Preparing for a Sports Job Interview - Work in Sports Podcast e14

By Brian Clapp | November 06, 2017

Preparing for a Sports Job Interview - Monday QA Session on the Work in Sports Podcast

Hi I’m Brian Clapp, Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports Podcast – Monday QA Session.

This is the second week of going to two podcast a week and to be honest, I already want to go to three a week.Your Sports Career Questions Answered

Your feedback has been awesome – many of you have emailed me or messaged me on LinkedIn with great questions and comments.

I’m thrilled we are providing you something you need and want. Keep the questions and comments coming – email me bclapp @ or hit me up on LinkedIn – which is my preferred platform for business talk.

This week we have a bit of a theme – we had a flood of questions on interviewing for sports jobs so I’m going to pick one and dig into it – I’m sure we’ll handle more interview questions in future podcasts

This week's question comes in from Zach from Evansville, Indiana –

Zach asks:

Hi Brian, I’m a recent college graduate, having finished up my last few credits over summer -- I have been sending out resumes and tracking job opportunities on (thank you for your membership Zach) – I have my first interview next week and I am very nervous. Can you help me with some idea of what to expect?

Zach this is a very broad question – I can’t tell you exactly what to expect from an individual interview, but I can give you patterns, or concepts that will apply directly and I think will help settle your nerves.

The Sports Assignment

First off: Expect an on the spot assignment. Almost every employer I talk to says they want to find out how quickly and comprehensively a candidate can think. In order to do this – they throw a task at them. A real meaningful task.

If you want to work in sports marketing they may say something like – Imagine we’ve been contracted by Oklahoma to do a Heisman campaign for Baker Mayfield – how would you attack this problem?

You’d be expected to have a plan for social media, traditional media outreach, marketing materials, possibly a slogan or tagline,  who your audience is and more.

Here’s the thing – they aren’t looking for you to nail the entire thing perfectly, they are looking for is how confident are you, how decisive are you, how creative are you, how enthusiastic are you?

They are looking at both your hard and soft skills – do you have the tactical and strategic skills to know what goes into a marketing campaign like this… and do you also have the characteristics of someone who can thrive in this industry.

This can apply for any segment of the sports industry – if you want to work in analytics, or sales, media, or coaching – expect to have a business problem thrown at you that you’’ll have to solve creatively.

My suggestion – do it with enthusiasm, speak with confidence and conviction – this is your moment to shine. When a pitcher has to make a pitch with a game on the line, they rely on their training their practice, their comfort --- this is where you rely on your training – if you are qualified, you know this stuff, now’s just the time to execute.

The Sports Quiz

Next: Don’t be surprised by the sports quiz – if you are applying for jobs that really require sports knowledge, or are related directly to a specific team, expect to be quizzed on your knowledge.

I spoke to Colleen Scoles, Talent Acquisition Manager for the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks back on the podcast and one of the key things she said is “we want people who are fans of the Eagles and passionate about our team”. She did not mention that they are all aboard the WentzWagon but she could have.

The point is, how will an employer know if you have the passiona or knowledge about their team…or if you are going into the sports media, a wide breadth of knowledge on sports. They quiz you.

If you are going in for an interview with a specific team, bone up on their history.

If you are going into a interview for a sports analytics job, you better know how to execute certain formulas

If you are going into a job interview at ESPN, you better know recent events…and past events… and well, everything. Their sports quiz is legendary.

Soft Skills for Sports Jobs

Finally – Don’t underestimate the importance of eye contact and attitude.

Getting hired in sports is about the skills you have to do the job, but it is also incredibly important that you have the rest of the equation and by that I mean, confidence, work ethic, enthusiasm.

Amber Cox VP of the Connecticut Sun told me that she looks for people with sparkle – that’s energy and enthusiasm.

Josh Rawitch Sr. VP of Content and Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks told me in a yet to be released podcast interview, that he looks for people with unparalleled work ethic.

Carl Manteau, SR Director of Group Sales with the Milwaukee Bucks told me that he looks for people with a willingness to learn and a determination to succeed.

None of them said “I need someone who understands a revenue worksheet, or a non linear editing system, or a CRM system” If you made it to the interview phase, they pretty much know you have the skills and checked off the boxes for the job requirements…now they are trying to determine if you have “It”.

Each employer sees “it” differently but it’s basically that inherent ability to get the job done, to stand strong under pressure, to make the people around you better, to make decisive choices, to work late when it is necessary without whining…all these things go into a cauldron and come out with “it”

And that is the person who gets hired.

I hope that helps you Zach – I think I need a breather, got a little fired up there.

Coming up on Wednesdays’ podcast – Jesse Cole Owner of the Savannah Bananas baseball team – this might be the most entertaining and informative podcast we have ever done. Jesse comes at things differently than most, which I think is very inspiring – plan to listen on Wednesday you will love this story.

Talk to you then…

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