Like many college kids, I spent my senior year juggling a heavy course load with a busy interview schedule as I searched for my first full-time job. I scheduled one of the interviews with a large and highly technical government agency on a day that was tightly packed with several classes and was all the way across campus from where I lived. Young and naïve, I was confident I would have plenty of time after my last class to go back to my apartment, change into a suit, and make it back for the interview.
My first piece of bad luck: I was delayed in returning to my apartment and only had a few minutes to change clothes and rush back for the interview. The second piece of bad luck was even more ominous—the only dress shirt that I owned looked like a slept-in-after-a-fraternity-party wrinkled mess.
In typical engineer fashion, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and devised an ingenious work-around. I found a seldom-used iron in a dusty corner of my closet, plugged in the device my once-hopeful mother must have packed for me four years’ prior, and cleverly ironed only the front of the shirt. Satisfied, I raced across campus ready to take on the world via the United States government.
As I was escorted into the interview, I was feeling pretty self-assured. That lasted until the perfectly groomed government official interviewing me invited me to remove my suit coat because, he said, “that’s the way we work at the agency.” Deflated, I sat for the remaining painful hour of the interview wondering if the wrinkles in the shirt were making the sweat stains under my arms look better or worse.
It goes without saying that I didn’t get the job. Not only did I fail to make the right impression at the beginning of the interview, I lost all confidence once I removed my suit coat.
The takeaway from this experience has remained with me ever since. Being prepared and able to imagine all possible scenarios alleviates the need to cut corners. In business, as in life, preparation and practice go a long way toward building the confidence required to succeed.
Have you ever been caught cutting corners? What did you do, what did it cost, how did you manage and what did you learn?
Ron Crowl is president and CEO of FeneTech Inc.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.