During the past 27 years, I have worked for 5 different organizations. While I have had the opportunity to work for some incredible organizations and with some awesome leaders, each move brought me closer to my ultimate goal making an investment in the lives of other people.

However, “the one that got away” still perplexes me to this day.

It was 1995 when I got a call from a friend who was a manager in a manufacturing organization. He was about to be promoted, and he asked if I would be interested in the Assistant Manager position that would replace him within the year.

“Heck yeah!”

I quickly began to prepare for the interview. Although he had recommended me, I would need to go through the selection process at the corporate office.

I did three things to prepare:

1) I reviewed my own reasons for wanting this position, ensuring it was in alignment with my core convictions and purpose.

2) I considered possible questions I could be asked and how I would respond.

3) I conducted a thorough research of the organization and parent company, to the extent that I knew more about the organization than some of the people who interviewed me.

When the big day came, I was scheduled to interview with 3 people in what promised to be a cake walk. I was told I would be in and out in less than an hour. Two hours and 6 interviews later, I was asked to interview with a Vice President of the parent company’s parent company.

The Vice President asked if I were wondering what was going on, since I had interviewed with so many people that day. He went on to explain that, at some point during the process, they had actually begun interviewing me for a new position they were considering at the corporate level. Although he didn’t share any specifics about the position, it seemed important.

Apparently, to use a baseball analogy, I had been batting 1000 during the interview process. That is, until he asked the one question that shook my world: “Would you be willing to move to work at the corporate office?”

Without thinking, I said, “No, I need to stay where I am.” He responded with, “OK, I’m sorry to hear that,” and suddenly the interview was over.

A few days later, my friend called and told me he had heard about the offer and that I had turned it down. Neither he nor I knew what exactly what I had turned down. This has baffled me for years.

Here’s the point…

By using the three steps listed above, I found that I was very prepared for all the parts of the interview I had been able to anticipate. Use those steps in preparation for your next interview.

By responding to one unexpected question without fully understanding what was being offered, all of the previous success that day was negated. While it’s possible that having all the information wouldn’t have changed my answer, now I’ll never get the chance to find out!

Whether you’re in a job interview or any other important conversation, this Proverb holds true: “He who answers a matter before he hears the facts–it is folly and shame to him.” (Proverbs 18:13)

Listen, understand, then respond.

Can you think of a situation when you responded impulsively and it cost you something you weren’t prepared to lose? What could you have done differently?