8 common questions in sport job interviews and how to answer them

Even though the questions of an interview differ for every sports company, there's a handful which pop up almost every time. Answering them might be easy for some, but hard for others. That's why we're here to help. Whether you just graduated or it has been a while since your last interview - here's advice on how to answer the most common job interview questions.

"Tell me about yourself"

Most of the times, this is one of the first questions the interviewer will ask. Normally, you should recite your resume here , but don't just trot it out completely. The recruiter normally knows your CV and your application and probably even has a duplicate of it in front of him/her. Instead, use this moment as an opportunity to show the milestones that you feel are the most relevant for you and the job. It shows your personal focus and is a great way to highlight your qualities for the position.  

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

Whether you're a person who is planing ahead or prefer being spontaneous and see where life is taking you, your answer should be honest.  You don't need a concrete plan to answer. What they'd like to find out about you is if you're ambitious and possibily a loyal employee, you should also reword the question for yourself to "If you're still in this company, where do you see yourself in 5 years?". It could be something around the lines of: "I like the idea to have proven myself in this company and advanced my career by offering added value through the years."  

"What’s your biggest weakness?"

The most cliché answer we have heard? Probably "I am a perfectionist". It proves that you didn't understand the purpose of this question. It aims to find out the strengths of a person: Whether they're reflective and able to analyze themselves and in conclusion their surroundings. Also, if they're able to solve problems, whether it's their own or work relative. The best way to answer this interview question is to be honest about your weakness. Keep in mind though that it's supposed to be work related - you don't need to share any personal problems. Furthermore, add the way you've been dealing with your weakness in the past, showing that you're able to provide solutions.  

"On a scale from 1 - 10, how would you rate yourself / how proficient are you at xxx?"

Whether it's about yourself or Word, Excel, Photoshop or any software, this tactical interview question comes up in every other interview. We’ll let you in on something of our headhunting experience: The question isn’t really about the skills, but about seeing how well you are able to evaluate yourself. Have you heard about "hiring for attitude"? The response "Clearly a 10!" is probably exaggerated in most cases. There's always room to improve yourself, train and learn new skills, but you can't change a first impression. Be honest about your skill-set, give them a clear insight by going a little into detail of your knowledge (a little is key here). But also admit in which areas you could do better. If you show that you're eager to learn and would be grateful to improve throughout your job, this shows a lot about your work attitude - and recruiters will mark it as a strength.


"Why do you want to work for this company?"

This should be a no-brainer - as long as you want to work at the sports company. It might be hard to answer though when you're not really into the job. In any case, informing yourself beforehand about your future employer is the key to formulate your response. Find out what they value, which features they emphasize on their website and integrate them into your answer. Of course, you can always share your personal interest as well - maybe you have a nostalgic story with the sports brand, love their products or their services - it shows passion.  

“Tell me about a time when...”

Probably the most concrete question - which requires a concrete response. The interviewer wants to find out how you'd react in a special situation. A classic way to answer this, is the so called STAR format:
  • What was the Situation
  • What was your Task
  • Which Action did you take
  • What was the Result
Following these simple rules, you'll be able to keep it work-related and rational.  

"When you have been let go and they ask about it" 

This is actually not a common question and only comes up rarely, but as we know it's one of the hardest to answer, we wanted to integrate it in our post anyway. Whatever reason there was, that you have been let go, there's two rules to follow when answering:
  1. Don't badmouth your former employer
  2. Focus on the positive and the opportunities that came out of it
Emphasize that you're excited for the new opportunity to prove yourself, to pursue a new position that fits you better.  

"Do you have any questions?"

Yes! The answer to this one is always yes. It shows you care, that you're interested in your employer and the job. Possible questions could be:
  • What has someone else in this position done to succeed in their role?
  • Which advancement opportunities has this position in the next years?
  • What indicates success for this company?
  • Could you describe a typical day of this position?
  • Can I contact you if I think of anymore question?

Of course, a job interview it not only about the questions, but also about your body language and your appearance. We also prepared advice for this in our blog How to score in a job interview for a follow-up and the best way to win your interviewer over.

How to score in a job interview

How to behave in a job interview
You got invited to a job interview? Congratulations! Your application convinced the company that you are one of the possible top candidates for the free position. What you need to do now, is giving them your best self in the interview to score the job. In the previous blogs, we already hinted on a checklist on how to prepare for the interview and what to wear to succeed. Now it's time to consider on how to answer and present yourself. We keep it short - these points won’t need any more explication. The interview is the moment to show them what you got. You’ll need to be self-confident and sell yourself as the best possible employee for the job. So, no questions asked - this is how you do it!

