Ace Performance-Based Interview Questions by Telling Stories

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

How a person is perceived during an interview is one of the most important aspects in getting the job.  This includes how you answer interview questions.  The answers you recite need to be practiced so they become smooth and fluent.   One of the best ways to effectively answer a performance-based interview question is by telling a story.  This story might describe how you handled a problem or it could be a situation in which you excelled.  But make sure you practice telling the stories prior to entering the interview.

People enjoy hearing stories and examples.  A good rule of thumb is that a person should have five success stories they can tell during their interview session.  One of the most effective methods for telling a story is following the PAR format that Arlene Hirsch outlined in a recent article entitled Ace Behavioral Interviews By Telling Powerful Stories.  She shared that the PAR format of story telling includes describing:

1.   The Problem or situation

2.   The Action you took

3.   The Result that was attained

A person will want to start their story by describing the problem or situation that they faced, followed by describing the action that they chose, and concluding by describing the results that were achieved.  Too often, people jump right into the actions they took without completely detailing the problem or situation.  Hirsch believes that a person should spend as much time describing the problem as they do in telling the actions they performed.  Also, many people get so wrapped up in describing their actions they forget to adequately describe the results.

In telling a story, be sure to utilize all three parts – describe the problem, communicate the actions that you took, and share the results.  Since this is a job interview, make sure that the stories you tell have a positive message, and that you communicate your stories with energy, enthusiasm and confidence.  You should have a cheat sheet (notes) with you that outlines the story with bullet points.  These bullets should provide you with the main points of the story.  You will want to practice these stories until they become smooth and fluent.  The purpose of the bullet points is to help you remember the main pieces of the story, so a quick glance at a cheat sheet can keep you on track.

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 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition  at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com, and his most recent book, Execute for Success at http://www.Execute4Success.com.

Creating a Job Search Campaign

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Marcia is passionate about sports, and her goal is to work in marketing and event management for a college athletic department.  She has just completed her master’s degree in Sports Management and is struggling to find a job.  Recently, she read a book on career development within the sports industry.  The book suggested that one of the techniques she should utilize is to create and conduct a job search campaign.

Intrigued by the thought of a job search campaign, Marcia wanted to explore this concept in greater detail.  What she found is that a job search campaign is an organized method for finding a job.  It is a focused approach that is designed to help you promote yourself to the organizations within the industry.  She also found that there are five stages that comprise the typical campaign.  These include:

  1. Identifying the objective(s) of the campaign
  2. Identifying the organizations that will be included in your campaign (this is your target market)
  3. Identifying which promotional techniques you will use to contact people within your target market
  4. Deciding which promotional materials you will use to make contact, and
  5. Deciding how you will monitor and evaluate your campaign

Following the first step in the job search campaign, Marcia identified her campaign objective as wanting to promote herself for a job in sports marketing and event management within an NCAA Division I institution in the Midwest.  A second objective was to promote herself for a similar position to schools below the Division I level that were also located in the Midwest.

With this in mind, Marcia compiled a list of all of the marketing directors who were employed within Division I athletic departments within a six state region.  This is the second step in the campaign.  She would go on to complete a similar list of the athletic directors at all NCAA Division II and III institutions within this same six state region.  These institutions would be the target market for her search and would be the focus of her campaign.

The third step of the campaign would have Marcia identify how she would contact the people within her target market.  She decided that she wanted to brand herself as an expert in sports marketing within the Midwest and began to follow the advice from the blog – Who Are You?:  Seven Techniques For Improving Your Brand Image.  She also set a goal to make personal contact with each of the marketing directors and athletic directors who were on her lists.  Since she was on a limited budget, she began slowly by making contact with the people who were located within a 100-mile radius of her home.  She sent an email to each of these people and asked if she could arrange an informational interview with each director.  Within the next three weeks, Marcia was able to visit with seven of these people.

During her meetings Marcia presented a resume and a personally tailored cover letter.  She had a great sales pitch, and asked if she could assist them with game management.  Presenting these types of promotional items comprise the fourth step of the job search campaign.  In the fifth step of the process, Marcia was extremely organized and it showed as she created a form that allowed her to track who she has contacted, when she contacted them, and what she provided to each director.  This detail would be extremely beneficial as she is able to personalize all of her communications.

