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Athletic Director Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 21st, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Education    
Question 1 of 25
Define a good coach.
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How to Answer
The interviewer wants to know more about your thoughts on what makes a competent coach. State the qualities you believe in and reinforce the fact that you possess these talents as well. Take this as an opportunity to share your values. Reflect on the responsibilities listed in the job description. Providing training to the athletes, challenging them and developing them to excel as individuals and as a team are some of the general expectations of a solid coach. Think about which characteristics are needed to fulfill these responsibilities.
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Answer Examples
1.
Define a good coach.
The interviewer wants to know more about your thoughts on what makes a competent coach. State the qualities you believe in and reinforce the fact that you possess these talents as well. Take this as an opportunity to share your values. Reflect on the responsibilities listed in the job description. Providing training to the athletes, challenging them and developing them to excel as individuals and as a team are some of the general expectations of a solid coach. Think about which characteristics are needed to fulfill these responsibilities.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"A good coach is encouraging, motivating, and understands the limitations of each team member yet not allow them to limit themselves."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my experience, there are many different coaching styles, and I'm not sure there is one typical style. However, I think a coach who can communicate effectively with each person on the team while also leading the entire team towards one goal is truly an amazing coach. I like to hire coaches who are empowered and committed."
Anonymous Answer
"A good coach is knowledgable, passionate, and, most importantly, able to galvanize a unique and different group of individuals towards one common goal."
Rachelle's Answer
This is a strong summary of what a good coach looks like. Try also tying in a sentence re: the ways you are a good coach to student-athletes, or to other coaches.
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2.
What do you envision for our athletic program, if you were hired?
An Athletic Director needs to be able to see the big picture and how the details come together. Share a realistic vision. Make sure your idea draws from experience and an understanding of the school's needs.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I would like to see your students feeling supported by the coaches and the coaches feeling supported as well. I would like to see more fan participation and greater attendance at school sporting events. I'd also like to get our financials in a better place, making more efforts to support existing and future event needs."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have researched your program and am impressed with the direction you are taking the athletics at your school. I think my experience would allow me to focus on growing the intermediate level programs and expand the offering to include swimming and diving. I would also spend time getting to know the coaches and staff to ensure their ideas come to fruition."
3.
What motivates you as an athletic director?
The interviewer would like to understand what motivates you on the job. Perhaps it is your passion for helping your students, developing new talent, or working with the community. Share with the interviewer your primary drivers.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The students motivate me. My role indirectly affects their experience out on the court or the field. If I'm doing a good job of handling the administrative side and supporting the coaches then I know I am making it possible for kids to play the sports they want to and to get the training and skills they deserve."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Helping kids to gain confidence is all the motivation that I need. Kids who participate in athletics have higher self-esteem and a lower suicide rate. It's incredible what some exercise and camaraderie can do."
4.
What brings you the most joy, as an athletic director?
There are many responsibilities within the athletic director role. Rather than sharing a specific duty, like fundraising, consider sharing how much you enjoy motivating your coaches or how much you appreciate strategy and problem-solving. Think about what excites you most about the role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I love my staff. I take pride in building a team of individuals who strive for excellence and have fun together. It makes me happy to grow my coaches, getting to know their personal goals and investing in them to see them achieve them."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My favorite moments as an athletic director are those when our students rise to the challenge and stretch their skills. Whether they win the championship or not, if they have grown throughout the season, it brings me joy to witness that growth."
5.
Have you had to fire a coach before? How was that process?
The interviewer would like to know if you have experience in terminations. If you do not have experience in terminations, share a time when you had to let someone down. If the answer is yes, discuss the situation and explain why it was necessary to let them go. Retention of your staff is essential. You want to show the interviewer the strides you take to support your team and keep them around. When you have exhausted your options, what steps did you take?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"It was difficult having to let go of the basketball coach a couple of years ago. He was with the school for five years, but we had some issues with attendance in his last year. I met with him two times the first month we started to notice tardiness, and he shared some of his issues. I let him know I am an advocate for him and want to support him but I also need to support our teams and our administration. We put him on a performance plan, and I checked in with him twice a month. Unfortunately, he couldn't meet our expectations, so I had my final meeting with him and let him go."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have not yet needed to fire a coach, but if that situation came up, I would follow the procedures put forth by your school. I understand that it would be a tough situation to handle, but if a coach is not performing, then they need to go."
6.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but you need to assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long-term fit for their position.

You may want to start by sharing that you have a long-term goal of managing a professional sports team. Discuss where you'd like to be in the process of achieving that goal in the next five years.

