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How to Prepare for Your Tryout Interview

Yea...You made it to the interview round of the tryouts. Are you getting a little nervous? Breathing a little fast? Got butterflies jumping in your stomach? Starting to sweat a bit?

Don’t worry, you know I got you. The interview process can be the most scary part of the entire tryout weekend. It was easy just showing off your skills and executing the dances and cheers but now (big gulp) you have to speak to someone. And not just anyone… the people who hold the next 4-years of your life in their hands.

OMG… the pressure, I know!

Every college team will have some sort of interview process and I want to drive in this with a 5 part series on how to prepare for this step in your college tryout journey.

The interview portion of the tryout is usually during the 3rd or close to the final round. Most likely you have already performed at least the required skills and maybe completed the second round cut. Now that the list of potential team members has narrowed down, the coach at this point wants to get to know YOU on a deeper level and understand what makes you special.

This part can be the make it or break it point for some tryout candidates if the coach feels you are on the ‘bubble’ aka the maybe list. Of course you will not know if you are on this potential ‘NOT making it list’, but you need to treat the interview process as a way for the coach to put the stamp of approval on your tryout number. Use the interview to your advantage by really highlighting/showcasing your interpersonal skills and talents.

Why the Interview Process

Through the interview, a coach gets a short glimpse into who you are as a person and depending on how this process is set up you can create strong allies on your team to help push you on to the made it list.

Remember, each team has a very unique culture and personality type and coaches want to see how you will fit within that culture. Now is the time to show your confidence in leadership, communication, positive attitude, etc. and demonstrate that you are ready to fold right into the team dynamic.

There are two popular ways a coach may decide to interview the tryout candidates group and/or 1-on-1 interviewing. Each style has it’s advantages and disadvantages that I will cover in each style below.


In a group interview you have the advantage of having the comfort of more people around you so you don’t feel so alone. However, you have to really be conscious of your answers so as to not repeat anything someone else said and/or put your own spin on it. Also, you tend not to feel as if you will be able to get going in a deeper conversation with the judges.


In this style you will be by yourself with the judges and/or coach. This style is hands down the most scary, however it gives you the opportunity to really put your best foot forward as everyone's attention is on YOU. You also get the advantage of explaining your answers in more detail and feel like you are having more of a conversation with the judges.

Now, based on these styles you have numerous methods on how this will be executed. Again, I am going to talk about the two most popular versions.

Judges & Coach

This form of interviewing may be with the coach and a panel of judges. This can be either in a group or a 1-on-1 session. Either way, you have the advantage of talking to the coach directly and allowing him/her to hear what you have to say.

Judges Only

In this method of interviewing will be with the panel of judges only. This style is usually 1-on-1 and is very intimate, meaning you will be in a room with just one or two of the panel of judges. This version of interviewing allows you to make a raving fan of the judge, kinda like your own personal cheerleader. Then when they go back to the deliberation room they will really fight for you to make the team as you made a connection with them earlier.

No matter the style, you get a chance to speak very casually with people who genuinely want to get to know you better. Now, don’t take this TOO casual as you are still trying out for the team aka a job. So I’m including some pointers for you to do during your interview:

  • Take the time to refresh your look (make-up, hair, etc). Remember you will most likely be closer to the judges and want to look presentable.

  • Sit up straight and project out your answers. You want every answer to be heard.

  • Relax, take a deep breath, and smile when you answer. You want to appear calm and confident.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask the judges to repeat the question or rephrase it so you fully understand the question.

Now that we have covered the basics, next few weeks I want to dive into the top questions asked during an interview and help you prepare a ‘bomb’ answer that will leave the judges singing your praises.


Learn more out interpersonal skills by reading the blog post ‘Are YOU the missing piece that a college coach is looking for?’ for more information on this topic.

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