Veteran football coach shows how to win at your job interview

Michigan State needed a new head football coach. It was 1994, and their search committee was about to interview Nick Saban, then a defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick. When they began the interview, Saban placed a thick yellow legal pad down on the table. It stuffed with handwritten notes. With it, Saban started to explain with specifics what he would do, how he was going to do it, and the staff he was going to hire.

At this moment, Saban was not interviewing for a job. He was auditioning for the role. Saban’s preparation and note-filled legal pad gave him all the essential material needed to fill the span of the meeting. He was confident, in-charge, and specific.

Michigan State interviewed other applicants, too. They came in dressed professionally. Their resumes were in order and free from typos. The pleasantries and customary greetings started all the same as Saban’s interview. But after the welcome, they sat there. They awaited their first question.

If you think about job interviews you have ever done you probably do the same thing. We naturally sit down and wait to respond to any questions asked. This is a defensive position. It puts the work on the interviewer to ask enough questions to understand who you are and your talents. You can argue that’s their job, but imagine from the interviewer’s perspective how refreshing it would be to have someone come in, sit down, and start discussing specifics about what a role involves.

Michigan State hired Saban. They hired him because he had a plan, he knew how to execute it, and demonstrated what he was doing.

You may not be interviewing to be a head coach at Michigan State or Indiana University or Texas A&M. But you can take the same approach for a position as a welder, a bartender, or a carpenter.

Employers – including On Demand – are impressed by ambition, talent, skill, and audacity. Showing an interviewer you are not afraid to stick your neck out is a skill in itself.

The alternative is winging it and hoping it all works out. Saban didn’t hope anything worked out. He prepared and strategized. He made it work out.

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