When my son was little, I often took him with me to visit my grandmother in the hospital. Once when a custodian came into the room, my curious three-year-old wanted to know what that person was doing. I explained that she helped keep the hospital clean.

Curious Boy was not impressed.

He had hoped the woman was a doctor or a nurse–you know, someone who did really important things. Wrong-o, buster. You just earned yourself a teaching moment.

I explained to Curious Boy that, in fact, the custodian just might have the most important job in the entire hospital. You see, if no one cleaned things, germs would spread and people would get even sicker. Without someone doing that “unimportant” job, everything doctors and nurses did to help people heal could be thwarted by a lack of cleanliness. It takes everyone to help make people well.

Recently a friend headed to a job interview and I decided to send her some encouragement. I texted her wishing her luck and went back to what I had been doing. My brain, however, stayed with my friend.

I knew she struggled with the idea of this job. It wasn’t how she had hoped to launch her career, but she had bills to pay and needed to do something. I knew she would be a reliable, hard worker for the company, so I really hoped her ambivalence didn’t come through at her interview.

*Cue an epiphany.*

The thought struck me that no matter how she views that job, the person interviewing her thinks it’s pretty darned important. Entry level position or not, when the slot remains empty, it means something isn’t getting done. Most likely, someone else has to pick up the slack such that he either has to ignore his regular job or pull double duty. The person’s job suffers, he suffers, and customers suffer. It turns out that the job my friend doesn’t want all that much is actually kind of a big deal.

Never one to miss an opportunity to give advice, I quickly sent a follow-up text. This job may not seem that important to you, but it is to the person interviewing you. Treat it that way and you’ll do great.

I mentally patted myself on the back for uncovering this nugget of wisdom. Why haven’t I realized this before? I thought. Every interview I’ve ever had would have gone so much better.

And then I remembered my son and the hospital custodian. I’ve had this information all along; I’ve just never put it to work.

It reminds me of something I once heard in a podcast interview. There’s a huge difference between it matters to me because it matters to ME and it matters to me because it matters to YOU.

When it comes to that belief, it’s easy to determine which type of person you’d rather hire, or which person you’d want to be your friend. Be that person.

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