Many companies ask the basic questions when they are interviewing employees; what are your strengths or weaknesses? Where did you go to school? However, one question no one ever asks, which I’d argue is very important is “Which sport did you play?”
If your prospects are equal in all other areas of the job requirements, an athlete is the best hire you can make. They are equipped with valuable skills that can’t be quantified or listed on a resume, such as:
Dedication with an Excellent Work Ethic
Being an athlete today is highly competitive and it’s nearly impossible to be an athlete without being extremely dedicated. Multiple training sessions a week, weightlifting sessions and rehabbing through injuries are all crammed in between studying as a student or work and family life. All of this dedication to a sport translates into excellent work ethic in the office.
The will to win is in every athlete. Competitive people tend to compete in nearly everything they do, and if they channel it properly, it can be a very powerful tool in the board room.
Most competitive sports are team based, however even individual sports such as triathlon and golf compete as part of a team. Regardless of the type of team the athlete plays on, successful teams hold each other accountable, drive each other to be better and communicate to each other. Each individual athlete learns how to listen to a coach to progress forward, but they also learn how to take control and assert themselves when it’s necessary. That kind of cooperation is the hallmark of business.
Strive for Balance
Athletes know too much junk food and not enough sleep will not help them achieve positive results, so they won’t be bringing that kind of unhealthy lifestyle to your company. They know their bodies must be strong and in good condition, not only in the present but for the long term as well. A true “athletic employee” will respect his body and always balance his nutrition, energy, health and sleep – giving you an employee with a winning performance.
Although sports are fun, athletes are concerned with achieving goals. They push other distractions out of their mind in order to focus on the task at hand, and they will practice a task meticulously and persistently, until they succeed. This will help them set and achieve both long-and short-term goals – a skill that is essential to the workplace.
The Flip Side
All of this isn’t to say that hiring an athlete will guarantee a good hire; there are always some bad apples in the bunch. Be sure to ask questions about the candidates’ experience as part of a team – training, competing, dealing with difficult teammates, leading, resolving conflict etc. These will all help you gain a better understanding of their character and whether or not they’ll fit in the role and within your company. When in doubt, go with your gut.
To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t hire any non-athletes. Other candidates you should be on the lookout for include those who worked their way through college by soughting out leadership roles in the classroom, the community and philanthropic organizations; or individuals who made big sacrifices or overcame significant hardship to get to where they are. Odds are you’ll notice similar highly desirable qualities.
Becoming an athlete is something that pushes many out of their comfort zone, particularly in the beginning as a child. But that push is just what some people need because it gives them a chance to develop a wide range of skills and experiences that will open up a whole world for them that’s much easier to live in. It will help them to grow as individuals who will then become successful in the challenges of the working world.