I have just started interviewing a number of people for writing and editing positions at the site. These are the kinds of jobs that attract interest from a wide variety of ages and levels of experience. Some are just out of college and looking for their first job in the industry. Others are established pros looking to stay connected to sports media in some way.
We have nice chats. I usually try and just get to know them and what they are into in our initial conversations. I tell them I have a Chewbacca tattoo to loosen them up and see that it is okay to be yourself.
I want everyone to have a positive experience. “Everyone” in this case includes me, and I’ll be honest with you. There are a lot of times I don’t enjoy these chats. I am polite on the outside, but on the inside, the candidate already doesn’t have the job. So let me help you. Here are five things that a hiring manager needs to see or hear from you if you ever want to see and hear from them again.
YOU DID SOME HOMEWORK
I don’t mind if you are not an expert on our site. I don’t mind if you were not aware of it before we posted the job. All I ask is that you take a look and poke around before we jump on a phone call or zoom.
Would you go into an interview to be a PD without a full diagnosis of the station and game plan for it? Would you go into an interview to be a host without listening to the show you’re auditioning for?
Jobs in this industry are scarce. Any hiring manager in sports media wants to know you are invested – not just in this particular opening. Are you invested in the industry and in your own growth enough to evaluate a position to determine if it is a good fit for you?
YOU HAVE QUESTIONS
Man, nothing is more disheartening than having a good conversation with someone, asking them what questions they have for you, and having them respond with “none really”. This may just be me, but as someone doing the hiring, I want to know you were engaged and considering what I had to say. Asking follow-ups is a good way to show me that.
I think so many people have been misled into thinking that if you have a question, it means you are unqualified for whatever job it is you are applying for. Dawg, if you had every answer, you would be interviewing me. Come on. You’re interested in working here. Don’t you want to know what to expect?
YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE APPLYING FOR
If you work in radio, you have dealt with this before. You have a producer opening, and the candidate you are talking to wants to tell you what a great host he would be. For me, there are a lot of people that I ask to tell me what they would be excited to write about and I get answers like “does shifting your infield really work.” When I ask who they would be excited to talk to they say “Steph Curry.”
Hiring managers aren’t dumb. I think it is a good thing to have big aspirations. I know you want to do more in the long run than just aggregate news on the broadcast industry, but if you’re talking to me, then that is the job you are applying for right now and I need to know you see the value in it and can do the job well.
YOU DON’T KEEP TALKING BECAUSE YOU’RE AFRAID TO STOP
We’re just having a conversation here. I am not Luke Skywalker coming to Yoda for all of the answers to who I am and what my life means. I just want to know we can vibe, because we are going to be exchanging texts, emails and phone calls a lot.
If we are having a conversation, understand it means I know you are smart. I want to get to know you. Sure, that means I want to know what you know about the industry and I may ask you a little bit about how you got to where you are, but relax. If you leave out a detail about who made the best pizza in your college town, it’s fine. And if I point out that we have something in common like an area of the country where we have both lived or a mutual favorite team, the whole conversation doesn’t have to become about that.
YOU BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY “THERE IS NO WRONG ANSWER”
One of my favorite things to ask candidates is who is their guy. Who is the person that you want to hear talk about the stories that really capture your attention? Mine are Bomani Jones, Dan Le Batard, and Spencer Hall. After I tell them that, I am also quick to tell them that I don’t care if they know who my guys are. I want to know their answer.
I usually follow that up by asking who they have decided is an absolute asshole. I always make it clear that there isn’t a wrong answer. If they say “well, I really can’t stand Bomani Jones, Dan Le Batard, and Spencer Hall,” the interview isn’t over. I want to know that we can work together, not if I can text you after every episode of The Right Time for a breakdown.
Job interviews should be an exchange of thoughts and ideas, not an oral exam. If you hang up the phone or walk out the door feeling like you absolutely bombed, I didn’t do my job. I want you to feel comfortable enough to show me who you really are.
That’s all the advice I have for you. Now that you know how I operate, if you want to write or edit for us, email me. Demetrithegreek@gmail.com. You already know I have a Chewbacca tattoo, so you’ve got a leg up on the competition.
Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content
Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.
When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.
“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.
Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:
1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”
2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.
The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.
I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.
Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”
There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.
First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.
The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.
The Client Just Said YES, Now What?
We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.
One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!
We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.
When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.
They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.
A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.
Media Noise – Episode 74
This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.