Preparing For Your Interview: Make Sure You Do Your Research

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Interviewing for a job is both an art and a science. Interviewing is a science in that there are definite techniques that a person can use that will give them an advantage in the job search process. It is an art, however, in how you present the techniques. Together, the use of these proper techniques, and how you execute these techniques, will determine how successful you will be in the interview process.

Take Keith for example.  He is a recent graduate from a sports management program and has a job interview scheduled for a position in sports marketing.  As he prepares for the interview, he decides to review the book his sports management class used for orienting the students to the job search process.  In particular, he wanted to know how to properly prepare for the interview.

Keith found a section in the book that suggests that a person should prepare for an interview by completing a form entitled “The Pre-Interview Research Form”.  This form is a worksheet and it is designed to help a person research and uncover important information about the position they are interviewing for, about the organization, and about the search committee.

In completing the worksheet, a person begins by identifying the hiring manager and their contact information. They continue by identifying the members of the search committee and their association with the athletic department.  Once this information is gathered, you will continue by answering, at a minimum, the following questions:

  • Who has influence with the hiring manager?
  • What are some of the issues facing the organization?
  • What are the strengths of the organization?
  • What are the weaknesses?
  • Who will make the hiring decision?
  • What are their concerns about you as a candidate?
  • Do you know anyone who knows people on the committee?
  • Who else are they interviewing?

This information is important in helping you to prepare your answers to the various questions that you will be asked during your interview process.  It will also help you to be able to ask probing questions when you meet with the search committee. The information you gather from these probing questions can then be used during the follow-up phase in an attempt to influence the committee’s hiring decision.

In the end, Keith was extremely organized, wowed the committee, and was offered the job.  He knew exactly what they were looking for in a candidate, and he was prepared to answer the interview questions in a way that showed that he truly understood the challenges that faced the organization.  He also knew when the other candidates were interviewing and adjusted his follow-up correspondence to have the maximum impact and influence.  In other words, Keith did his homework and was extremely organized in his approach.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 8 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

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