What Job Seekers Can Learn From Chicago's Failed Bid For The Olympics

What Job Seekers Can Learn From Chicago's Failed Bid For The Olympics

It looked promising for Chicago—we had tremendous clout with President Obama, Michelle Obama, and Oprah campaigning for Chicago to get the Olympics in 2016. Michelle Obama spoke impassionedly about growing up in Chicago, and President Obama said powerful statements like “One of the legacies I want to see coming out of the Chicago 2016 hosting of the Games is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world." Chicago also showed videos of the beauty of its lakefront location and mesmerizing Millennium Park to the Olympic committee. So what went wrong? What can job seekers learn from Chicago’s failed “Olympic interview”?

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

Don’t go for the personal plea in the interview; describe the technical reasons why you would be a good fit for the organization.

There were so many powerful, personal sentiments behind the Obamas plea for the Olympics. Statements including “with hard work and discipline and dedication, [Chicago] can make it if we try” and “That's not just the American dream, that is the Olympic spirit. That's why we see so much of ourselves in these Games. And that's why we want them in Chicago. That's why we want them in America.”

As beautifully said as these statements are, they don’t give any indication as to what Chicago can offer the Olympics. In an interview, describe what you can offer the organization,. It seems as if the Obamas were asking what the Olympics could do for Chicago and not what Chicago could do for the Olympics. In fact, Michelle Obama specifically said: “Chicago's vision for the Olympic and Paralympic movement is about so much more than what we can offer the Games. It's about what the Games can offer all of us. It's about inspiring this generation and building a lasting legacy for the next.” In an interview, however, you should explain what you can an offer an organization.

It had been reported that Chicago avoided reporting “stodgy technical details”…but maybe the Committee wanted to hear technical details. Maybe the Olympic Committe wanted to hear discussions of finances. Chicago instead showed videos of blues legened Buddy Guy and snapshots of the pretty city. Mayor Daley emphatically noted “It’s not about the words. It’s about the heart and soul.” But “some of its speakers looked nervous and parts of the presentation came off as stilted. It also was surprisingly low-key…” If you are relying on an image mainly to sell your point (which you shouldn’t), it should at least come across as professional as possible.

Chicago had the passion, the skills, and the right “references” to sell the city to the Olympic Committee. But it didn’t focus on what the Olympic Committee wanted to hear of what Chicago could offer the orgnanization. Job seekers may have the passion, the skills, and the right references, but that won’t mean much in an interview unless a job seeker can display how those qualities will benefit the organization.