Sports Jobs Q & A: What to Expect on a Sports Job Interview

sports jobs q&A sports job interview technqies
Your barrier to entry into the sports industry: The Job Interview
My first job interview after college came completely out of the blue.

I had sent out countless resumes, and since I was supremely confident a new job was right around the corner I remained living in my college rental house (or dump as I remember it)...why move home if I was about to move on?

Two months into my fruitless job search, I packed up and headed home. Man was I down. I never had any doubt about finding a job; I had done some great internships, I felt I had real skills that translated to the workforce...but nothing.

I was home for two days, had just unpacked the assortment of ripped trash bags that held all of my life's possessions - and I got a call from CNN Sports.

Seven days after that initial phone interview, I was packing up my gear again and driving down to Atlanta, sight unseen, no place to live, I could barely even tell you what I was going to be paid, I said yes to the offer before they were even finished talking.

Getting that first sports job is one of the most exciting parts of your career - and that is where this weeks Sports Jobs Q&A takes us.

The Q:

Hello Mr. Clapp: I have an interview scheduled  with [prominent sports network] for a broadcast associate position. I will be graduating from college the following day (Go Terps) and feel like this would be an awesome opportunity in terms of this position potentially being my first job out of school.

I was hoping you'd be able to provide me with some advice regarding what to expect in the interview and if there's anything specifically I need to focus on in my preparation. Thank you for the help and I look forward to hearing back from you.

The A:

Hey Scott - thanks for reaching out and congratulations on getting the interview!

You are right, this is an incredible opportunity for you, if (when) you get the offer take it, don't fret over money, vacation, hours or anything else - TAKE IT. This is the kind of building block opportunity that will lead to great things. People get picky on their first job, and I think that is a bad move. Every CEO, Manager or Director I have ever worked with started out small....really small.

My first job at CNN Sports paid me next to nothing, worked me to the grind and it was undoubtedly the best time of my working life and set me up for every success I have ever had.

Now on to your interview question:

1:  Expect a sports quiz: You will be quizzed on your sports knowledge, employers need to be sure you know what you are talking about. The first few questions will be easy, but they will get harder. Don't worry if you get a few wrong, its no about perfection, sometimes it's about being close. In a phone interview you have a unique opportunity to explain your thinking and in a way, get partial credit.

sports jobs q&A job sports quiz the catch
When you take a sports quiz, if you can't remember the exact answer talk about the event in question. Showing some knowledge is better than saying "I have no clue". (Photo Courtesy: NFL/49ers)
Here's what I mean:

If they ask you,"who did Joe Montana throw "The Catch" to?" and you draw a blank, you could say "I know it was against the Cowboys and it was the tight end and I can picture him coming up out of nowhere to snag it, but I can't remember his name."

You forgot it was Dwight Clark, but with that answer you showed you know something about it ...rather than just saying " I have no clue". When you get a question, if you don't know the answer, be ready to talk about it. (If it's a written quiz, we'll that's a little harder to pull off - maybe you could do some sketch artist work on the page)

I was never big on giving people math problems like calculating ERA, but if you read the job description and the job has a component of research to it, you better know the basic calculations. You don't need to know how to calculate Wins Above Replacement, but fundamental stats should be in your repertoire.

2: Be ready to prove your skills, how you learned them and how you have used them:  What can you do...can you edit video? Be prepared to talk about systems like Final Cut Pro or Avid.  Can you shoot video? be ready to talk about panasonic p2 cameras and where you have used them. Can you write? be ready to explain a story you composed while in college and where it aired.

3: Think about process: I always liked to give someone a fake assignment - I'd say something like "Ken Griffey Jr. is coming to town tomorrow, we are going to interview him live on set, I need you to write and produce a profile piece on him to lead into the interview - what do you do first?"

There isn't always a right answer, I just wanted to see how people think about the story-telling and visual creation process.

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4: Finally there are going to want to see that you are a cultural fit - a newsroom is a great place to be, but a bad apple can really ruin the environment. Be excited, but controlled, show passion but don't beg or seem desperate, and smile and make eye contact with everyone - security guards, front desk people etc.

Trust me, the people interviewing you will notice how to treat people and the vibe you give off.

For more details check out this article I wrote a few months back on our blog:

And let us know how it goes!

If you have a question for our Sports Jobs Q&A column, add it to the comments below! We pick the best and respond in great detail
By Brian Clapp | March 14, 2016
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