How to Recruit for Love

Posted at — Nov 21, 2019

Also posted here.

How to Recruit for Love Cover Photo by Anastasia Shilov Drawing by Anastasia Shilov

As the ex-president of a student organization, I’m an expert in recruiting people to join my club. I’ve also gone through years of interviewing for internships and jobs in Silicon Valley. In college, I’m known for coaching my friends on how to conduct a different kind of recruiting: looking for romantic partners.

My friends come to me because they know that I met my boyfriend on Tinder. Finding a contractor on Tinder to be a casual summer fling is easy, but finding a romantic partner willing to stick around takes expertise. Many people have gone on lukewarm dates for weeks and weeks on end. Often, they date indiscriminately, without strategy. This doesn’t scale! Such in-person interviews take up the most time and money out of all steps in the dating funnel. The solution? Screening techniques. Weed out all the suboptimal candidates before the interview.

Having a fully optimized funnel is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. The funnel is the process of narrowing down the applicant pool, and it consists of sourcing, online interviews and in-person interviews. The right sourcing at the top of the funnel gives you a never-ending pipeline of leads so that you don’t miss out on top talent. It’s easy: swipe left on the candidate’s profile if you don’t like them, swipe right if they might be the right choice. Most people’s mistake? Not swiping enough! It is insanely easy to fit swiping into one’s schedule. Climbing stairs? Swipe. Spinning on a gym bike? Swipe. Sitting on a toilet? Swipe. Interviewing another romantic candidate? Swipe. Besides, the rush you get from receiving a match might be the boost you need for your last step, lap or push.

Disappointed in the quality of the applicant pool? Just configure the app to a different locale (such as near Yale Medical School, Yale Law School or Goldman Sachs) for more favorable matches. One sourcing channel with a high conversion rate is more valuable than many channels with a low conversion rate.

At this point, you’ll have a shortlist of candidates that is still a long list. The next step is the online interview round. Test if candidates can hold a text conversation for at least three days. This test models the real-life communication demands of a partner, while also demanding very little time from you. You can hold several online interviews at the same time: on the stairs, on the gym bike, on the toilet or on a date.

With this strategy, you can narrow a pool of 300 to three in a week. The final round is the in-person interview. Get candidates to travel to you. This will weed out candidates who can’t pay for their own travel and will enhance the net worth of your final candidate pool.

Cap first interviews to 30 minutes. (I remember sitting through 60 minutes of a bad date because I wanted to finish my pizza. The pizza was a sunk cost. I should have cut my losses, told the candidate we’d be in touch and brought the pizza home).

Once you’ve decided to pursue a candidate, you need to switch from sieving to selling. How do you sell? The tricky part is that unlike in a job interview, you may not receive questions that invite you to brag about yourself. As such, you need to perform the art of subtle self-promotion. If you work for a prestigious company, wear company-branded clothes to signal the financial stability you’ll bring to the table. When someone asks “How was your day?” you can mention an original thought about a class or activity, or your LSAT score. If preparing for a marathon or resting after one, always mention the marathon.

The second-round interview phase can be longer. Your goal is to test how candidates perform in different settings, such as the gym or boardroom — or even the bedroom. Engineer trials that test their morality. For example, you can arrange the interview in a restaurant a friend works at and ask how much your candidate tipped them.

To save time, I recommend a group interview. You can invite all your candidates to one party or show. I’ve personally succeeded in the Bring A Candidate To Watch A Show Performed By Another Candidate strategy, but I recommend this only if you’re tactful.

Don’t stop selling. The on-site interview is your prime opportunity. When they visit your home, be sure to decorate your walls with college degrees, newspaper clippings and paintings. But think bigger! On one visit to a candidate’s home, I noticed hand-drawn thank-you cards pasted all over his walls. When I asked him about them, he mentioned his summer experience teaching underprivileged 6-year-olds. I wrote down in my spreadsheet that he showcased great potential as a father.

Before closing on a candidate, enlist your network in performing background checks. Scrolling through the entire timelines of the candidates’ various social media accounts is simply too taxing to do alone. Your network can discreetly ask professors and past employers for references. Like me, you may even have a Zillow-savvy friend, who specializes in looking up the values of the candidates’ homes. And that, is how you secure a romantic partner.

Does the recruiting funnel take romance out of dating? I hope so. Romance is a liability that makes you overvalue arbitrary factors like adorable gestures and charming personalities. These add nothing to the bottom line! The funnel is an unbiased, data-driven funnel that allows you to pick the best candidate with the greatest asset value. It gives you the power of the free market. And the free market of romance will always converge to an optimal match.