This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.
Doug Logan is an Adjunct Professor of Sports Management, at New York University.
He was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010.
He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999. To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview
This is his 27th article. Click here for his entire series.
SHIN SPLINTS REDUX
The process of getting a job is a strange ritual, particularly the interview. People, who usually do not know one another, sit face-to-face attempting to satisfy individual agendas that are not necessarily aligned. The applicant [or “seller”] is trying to put the best spin on a career journey that may have some potholes, an educational background that is perhaps weak or out-of-discipline, and a lack of the technical skills that have been advertised as necessary for the position. The interviewer [or “buyer”] attempts to see through the fraudulent boasts on the resume, tries to catalogue the detritus left behind at former places of employment, and tries to guess how cheap he/she can land the prospect. It is a ritual that is part beauty pageant, part courtroom cross-examination, part confessional.
I have been in that “seller’s” chair many times in the past five decades, sometimes under strange conditions. I was interviewed one time, standing beside a craps table in Harrah’s Casino in Lake Tahoe, while the interviewer proceeded to lose over $12,000.00. He hired me anyway. I managed to put two separate interviewers to sleep during interviews [both were owners of professional sports teams]. Both made me an offer. And, I was interviewed one time, sitting at a picnic table under the stands of a stadium, while the interviewer’s seven year old daughter sat on my lap. I got that job, too.
One interview began during dinner at a mid-town Italian restaurant in Manhattan. The interviewer was more than a bit paranoid and afraid that we would be seen together, or that someone would overhear us. We had the “meat” of our conversation while prowling the footpaths of Central Park at 10:30 at night. I remember we shook hands on the employment deal by the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel.
Another experience was Clintonesque. I was interviewed several times by executives of a company that wanted to start a new division. Finally, at the third session, the CEO admitted to me the following. “We would like very much to hire you to manage “it” but we are having a hard time defining what “it” is.” I then suggested that I could take a week or two and draft a business plan that would render my vision of “it”. I returned 10 days later and was hired immediately after they read my proposal.
During my rather eclectic career I have had a hand in hiring perhaps a thousand key employees. I have learned a few principles that have served me well in this aspect of my professional life and will share some of the interviewing techniques that have worked for me.
First, the objective of an interview is to determine if a candidate has those personal qualities that cannot be trained or taught on the job. The three principal areas are character, creativity and personality. None of those characteristics can be trained and they are immutable. Skills, knowledge and technological adeptness can all be taught. However, you cannot teach honesty or morality or truthfulness. You cannot make someone creative. And, you cannot teach charm, charisma or empathy.
A great number of businesses I have managed require that employees buy into a guest or customer service culture. Employees who are moody or require their needs to be met first are not suited for these occupations. I have found that medical care-givers or those who have cared for an elderly parent or relative become excellent servers of customers. It is a part of who they are. They are used to dealing with unreasonable requests and expressing themselves empathetically.
I have often given an advantage to prospective employees who have played team, as opposed to individual, sports. Those individuals understand the process of subjugating individual desires for collective objectives. They have endured and thrived being “coached”, have experience competing against others and performing under pressure. All of these qualities, usually learned early in life, have their value in the types of workplaces I like to manage.
Finally, let me say a few words about physical appearance. One interesting study, done by Mack and Rainey in 1990, showed, in simulated employment interviews, that good grooming accounted for more favorable hiring decisions than did job qualifications. The way an applicant looks and my visceral reaction to him and her is predictive of how that person will look, if hired, when representing the organization. The reactions I feel during an interview are the same as those that will be felt by my guests, customers, clients and the world at large. There is just no tiptoeing around the subject with politically correct rhetoric. As Robert Cialdini states in his excellent book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, “…we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty and intelligence.”
You cannot go back and get a mulligan on the genetic roots that form your physical appearance. You can make sure your grooming is impeccable, your clothing is chosen to impress and you maximize your “good points”.