Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…
A few weeks back I had a QA session where I handled how you should answer the interview question “What is your biggest weakness”
It’s one of the cliché questions that comes up in just about every job interview ever… and it’s a tough one to answer. I gave you a strategy to attack that question and many of you really liked that discussion.
How do I know? Because that episode had a lot of downloads…and many of you have asked follow up questions about that subject.
So let’s do this again shall we?
This time the question comes in from Mike in Connecticut:
Hi Brian, Love the podcast I’ve learned so much from listening to you. You guys should really make t-shirts, I would definitely wear one around town. Anyway, my question, there are two questions I’ve really been struggling with during the interview process, and they seem to be common so I want to strengthen my approach.
1: Where do you want to be in five years?
2: Why should we hire you?
Can you help me with a strategy on these questions?
Mike this is good stuff – and yes we are working on some t-shirt designs. The hope is to give them out to people who ask questions, but also to the expert guests we have on the podcast. And me. I get one too.
In the meantime – I will give you a free month to workinsports.com, where as of right now we have 7378 sports jobs, and nearly 500 internships. Looking real quick – here is a marketing coordinator for a major sports network, game operations intern for an NBA team still in the playoffs that may or may not be my hometown team, and director of event services for one of those crazy course challenges through the mud and over fire pits to test your strength type deals. These guys are growing like crazy.
Anyway, back to your question –
The “where do you want to be in 5 years” question is the equivalent of asking someone at a bar what their sign is. It’s lacking any originality or creativity, but, no offense to the HR people in the audience, so are most of the people that conduct interviews.
Alas, it gets asked all the time – so let’s discuss.
What does the hiring manager want to know with this question? Three things really – do you have ambition? Is it realistic? Does this job match up with your long term goals and planning?
Ambition is so important in hiring, but it’s also a bit of a double-edged sword. Ambition means you’ll take on challenges, you are determined, you’re not adverse to hard work and chance are you are pretty dependable because you understand that all of your efforts now will lead to your big dreams.
On the flip side – ambition can also be a red flag if you have a company without much growth opportunity or something that isn’t aligned with your big goals. So hiring managers are trying to get someone who is ambitious and has plans, but at the same time isn’t going to leave them in the lurch ina few months so they have to start this over again.
Also, they want to know if you are realistic about your goals. Sure it’s great to dream big, but to be starting an entry level sales job and saying in 5 years you want to own the team is a little ridiculous don’t you think? A hiring manager hears this and they think – this person is a little daft, or we’ll never be able to satisfy their wants.
Finally, if someone is applying for a job in the sales department but saying their 5 year goal is to be a football scout, I mean you’re kind of playing your cards a little heavy aren’t you? That may be an over the top example, but you get the idea, they’re trying to see if you line up with their role and their department.
So how do you answer?
Think realistically about 5 years. In a career that isn’t a very long. Looking back, when I first got hired at CNN/Sports Illustrated I was a production assistant…in 5 years I was producing my own shows. If I had said in my interview, in 5 years I want to be producing my own shows, that would have showed a connection to the job I was being offered, been realistic but ambitious, and made them feel I was a good match for this particular opportunity, and the company at large.
If I had said, I want to have my own sports radio show…they might have said, sorry but that’s not what we do and that’s not aligned with our business.
Your goals should be to be forward thinking but aligned with the business you are applying to. A good way to approach it in my estimation if you are entry level is to talk about your eventual desire to manage people and teams in whatever department you are in, because you think you have leadership traits you can continue to develop while adding ideas and strategies that can push the business forward.
So the game plan here – don’t be ridiculous, stay in your lane, and show some desire to grow.
As for your next question – Why should we hire you?
Talk about open ended. This is another one you should prepare for because it is coming your way. But this question, unlike any other, is a huge opportunity because it’s all about you baby!
I think there are different approaches to this question depending where you are in your career, let’s start with entry level.
You need to be assertive, but guard against being cocky, or over-confident. You are here in front of an interviewer or on the phone because they have identified you as a potential match based on your skill profile and experience. You don’t need to rehash every accomplishment, course you’ve taken or club you volunteered for.
You need to sell yourself and why you are different or better than the 5 other people they are talking to today. So how do you do that? By showing in addition to being skilled and having some experience – you are driven. You understand the business at large, you look forward to the challenges of the role and that you are enthusiastic about the culture and the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to tell a story about you and when you got the bug for this work and this industry. Passion sells. Let them see this opportunity matters to you.
When you are later in your career I think a really strong approach is to identify the business problem this role is set up to solve and explain why you can be the one to solve it. Every job opening is available because there is a task that needs doing, a problem that needs solving, so your job is to identify it based on the job description, and tailor your response to show you understand it, and can work immediately toward fixing it.
That gives hiring managers the big tingly.
Alright mike – I think that handles your big questions – coming up Wednesday is my interview with Andrew Howard Communication Manager for the NFL.
Talk to you guys then.