Many people still mistakenly think that the best player should become a captain of a team, or the player with most experience. That’s not how it works, however, and it doesn’t matter if we talk about professional athletes, or basketball, baseball, soccer, ice hockey, track and field and other sport teams at schools and universities. More than anything else, a captain should be a team leader, someone who can say the right things before, during, and after the matches, and someone who is ready to bear responsibility for poor performance of the team. But how do coaches and other team officials choose the captain?
Well, in some cases they let the players to vote and choose. But this is often unpractical at schools, where teams are commonly assembled at the start of the school year, players do not know each other, and hence it makes no sense to let them decide about their captain. In this case it is common that a coach or a group of officials lead a short interview with a few players, asking some questions, and eventually deciding who will lead the team as a captain, at least at the beginning of the year.
In this article we will look at 7 questions you may realistically face in this interview. Remember though that this isn’t a corporate job, or any other endeavor with clear rules and processes in place. Questions may change from one school to another. The key is to understand the areas they may inquire about, and the right attitude you should show while answering the questions. I hope that after reading this post you will know how to do that. Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself as a player and person
First question, a typical icebreaker, “Tell me about yourself”. Captain should be confident, and while describing yourself as a player and your sporting career and goals, you should show high ambitions. Do not hesitate to name your main successes, and if you were a captain of any team before, you should for sure mention it. They should get an impression that you have passion for the sport you are playing, and are in for a long run, not for one year only.
It is also important to show them a bit of who you are, outside of school and playing field. You can say something about your family and studies, and some hobbies you have outside of the sport (if you have any time left). Make sure to speak confidently and keep an eye contact, because with the “introduction” question, they pay a lot of attention to your communication skills and overall demeanor, considering whether it is a fitting one for the future captain of a team.
When you play for a team, what role do you typically have on the field and in the locker room?
They do not ask about the position you play, but the role you have (or try to have) in the life of the team, before, during, and after matches. As you can likely guess, leadership is the best answer, at least if you want to become a captain of the team. But it isn’t enough saying that you lead (or try to). You have to elaborate on it, explaining what exactly you do.
For example, you can say that you typically have a short speech before the matches, trying to pump-up the players. You can also say that you pay attention to the individuals in the locker room and on the pitch, and as soon as you spot signs of discomfort or lack of self-confidence, you try to intervene and talk to them. Basically you try to keep your eye on what’s going on. Talking in front of media and taking responsibility for bad results is another good point to mention.
Having said all of that, there isn’t just one recipe for good leadership in a team. In some sports coach takes care of most such things, including directing the game, and a captain is simply someone who talks to referees (when the team is unsatisfied with something) and encourages players with simple shouts and words. It is up to you to decide what sort of leadership you’d like to promote. As long as you can justify it with your reasoning, they will be satisfied with your answer.
How do you motivate other players on a team, for example when the team is losing?
Motivation is easy when things are going great and the team is wining one match after another. But a true captain and leader can motivate fellow players also in bad times, for example when the team experiences a series of losses, or is playing badly in a match. The key is to convince the interviewers that you always keep your head high and have a positive and encouraging attitude, regardless of what’s going on in the game. Winning or losing, you always push (in good means) the fellow players to the limit of their ability, with verbal and other forms of encouragement.
Besides that you can talk about other things, such as leading by example–always giving your 100%, regardless of the scoreboard, or trying to build a true spirit of friendship in the team, for example with various team building activities. In such a scenario most people play better, simply because they care more, and feel responsibility towards other players.
* May also interest you: Sports interview questions – questions for athletes.
If you are a captain of this team, what goals will you set for the season?
Aim high, but stay realistic. What I try to say here is that saying that you want to win the league and progress would make little sense if the team barely managed to avoid falling into lower division the previous season… In such a scenario, you should perhaps aim for ending in the middle of the field, or anything else that would be considered a success, bearing in mind the previous season and results, and the changes in the team.
You can also approach the question differently, saying that instead of focusing on results, you want to focus on the process as a captain of the team. Your goal will be to make sure that all people try their best in the training sessions and the matches, that the squad really plays like a team, and follows the instructions of the coaches to the point. If that happens, results should follow. Perhaps you won’t win the league anyway (since the necessary level of playing quality is not there), but you will achieve the best result you can realistically achieve. And that’s not bad in my book.
Two players really struggle to get along, and one can feel it on the pitch as well. What will you do as a captain?
At the end of the day, you will find some big egos in each and every team. When two such egos clash, one can expect fireworks. One of the hardest task coaches and sport captains face is making such that such clashes do not put a dent to the atmosphere in the team, and eventually to the ambitions of the squad. Well, it isn’t an easy situation to address, but you can at least try. For example you can say you’ll have one on one with each player in question, trying to understand their viewpoint and what’s wrong with the other guy in their view. Then you will intervene accordingly.
You can also suggest simply separating them, or letting one sit on the bench, though this isn’t possible in all scenarios. An extreme suggestion is letting them both go, unless they change their behavior (giving them such an ultimatum), since in your view no player is bigger than a team, and you just cannot allow one or two persons to spoil the morale of everyone. Of course, what you will do in reality depends on many circumstances of the situation. In the interviews though the key is to offer some options and ideas for an eventual solution of the situation…
The team is experiencing a cold streak (series of losses) and the local press is grilling you. How will you deal with such a situation?
Ensure them that you won’t run away. Talking in front of press representatives (in both good and bad times) is one of the duties of sport captain (and you may be surprised how many people follow various clubs and teams at schools, for example in the US, and how well the local press covers their season). Say that in such a case you are ready to accept responsibility, but at the same time will stay behind your team.
Sure, the questions won’t be pleasant, but you will try to answer each one, without blaming anyone else for the bad results. On the contrary, each series has to end one day, and you will try to stay positive and upbeat regardless of the results. Of course this doesn’t mean that the team won’t make changes, and one of them may be replacing you as a captain. If that’s the best thing to do, however, you are ready to accept such a decision, since team results matter for you more than your position in the team.
Why should we choose you, and not one of other applicants for this sports captain role?
The interview may often end with the dreaded “Why should we hire you?” question. In this case, you have several good ways of dealing with it. First one is emphasizing again your leadership skills and positive attitude, your goals and your desire to achieve something big with the team.
You can approach the question differently though, showing a rare mix of confidence and humility, and respect for fellow applicants. In this case, you can say that you believe to be capable of leading the team on and off the pitch, and are motivated to do so. Yet you also believe other applicants have their strengths, and you are humble enough to admit that you cannot tell whether or not you are the best one–the interviewers will have to decide on their own. If you become a captain, great, if someone else does, you will support them in their role as best as you can…
Ready to answer the questions? I hope so! If you still feel like continuing your interview preparation, I suggest you to check the following articles:
- 15 most common interview questions & answers
- Sports administrator interview questions.
- Baseball coach interview questions.