So many both in sports and striving to get into sports have contacted me concerning the ‘why’ as to not getting that next position. I have found many teams interview people who aren’t what they are looking for, only to waste everyone’s time. I’ve also found many people applying for positions they really don’t fit…it does work both ways. The big question is: how can we improve so our chances are better? And unless you tell me, how will I know what it is I need to improve?
I have had the honor of meeting some phenomenal people. They interview. Sometimes they interview a second time. Someone is chosen. And crickets. They don’t know if chosen or not, and take weeks tracking someone down for a response. (I’ve experienced sports teams who take up to 3 months to make a decision!) After going through an interview process, especially in person, there should be a follow-up on our part as to letting them know why they were not chosen and what areas are needed to grow that the other person did have. At the very least, there should be follow-up explaining they did not get the position. Sounds like too much and we shouldn’t?
Our job, as leaders, isn’t to sell more than our staff. Our job as leaders is to coach and grow our staff to hit the levels needed. We need to put our time and energy into our people…that is what leadership is. If we are doing that, then we should be doing a service to the people we don’t hire from an interview to help them know what areas they can improve on so they will be a candidate for someone. Letting them continue to interview with teams is a disservice to them and quite frankly to the many teams they interview with.
In asking teams why they chose one candidate over the others, here are some answers I received:
Too enamored with getting into sports; not enamored enough with the job. It’s great to have enthusiasm, but helpful if it is geared toward the job at hand and not the product on the field/court.
Underenthused/overenthused. We need even keel. Some people you may be talking to just had a tragedy or a sadness…too much or too little enthusiasm can make a person uncomfortable. Even keel is supportive.
Overconfident. This one is a fine line. Confidence is important, but overconfidence is a turn-off. One team told me the candidate they were interviewing and had liked actually rolled their eyes when he heard the goal and said they would knock everyone else out of the running as it was ridiculously low. Um…you just told that supervisor that he/she was stupid in setting those goals. I’ve also heard that some, in their first managerial role, wanted moving compensation, food expense for clients, and be in executive team meetings. Oops…we aren’t the VP or President yet. Baby steps.
This is the next step in my career. This seems to be a turn off with a number of teams, as it says you have steps lined up pretty solidly, so they don’t anticipate you being around for long. One chose the candidate who said that it was a great opportunity at this point in his career and he would like to be given this opportunity. A matter of how you say things also gives insight as to how you will say them to your staff.
Negative comments. When talking about your current/past job, speaking negatively about the organization, staff or leadership was an immediate turnoff to teams. Instead, WHY weren’t you a good fit there? What is the interviewing team looking for that you have? Maybe they want creativity and you were a little too creative for the last organization who preferred to run a more traditional sales method.
I’ll do anything to get my foot in. This goes back to ‘we’re not asking you to do anything…we’re interviewing you to do SOMEthing specific…tell me why you are a good fit specifically for this role.’ If it’s a sales role, and you’ve been working retail, spin it that way. “I’ve been working at xyz and xyz so I could continue interacting with the public and learning to overcome objections and recommending certain products.”
Not researching enough ahead of time to a) let us know how they can best help us with the strengths they have and b) really know what the position is…haven’t really researched it enough. This wastes everyone time. You may have a great resume but be ready to discuss specifics of the position and how you feel you can best bring it to the table. You want a sales job but haven’t sold for a team yet? What are your attributes? Are you good at influencing people? Give examples. Are you good at recommending? Give examples.
Now let’s talk to the leaders. If you have done in person interviews or narrowed it down to 3 or 5 and interviewed, my personal thought is that we owe a personal call to each to explain that someone has been hired. Just like your coaching 1:1’s where I hope you are coaching and not just asking about pipelines, focus on one or two things that will help them in the next interview. Perhaps the chosen person was able to converse in a more convincing manner which you wanted in a sales role. Let them know that. That is something they can learn and get better at. Perhaps the person gave more examples of instances that they could show the strengths you were looking for. Let them know that. More examples without drawing it out of them is easier for a customer to understand also. The point is, don’t go crickets and hide behind an email or worse, no call at all. You are a leader…a coach. This is a perfect coaching moment.
And sometimes, just sometimes, the candidate that isn’t perfect on paper is a gem in reality. Don’t forget…so many people have others help them with their resumes so they look good, and have practiced enough to make it through the phone interview. If your gut feeling tells you this person has an intriguing background that you could coach, give them a shot at least at interviewing. Some of my best hires from personal business as well as sports were not the ‘typical’ sports resume, but rather genuine people who knew how to deal and work with the public. I can teach and coach them in the other areas.
Feel free to share your experiences as leaders as to why you chose one candidate over another. Help us all continue to grow!
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
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