Words & Sports

The Game of Interviewing

Interviewing and the game of football have many parallels. A guest post from Gino Trapani, an executive search and recruiting professional.

This is my favorite time of year. The weather’s great, the sun is shining…and football season is here. As a football fan, there’s no better time than this; when the excitement for the season hits full throttle.

This game I love has me thinking about the parallels to interviewing. The fun part about writing is that I can mix passion & profession to create something relevant, informative and entertaining (especially for those that love the game as I do).

So strap on your helmets and let’s go…

It’s first down and goal to go from the ten-yard line, the end zone is in sight and you’ve got four chances to make it happen with the clock ticking. The Coach (the Hiring Manager) has called in the first play (your first interview). You (the Quarterback) run the first play as scripted and hit the open receiver for a nice gain of five yards. Coach likes the result and calls in another play (the second interview).

On second down, you hand the ball off to the Running Back who is supposed to run through a hole on the right side. But the hole is plugged by the Linebacker (unexpected questions during the interview), and the running back has to switch directions and run the opposite way (trying to recover from an awkward moment during the interview). The play gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain, leaving the Quarterback feeling a bit upset with the play result (having a feeling the interview may not be going the right direction).

On third down, Coach calls another run play (more difficult questions), but this time you see something in the defense and call an audible (you prepared well for the interview and had quality responses ready). You go to a pass play that gains four yards and now you’re sitting one yard away from the end zone (confident feeling after the interview with positive feedback).

It’s now fourth and goal from the one. You need a touchdown to win the game (receive an acceptable job offer). After a long timeout (you’ve waited several days to know if you will get the offer or not), Coach calls in a special goal-line play (you get the offer), but you’re not terribly excited about the play call (you’re not excited about the offer). You get to the line of scrimmage and you hear the deafening roar of the crowd (your inner voices of indecision and outside influencers giving you all kinds of advice and thoughts to consider).  You see the clock ticking (you have a deadline to respond to the offer before it becomes void). Then, you see a hole in the defense (you have clarity) and call another audible (counteroffer). The ball is hiked and you throw the ball to your receiver on a fade route to the corner of the end zone (it’s all or nothing at this point). The ball hangs in the air for what seems like an eternity (waiting to see if your counteroffer is accepted). The receiver and defender (final sign-off from the Hiring Manager & HR) go up for the ball at the same time and…

The ball is caught by your receiver for a touchdown and your team wins the game! (counteroffer accepted. You landed the job).

Just like a football game, it takes teamwork from everyone in an interview process to win the game and send the fans home happy.



Gino Trapani is an executive search and recruiting professional helping companies find great talent and improving talent acquisition strategy, process and execution. He loves all things sports and is a die-hard Seahawks and Mariners fan through good times and bad.