Mastering the Art of the Job Interview - Work in Sports podcast e105

By Brian Clapp | July 30, 2018

Three great questions came in this week on job interviewing, so why not handle all three?!

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast –Brian Clapp Host of the Work in Sports Podcast.

I’m actually combining 3 similar questions into one theme – This week I received three good questions about job interviewing, so let’s handle them all.

1: This question comes in from Alanna in Wheaton, Illinois –

Hi Brian, love the podcast thank you so much for your time and effort,

Can’t wait til the Career Accelerator event, a flight from Chicago to Atlanta is only 1 hour 32 minutes and $110 round trip. Ok I added that part. Alanna didn’t say that, but it does give me a chance to show how cheap it is to fly to atlanta!

OK Ok her question – How much research into the company should I do before hand…I mean they want to know more about me, so isn’t it more important to really nail my story, rather than theirs?

Alanna – it’s a good question but you are coming at it the complete wrong way.

I like to start at the end goal and work my way back in every situation.

In an interview the goal is to get hired, right? To win them over, impress them with your talents and make them feel like you are the right fit for the job.

Ok so that’s the end goal. How do we get there?

Think of a venn diagram, where you are one circle and the company is another circle. You are thinking of this as if the two circles don’t overlap. This is about you, and they are them.

But in reality, the overlap between you and the company is the sweet spot, it is about you together as one, and the only way to show how you two meld is by doing research into the company – tons of it.

You need to be able to tell your story through the lens of the hiring company, -- how your skills align, how their projects line up with your ambitions, how their areas of growth are the direction you want to head.

And the only way you know these things is through research.

You want to know their culture – their brand tone and voice – their clients – their projects – what staff says about working there – the background of the person who would be your boss.

I could keep going but those were just off the top of my head… you can see how each of these things relates to how you may handle a question during the interview.

If their brand voice is dry and technical, maybe that’s the vibe you need to throw in your interview. If they are fun and mercurial, that is your vibe.

If they are working with a minor league baseball team on a branding initiative and you have experience one summer working at a minor league team – you can say something really smart like “ I noticed you are working with team X on their branding – the summer I spent working for team Y really taught me a great deal about the fan base of minor league teams, what they want and what motivates them”

If you did no research you wouldn’t know these things.

So yes, the interview is about you…but not only you. You have to mesh your skills with their brand and direction.

Question 2 comes in from Tony in Stroudsburg, PA – not too far from me actually.

Hi brian – love the podcast, thanks so much for what you do. I find myself to be extremely nervous at the beginning of interviews and I feel it sets the wrong foundation for what is to come and then I’m working from behind and a step slow the rest of the interview – any ideas how to fix this?!

Yes Tony, I have many.

First off – get out of your head. You need to chill bro. Interviews are important, and nerves are expected…meaning you get some grace from the interviewee, but if you let them derail the entire darn interview…sorry you’re cooked.

Quick story – do you want to know what almost every single podcast interview subject has said to me before we get started? I’m kind of nervous.

Why do I bring that up – because even the executives at the top of their game get nervous in interviews…and they have nothing on the line! It’s not like I am going to give them a grade afterwards (Chris Valente Gets an A…if you haven’t listened to his interview you should.)

But what else –

Well, I’d say have an initial plan…make it general, you don’t want it to be too exacting because then if you get thrown off you’ll be out of whack.

But here’s what I would say:

I’m going to make eye contact, smile and extend my hand no matter who I meet and then I’ll take a seat in the chair closest to their desk, remove my notepad from my bag and put my bag beside the chair.

That gets the entire early stuff handled.

Then you can focus.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind – don’t let the snowball get you.

You will answer a question and wish you had a do over. You’ll think darn, I meant to say this other thing! But you can’t go back, you have to go forward. The worst thing you can do is let it snowball and affect the next question they ask. You don’t want to let the bod momentum take hold…put each question behind you and move on to the next with clear thoughts.

Final question – this one comes from Erin in Meridian, Idaho  

Hi Brian I really love the podcast and your private facebook group – I haven’t really spoken up in there yet, but I enjoy reading all the conversations.

Erin – you can be a voyeur as much as you want. That is perfectly acceptable, whatever you need to do to get value out of the group.

Ok, on to her question – I’m currently interviewing for jobs, but I’m still employed with my current employer. I know people are going to ask me… “so why are you leaving your current job?” and I’m not really sure how to answer. Can you help!

Of course I can.

First rule of interviewing – do not bad mouth your current or former employer or your boss.

It makes you look high maintenance, hard to please, tough to manage, and…it’s a small world you may be insulting someone they know.

Quick story – I had this happen in an interview once, the person I was interviewing told me they were leaving their current job because their boss lacked vision and wasn’t a strong communicator, they didn’t think it was possible to thrive in such an environment.

The problem was, I knew their boss…very well. And they are a visionary, and they communicate far better than I do…and they are one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

When I mentioned to the person – Oh, I see you work at [network X] do you know [person x]. (Who I already knew was their boss) They said, they made the whole thing up because they weren’t sure how to answer the question and sound like they were high level and not junior.

I thanked them for their honesty…and told them I’d be in touch, ending the interview after about 10 minutes.

Here’s are a few better approaches-

What you want to say is “I want more money!”

What you should say is “during my time at company X I had the opportunity to learn so much by observing and working with a great team, now I am ready to take the next step forward and put my developed skills to work”

What you want to say is “My boss is a jerk!”

What you should say is “I recognized the leadership of my group was heading in a different direction, and I’m interested in working in a different environment”

What you want to say is “I want a promotion!”

What you should say is “I’m a driven individual and I felt myself becoming too comfortable in my current role, I’m looking for a way to push to the next level.”

What you want to say is “My job sucks.”

What you should say is “It became clear my excitement to join the company I am currently working for was somewhat misguided as the culture and future goals of the company were not what I expected. That’s on me, I should have done more research before signing on, but I hope to work with a company that has exciting plans for the cuture and a transparent, inclusive culture.”

These are just spit balling ideas, but the pattern is simple – you can identify the real problem in your head – my boss sucks for example – but you have to figure out a way to make it a positive, and even take the blame yourself if needed.

I hope these three questions about interview helps you down your path … our next show is Wednesday, with Megan Ebeck, Arena Marketing Manager for the San Jose Sharks – Megan has a really cool job because she conducts various marketing efforts for all the events to come to SAP Arena…which means San Jose Sharks games, plus Gymastic events, Nitro Circus, Katie Perry concerts and more.

Very cool job and she explains how she approaches every audience differently in her marketing objectives… make sure to listen on Wednesday!

Sign In or Register to access all articles and insider tips for help in your job search.

Search for Sports Jobs