Those of you familiar with the Praxis curriculum know that Month 2 of the program is when you start seeking out a business partner. My most noteworthy interview was with Ceterus, a tech startup on the East Coast. The interview was for a position on the marketing team, developing leads. I really wanted this job.

While overthinking everything, I spent two days prior to the meeting doing extensive research on every aspect of the company, CEO, and the person conducting the interview. I took over eight pages of notes, which I ended up using none of.

The meeting actually ended up going really well!

Nearing the end of the interview, I was asked if I had any questions for him. (Quick tip – you always prepare questions for your interviewer. Always.) The first few questions I dished out were pretty standard. I asked about the company’s history, recent relocation, and values. Doing this, I was able to show that I’d done my homework on Ceterus, and was serious about getting this gig.

After my three standard questions, I had a thought. Not a whole ‘That’s So Raven’ style epiphany, but something. It occurred to me that everybody does this. Everybody asks bullshit questions they know the answer to, but make them look good by asking. Nothing I’d asked would make me stand out. If fact, he’d probably asked similar questions when he’d applied to Ceterus one year prior. This is where I went off script.

What’s something I can do today to get a foot above the rest of the applicants?

There was a pause after my question that killed me. I thought for sure I’d broken some unspoken rule of interviewing.

You know what, here’s what I’m going to do. How about I send you an example of the work you’d be doing, and you show me what you’re capable of?

That was it. He was telling me that I was worth the time it’d take to prepare the work for me, and review it once finished. Most importantly, I had an opportunity to create value for Ceterus before I was even on payroll.

Of course, I busted my ass on that work over the next 48 hours. Never in my life have I drank so much Bulletproof Coffee. I wasn’t given a procedure to do the work, so I tried a few different methods before finding the most efficient way to do this, which ended up really helping me when it came time to review the work I’d done.

He loved the work I’d done. He told me that my process for getting the data was better than the way it was currently being done, and that the data was better than what he was currently receiving. Among the applicants for this job, I was the one who was already doing the work, and the one he knew could do it well. It was no longer a competition.

I got the job.