Boxing: An Interview Metaphor! IT’S TIME – LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!

On August 26 a former world champion boxer, possibly the greatest boxer of all time will come out of retirement to face a Mix Martial Artist (MMA) and current UFC champion.

Labelled the “money” fight with expected revenue expected to exceed $1bn in total sales.  If you’re not a fan or familiar with boxing, this contest is between, Floyd Mayweather, an undefeated boxer with a perfect record of 49 wins 0 losses and Conner McGregor, a two division champion in the UFC, which is actually a different sport.  The UFC is a Mixed of Martial Arts sport, meaning competitors use a range of techniques such as Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Muay Thai, Capoeira, Wrestling, Kick-Boxing as well as Boxing. As such this is somewhat of a crossover event, some have compared it to a Rugby player, going over to play American Football. In this article I’ll try and pull metaphors and similes from how the fighters approach the event and what candidates can learn when preparing for job interviews. Obviously punching an interviewer isn’t a good idea, even when the interview isn’t going your way.      

Interviews: the classic form of selection, a single interview would be the equivalent of a boxing match where as a combination of interview, presentations and assessment centres, which test a range of skills could be more like a Mix Martial Arts event.

The rules: Octagon or ring, 3 rounds 5 rounds or 12 rounds? What are the rules of the game? You can’t win the game if you don’t know the rules.  Some believe Conner, might not be able to resist breaking “Queensbury Boxing” rules by throwing a wheel kick at Floyd.

You can_t win the game

As a candidate, during the recruitment process, you should also have a solid understanding of the rules of your game.  How many components are there in the process? There are a range of different selection methods recruiters use such as; digital interviews, telephone interview, face to face interviews, assessment centres, logical reasoning tests, critical thinking tests, math tests, work tray exercises  and presentations.

Do you know what all these different selection methods are and what they might involve? There are lots of resources to help you learn about each one. It’s key to know once shortlisted how you will be assessed.  Know the process well so you can prepare accordingly!

Interview advice: Timing is everything!

Don’t fall into the trap of “dirty boxing”, don’t force your anecdotes, escapades and random tangents down the interviewer’s throat! Keep your stories relevant to the job description and use examples that clearly address the interview question. You can prepare examples before the interview, but you still want to keep them “loose” that way you’re able to respond more accurately to the question.  Look up “STAR technique” to help you develop these stories.

Tip: There are no rules about taking notes into an interview. If you have a note pad you might want to take a copy of your CV and cover letter in with you to the interview.  It’s also a good idea to bullet point your main talking points, these could be the titles of your STAR stories, to help you remember what you want to say,  during the interview.  Ideally these are stories that exemplify how you can carry out the brief in the job description.

If a talking point isn’t relevant to the question don’t use it.  If you haven’t used all your talking points at the end of the interview, you might be able to “create an opening” when you’re invited to ask questions.  Rather than asking an obvious question or a question about money, you might want to drop in a final talking point.

The training camp: Poor preparation = poor performance!


Connor McGregor utilizes visualization.  Visualization, not only of winning and becoming a champion, but of the fight itself.  Visualizing various different ways the fight might play out helps him prepare, and there is sports research that suggests that this part of the training camp is just as important as any other.

As a Candidate, try visualizing the interview, think about what questions might come up.  A question such as “why you want the role” can be asked in many different ways. Visualization will help you model a range of answers to the many different ways that this question might be thrown at you.

giphy (1)

Sparring; a key part of preparation and the main part of a training camp.

Sparring is essentially a practice fight, where extra protection such as head guards can be worn so as the fighters don’t suffer any injuries but are able to simulate real fight conditions. Ideally your sparring partner should be able to produce or replicate the style of your opponent. For example Conner is left handed, therefore Floyd should try and spar with left handed fighters. Fighters usually keep sparring very secretive, so as not to give anything tactical away, but if rumours are to be believed then Floyd recently dropped one of his sparing partners and is now sparring with his nephew.

There’s more controversy around Connor McGregor’s Camp, who hired former boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi, to be his sparring partner. Last week Paulie walked out of the camp, without payment and there has been a social media battle between the two.