The body language

The interview is not only about the things you say, but also the ones you express with your gestures. Needless to say, it's all about showing your self-confidence and openness - two things which are transfered by body language.  That's why:
  • When you enter, smile, search eye contact and greet everyone in the room with a firm handshake
  • All the time, try to hold (natural) eye contact, without starring - if there is more than one interviewer, switch between the different persons without rushing it
  • Same for a slight smile - keep a friendly and self-confident look all the time
  • Control your posture - sit up straight, but not stiff - it's about an open body language
  • Don’t cross your arms before your chest. Better: Keep them relaxed in your lap

How to speak

Similar to your body language, how you answer will tell your interviewer a lot about yourself. Of course, what you say is giving away essential information, but so is the way you speak. It is important to
  • Avoid slang and pause words
  • Speak clearly and in a moderate volume
  • Talk in whole sentences, even when a yes or no questions comes up - the details in your answer will stand out from the ones of your competitors

Your answers to make the best impression

Now we reach the main part of your interview - the content of your answers. Keep in mind that your answers aren't only for impressing your dream employee. It's also your chance to figure out whether the job fits you.  Please, be honest in your answers - if you need to conceal your true thoughts on too many occasions, the job and the company are not the right one for you. Furthermore,
According to Andy Gugenheimer, Headhunter for the Sports Industry and CEO of Sportyjob, your skills and individual performance is what the company wants to see in an interview. Nevertheless, the possibility to integrate individuals in a team is - especially in the sports industry - a very important factor to be hired. Even when you bring amazing skills on your own - if you aren't a team player, you probably won't get a chance to prove yourself. By using "us" and "we" when answerings specific questions about possible projects and tasks, instead of "I", you'll express your will to work in a team.

  • Answer the questions in the best possible way by showing a) the information you collected before about what you know about the company b) the skills, experience and strengths you can bring into the company
  • Don’t push it though - no need to show off, try to be self-confident, but natural
  • Show enthusiasms and passion for the job
  • Avoid asking too much about possible benefits - it’s ok to talk about salary and other labour conditions though, but wait until your interviewers will bring up the topic
  • Avoid talking about your former employer or colleagues in a negative way - they will conclude that you might talk about them the same way
  • Ask the questions you prepared or ones that haven’t been answered by the interview
  • At the end, thank the interviewers for their time and tell them you’re interested in the job - the interview is meant for both sides to figure out if the job fits, so be open about your conclusion

The Job Interview Preparation checklist

How to prepare for a job interview
After sending out several applications for sport jobs or even just one for your dream career, you finally hear back! A moment of pure joy and happiness - until your eyes stop on the set date for your interview. You can already feel a slight pull in your stomach just thinking about it. Most of us are completely stressed out by the thought of a job interview - being put on a test to prove we are the right ones for the position. But more self-confidence can be achieved easily with a good preparation. If you start sorting everything out in advance, the interview won’t be as overwhelming and you’ll be more assure of yourself. This checklist will help you focus on what you need to know and what to pack, so keep these steps in mind to rock your next interview!

At least 1 Week in Advance

Further Research about the employer

Knowing about your future employer is already a part of your application beforehand. Still, refresh your knowledge for the interview and go more into detail. It won’t be enough knowing about the industry they are in and what they do in detail. Inform yourself about their principles, hierarchies and important persona. Thanks to LinkedIn you could already gather information about your interviewer in advance.  Bigger companies also publish news about recent projects and future goals - know them to impress in your interview. By the way, did you know that one of the most mistakes is that applicants don’t know what the business’ acronym actually stands for? Always know about the company’s name - it’s representing what they stand for!

Know the details of your future job

This is not only about the general tasks the position includes. Furthermore, you should already know whether your future job is part time or full time, if you’re going to work in a team or solo, whether it’s a leading position and so on. If not all of the details can be found in the job ad before, just call the HR department and ask for more info. This way, there won’t be any surprises during your interview.

Also, carefully revise the job ad. For sure they will ask you about all the requested qualifications. If you mentioned one of the requested skills in your cover letter that you actually are not really familiar with, now is the time to deal with it. When it comes to languages you always should be honest: would be bad if the Human Resources Manager welcomes you with “Buenos días, encantada de conocerle” and you can´t do much more than smile at her.

Common questions and answers

Every interviewer will try to catch you with some unusual questions. It’s fine if you take your time to answer these, even if they throw you off the track for a second - that’s what they are aiming for. This shouldn’t happen with regular questions though. If you are new to interviews, you can google common questions to prepare your answer in advance. This way, you’ll meet your interviewer with a lot more self-confidence and score with a great answer!

Know your own qualities

It’s hard to sell yourself, especially if you haven’t much experience in the new position. Unfortunately, a job interview will only succeed if you manage to do so. The key is to know about your unique skills and talk about them without bragging. In fact, finding out your own worth is a key factor to impress an interviewer. For a little help, we wrote this blog about how you can learn about your own worth.

