Hey, Coach – I’ve Got Some Interview Tips for You

By | Culture, Interviewing, Job Hunt | One Comment

What’s been monopolizing my time lately?  Two things… phone interviews and football.  First, DAXKO’s been on a crazy busy hiring streak the past couple of months.  I’ve been burning up the phone lines talking to some very interested and interesting job candidates.  Second, it’s football season and I’m married to a fan of the sport – a big fan.  If I want to watch TV when I get home, I should be prepared to watch football.  (And truth be told, I’m okay with that.)

Earlier this week, these two “pastimes” intersected as I began thinking about the interview process for coaches – specifically college football coaches.  With the recent “release” of Memphis head coach, Tommy West, and rumors of more college coaching spots to open up at the end of this season, I wondered how the initial contact between universities and coaching candidates plays out.

My guess is there’s an initial call – a phone interview of sorts. Sure… it’s not exactly like the phone interviews I’ve been tackling lately, but there’s got to be some similarities, right?  If so, I’ve got some advice to offer these coaching hopefuls – based, of course, off the recent experience (good, bad and really ugly) of yours truly – plus some lessons from their peers in the coaching world.  For all you other job seekers out there – those not looking to occupy the hot seat that is college football coaching – I think there are some nuggets here for you as well…

  1. Be honest. Take a page from OK State Coach Mike Gundy’s playbook and get your facts straight – tell the truth about employment gaps, why you really left that last gig, and how much bank it’s going to take for you to move. If you remain in the process long enough, the truth will eventually come out.  And trust me… it’s better if it comes from you and from the start.
  2. Steer clear of the slang. In recent weeks, I’ve talked to some candidates with good experience that I simply could not pass on to the hiring manager – especially for customer-facing roles. Keep the “youse guys,” “super,” and “awesome” to a minimum. And, Coach, no swearing please. Talk like the educated professional that you are, and save the casual lingo for your buddies.
  3. Scale back the D-FENCE. Football teams should put up a strong defensive front – not you. Don’t respond to uncomfortable questions in the same way as say… Alabama head coach Nick Saban handles inquiring reporters.  It’s the interviewer’s job to ask the difficult questions. For tips on how to respond to those questions, see #1.
  4. Convince me you want to work… hard. Nothing makes me question your work ethic more than phrases like “I just want to make sure this is an 8 to 5 job” and “I make it a point to leave work at work.” It’s okay to ask about the expectations of the position, but don’t approach the opportunity expecting a cushy job.  If you do, expect a reaction similar to Buffalo’s Dan Hawkins on what it takes to play Division I football.
  5. Accept that you can’t win them all. If, at the end of the call, the interviewer tells you that you don’t have the necessary skills, don’t argue – don’t tell them you’re a quick study or rattle off a laundry list of other traits in hopes they’ll outweigh the gap.  Yes, for many jobs, individuals can be trained and learn new skills.  However, there are some jobs that require a very specific skill set with a certain amount of experience.  No amount of begging or talking yourself up will change that.  Accept it and move on.  If you’re bringing your A game, you’ll ask if there are other jobs that are more suited to your skill set.