Recruit Like A (Golf) Pro

Golf_Stock_Photo_No_RoyaltiesI signed up for the UCLA Alumni Golf Tournament having never played 18 holes of golf.  For the last month, I’ve been spending Sunday afternoons at the driving range hitting balls.  Two weeks ago, a golf pro named Steve approached me.

Him: Whoever taught you how to golf got you to connect well with the ball but did not help you at all with your lower body, particularly your hips.
Me: Well, it was my brother, so maybe that’s a good thing.

Steve doesn’t laugh.  He is the doppelganger of the coach in Happy Gilmore, except he has both hands. I love that movie, so I listen intently.  Steve gives me a few pointers and emphasizes the applicability of learning to golf to all other aspects of life…

Golf 4

1. Practice Makes Perfect: Golfers spend hours at the driving range practicing drives, chips and putts so they are prepared come game time.  Just like the golf swing, there are nuances to effective interview responses.  It is important to recognize the content that the interviewer is looking for, such as the Walk Me Through Your Resume: a logical narrative that emphasizes your decision making including the transitions between jobs and the rationale for wanting this particular role in this industry.  Outline the points you want to make for the typical behavioral interview questions and then practice, practice, practice.  Come interview time, this repetition will allow you to go beyond your script of answers.  Instead, you will be in the moment and engaged with your interviewer.

2. Get a coach: No matter how good of a golfer my brother may be or how willing the retired men at the driving range are to volunteer advice, I would have benefited from some lessons with a professional. Likewise, I recommend hiring a professional coach – they know what they’re doing and their only job is to help you succeed.

3. Lights, Camera, Action: By filming my swing, I have been able to see what I’m doing right, but also all the little things I need to correct, like the movement of my wrists and the shifting of my weight. You’ll see the same benefits if you videotape your interview questions.  It is particularly helpful for making adjustments on body language, verbal fillers and overall timing.  It’s easy too – you can just use the camera on your phone to tape yourself.
4. Don’t cram: The day before the tournament, I headed to the driving range with a friend.  He took off early and left me with his extra balls, so I ended up hitting 150 times.  I woke up Monday morning feeling decrepit and started popping Advil like mints.  Driving the ball is usually my only strength, but after that, I could barely hit 15 feet.

Too often, students procrastinate with prep and come in for a mock the day before an interview.  As advisors, we can offer a few tweaks, but it is hard to make major last minute changes.  Plus, we want you to be as self-confident as possible going into the interview.  Those who perform best, train for interviews.  They schedule weekly mock interviews even when they don’t have an upcoming job interview on the books.

5. (You’ve got) Personality: Steve’s final tip was: “Use your social graces.” He said too many people get stressed out on the course about a bad shot and that I should just enjoy the experience and connect with the members of the team.  This advice proved essential as I was shanking shots left and right – well, mostly to the right.  I just laughed and made sure the rest of my team was having a great time.

During interviews, you are not always going to answer every question to the best of your ability, particularly a tough case or random brain teaser. But remember that you are sitting across the table from another human being.  Connect with the interviewer on a personal level.  You will be surprised how this sets you apart as a candidate, because the interviewer will actually want to have you as a coworker.

6. Help Me Help You: Right before the tournament starts, my brother texted me, “Your job is to go first on all putts, so your team can see how it breaks.” I enjoyed my role—even managed to sink one putt—and my team appreciated the learnings.

During job searches, it’s easy to become myopic and forget about the people who are helping us along the way.  You never want individuals who give their time for informationals to feel used.  They should come away feeling like they just added someone of value to their network too.  Follow up with a thoughtful thank you letter, pertinent articles, invites to events, introductions to people in your network, and updates on your job search successes. This will change the interaction from transactional to relationship building.

Overall, the UCLA golf tournament was a blast. Gorgeous course (supposedly Justin Timberlake is a member!), a taco truck and margarita stand to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and a great mix of alums and students. My foursome included the President of the LA Alumni chapter (pictured above teeing off at the hole his company sponsored), entrepreneurship Professor George Abe, and an HBS grad looking to network. I highly recommend everyone attend next year. We’ve got a whole year to practice, so let’s head to the driving range.  We might even run into Steve.

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