You’re Always Interviewing

Think how polished you were on the day you interviewed for your job.  Or applied for a small business loan.  Or went on the first date with your spouse.  You took the time to look and act sharp.  You were engaged, thoughtful, and energetic.  You were a great listener.  You were empathetic.  You cared.

Fast forward to now.  For many, the image is a 180-degree shift.   I see people nearly every day that clearly stopped trying long ago.  They approach their work with distain, apathy, or resentment.  They go through the motions, contribute the bare minimum, and listlessly skate on by.

The same holds true in personal relationships.  When dating, she meant everything to you and was your number one priority.  Today, your belt size is much larger while your effort has plummeted.

Isn’t it funny how advances are directly correlated to focused intensity?  When you were in the groove of giving it your all, the things you wanted in your life tended to manifest.  But when you slipped into half-ass mode, so did your results.

Even if your job and relationship feel as secure as Leavenworth, no situation is unbreakable.  The best way to protect against unexpected catastrophe is to treat every meeting, email, lunch, phone call, client interaction, team meeting, or weekly report like an interview.  If you think about it, others are forming opinions of you in every one of these activities.  Why not use these efforts as a platform to build your personal brand and drive your reputation?

Look around your team and you’ll see the difference in an instant.  You probably know both a Mike and a Maggie.  Maggie shows up fully, and delivers above and beyond.  She genuinely cares about the success of others, and contributes to the greater good.  She has a positive attitude, refrains from smack talk, and has a real urgency about driving progress.

Then there’s Mike.  An eye-rolling, victim-playing, apathetic bureaucrat.  He’s out for only himself and everyone knows it.  He shoots down ideas with stunning consistency and can’t wait to punch out at 5:00 sharp.  Mike was hired 11 years ago and feels insulated.  He doesn’t bother giving it his all.  “They’ll never fire me,” he rationalizes.

When it comes time for a promotion, who do you think will snag it?  What would happen if there were layoffs?  Or when a new, exciting opportunity emerges and someone needs to lead it?  Always-interviewing Maggie will embrace her success, while Mike will shake his head with regret.  How predictable.

It’s not easy to have the focus and energy to deliver peak-performance on a regular basis.  But it’s a small price to pay for the disproportionate rewards you’ll savor.  A simple shift in mindset can help blast you to new heights.  Keep the hunger and energy of an interview – in both business and life. This approach will ultimately lead to your next advance.  And, of course, many more after that.