Interview Toolbox Series: Lessons from Baseball’s “Tito” Francona

Terry Francona nicknamed “Tito,” is the manager of the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Previously, he was the manager of the Boston Red Sox, whom he led to two World Series titles. After leading the Cleveland Indians to the playoffs in his 3rd year as manager, Tito and the Indians whipped through the playoffs to reach the 2016 World Series versus the Chicago Cubs but lost in extra innings of Game 7.

In February of 2016, I attended a charity dinner in Salt Lake City where Tito was the keynote speaker. Being a native of Cleveland, I wanted to shake the hand of someone I felt was a true leader and thank him for a great year of Indians baseball. Little did I know that I would learn something from Tito that night that would change my life and career forever.

Being a recruiter by trade, I am always searching for ways to enhance the candidate experience. In Tito’s speech that night he talked about three main points to help create a successful professional career. Personally, I have implemented his words of wisdom into employee trainings and passed them on to candidates for successful interviews. These three pieces of advice can apply to almost any part of life.

Always Be on Time

Tito always expected his players to be to meetings, practices, and games on time. It was his coaching style and he expected discipline on the part of every individual. In any industry, being punctual is a sign of professionalism especially when making a first impression at an interview. In fact, I tell my candidates to be 10-15 minutes early. By showing up to the interview on time, you start off as a dependable and consistent worker. And if you may be late? Call the employer.

Respect Others

Author photographed with Terry Francona

Tito was respected because he treated people like people. He was genuine and polite to not only his players, but also opposing players and coaches. Showing respect to a potential new employer can be summed up in one word: etiquette.

Etiquette Before the Interview

It is crucial to prepare for the interview by researching the company. When you at least know what the company does, the interviewer will know you are serious about working there.

Next, dress up and dress conservatively for the interview. It is ok to ask the recruiter for the organization’s normal attire. It is best to dress one to two notches above the norm. For example, if the company wears jeans and a polo; wear a button up shirt and slacks – maybe even a tie. Your attire shows that the interview and company matter.

Etiquette During the Interview

Remember that you are on stage the moment you walk into the building. When you arrive at the interviewing office introduce yourself to the receptionist, sit in the waiting area without your phone, and stand to greet your interviewer.

Enter the interview room with energy and excitement. Wait by your chair until the interviewer tells you to be seated. If you are meeting with more than one interviewer, or a panel, be sure to remember their names; write them down if needed.

During the interview use regular eye contact and good posture. Do not stare down the interviewer to see who blinks first, rather look at them when they are talking and when you answer a question. Try not to fidget, wring your hands, or use too many hand gestures.

Etiquette After the Interview

Near the end of the interview, always thank the interviewer for their time and shake their hand. If you are interested in the position, let them know and ask for a timeline on when you will hear back. By this point you should be able to tell if there is mutual interest.

If things went well and you sense the company is also interested, be sure to follow up. This communication could be a simple email or even a hand written thank you note. Although employers do not often receive thank you notes anymore, writing one will never go unnoticed. It could even boost your chances at getting the job.

Showing respect to potential employers before, during, and after an interview is essential to leave a positive lasting impression. Additionally, the company, sometimes not consciously, may make a quick decision based on your attire or conduct during and after the interview. So, it’s about being a true professional.

Never Give Up

In 2004, Terry Francona and the Boston Red were down three games to none to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series to decide who would be going to the World Series. Never before had a team come back from such a deficit to win the championship flag. The Red Sox rose to the occasion and didn’t give up, winning the American League pennant. They then went on later that year to become the World Series champions for the city of Boston, the first time in 85 years.

Like the Boston Red Sox, we too can face challenges during our search for new and exciting work opportunities. The key to success is our attitude of never giving up. It can be discouraging to get rejected time and time again by potential employers, but even the best of us can face difficult times. Don’t give up. Apply Tito’s three rules: Always Be on Time, Respect Others, and Never Give Up to the interview process and get that job you’ve always wanted.

About the Author

Jeremy’s commitment to finding the right candidate and “turning over every rock” is second to none. His 13 years of HR and Recruiting experience, has helped him become a true champion in assisting you with your accounting and finance, human resources and sales needs.

Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn or reach out at