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win or lose box checked to winThere are things you can control and things you cannot control. When in job search, understanding this concept is more important than ever if you want to keep your head in the game and focus on what you can do to show why you’re the best person for the position you want.

So often, candidates spin their wheels trying to size up their competition. Whether it’s looking at the number of people who applied shown on that LinkedIn posting, or asking how many people are moving forward in the interview process. It’s easy to get derailed when focusing on what everyone else is doing.

But here’s the thing: What others do is not in your control, and none of these things are about you.

When a candidate is in this mode of focusing on everyone else, the first question I get is, “How many people are interviewing for this job?” I get it. It’s completely normal to want to know if you’re one of three or one of 10 candidates being evaluated. Will the answer to that question change how you interview? Will someone else’s qualifications change your qualifications? Even if you were the only person moving forward for a final interview – it’s still yours to win or lose.

You can only be the very best you when moving through the interview process. Your experience got you past the screening call and into the interview line up.  Now it’s about going deeper. Do your homework on the company. Research and prepare so you can determine if this role, this team and this company are a match. (And it needs to be a match for both of you!)

Have your example stories at the ready. Formulate good questions to demonstrate both curiosity and understanding of the business. Your interest and excitement for that job and that company – when genuine – is what will carry the day no matter how many others are competing for that job.

Focusing on what you can control includes those unfortunate times when the job goes to someone else. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of speculation about the person who was selected. I even had one candidate get angry at me, demanding to know how many years’ experience the other person had and why they were more qualified. As hard as it is to hear this, the answer to that question really doesn’t matter. The other person’s experience is not in your control.

Your career is about you. Resist the urge of making assumptions about everyone else who may be competing for the job you want. The ultimate way to be intentional in your career is to stay laser focused on the actions and activities you can do to achieve your career goals.