Killer Interview Question: What Sports Do you Play?

Killer Interview Question: What Sports Do you Play?

In this week’s KIQ, we look at a question that you wouldn’t expect to hear during an interview.

Slam dunk picture from Shutterstock

Being asked about what sports you play is generally reserved for backyard barbeques and other social outings where you’re likely to make new friends. Sports is a classic small talk topic and you wouldn’t think your potential employer would care that you’re actually care that you play soccer every Thursday with your mates.

But Salesforce’s regional vice-president for platforms and services in Asia-Pacific, Robert Wickham, wants to know. He started his career as a management consultant and sat in on numerous interviews. Wickham isn’t a fan of trick questions, but he doesn care about finding out more about an interviewee’s personality.

“When I interview someone, I look at demonstrated recod of success, their subject matter expertise, and cultural fit,” Wickham told Lifehacker Australia. “The first two are easy to figure out – you just have to look at their resume and records. Cultural fit is harder to figure out, so I spend time asking questions that will help me find out, such as ‘What sports do you play?’

He also likes to follow up with more questions.

“If they play squash, I will ask how they get better and what’s their routine to become a better squash player.”

How would you answer that question in an interview? Maybe you don’t even play sports, so how would you respond if that’s the case?

Spandas Lui travelled to Dreamforce in San Francisco as a guest of Salesforce.


  • Is “none” a good answer.
    I’m not into any sports. The subject bores me to tears. I do enjoy “activities”, like bike riding, bush walking, camping, canoeing, or just chilling out. This is what I do with my spare time. I’m not concerned with other people chasing a ball – I have a dog for that.

    • Those pretty much all count as sports (not chilling out), they’re just not team sports. So none is probably not a good answer as you do actually like sports.

      • I beg to differ. I would say all sports have a competitive component to it: score, time, distance, etc. A team or individual’s goal is to better one of these components.
        An activity is just that, an activity. No goals, just doing it for the sake of doing it or the enjoyment of being out amongst nature. This is what I prefer.

        • Then I guess it depends on your definition of sport, some define it as having to be competitive, others do not, but, I think if someone is asking you that question then they would be happy for it to be defined broadly and would be more interested in learning about you and what you like as opposed to just being brushed off and given a lecture about how you’re a special snowflake that thinks that anything competitive is boring and beneath them.

  • stevjosco @stevjosco opined: “Is ‘none’ a good answer.”

    In the context of the article. Nope!

    No job for you.

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