Phone Interviews Masterclass – Work In Sports podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

Hey everybody — it was a stressful week last week, so I completely understand if you didn’t yet listen to our Wednesday podcast with Joan Lynch from WorkingNation — but you have to go back and listen to it. 

We are highly focused on the future of employment, the trends, the ideas, the analysis — Joan is incredible, she was a VP and Executive producer at ESPN, instrumental in the 30 for 30 series and over the last few years has been more focused on the data and content behind employment. 

She is awesome. Make sure you listen. 

Alright — before our question this week on phone interviews, let’s get into the stat line…

Three data points helping you understand the health of today’s sports employment market

#1 Total number of sports jobs on WorkInSports.com the leading job board for the sports industry since 1999…. 17,285.

Now, this number has been flat since right around the 12th of October — meaning we’ve been hovering around 17,100-17,400 active jobs for the last month.

#2 We added 1,792 new jobs during the past week.. Again, week over week flat.

And #3 — that is an average of 256 new sports jobs added to our job board every day of the week.

Before you let this worry you, the fact numbers are flat, that growth has stopped and we aren’t picking up new jobs, this is all very easily explained by seasonality. In fact, I will warn you, these numbers will likely decrease for the coming weeks, only to rebound in January. 

Think about it logically — do you want to be hiring someone new at your organization as you approach thanksgiving break, holiday distractions et all? It’s hard enough to integrate new staff remotely, now do it during the holidays.

The bottom line, don’t panic over the active job number. Keep up your job-seeking activities and be prepared for all that might come your way.

Ok, three cool jobs I found this week. Shout out to the University of Missouri Saint Louis students I spoke with last week — I heard from their professor, Dr. Karen Boleska, that they really like this segment, and I hope you do too…

Job #1 — Social and Community Manager for St Louis FC – if you didn’t know, St Louis FC will be the 28th team added to MLS and is majority female-owned, and female-led. Pretty cool.

Now, why do I love this job — first off, the idea of being the one to set and develop the social media and community strategy for a new team and organization, is so, so, so intriguing.

Secondarily — their job description, and I’ll link to it in the show notes, is a perfect example of why I tell you all to make a list of the skills that are in demand, see how you stack up, and then adjust your decision. So, if you are one of the UMSL students I spoke to last week — take a look at this job, understand what skills they are demanding and make a plan for yourself to acquire these skills.

That’s how you stay market relevant.

Job #2 –   Video Coordinator – Milwaukee Herd the g-league team for the Milwaukee Bucks — look, I love game video. My wife jokes that she could sit in a room analyzing spreadsheets all day long, and I say, I could do the same with game film. If you are into coaching or scouting, OR even the other direction, content, and analysis — working in the video room for a team is a great place to start and learn.

Job #3 — Email Marketing Coordinator – Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment — the owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils – I bring up this job for a couple of reasons. 

1: People tell me all the time they want to work in sports marketing — and if you are one of those people, marketing is a very broad term so consider learning some specifics. Email marketing is a specific aspect of sports marketing and has different requirements and knowledge than other roles. 

2: You can work in a really cool sports organization without being a coach or scout or broadcaster or agent — there are literally thousands of jobs in sports that are business-related. This is a great example — email marketing for a top sports team. 

That is the Stat Line!

Alright – let’s get into today’s question…

Joy from Pennsylvania writes in… 

“Hi, Brian you and others have been very focused on providing information on how to handle a video interview since that is all the rage right now with our ongoing pandemic. BUT, the old stand by phone interview is still very popular, in fact, I have one coming up n a few days – yay!

Any last minute advice you can give me to handle a phone interview?

Great point Joy.

We have been so highly focused on video interviews, but the phone interview is still the first step more often than not. 

Let’s go through the WHY first, then we’ll get into the tactical and strategic advice.

So how does this work? 

  • walk through my example of Fox Sports Northwest hiring.
  • Phone interview with the top 30 – I’m not going to video call or bring in face to face. A phone interview is the first step.
  • What do I know at this point — I know you have the right skill profile. It’s just a profile, based on what you have told me about you. But I feel pretty confident you have the skills for the job.

What is my goal for the phone interview?

  • I’m trying to find out if this person has the cultural fit, will be a good listener, open to learning, has some competitiveness, and is ready to grow.
  • I want the person on the other side to become something more than a piece of paper. I want to learn about them, like really about them. 
  • Test their skills, is it just on paper, or are they real?
  • Do I connect with this person?

Your approach

  • Study yourself beforehand. Know your accomplishments and achievements in each role you’ve had. Not everything you did — the big rocks, the moments you are most proud of, the organization changing accomplishments. You need to be ready with work-related examples for all of their questions — study yourself! 
  • Don’t assume you have to sell them on you in an over the top fashion. Answer their questions. Focus on what they want to know. Don’t go on and on about your fit and why you are perfect for the role and that you are excited and passionate and blah blah blah.
  • Let the interviewer lead. 
  • Be a good listener
  • Show enthusiasm and excitement, but don’t dominate the call
  • Speak clearly, at a solid pace. When I get excited I talk fast. YOu may too. Slow down. Enunciate. Also recognize that there can be a slight delay in phone connections, so don’t be quick to jump, pause a beat to make sure they are done before speaking. 
  • Here is nothing I hate more than someone stepping on my words when i am still talking. That’s not enthusiasm, that’s being a poor listener. 

The toughest question

  • There is a really good chance they’ll ask you about salary requirements. I personally hate this question as an interviewee but love it as an interviewer. 
  • Have a range, based on research and make it kind of wide. 
  • When someone tells you “hey we want you for a phone interview are you available in two days?” you have two days to do market research — what does the job typically pay? How does the cost of living compare to where you currently are? How much is an apartment etc? 
  • This was a huge difference for me going to college where I paid $200/month for a crappy house on East Cleveland Avenue in Newark Delaware for a house with 4 other dudes… to moving to Atlanta. Know the costs, so you can calculate the salary range
  • Make the range wide — like a $10,000 range. Between 25-35k. Or 28-38k. That doesn’t box you in on the high or low side. 

Follow up Questions you should ask

This is one of the most important parts of the interview. This is where I find out if someone is a thinker and a listener.

  1. If this is the person who you would work for and not an HR person –ask how they came to work for the company and what they enjoy most about it?
  2. Again – if it’s the person you would be working for — how does this role contribute to your success and what would the ideal candidate do ensure successful collaboration?
  3. If there was one particular skill you would deem most important for this role – what would it be?

Just a few examples, but you get the gist of things. Focus on them and their needs for this role — not how much vacation you get. Not what your career path would be. How you can be the best match for this role.

If you do these things — get ready for the next step in the process.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

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