I think financial security is a common concern for both men and women……I mean, it’s a common question for people to as online or on a first date what he/she does for a living. If I don’t get asked online, I get asked in person what I do for work. I agree with Moxie, it’s poor taste to come right out and ask “what do you make” etc etc etc on a first date whether you are a male or female. And as stated earlier, there are pretty easy ways to determine if someone is dating you for financial security or not, even without someone asking about your salary or financial security.

      That being said, I know I want to be with someone who has a steady job that they love, no matter how much they make. Does that make me a bad person? On the flip side, does it make my dates bad people if they like that I have a good job and (by extrapolation based on my field) make a good income?

      • Eliza Says:

        Shouldn’t you first determine, whether you are compatible with this other person…prior to figuring out if they are self-reliant and gainfully employed and to what extent? Yes, we do not want to have a financial liability on our hands, but on the first date to dive into such questions? By the way, not all of us have the luxury of “absolutely loving what we do for a living”…that’s where outside interests come in. Yes, it’s a common concern for both genders…but don’t think that aspect should be the focal point of a conversation on the very first date.

        • Katie Says:

          True, but I don’t think the two things are mutually exclusive. Compatibility is key when it comes to a relationship, and that should be the focus of any date or budding relationship. But to be honest, I’ve yet to go on a date (even a coffee date) with any guy where what I did for a living didn’t come up, if not before the date. It doesn’t have to be a 2 hour conversation about every little detail of my job including salary, retirement, etc etc etc, but I think it’s also impossible to go on multiple dates with someone and ignore asking how they spend 40 to 80 hours of their week. Plus, in my experience most guys seem to like to talk about their work, whether its because they like it or hate it, regardless of I ask about it or not!

          • Eliza Says:

            Who said anything of going on “multiple” dates. All I stated is that questioning someone about “what they do for a living” on the very first date can possibly come across as either rude, or boring. When there are a myriad number of topics to touch upon that can give one an inkling into someone’s daily life, personality and even lifestyle/financial abilities. By the way–I would never want to sit across from someone I barely know and hear him talk about his occupation negatively and/or complaining about work, and going on about how much they hate their line of work. Again, dating should be about having “fun”. Doesn’t sound like fun to me. Travel, music, art, films or vacations…now that’s light conversation, yet fun. For a first date. OK, on a second date you can ask that trite question. “So, what do you do”?
            Hence, can be translated into: “What do you earn”?

  8. Eliza Says:

    A first date should be “fun”…and asking or being asked these types of questions is far from fun. The cliché queries: “So, why are you single”? “How do you like this site”? “What are you looking for”?
    Totally unnecessary and annoying.

    What am I looking for? I would reply–to connect with someone that is fun, and doesn’t ask these types of inappropriate, useless questions – on a first date. That’s what I am looking for. Being observant can tell you enough, to want to go on a second date, folks…not walking down the aisle just yet–it’s just a cup of coffee–a $2 investment perhaps a whopping $4.50 if you go to Starbucks instead of Dunking Donuts! Not a huge investment – monetarily or time-wise. I have been asked – upon meeting within the first hour–“So, do you own or rent?”…what’s it to you? Are you pre-qualifying me for a mortgage? Whether I have a trust fund, or keep coins in a jar and live day to day is nobody’s business-until I volunteer to share that information. And beware, just because someone is dressed impeccably in brand names or because someone dons a pair of levis and flip flops, it can have zero correlation to what they own financially or how well to do they are.

  9. bbdawg Says:

    I was asked that question a few times on Tinder only. I take that to mean the dude is looking to get laid asap. To me it’s similar to matching with someone and them writing to you after 10pm something like “what are you doing tonight”?.

    The annoying (and inevitable) thing about asking questions is that it kills the vibe. I know after my experience with the separated guy, if i were to go back to Tinder I’d HAVE to check that they are not married, if they have kids, have been divorced and how long ago, before meeting. That kills the vibe but at least you’re not wasting your time. Dudes who are after sex only quickly drop out. This is why online dating is sort of a waste of time. You have to put up so many walls that it ends up being more like having a second job as a compliance officer doing due dilligence on strangers you haven’t even met.

  10. Donnie K Says:

    I agree. It’s a stupid question. As mentioned “compatibility takes time to develop.” Unfortunately, dating especially online dating turns the most well meaning folks into socially inept jackasses. People get nervous, which leads to awkward behavior which leads to stupid questions like; “what are you looking for?”