Prepare your outfit

Dress for success - you probably have heard about this before. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean to suit up. Especially in the sports industry, the right outfit can be casual as well. That depends on the company’s principles. If you have a chance, find out about the dress code beforehand - take a small visit to the company or ask an acquittance who works there. Seeing employee’s profiles on LinkedIn might also give you a hint.  See if you have one, better two, fitting outfits in your closet. If not, buy one in time. Doing this as early as possible will help you being prepared perfectly. You’ll still have enough time to sort out any problems like stains or holes or worst, a bad smell. Imagine doing this on the evening before your interview: You’ll freak out finding a new one, even when the shops are still open. More infos on what to wear in a job interview can be found in our blog What to wear in a job interview.

Know your worth

Find out about  the common salary for your job. This depends on your location, the size of the company and the position itself. There are great portals online to do your research, i.e. Glassdoor. Moreover, know for yourself what you would like to earn - and what the least salary would be. This is also regarding holidays and working hours.

A couple of days before your interview

Check out the directions and do a test-run

It is incredible how many people are too late for their job interview - it’s a common mistake and most of the times, already the end of the beginning. Don’t rely on GPS only, there could be a traffic jam, road closure or whatever. So, check out the route before and best, see how long it really takes for you to get there. For people using public transport: Find out which would be the comfortable connection to be there in time* - and note down the one before this one to take on your interview day. Even if you miss one, you’ll still be there spot on. *Just so we’re clear: In time doesn’t mean in the last moment, it means a comfortable arrival a little bit earlier.

Writing down your own questions

When you feel prepared about the questions that might come up, find out for yourself what you want to know about the job and the company. The interviewer will expect you to ask - it shows curiousness about the employer. See it as a sign you really want the job. By the way, you don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask. If it fits the brought up topic, ask your question - the interview will be more like a dialogue.

Do a test interview with a friend

See this as a chance for a rehearsal. It will boost your confidence and help you talk more natural in your interview.

On the day of your interview - one hour in advance

Last time: Check your appearance

So, this is actually two points. First, check yourself again before you leave home to head for your interview. Control if your outfit is stain free and suits you well, that you smell good (don’t overdo it with perfume), brush your teeth - to sum up: Dress for success.  When possible, try to arrive 10 minutes earlier at the company to make another quick checkup. Especially when you’re living in a big city and came by bus, train, sub, you’ll be happy to be able to re-arrange your outfit or hair.

Don’t smoke!

Seriously, even if you’re a smoker, try not to smoke after you put on your outfit and brushed your teeth. Smelling like smoke is a turn-off - not only for a date, but also for an interview. Especially, when the person interviewing you is a non-smoker. We all know that you’ll need the cigarette even more on this important day to calm your nerves, but try to stay strong. Chew (nicotine) gum during your drive. By the way, having coffee short before has a similar effect - bad breath. So if you’ll need it, at least bring mint. Or better, avoid it after brushing your teeth.

Mute your phone

Seriously, a ringing phone will feel embarrassing for you and it will be disrespectful for your interviewer. Also one of the common mistakes.

Try to relax

The last things to prepare short before your drive should be small things, anything else should already be prepared. The interview itself will already stress you out, so no need to push it even more by nerv wrecking last minute preparations. Take your time before you head out to calm your nerves instead. Listen to your favorite songa, phone with a friend, meditate, go for a walk, whatever brings you down. We know that this is probably the hardest point on this whole checklist, but go for it anyway. You are so well prepared!

What to pack

Your Resumé / Application

Taking your application documents to an interview makes a good impression - it shows that you are prepared well. Also, it will be a great help if questions regarding your experience come up. You can always easily point to your CV, having your milestones set up written down for everyone to see. The HR sure will bring her own copy, but in bigger companies,  sometimes an additional employees will join the interview, for example your team or project leader. Just don’t stash it in your bag! To make a good impression, bring your resumé in a folder so it will stay neat and clean. Stains on your documents or dog-ears are an absolute no-go!

Pen and Paper - or if it’s a modern company, a Tablet

If you bring something to take notes during your interview, you’ll show interest in your - hopefully - future employer. Furthermore, you’ll probably need it as well. There’ll be a lot of details about the job that you will want to note down for later. Of course, you’ll be sure that you can remember it all - but seriously, you won’t. Especially when you’re nervous. Nowadays, in most companies it will be okay as well if you take notes on a tablet. Especially in modern companies or agencies, this will actually be a big plus as you show your interest in modern media. This is a shout out especially for people interested in a job in sport online marketing or IT! Conservative companies still prefer pen and paper though.

An extra shirt / blouse

Ever heard of murphy’s law? In the worst moment for something to go possibly wrong, it will go wrong. Translated: If you don’t bring an extra shirt, you’ll probably spill something on the one you’re wearing. In a young and small start-up your interviewers will probably laugh it off, but in any bigger company a clean outfit is a must. Dress to impress.

All the small things

Mints, tissues, water for the journey, a comb or a brush, make-up for the ladies (for a retouch), a phone in case you’ll be late, the number of the company. Do you feel prepared yet? Perfect! Read about the right behavior in the interview itself, in the next blog.