Here you are, waiting to be called into the office. You just spent months searching for sports jobs, following a structured job search strategy.
You networked at events and online, building relationships and conducting informational interviews. You researched your ideal employers, and that’s landed you here — about to interview for your dream job with your dream employer.
It’s like stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning. Your team has fought long and hard, and you’re up to bat, with the winning run just 90 feet from homeplate.
If you’re a smart baseball player, you’re going to be studying the pitcher, taking practice swings in the on-deck circle and looking for holes in the defense. You’re going to prepare so you know how to knock in the winning run.
However, if you don’t pay much attention and give yourself time to prepare, you’re going to strike out. As you walk back to the dugout, with your head hanging in frustration and shame, you’ll wonder how you could’ve done better.
Don’t leave this interview wondering how you struck out. To swing for the fences and hit a career homerun, you need to know how to interview well.
Here are the three strikes to avoid during your interview:
Strike One: No Enthusiasm
No matter where you are in your career, either just starting out or seeking senior positions, you need to show how enthusiastic and passionate you are about the sports jobs you apply for. To prepare for the interview, look back at your experiences and see how they align with the prospective role.
Let’s say you applied for a marketing management position with Major League Soccer. You’re an avid soccer fan, which is important, but the main point you want to emphasize during your interview is how your experience is relevant for the current role. Write out anecdotes and stories you want to share of times you made mistakes and learned from them, or when you exhibited strong leadership skills.
Employers love hearing about your past. In fact, our survey found that 24 percent of employers say sharing industry experience is the best way to show your enthusiasm for the sports industry. Help them see how you’re skilled and ready for the role and passionate about the world of sports.
If you don’t have experience, highlight transferable skills you developed. Also, share how you are seeking learning opportunities on your own and teaching yourself essential skills.
Strike Two: Negative Body Language
When you’re at bat, facing an opportunity to earn a walk-off win, you aren’t cowering in the back of the batter’s box. You’re standing upright, with a firm grip on your bat, ready to win the game.
The same goes for interviewing. If you’re avoiding eye contact, slumped in a chair, and tapping your foot nervously, the interviewer will sense your discomfort and lack of confidence. This can really hurt your chances of earning an offer.
As our survey found, 22 percent of employers say using negative body language during an interview is the biggest communication mistake you can make. The best way to avoid using negative body language is simple — practice.
You want to strive for maintaining eye contact, smiling, keeping an upright posture, and relaxing your arms at your sides. To learn this, start asking your friends to help, either in-person or through video chats like Skype or Google Hangouts.
Give them a list of questions, and ask them to add their own. Then, they can conduct a mock interview, giving you the chance to answer questions and focus on being mindful of your body language. Ask them to also take notes on how you appear.
Another option is using interview simulator tools online. As you practice, record and review your responses. This way, you can see where to improve and identify what body language works for you.
Strike Three: Not Knowing the Employer
Before you even step in the on-deck circle, you’re reviewing notes with your coaches and looking for insights on the pitcher you’re about to face. You look for patterns, study their delivery, and take notes on velocity and ball movement before the game.
This way, when you see a change in their release point, you know you’re about to get a curveball. Then, you can adjust your swing and timing to make contact.
The same goes for interviewing for sports jobs. You need to know the employer, their culture, and the role.
Learn how you align with the employer’s values, and determine how you are a great cultural fit. Find out how your value can help advance their mission. This helps you develop an authentic sense of enthusiasm.
Also, you can come up with great questions that are insightful for the interviewer. For example, if you know the company changed their messaging recently, ask questions about what the new direction means for the future of the organization and the industry.
These three strikes lead to an easy out. When you leave an interview, you want to keep your head high, knowing that you knocked it out of the park. Instead of the Gatorade shower, you have an offer letter to look forward to.
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