Turn your next job interview into a discussion

A turf industry career expert's tips for creating an atmosphere of discussion that will show your potential employer your best professional self.



There are pivotal moments during every job interview, such as the opening seconds of creating a first impression, the answering of key topics and the closing comments. We have to win in those consequential moments, or the rest of the interview is just going through the motions.

I have written extensively on how to win in these areas, and now in this month’s Career column, let’s take the next step and consider how to win in the overall feel and tone of interviewing. We want the hiring committee to think highly of your specific answers, and we want to create an overarching sense of knowing that you are indeed a great fit with their golf facility.

Overall goal?

can help us in successful interviewing. I encourage you to approach an interview as an opportunity to have a discussion with the hiring committee to not just convince them that you are a great fit for their golf facility, but to likewise ascertain if they are a great fit for you.

From the minute you saw the job posted and started researching the golf course, facility and role, you have been forming an opinion about this particular golf facility and if it would be a good fit for you, your career and your family. The interview phase is the apex where you can truly experience the property, staff and customer in a way that websites and job postings simply can’t reveal. This is your chance to perceive if this is the golf facility and role to which you want to devote the next years of your life.

I have worked with several clients who transformed their interview skills by simply changing their approach to a two-way interview, rather than preparing to answer questions passively.

Start by taking time before your interview to assess the characteristics of your ideal job honestly — not just the job title, but the other aspects that make a job uniquely a good fit for you, such as type of golf facility, location, multicourse or 18-holes, public or private, type of customer, and work culture. Now you are ready to create discussion points centered around your top objectives. This gets you one step closer to the other goal of an interview: determining if this golf facility fits your ideal career role in the areas that are important to you and your loved ones.

Questions for us?

In almost every interview, the hiring committee will have a closing question asking what you would like to ask. Two quick points on this topic: First, yes, it is crucial to have questions prepared to aid as you perceive if you want to be part of this particular golf facility leadership team; second, you must tie your research about them and their organization into your questions to underpin your genuine interest in their organization.

Now let’s take the next step and incorporate our questions into the interview and not wait until the end. One of the best ways to create an atmosphere of discussion and not just being interviewed is to find appropriate openings to thread your questions into the conversation so you can adjust your answers along the way. For example, if you plan to ask about a possible upcoming course remodel you heard about from a vendor and the hiring committee confirms it, what a great advantage to find out earlier in the interview so you can weave your experience with similar projects into your answers.

When it comes to questions regarding why there is an opening, future plans and challenges they foresee in the next few years, consider how valuable those answers would be in helping to frame your message and prioritize your comments during the interview. Along with setting a comfortable tone of conversation, it could be the difference-maker in guiding your answers to become the winning candidate they are seeking to be their next golf course superintendent, equipment manager or assistant superintendent.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, has been a career consultant and speaker with GCSAA since 2005 and specializes in golf and turf industry careers. Rau is a frequent speaker at national, regional and local GCSAA conferences and teaches GCSAA webinars.