A.  A Shadchan comes up with a good suggestion of someone for you to meet, but the choice is all yours (aside for a few of the very ultra-religious communities). In our personal situation (Raizy and I are Chabad Lubavitch Chassidim), an aunt of mine knew Raizy and thought we’d be a great fit. So we went out and got to know and like each other and so we got married.
The Shidduch system actually has advantages: (1) You only get to meet and date people with similar values and life-goals with personality and character compatibility. This way you don’t date people for looks only to find out you share little in common. (2) If the “chemistry” doesn’t work and you are not for each other, there’s a lot less of the hard feelings. It isn’t public knowledge that you’ve been seeing each other, and after a few dates you ought to know if there’s nothing doing. (3) This type of dating is goal-oriented and therefore focused on the real issues. It’s not years of spending good times together before discussing the important questions.
But Shidduch dating is not for everyone, and works best for those who have a more traditional (etc..) Jewish upbringing. Although I’ve noticed more of the dating websites have character match-ups and personality profiles – aside for a picture and blurb – these are similar to the role of a shadchan.