Football is a game of preparation, strategy and execution. And guess what? So’s your job search.

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Football is a game of preparation, strategy and execution. You need to know your opponent, create an effective strategy and execute to beat them. There are so many different aspects of the game, and each one is important to be successful.

If you’re looking for a new job, you can learn a lot from the attitude of a winning football team. Because your job interview begins even before its scheduled time, requiring preparation and research.

Here are five football strategies you can use during the interview process:

1. Create a game plan

It’s important to know your opponent before you face them on the field. Create a detailed game plan for your interview. Researching the company, writing out questions to ask and learning more about your interviewer are some of the ways that you can create a comprehensive game plan.

Your game plan will help you in your interview for a number of reasons, the biggest being that it will reduce the chances of you being caught off-guard during the interview.  I like to research the interview process for the specific position and company, often finding some of the specific interview questions that will be asked. Overall, developing your game plan makes you well-prepared for anything the interview process may throw at you.

2. Establish a run game

Establishing the run sets the tone for the rest of the game, just like establishing yourself early sets the tone for the rest of the interview. It’s safe to say that every single interview I’ve ever had has began with some variation of “Tell me a little about yourself.” Perfect! You saw this coming because of the comprehensive game plan you created earlier in the week.

Use this question as an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the interview. You can answer this the standard way, telling the interviewers about your background, where you went to school, what you studied, etc. However, this information is on your resume, and the employer has seen it already. Instead, consider telling them about who you are as a person, how your attitude and personality make you a well-qualified candidate for the position. Establishing the run game will open up options in the later parts of the game.

3. Play good defense

Playing good defense goes hand-in-hand with your game plan. Because you did your research, you’ll come across fewer surprises; this should help you avoid getting caught off-guard.

If you play good defense throughout the interview, you shouldn’t get stumped on any questions and can keep your offense on the field. Not being prepared for your interview and answering questions poorly or vaguely are signs of a bad defense and will hurt your interview overall.

Remember, no defense is perfect, so don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake.

4. Throw some creativity in the mix

Once you’ve established the run and are playing good defense, it doesn’t hurt to try a trick play. Get creative and make yourself stand out. If the opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to tell a funny anecdote or ambitious career goal.

But beware: trick plays can backfire, so if you’re going to get creative, make sure it’s the right call.

5. Air it out

Passing the football is just as important as the run and can lead to some good gains. If you think the interview is not going as well as you would’ve liked, this can also help you make up ground.

What exactly am I talking about? The opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. Have questions in mind to create a dialogue between you and the interviewer and show that you understand the business and are able to grow the business. Always end the interview by prompting the interviewer for how and when they will be in touch.

After you leave the interview, your job isn’t done. The post-game is still a very important part of the interview process. Don’t forget to send a quick thank-you to the interviewer, whether it be through an email or handwritten note.

Also, reflect on how the interview went and think of what you learned from it. Think of what went well and what didn’t and use that to prepare for your next interview. And remember: no football team is perfect, so you might fumble or throw an interception here and there.

But if you use these tips, you’ll have fewer turnovers. The more you practice and prepare, the more successful you’ll be on the interview gridiron.

Joe Hanson, the @TheJobChaser, is a blogging intern with SmartRecruiters, a social hiring platform.


  1. Spark Hire

    This is a great post on the valuable lessons you can learn from football and apply to your interview. Whether your interview is in person or through online video, it’s a good bet these will be useful tips. Just like a football team prepares for the big game, you need to prepare for an important interview by practicing and doing research. This way you’ll be less surprised by curveball questions and better able to show off your personality and skills. Just like your favorite football team, remember that practice makes perfect in an interview setting as well.

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    I met a lawyer who nailed a big time job because he talked with the boss for 30 minutes about college football. Totally agree.

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