Handling Behavioral Interview Questions - 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…

So quick update before we get into the stat line and this week’s fan question.

Like so many of you I made a resolution this year. A kick off the new year with a new attitude resolution. Well, I’m here to report, I’ve already broken it.

That’s the problem with resolutions, it’s usually something you are very drawn to and therefore difficult to cut cold turkey. Mine, was a reduction in sugar intake...both desserts and alcohol. The desserts part isn’t too hard for me, I’m not a big sweets guy, thankfully, but I do like the wine, the bourbon and the tequila.  



I lasted 16 days… which actually was better than I thought I’d do. Football is just really hard to watch without something wonderful in the palm of your hand. I made it through wildcard weekend drinking lots and lots of tea. 

But two glorious football weekends was too much for my resolve, Aaron Rodgers and I had a little bourbon together, then Tom Brady and I had some red wine. 

I’ve come to the conclusion, resolutions can be kind of silly, especially dramatic ones. Just make incremental positive choices, keep your vices in moderation, and set goals for yourself that are based on accomplishing something positive… and you’ll be better off.

Ok, enough about that -- let’s get into the stat line!

Alright people -- let’s jump into three stats that will help you see exactly what the sports industry employment situation looks like right now -- 

Stat #1

17.783 jobs currently active on WorkInSports.com the number one job board for the sports industry. To put that in context -- that’s a 6.5% jump over last week. We are in the upward trend right now, lots of positive activity in the sport industry, lots of opportunity.

Stat #2 

The first full week of January we added 3,002 new jobs to the job board, and I was pumped -- that is a great sign, January is always a huge month, but I was a little fearful of things being flat. Well, for the second full week of January we beat that number, 3,022 fresh jobs added last week. 

Now this isn’t just a puff out my chest and brag about our job board and product moment - although I am feeling pretty puffed up -- now for real, these stats are too show you what’s happening in the industry. I’m showing you trends and patterns so you can have a more educated knowledge of what is out there for you.

Stat #3 -- 

Every day of the week last week we added 432 new jobs to the job board. Sports specific jobs all across the country - including 1,518 currently in or near Los Angeles California, and 206 in Miami, Florida.  

This is the absolute right time to be a workinsports.com premium member -- we work with over 8,000 sports employers, if you think you can search the job postings of 8,000 sports employers yourself -- good luck. We do the work for you, that’s just one of the huge benefits of our site!

Ok - - next step -- let’s talk cool jobs and internships!

Job #1 -- Have you heard of the O’Fallon Hoots. Nope, neither had I. I was looking on our jobboard and say O’Fallon Hoots and thought, that is a typo. It is not. The O’Fallon Hoots a collegiate summer league baseball team in the United States Prospect League, are hiring a broadcaster and media relations intern. 


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If you are wondering where O’Fallon is, because it sound slike the bad guy in an 80’s movie with Patrick Swayze -- O’Fallon runs this town! Or like the bully in BIlly Madison, O’Fallon rules! Yes, I know it was O’Doyle who rules, but you get the drift. Anyway, O’Fallon is in Missouri. The show me state. 

Ok - why does this opportunity stand out. Well, now is the time to start planning for summer internships, and your internships have to provide real honest to goodness training and opportunity. If you want to be a reporter, host, anchor play by play voice - you need high quality reps. You need experience. You need a demo tape.

This gig - you’ll be part of their multimedia broadcast team and more.

So for all of my students at University of Missouri St Louis, those in dr. Boleska’s class who I spoke with last semester, if anyo fo you are looking at a future in broadcasting you better check this out.

Job #2 -- 

Growth Marketing Associate a Fanduel -- look you may be saying to yourself now, Brian is only highlighting this job because he wants to brag about having FanDuel co-founder Nigel Eccles on last weeks show...and you’d be partly right. BUT, I’m also mentioning it because for all of you sports marketing, sports business focused types -- this is a great gig. You’ll be driving customer acquisition, retention and user value for a massive sports business. The sky is the limit when you get in here. And you should listen to the Nigel Eccles interview if you haven’t. 

Job #3 -- 

And finally -- backcountry.com is looking for a copywriter for product content -- look, sports aren’t just about football and baseball, there are tons of jobs that are outside of the big four, and a site like backcountry is super cool for the outdoors get back to nature type. Which I love. If you are driven by this type of experience, passionate for the outdoor life amongst the environment, get after this one.

And before we wrap up the stat line -- note for everyone -- internships for summer are being posted right now like crazy. Pro team, networks, minor league teams, in marketing, broadcasting, management, paid advertising, I’m seeing them all. Get planning for summer NOW!

OK, that is the stat line…

Before we get into today’s question, which is really great, I just want to whet your appetite for Wednesday -- JOhn Ferguson, VP of People and Culture for Monumental sports and entertainment, that’s the ownership group of the Washington Wizards, Mystic, Capital and more -- will be on the show Wednesday. And he is awesome. 

I wrote out about 15 questions, as i do before every interview… and seriously, I asked John the first one, and then we just got into a great conversation and I never looked at my notes again. We just hit all the important stuff, and John is so inspiring and so smart -- it was really great. 

