Every Day is a Job Interview

Published: January 31, 2014

There is always a most engaged person in the audience. Whether a professor in front of a classroom or a speaker addressing hundreds at a professional conference, one participant lifts the energy in the room by tuning in with all senses. Everybody else reaps the benefits. Consider these examples.

A guest lecturer in a small liberal arts college invites the class to challenge her assumptions and offer new perspectives. She removes herself from the role of expert and allows the students to take charge. Many students shy away from the risk of saying the wrong thing. One student deciphers the opportunity and trusts the unconditional challenge. His assertion is so unusual the rest of the class struggles to understand his frame of reference. He is bombarded by questions until, finally, the context of his unique history and circumstances gives clarity to his position. Everybody learns. That student would later be offered an internship in the guest lecturer’s business.

The participant entering the auditorium most eager to learn sat in the center aisle about three rows back from the podium. She positioned her laptop in front of her in case she wanted to take notes but her eyes never strayed from the speaker as he meandered about the room. She found her hand raising slightly ahead of the speaker’s questions to the audience. Deferring to her teammates, she allowed others to share feedback and adapted her contribution to the flow of conversation. The speaker noticed her generosity. When he received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn a few days later, he easily recognized his recent most-engaged colleague. In the ensuing months, sharing resources and project opportunities would become routine components of their professional connection.

Every day is a job interview. You never know when a stranger will become a friend.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.