9 Ways To Present Athletic Experience During The Interview


Are you one of those graduates who were a part of college football team and participated in various competitions? Then, are you sure you have utilized this experience in your resume and during interviews correctly?

Even if you’ve decided not to continue your athletic career, your athletic experience still can become your advantage even if you’re applying as a bank teller. Your sports experience has probably taught you a set of qualities which are valued high by recruiters. So, your task is to highlight them on a resume and during the interview.

Although the athletic experience isn’t a must to include on a resume, don’t neglect this chance to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

How to present the athletic past on your resume

  • Under the “Activities” or “Extracurricular activities” section. Outlining your sports experience in the separate section is the best way to do it on a resume. 
  • In the “Work experience” section. If you lack relevant work experience or didn’t have time to work at all because you were involved in the sports activities, it’s acceptable to put the athletic experience in this section. Do not forget about the keywords.

What to write about

It’s important to translate your athletic experience and achievements into a more professional language. You can write 3 to 5 bullets 1-2 lines each. If you balanced long hours of practice and competitions with your academic schedule, mention that you possess excellent time management skills. You are probably a great communicator as you build relationships with team members and various coaches and trainers and worked together with them towards the common goal. And, since any team wins 100% of the games, you can mention your ability to learn from your own mistakes.

What to say during the interview

Since your resume has the information that you used to be an athlete in the past, the interviewer will definitely touch upon the subject. Now, it’s your chance to handle the interview with brilliance by mentioning the personality traits you’ve gained during the years of practicing and competitions.

  • Connect your athletic experience to the workplace
    When speaking about your college athletic experience, try to get away from the sport terms and use a professional language. Make a story of how this experience taught you dedication, punctuality and teamwork rather than say how many games you won each season. Tell about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. You can even ask the interviewer if they played basketball in college and if they did, it’s a great grounding for making a personal connection.
  • Promote your ability to find solutions
    As a rule, when it comes to the ability to mobilize resources to reach the most challenging goals which are set  for the team,  athletes excel at this like no others. They are used to going from strength to strength to develop their skills and achieve the desired results. This is what makes athletes the desired employees for almost any position.
    As stated by FastCompany, while the other employees will look for excuses why the project wasn’t delivered on time, the former athlete will do his/her best to help the team achieve the goal. This is what should be highlighted during the interview.
  • Mention your time-management ability
    The working students have a busy schedule. They have to combine their part-time jobs with the academic paperwork assigned. The situation is even tougher for students who go in for sports. Some college athletes have to devote up to 40 hours a week to sports, and so little time is left for academic activities, let alone the quality time with family and friends. Under these circumstances, athletes learn fast how to prioritize tasks and get done all of the things from their to-do list. So, at the workplace you’ll likely manage several projects or tasks with maximum efficiency.
  • Say you’re a real team player
    Many people put the “team player” phrase on their resumes. However, not all of them are as committed to putting all their effort to help the team succeed as the athletes do. A former athlete understands that if one player is performing weak, this will influence the result of the game. And, if one person is underperforming, the others have to do their best to keep the overall performance of the team high. Give one or two examples of teamwork to the recruiter to ensure him that the team success is your key priority.
  • Highlight your ability to learn from failures
    The ability to admit, learn from and overcome your own setbacks is an inevitable part of professional growth. Any athlete knows the situation when the team is going through tough times. Still, they don’t give up and work even harder to reach the team goals set by the coach, and find the resources for the victory.
    The same applies to the workplace. People with athletic past keep perseverance and aren’t getting depressed by minor problems or setbacks. Every hiring manager wants an employee who struggles to improve their personal results and the team performance regarding of the external circumstances. So, show you are the one!
  • Expand on your leadership abilities
    If you were a captain, this gives you even more opportunities to connect your sport career to the workplace. Hiring managers like the enthusiastic people with leadership skills, even if you’re not applying for management position. So, if you are asked about the leadership or supervisory experience, be sure to provide details of your communications with sports team. For example, you can mention the ability to resolve the intra-team conflicts and serve as a liaison between the trainer/coach and the team members. Wetfeet also recommends focusing on practical skills you’ve gained as a team leader.
  • Answer the toughest questions using your athletic past
    Everyone hates the tough questions as there isn’t no right answer to them. However, even here you can turn the sports into your advantage. When answering questions like “Why should we hire you?” or “What’s your greatest weakness?” or “What qualities a successful office manager should have” be sure to operate the real situation from your athletic experience in college. Again, it’s the chance to stress that you’re hard-working, dedicated to reaching team goals, and reliable. Use of athletic examples when answering such question will also differentiate you from the other applicants who only had college education and 2-3 summer jobs.

As you see, your athletic experience isn’t just the page of your story that was left in past. It easily translates to the workplace and even can be used to differentiate your candidacy from the midst of others. Some managers are not used to talk about sports during the interview. However, it can be changed as you convince them that it’s the college sports that helped you develop the qualities they are looking for in a perfect candidate. And you’ll impress the hiring manager even more by asking the right interview questions that will help you get noticed.

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