Marcia’s organization and efforts are beginning to pay off.  While she is still following her branding plan, and her plan to contact each person within her campaign, she has recently accepted a part-time position helping in game management within an athletic department at a local college.  This will help her to build her resume while she continues to follow her job search campaign.  It’s only a matter of time until she receives a full-time position, but in the meantime, she will continue to follow her campaign plan.

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.

Preparing For Your Skype Interview

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Albert was both excited and nervous as he hung up the telephone.  After several weeks of waiting, Albert just received word that he had made the “short list” and would interview for the athletic director’s position at a small college in Tennessee.  He was excited because this is a job that he really wanted, but nervous because his initial interview was via Skype.  Albert had never used Skype before and he knew that if he was going to make a great first impression, he needed to be prepared so he could ace this type of interview.  The first thing that Albert did was to contact a friend who uses Skype and asked for some help and advice.

As Albert was preparing for his interview and learning more about the Skype process, he concluded that in order to have an effective Skype interview, he needed to concern himself with four broad areas:

  • Computer related issues
  • The physical setting
  • Practice and preparation
  • The interview

Albert knew that in order to have a quality interview a person needed to have the proper computer equipment and software.  This included having a relatively new computer (within the last five years) with a webcam, a microphone, and speakers.  They would also need access to a broadband Internet connection and have a Skype account.

He found that when setting the location and atmosphere for the interview, a person should select a place where they won’t be interrupted or distracted.  Quite often, a home office is best because it has a professional look and feel.  If added lighting is needed, a person will want to set up a table lamp about four feet behind the computer.  And to make sure that the setting looks professional, both the desk and surrounding background must be clutter free.

Once the computer equipment and software are coordinated, and the interview setting has been established, you will now need to practice using Skype and all of the computer settings.  Prior to the actual interview, you will want to practice calling and receiving Skype calls, and practice answering the interview questions.  To make sure you look good on the video, you will want to sit back a little further from the screen and make sure that your face and shoulders appear in the video screen.

During the actual interview, a person will want to have their cell phone close by and ready in case the Internet connection is lost.  Make sure you have the cell number of the interviewers in case this happens.  But also make sure your cell phone is turned off during the interview. Other items you will want to consider during the interview session is to have your computer plugged into an electrical outlet so the battery doesn’t die, dress in a professional manner, keep other computer programs closed so the computer doesn’t slow down, and as you interact with the search committee look into the camara and not at the computer screen.

To prepare the room for your interview, you might want to display your resume, sales pitch, and answers to interview questions behind the computer so you can glance and refer to this information without looking awkward to those who are viewing on the other end of the video (similar to the television news anchors).  In the end, Albert was very well prepared for his Skype interview and he was invited to an on-campus interview.  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.

Who Are You?

Seven Techniques For Improving Your Brand Image

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

When it comes to promoting yourself for a job, there are two basic methods that have proven most effective.  These are: creating brand awareness and making connections within the industry.  Brand awareness is the extent to which people within the industry recognize you.  Making connections is also known as “networking”.  These two promotional techniques are closely related and are both necessary steps for getting hired and advancing within the sports profession.

Brand awareness is an important technique for proper promotion, but it is only as good as your brand image.  A brand image is how people within the industry view you.  If you have a positive brand image and are well known and liked, you will have a much easier time getting hired.  However, if your brand image is tarnished, you will need to overcome these challenges in order for employers to trust in you and want to hire you.

In developing your image, you will want to brand yourself as a competent worker, a hard worker, and an expert.  There are seven techniques that you can use that will help to build your brand image.  These include:

  • Specializing – Becoming an expert in one segment of the industry.  In the college sports industry you could specialize in an area such as marketing, fund raising, compliance, etc.
  • Personal Branding Statement – Your personal branding statement will help you to focus on the steps you should take to effectively create your brand.
  • Join A Professional Association – Being active in a professional association will help you to be exposed to the best practices within the industry, and to meet the other experts within the profession.
  • Be Aware Of Your Image – Your image is shaped by your activities, actions and behaviors.
  • Writing and Publishing – Through writing and publishing, you will become recognized as an industry leader.
  • Public Speaking – As a public speaker you will become known as an expert in your profession
  • Conference/Regional Events – By working at conference or regional events, such as an NCAA Tournament, you will be seen as a leader in the industry and you will meet other industry leaders.

Your image and how others within the industry view you is so vitally important.  Review each of these techniques and see how they can be included in your activities as you continue to grow in your profession.  These are the seven brand image techniques that you will want to pursue in striving to be the best in your industry.

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.