In your professional (and even non-professional) life do you come across opportunities where you can say or act in a manner that will leave a positive impression. Absolutely!
Matt Tanner, mentions the countless other potential opportunities to “interview” that he had missed over the years — the email from the secretary asking for a volunteer to drive the CEO to the airport. The open call for speakers at a job fair for college students. The weekly one-on-one with his boss where he typically just said things were “going well” before asking him what he needed from me.
He drives the point home by showcasing this situation
Interview opportunities aren’t always gift-wrapped and handed to you on a platter with chips and cheese. Sometimes they are tiny, seemingly insignificant moments in a random day where even the interviewer doesn’t know it’s an interview.
Each of those moments represented an opportunity for me to make a lasting impression. And each time, I either passed it up or failed to impress.
Once, my boss, a division president, told me he was going on vacation. He asked me to stand in for him and give a quick update during the leadership team meeting. “It’s no big deal, less than five minutes,” he said. “I usually just say a little about our team metrics and wing the rest.”
I briefly considered spending a full day digging into our numbers, preparing a few useful reports, and practicing my remarks until I had them down cold, but then I remembered it was trivia night at my favorite bar and the tight end on my fantasy team was playing in the Thursday night football game (important), so I just drank beer and ate chicken wings instead. I treated the meeting like my boss treated it and ended up reciting some numbers before saying a few things off the cuff.
It was fine.
When I stopped talking, the bigwigs looked up from their catered lunches, eyelids heavy, and sort of nodded, signaling that I was free to go. Then the next person stood up to report out, and time marched inexorably onward.
Here’s what didn’t happen: No one in that room made a mental note that I was someone they needed to meet with the next time they had a job opening. No one cared that I did the bare minimum. No one was asking me to make an impression. But I could have.
But can you be “on” all the time and not be disingenuous? According to Matt it is possible and lays out the “how” to make is happen.
While it does take constant effort to operate this way, a funny thing happens when you keep doing it: It becomes second nature. Eventually, you stop focusing on making an impression just to get a job (or a promotion — or even a date). You worry about the impression you make because, intrinsically, you know it’s the right thing to do. The fruits of that labor are an added bonus.
How much better would I have felt if I’d put in the hard work to absolutely crush that short meeting update? Who cares if anyone else noticed? I would have gone home feeling great about myself. And there’s nothing disingenuous about that.
The bottom-line: Always try to be intentional about the impression you make with others, whether in a chance encounter in an elevator with a group of people from that company you don’t work for (yet), or in a real live job interview.