You're dressed to the nines, your palm's a bit sweaty and you're about to meet up with someone very important to you. You could be on a first date or you could be headed into that big interview. The fact is, these two vital social rituals are not so different from each other, and that can help you shine in either situation. Here are five ways to impress your date – or your prospective boss. (Ace your interview by learning how to break down the most common questions asked, in Top 9 Venture Capital Interview Questions.)

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  1. Dress to Impress
    How you look is a crucial factor in first impressions – it might seem shallow, but it's true. An interviewer has scant time to form an opinion about you, so presenting the right image should be a priority. Not only should your appearance be neat and tidy; consider the position you are applying for and use that as a guideline for how you dress. If the position is corporate, business dress is the way to go. When in doubt, dressier is usually better than under dressed since the latter may unintentionally suggest that you don't care about the meeting or the job.

  2. Put Your Best Foot Forward
    When you start dating someone, you want that person to see the best version of yourself you can present – let them find out that you hate doing dishes further down the road. In an interview, and on a date, you'll want to appear calm and confident, even if you are nervous. Preparing answers to common interview questions (or at least considering them) will help with your nerves and keep you from blanking and answering with a less-than-charming series of "ums".

    Don't be afraid to express your personality where appropriate. Interviews aren't generally just question and answer periods – if that's all the company wanted, they could have you fill in a survey. They want to get a sense of you as a worker and as a person. Small talk about your hobbies or experiences, or even using them as evidence of your positive character traits (leadership, goal setting, dedication) can do a lot to establish your character as a well-balanced individual and it will help you be more memorable later on. (Ditch your ego; prove that you'll work hard and don't settle for the wrong company. Read on, in Trying On Potential Employers.)

  3. Boast but don't Brag
    You want the other person to know about your accomplishments. While you will certainly get away with more self-inflation in an interview than on a date, you want to talk yourself up without seeming full of yourself. Be sure to detail the concrete, measurable achievements as much as possible, and save the bragging for when you're with your buddies. Think "I achieved the highest sales in the fourth quarter on our team," rather than, "I was so much better than the rest of our sales team."

  4. Take an Interest
    Just like a first date, an interview isn't just about you. You should get a sense of the company that may be hiring you. Make sure to do your homework ahead of time; you should know what the company does, its position in the field, how big it is, and any relevant recent news. Don't be afraid to ask questions (when it is appropriate to do so, of course) about the company's goals, processes and how employees are treated. Showing an interest shows you are serious about obtaining the position.

  5. Follow Up
    This step is about demonstrating your commitment and professional monogamy. It's also about setting yourself apart from the other candidates. A follow-up call to provide any additional information you promised, or even just to thank them for the opportunity, may be the key to standing out among the crowd. (Learn the steps that will help lead you to a new career, in Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance.)

The Bottom Line
In your career and your love life, it is equally important to take the time and effort to make each encounter special. The number one attribute recruiters are looking for is confidence, so make sure you look, act and speak the part, and your love story will no doubt have a happy ending.

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