Legendary football coach Andy Reid hustled his way to the top, working for various college programs before landing his first gig in the NFL as the tight ends coach for the Green Bay Packers. That was in 1992.
In 1999, at age 40, he became one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL, when the Philadelphia Eagles hired him to lead their team.
"The Eagles' unique job search and a series of then-unorthodox interviews helped Reid, a relative unknown at the time, beat out Jim Haslett for the job," ESPN reported in a 2019 feature. Haslett had years of experience working as a defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, meaning he was in charge of all of their defensive players, while Reid hadn't yet worked as a coordinator — only as a positions coach.
Still, Reid got the job: "The Eagles' offer made Reid, then 40, the second-youngest head coach in the NFL," ESPN added.
Reid's preparation helped him land the job over his more experienced peers. As former Eagles president Joe Banner recalled: "In comes Andy to our interview with a giant book — they are common now but not back then — and this book is five inches thick and had everything laid out in such detail, about every part of how he'd run the team."
"I mean, everything: from how he'd run camp, to his top 10 candidates for every assistant-coaching position, and summaries, honestly, summaries of every opening speech of every coach he had ever worked for."
Reid's attention to detail is something any job seeker can learn from.
As Amazon's director of global talent acquisition Kathleen Carroll tells CNBC Make It, it's imperative to do your research on the company or position you're applying to before any interview. "It's a clear miss when someone shows up and [they] haven't done their full homework," she says.
Carroll recommends looking at a company's mission statement or leadership principles ahead of time. "I look for a level of engagement that showcases if the candidate is actually passionate and will be a good fit for the opportunity," she says. "I look for indicators that people have gone a little deeper."
Bestselling management author Suzy Welch agrees. When hiring, she likes to directly ask: "What did you do to prepare for this interview?"
"I myself have used this query for years, and oh, the answers I've heard — the good, the bad and the ugly — and always so revealing," she writes for CNBC Make It. One candidate that stood out admitted to "stalking" her beforehand, reading up on everything she could find about Welch.
"As a result," Welch says, "she came to the interview ready to talk not just about her fit for the requirements of the job — but my interests, values and, perhaps most impressive, the intellectual content of my life's work."
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