    As for the whole, dating is like a job interview argument. My response is this. I’ve never once had a few drinks and made out with the HR person of a perspective employer. Job interviews are highly stressful Dating is supposed to be fun. Ditch the stupid, uptight questions and enjoy the experience.

  11. AC Says:

    “No, a first date isn’t like an interview. In an interview, the power dynamic is almost exclusively one sided and only one candidate is being vetted, not both.”

    Thank you! I think is point gets lost on some people. Especially the control freaks. Best option, as you said turn it back on them:

    How long was your last relationship?
    Two years. How long was yours?

    What are you looking for?
    I want to meet the right person for me. What are you looking for?

    How many men/women have you slept with?
    Less than 15 (or 5, 10, 20), how many have you slept with?


    A) They’ll realize their being a jerk and lighten up.
    B) They’ll turn sour because they’ll realize you’re not going to tolerate their BS.

    • Lucy Says:

      All I know is i hate it if they ask or talk too much about the past. I’m not hiding anything but I’d rather focus on getting to know them. The last guy I met up with in the space of half an hour I had his whole life story including his experiences of taking illegal substances, his previous life as a homeless man and his exes all being “whores and bitches”. Well I have to say I went off him because I found him far too intense. I think putting too much out there up front is equally as bad as treating it like a job interview.

      • Eliza Says:

        Lucy–wow! Sounds like such an upbeat guy! Referring to any woman as a “whore or bitch” is a huge red flag…run, quickly.
        I agree…I don’t want to hear about one’s “Hey Day” and how they were quarterback – 20 years ago – in highschool….yet, now they have a herniated disc, and damaged shoulders from football…don’t want to hear all those pleasantries on a first date…let’s save the medical ailments for much later please! lol
        It’s the “here and now” that I am interested in.

  12. Steve Says:

    You’re pissed because you damn well know the crap SOME women pull on first dates.

    What’s your car payment?

    How come you rent and don’t own a house?

    The home owner foo foo is very common. Using a house as a financial litmus test.

    Often these home owners are drawing alimony or, god forbid, inherited the house from a death.

    Mortgage poor and only need an entertainment director to meet their needs.

    • Nia Says:

      Women really ask what someone’s car payment is on a first date? Wow. I admit that’s pretty ballsy.
      I can’t say this didn’t happen, having not been on dates with women, but I know a lot of women, and they’re from all walks of life and all levels of attractiveness, and I just can’t imagine any of them outright asking a guy “what’s your car payment” UNLESS you two were sympathizing about life being expensive and comparing notes, and you chose to take it the wrong way, or you were talking about your car or something and she idly asked “Oh, what’s something like that run?” just to be polite and carry the conversation.

      I dated a guy for nine months that I met online and in the first few sentences we said to each other we commiserated on how expensive the city was and how it would be nice to have money. Was not gold diggin’ at all!

      I don’t follow what you mean with the rest of your arguments however. If a woman is inquiring about a man being a home owner and he’s inherited the house or is paying for it with alimony, joke’s on her, right?

      And if you mean women are saying “I own my home” and it’s being paid for by alimony / as part of an estate, who cares? You won’t have to take care of them, and it seems like only a very dim bulb would hold up their free/paid for/inherited house as a sign of financial stability. The kind of dim bulb you should really be screening for an avoiding on line.

  13. Allison Says:

    No one needs a litmus test to detect seething anger with a propensity to fly off the handle.

  14. Stacy Says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this question. I think if you are looking for a relationship, this is exactly what you should answer. Guys who are looking to hook up will bolt and that’s is a GOOD thing. That’s what you want, for them to run and not waste your time (and dignity).

    I also believe that men looking for hookups only will mostly be truthful about it. Enough women these days have casual sex outside of a relationship so theres no need to “trick” them that way.

    I also think that guys who are looking for a relationship won’t be scared by such answer (and likely won’t even ask the question anyway).

    • vvss Says:

      I agree. I have found men are not shy about stating they are looking for something short term or here to meet new people. And I appreciate that. In fact that is something I do say early on in a conversation. I am not going to bolt and run away if they don’t have intentions of pursuing a relationship; I might enjoy their company and all but part with the understanding there might not be another date. There is no point in wasting each others’ time if there is no alignment in what each person wants.

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