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Volume 23 No. 25
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Top traits that execs look for in new hires

I met with a friend and his son over lunch earlier this month and we discussed career options for the recently graduated 22-year-old. With a degree in marketing and love of sports, he is targeting the sports business and wanted suggestions for his job search. We talked a lot about the interview process, as he wanted to begin preparing for the types of questions he may be asked along this journey. All this made me think of a discussion I recently moderated with three top executives that focused on career development. The panelists — Andy Loughnane, Columbus Crew SC president of business operations; Angela Taylor, WNBA Atlanta Dream president and general manager; and Peter Luukko, Florida Panthers executive chairman — talked about what they look for during the interview process. Here are their approaches, in their own words:


I am continuing to get reader response on “must-dos” for the summer and liked the adventurous family trip planned by Desiree Reed-Francois, executive associate athletic director and senior woman administration at Virginia Tech.

Must-visit: College Football Hall of Fame
Must-vacation: Along with my husband, taking my 70-year-old dad, 11-year-old nephew and son kayaking with the killer whales in the San Juan Islands. #Bucketlist
Must-read: “The Wright Brothers,” “Around The World In 80 Days” … and Brad Thor’s newest, “Code of Conduct” #GuiltyPleasure
Must-attend: NACWAA Executive Institute

LOUGHNANE: “Across my career, I’ve largely asked the same two questions during an interview, which get at the heart of whether someone is ambitious. The first question I’ll ask is: What do you know about the company? You will quickly figure out if someone’s done their homework, and how much, by the depth they provide with narratives and anecdotes, which should come out if you have someone who’s inquisitive and intellectually curious. The second question is: What do you know about the job? You’ll get an idea if they know something about the job and can relate to the tasks. Hopefully, they’ll highlight elements that go beyond the expectations of the job that you will like. ”

TAYLOR: “Often, I’m across the interview table of someone who’s passionate about sports, but what does that mean? It’s great to be passionate about sports, but if you aren’t proficient in whatever that job is, you aren’t going to be successful. So you can be passionate about something, but make sure that you are proficient in it as well. In addition, when I am having conversations with my direct reports about hiring, I talk about ability vs. ambition. You may have the ability, but are you ambitious enough to do that job exceptionally well? If you don’t have that ambition, it is going to hold you back and hold our organization back. ”

LUUKKO: “I look real hard at work ethic. You can find out through an interview how hungry they are. What are you doing? What are you looking to do? The person who took six months off to go to Europe probably isn’t right for me. But the person who is looking for job while in school and is looking for a career in sports and understands it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle, that is a better fit. It’s all about work ethic. I take for granted that you’re smart, but I need to see work ethic and that you are a team player. I’m a big believer that a lot of ex-athletes do well because they are team players. I don’t care if you’re the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t play well in the sandbox, then you are useless.”

Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at