Last year, Forbes released an article which provided invaluable insight into the minds of hiring managers. As athletes seeking jobs or fine-tuning your interview processes for the next time you are looking for a job, this article should be bookmarked as a reminder every single time you are doing interview prep.
One of the most staggering statistics from the article stated, “While the average interview lasts roughly 40 minutes, 33% of hiring managers admit they know within 90 seconds if you’re the person they want to hire.”
Take a second (hopefully not 90 of them) to let that sink in. Despite the fact you spend 40 minutes on a first interview, probably another 40 on a second interview and another 30 on a third interview, that hiring manager likely knew whether they were going to hire you or not before you said more than “Hi, my name is…thanks for taking the time to meet with me today.”
For an athlete, the outcome of something being determined before the game even starts is likely puzzling—but it makes a lot of sense when you continue reading the article. The author of the original Forbes article identified key aspects of the pre-interview process that are part of their decision in that first 90 seconds, and since we here at NexGoal always have the athlete in mind—we have broken down three of those key aspects a little more for you.
Know Your Audience When You Dress for Success
From the first moment you started thinking about getting a job, someone probably uttered the phrase, “Dress for Success” to you at least 100 times. Dressing for success has always unofficially been tied to business apparel (suit, tie, dress pants, dress shoes, dress, etc.) for men and women interviewing for jobs. And while we will never tell you to not look your best for an interview, sometimes you can be over the top.
As the Forbes article stated, “…overdoing your apparel can come off as trying too hard. In fact, it can actually make you seem insecure – as if you need that fresh off the runway outfit to compensate for something.” Another part of the article continued, “A staggering 70% of hiring managers said they gave candidates the mental axe for being too trendy.”
I know what you are wondering right now, and I am right there with you—how can someone be penalized for looking professional on an interview? Furthermore, what can you do to make sure you do not “get the axe” for looking too good?
The main suggestion I have is do research to see what their team is wearing before you go in. As an athlete, you already know what it is like to dress like the team does. If your teams were anything like ours in high school, that meant dress pants, dress shirt and a tie on gamedays, followed obviously by wearing your uniform for the game. You would not have shown up in a tuxedo on gameday to look different than your team, so you should take that approach now.
If you do not believe the overdressing for an interview myth to be true—I can attest to it.
At a job in the past I wore a full business suit to the interview and walked into a room with two interviewers who were in jeans and button up shirts. When I met with the Executive VP of the company a few moments later, she jokingly stated, “This will be the last time you wear a suit jacket in my building.” Luckily for me, it became a running joke and not a deterrent from getting the job.
Study Your Future Team Like You Would an Opponent
Remember the grueling hours you spent studying film and learning the tendencies of your opponents all those years? Well, it is time to change it up and learn everything you possibly can about your potential future teammates.
According to Forbes, “47% of hiring managers count it against candidates if they don’t show that they did some kind of company research.”
This is not something you have to worry about though, right? As an athlete you know it is important to do research prior to the big game—so at a bare minimum you Googled the company name, read about their business and looked at their Team Member page to learn more. If you have not yet done this, you better do it immediately after you are done reading this article.
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However, your “Company Film Study” does not stop there. Search reviews of the company online to learn what people liked and disliked about working there. Do not let the reviews ultimately shape your view of the company, but find out what others thought about the company. Their good points and bad points are excellent questions for your interview. Glassdoor usually has some pretty good reviews, I suggest starting there.
Finally, take all of this research you have done and formulate pre-written questions to ask during your interview. Being able to ask a hiring manager about the good and the bad of the company shows you care about something more than just the usual “how much will I make and how quickly can I move up” questions they usually receive.
Do Not Forget to Show Hiring Managers Your Confidence
We have all been there before. You are mentally prepared for the big moment, inside your head everything is being done correctly—but the on field product is completely different than your preparation leaving you to wonder, where did things go wrong?
Having all of the mental confidence in the world is great, but if you do not execute that confidence in front of the hiring manager—you will be held back from winning the game. According to Forbes, “38% of hiring managers counted people out of the running that didn’t smile or show any confidence.”
So what does this mean for you as an athlete-candidate for a job? Show them that you are prepared!
From the moment you walk into that interview, smile, make eye-contact and let them know that you are here to win the interview. Okay, do not actually tell them you are there to win the interview—but you understand what I am saying, your non-verbal presentation is just as important as your physical presentation and verbal presentation.
Hiring managers are not looking for the candidate that comes in with questionable confidence. They want the person who comes in and shows they are prepared for the big moment and is not going to shy away from it. You know this moment, you have conquered it thousands of time on the practice field and in games—so do it again at your next job interview.
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