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Interview tips – translating sporting success into corporate language.

So, you’re approaching your retirement from sport and you’re starting to think about exploring your identity beyond your athletic career. There are so many opportunities waiting for you out there and a whole new world of incredible career choices and job roles where you’ll discover many more of your hidden skills and talents. It’s an exciting time but it’s a little daunting too; For perhaps the first time, you’ll be speaking with CEO’s and Company Directors, you’ll be interviewed by office managers and HR teams and it’ll all seem so very different from your usual sports-related interviews. This time, it’s a touch more corporate and you’ll likely consider it a lot more pressured.

However, an interview is just the starting point for an employer to get to know who you are and the first opportunity for them to explore the ways in which you could benefit their company. For you, this is the ideal moment to showcase your individual skills and experience and present to them the reasons you’ll make the most exceptional team player.

At ACT, we’ve been part of the journey for many elite athletes, supporting them through the transition from the world of sport through to exciting corporate careers. Over time, we’ve realised that often, translating athletic experience into corporate language can be a stumbling block for retired sports professionals. So, we’ve put together a handy list of things you can use during an interview that will not just demonstrate your experience but also prove how it has uniquely prepared you to succeed in more business-led sectors.

I’m an avid and enthusiastic team player.” Most employers want to hire people who can work well independently, but they’re almost always keen to recruit people who make for fantastic team players. As an athlete, you understand the importance of team goals more than anyone because for many years, you’re likely to have been a critical player within a high-performance team. You understand that for a team to be successful, each person within it must commit 100% to the long-term objective. Consequently, you have a profound knowledge about team playing and know that individual performance can significantly affect overall results. Throughout your sporting career, you’ll have occasionally been held accountable for poor contribution and often rewarded for the times you’ve excellent in personal performance for the benefit of your team. This kind of unique life experience is critical for future career prospects and most corporate businesses would highly value an individual with such incredible team-playing attributes.

“I’m confident in time management.” From the very moment you chose sport as an interest, hobby or professional career – you’ve had to effectively learn the skills required for efficient time management. This may have started at school age whereas a young athlete, you had to adjust and find a healthy balance between adequate commitment to schooling, home life and sports practice. As you matured, time management likely became even more imperative as you worked to find the balance between further education, family commitments and more thorough competition, training and playing regimes. It’s a great idea to mention the techniques and time management strategies that you’ve developed throughout your career because they are ones that will work perfectly well in the corporate working world too.

“I handle constructive criticism well.” This is a valid point and personal strength that most employers will look for in a potential candidate.

A new role within a new company will always involve a period of learning and throughout this time, it’s important that new recruits can take to being told when something isn’t done quite right. As a retired athlete, you are an ideal candidate for places where training periods are necessary. Your vast experience within the sporting industry means that at times, you’ve been coached and shown how to improve your personal performance and technique. You’ll have been dealt your fair share of constructive criticism over the years and by now, will have built up a robust and resilient approach in response to the times you’ve needed to take instruction from coaches, mentors, managers and all kinds of personalities. Take time during your interview to express the mental strength you have developed that’s required to handle criticism without being offended by it. Explain how, as an elite sports professional, you can on-board the advice given to you and use it to strengthen future performance.


“I’m experienced in working incredibly hard.” Here’s a point that shouldn’t be overlooked during the interview process. In fact, this is perhaps the most important point to make. Athletes are not afraid of hard work and you should showcase this during your interview. Explain to your interviewer how you’ve dedicated years of your life to training, competing and playing and as a result, you’ve never stepped away from hard work. You’re not afraid to give one hundred percent to everything you do, and you never make excuses. You’re relentless and passionate about your performance. You overcome challenges and problems by finding solutions and you don’t give up until you achieve your goals. An employer will value your honesty, your hard-working ethic and your impressive athletic experience. More than this, they’ll be able to appreciate how your personal skill set could benefit the workplace if they chose to recruit you into the team.

These are just a handful of the many incredible attributes you’ve developed as an elite athlete. Each one of them will demonstrate reliability and promote you as a great prospect for any hiring organisation. You have the potential to be an invaluable asset to a vast range of companies - it’s just the small matter of understanding how to translate your athletic experience to work well within the corporate landscape. At ACT, we liaise with several businesses to encourage them to see the potential in hiring a retired sportsperson. We’ve also established various techniques and strategies to help prepare athletes for the career transition ahead of them. To find out more about the athletes we’ve supported so far, and their individual success stories, visit here:


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