10 Ways to Avoid Flunking the Interview

<h3>Ideas to help coaches win a big game for their career</h3>

After twenty years in college coaching, I transitioned into executive search. I’m currently with a small, boutique firm that specializes in sales and marketing. Our work is done at the senior level as we partner with a broad range of consumer-facing clients. Our clients demand excellence and therefore we must probe deep into the minds of talented executives to determine if they fit the core criteria set against the assignment. It has been exciting, intellectually stimulating as well as gratifying to learn about potential candidates wants and needs as they pursue new opportunities.

During the past 4 years, I have been fortunate to come in contact with many, many talented people in this industry. But honestly, I have found that it is easier to identify what will keep an individual from getting that dream job than what makes them stand out.

You must understand that there are gifted coaches’ at all different levels, so let’s first consider what I believe will help get you to the interview. I call it the “The Three-Pointer for Advancement.”

Results – Regardless of your endeavor, you must deliver results over and over again. All conversations for advancement or new opportunities will end without proven results. For coaches, this entails successful recruiting and usually being part of a winning program.

Actions – You must learn to brand yourself and your image, but in a humble way. Ask yourself; what do I add to my current work group? Do I get along with others? What do others think of me?

Competencies – Learn to manage your portfolio of skills. I believe that each year you must add something to “your game” that will help set you apart from others. This is a broad statement in scope, yet very important for your professional growth.

With that said, you can be extremely talented, yet given the opportunity, there are a number ways to “flunk” an interview. Listed below are 10 critical areas that you must “pass” in order to achieve the job of your dreams. Make a mistake in any one of these and you greatly diminish your chances of getting the job:

Mistake #1: Forgetting the basics – remember to do the little things throughout the entire interview.

– Wear clean, conservative attire
– Have a firm hand shake
– Remember names
– Never chew gum
– Remember that anyone can be part of the hiring process
– Being kind to support staff matters
– Have a portfolio to take notes, carry extra copies of your résumé and any “leave-behind” documents

Mistake #2: Assuming your résumé speaks for itself – on average, an interviewer will review a résumé for 15-20 seconds.

– Don’t assume the hiring manager (President, AD, committee members) is familiar with your body of work
– When speaking with faculty and academic staff, don’t assume they know what you do
– Be able to articulate your experiences quickly
– Master your elevator pitch
– Don’t become noise – keep energy flowing

Mistake #3: Lying on your résumé – have someone review your résumé for mistakes.

– If you have a past screw up, admit it and own it up front
– We all put the “stars” a program has signed on our résumé, but don’t lie about education or responsibilities. There are several examples in recent years:
– Doug Martin
– Glynn Cyprien
– George O’Leary

Mistake #4: Over sharing – be self-aware and know when to stop talking and listen.

– Let the interviewer tell you about the job
– Be over-prepared, but don’t be a know-it-all
– Speak with candor, but keep personal issues separate, especially if they won’t affect the job
– Don’t talk down the conference, former staff members or current players
– Don’t take social media casually
– Employers will check networking sites
– You’re always being evaluated and that includes social networking sites

“Don’t buy back what you just sold”

Mistake #5: Showing how important you are – take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

– Attempt to make the people you are meeting feel important
– Use body language to show interest
– “That was a great question….”
– Put your phone away
– Never check e-mail or texts!
– Don’t talk compensation during your first conversation
– Don’t share confidential information – this immediately says stop the interview
– Be able to share your work without breaking confidentiality

Mistake #6: Not separating yourself – impressions are made quickly.

– You’re there to state your mission, vision and goals
– Make sure you tell everyone why you’re the right hire
– What can you bring that is distinctively different
– Look for opportunities to match your background with the university / program wants and needs
– Be prepared to have a second answer

Mistake #7: Assuming the interviewers won’t talk to each other – be consistent in your responses.

– Understand that everyone has an objective, especially if a large committee is involved
– Don’t let them interpret things in different ways
– Admit when you don’t know something – it’s a true sign of self-confidence
– Many times you can answer a question with a question to gain further knowledge

Mistake #8: Failing to have questions – always have a collection of deep, thought-provoking questions.

– Base some on research of the job and / or university
– Bring solutions, not problems in your questions
– Many can diagnose problems, few know how to treat them correctly
– On a high-level, ask for feedback
– “Do you feel comfortable with my response?”
– “Did that answer your question?”
– It’s fair to ask about next steps in the interview process

Mistake #9: Failing to follow up – Understand there is a fine line between enthusiastic and desperate therefore be professional.

– Always follow with a hand-written letter. In today’s electronic world a letter stands out
– Take time to think through what you want to say
– Always repeat something that was said during the interview as this confirms that you were listening
– Never send the same letter to multiple people

Mistake #10: Not understanding your background and references – your “family tree” can help or hurt your professional advancement. Understand where you’ve been and who can help.

– Do your homework / research abut athletic families
– Where did President and AD previously work? Do they have connections and / or relationships with your references?

Interviews can be handled and managed in many different ways, but regardless of the process you must be prepared in all phases to “pass” the test. Ultimately, you are judged on your past results and ability to articulate them, but most importantly, you must be able to differentiate yourself among a crowded pack. Understanding the 10 areas mentioned in this article is a terrific start for successful advancement.

Here’s wishing everyone much success as they look to advance in their career!

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