An athlete is human, so like any human, they may feel any of the things that any other human would feel in an interview. The INTENSITY of the experience and the range of emotions an athlete (or anyone) might feel preparing and performing in a job interview is relative and depends on the same things that impact anyone else – confidence, experience, preparation, clarity of thinking/goal orientation, etc.
Sound advice is the same for an athlete as it is for the non-athlete: Talk to others, be vulnerable, seek mentorship, and do the things that any job applicant should do (have a great resume, elevator pitch, discuss your transferrable skills and frame past accomplishments in ways that demonstrate how you’ll succeed in the role, ask good questions, express integrity and diligence, groom well, and follow good etiquette).
That said, TWO things are different and unique between, let’s say, you or I (assuming you are not a well-known public figure for this example) and LeBron James of the NBA in his first interview for his next role after his role as possibly the greatest player of all time (sorry MJ, you’re still my #1) when going into an interview.
1) His current salary (if he’s interviewing before the season ends) is remarkably high relative to any position he could interview for. It COULD NOT be used to reasonably anchor salary discussions.
2) The interviewers know intently more about LeBron James than you or I (assuming you’re not a well known public figure or celebrity).
Both of these things are simple (may not be easy) to deal with. For salary, good news…some states don’t allow employers to ask about current salary. Besides, the public knows what you made. Anyone switching industries to a lower-paying field expects a drop in compensation. The athlete’s drop off in pay is a cliff. It just is.
In dealing with “celebrity status” and being a public figure – dealing with being admired or the opposite of that can be difficult. It’s not unique, though. When we interview, we are seeking to be liked, accepted, and trusted to help win. For the athlete, the intensity and duration of this “fishbowl” feeling (please call me, Andrew Luck) and discomfort it can create for someone more private can be very difficult.
Eli Howayeck (MBA, Kellogg School of Management), Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts, is passionate about helping motivated people achieve their career, educational, or personal goals and helping businesses, large and small, overcome a variety of challenges facing their business.