Ok -- today’s question comes from Neera in Oregon.

“Hi Brian, so I have to confess, I had never really considered doing informational interviews until I heard you discuss them with such vigor and passion. So I decided to give it a go. I connected with a local sports team executive, had a quick 15 minute zoom call, was very prepped with questions, but we got into a good flow and it was awesome. I learned a lot and i think I impressed them as well. 

I will embarrassingly admit, I also had a moment where I faked it a bit. The gentleman said to me “be prepared during any interview you have, to handle behavioral job interview questions” and instead of saying, “What are those?” I said, “of course, that’s really good advice.” 

I ask you now,as my trusted advisor, who I know won’t make me feel stupid, what does he mean by “Behavioral Job interview Questions” and how should I prepare to handle them?”

Neera from Oregon

Neera - I love this. I love your honesty and vulnerability. I will also tell you, I would have done the exact same thing, I would have faked some confidence and then scrambled afterwards to learn what it meant. 

Let’s dive into behavioral job interview questions. 

Behavioral job interview questions are the “tell me about a time” interview questions. They harken you back to a lived experience or challenge. Tell me about a time you overcame a customer objection, tell me about a time you had to juggle priorities and meet an urgent deadline” 

I will tell you, as an interviewer, these are 100% my favorite questions because they unlock the truth about someone’s experience and true knowledge. 

You can hide behind a resume. Anyone can put words on the paper and inflate their knowledge, actions and experiences. Power words, perfect tone, wonderful format -- this person looks great “on paper” Behavioral interview questions get to the truth about your experiences, choices and behavior. 

Your answer to these questions indicates your potential for future success. I love them.

Let’s say I’m interviewing someone for a job in sports tech, and I ask them to “tell me about a time you had to convince a group of superiors your project brief was worth pursuing?”

If you can’t speak articulately and relate a time and walk me through your process where you pushed for a product idea, and backed it up with data and projections, then maybe you aren’t right for this role -- despite the fact your resume said “heavily involved in the product life cycle“ at your previous job.

Behavioral interview questions cut through the BS and put you on the spot. And seriously, an interview is about so many things, but one of them is do you have the real experience and stand up to the pressure. If you can demonstrate through examples that you accomplished a task before, itt is highly likely the interviewer will feel confident you can do it again, and that is a massive win during the interview process.

So what is the goal here? How do you attack these questions with confidence and swagger? 

It’s pretty simple really. 

#1 Stories are the most important part of the interview process, so become a good storyteller and know your history. 

Kind of a two-parter there so I’ll handle both -- look the burden is on you to know your experience and be ready to articulate it. No one is going to pop in and say “remember when you hiit that deadline despite all the computer systems crashing -- tell them that story!”

You have to know yourself, and your experiences really really well. Think about those cornerstone moments of your work life. I like to call them marbles after the movie inside out -- have you seen it? Essentially all of your life’s memories whether happy or joyous or sad or some combination there of, are stored as colored marbles in your memory. 

Well, if you have that visual, of the various core experience of your work life, and you seriously put some time into thinking about what you learned during those key moments, you will be better prepared to recall those moments during your interview. 

As for being a good storyteller -- remember, brevity and impact. You don’t need to ramble on and get super deep in the weeds. Remember a beginning middle and end to your story. 

Beginning -- set the stage, circumstance or challenge. 

Middle - discuss your choices, your course of action, and why you did what you did. 

End - your conclusions, what you learned, and how or if you would handle things differently in the future

2: How do you know what stories to prepare? 

Again pretty logical -- look over the job description and study what they emphasize in the job requirements. Look at the LinkedIn profile of someone at the organization either doing, or has done that job, and see what they emphasize in their personal description.

Challenge yourself to come up with a story or example for every major “want” they have in the kob description, or from the linkedin profile. 

This is part of your research process before you interview for a job - research isn’t just into the company you are interviewing with, it’s also into your fit for the company. 

3: Be specific 

Don’t speak in generalities, hone in on specific experiences that can help the interviewer understand you. 

Tell them specific experiences, not general philosophies, again the idea here is to say “I’ve been in this situation before, here’s how I handled it, here’s how I would handle it moving forward”

4: remember You are being evaluated on your likability and cultural fit at the same time.

If your story accomplishes the task or challenge and gets you to the end line, but you stomped all over other people and blew out the established processes -- that ain’t good. If your story is long and winding and boring, or short and flat and boring, that ain’t good either. 

Have some excitement, show some passion for the tasks and challenges you have faced. Get to the point with vigor, shar some things you learned. Project forward, don’t just look back. Show some growth where you say “in the future I’d think I’d do this specific thing a little differently, but overall the result was solid”

This is a moment to really show your aptitude, and competency, don’t miss out on these moments. They are essential!

They tell the interviewer, this is what I am capable of and will bring to your organization. Plus, I’m still growing and improving, you want in on this Brian Clapp experience. 

Truth is, the way you handle these questions  is often the difference between someone getting the job or not. Be prepared.

By Brian Clapp | January 18, 2021
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