Consider sharing smaller goals such as the success of your teams, ways you plan to grow in your career or continuing your education. These types of goal show that you are a person who seeks to develop and challenge themselves and that you have taken the time to think strategically about your career and what you want in life.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Ideally, five years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role as your athletic department grows and sees more wins. My career interests align very nicely with your school's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In five years I would like to be seen as an authority in our industry. I would like to be well-connected and trusted when it comes to my work here."

Anonymous Answer
"I have been here for seven years, and I am excited about the transition to a new avenue here. In 5 years, I see myself walking into our new gymnasium, or our current stadium as AD, having helped to lead a renaissance for our athletic program. It's packed full of parents and students! The atmosphere is electric as we compete for a county championship."
Rachelle's Answer
You paint an enthusiastic picture in your answer - this is great! Your excitement really shines through.
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7.
What type of experience do you have with hiring?
Give the interviewer confidence in your onboarding experience by sharing examples of how you have completed the interview and hiring process in the past. If you lack experience in this area, share any related knowledge and experience that would assist you in performing this duty.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I hired five coaches last year, completing the process from start to finish. It was pretty time intensive, but I coordinated my support staff to help me through the job posting and screening process. I found that once we identified the top candidates, it was best to come up with a system for interviewing to be efficient with time."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have not spent time hiring coaches as of yet; however, I do know how to interview from my time as a recruiter in the army."
8.
What experience do you have with fundraising?
In education, budgets may be tight and efficient fundraising will be necessary. Talk about a specific experience that displays your knowledge and skills. Tell the interviewer about your success in fundraising. Share how many people attended and how much money you raised. Specific numbers will speak volumes.

You will want to know about the school and their current fundraising efforts. Based on what you know about their fundraising and financials, present something cutting edge and creative that they may not have considered or aren't investing as much energy into. Events, new athletic programs, social media and broadcast marketing are all compelling examples to present.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Last year, our athletic department sold raffle tickets for a trip that was donated by a local travel agency. We raised $55,000 which went directly to new uniforms and travel expenses for our team."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"This year we are putting together a gala to raise money for our girl's soccer team. There will be a silent auction with items donated by local businesses and a local band playing. We did a similar event last year, and the event was packed."
Anonymous Answer
"Our youth soccer club is a non-profit, so we survive through fundraising efforts. We have coordinated different sales, hosted large-scale events to sponsor the funding for our scholarship as well. As a class advisor, we have also sold items like discount cards, subs, pretzels, etc. So I have extensive experience with utilizing fundraising."
Rachelle's Answer
This experience sounds good! Do you have an idea of how much money you have helped raise to date? That may be an interesting number to include.
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9.
As an athletic director, what do you believe is your best asset?
The interviewer would like to understand what you feel you do best, as an athletic director. A good answer to this question would be to share something that makes you stand out. How are you different from all of the other athletic directors they are interviewing for the role?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am creative and innovative, always seeking to better myself and think outside the box when it comes to coaching methodologies. My sincere dedication is certainly my best asset."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe my biggest asset is my ability to listen and problem solve. When you have a strong relationship with your staff, they are more willing to share with you the good and the not so good. By listening to issues, I can more quickly work towards a solution."
Anonymous Answer
"I think my best asset is that I am driven. Driven by success, driven by detail, and driven by a sense of purpose. Very rarely do I let things fall through the cracks. Every t is crossed, and every i is dotted. I refuse to settle. When you have a vision, a big event, it is always the details of those things that carry the mood with fans and participants. You have to give everything you have if you want to ask people to do the same."
Rachelle's Answer
You bring a wide view of what it means to give your best - down to the mood of the fans and participants! Your drive definitely comes through in this response.
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10.
Being an athletic director requires a flexible schedule. Are you able to meet these requirements?
You don't need to share what your schedule looks like, but you should let the interviewer know you understand the expectations. If you're not clear and need to know more about what the schedule might look like, ask. The interviewer wants to see that you will treat your role as an athletic director seriously.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am willing to do what it takes to be successful in this role. If that means working overtime, that's okay too."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Being newer to my career as an athletic director, I am willing to work any hours needed. Rest assured, I will be present whenever it's required of me."
Anonymous Answer
"I have spent the better part of my career in at 6:15 am and leaving around 9 pm. So I feel like I am more than willing to devote whatever hours are necessary. I realize this is a 24/7 job at times. As club president, teacher, coach, I have students, coaches, referees texting and emailing and calling at all hours of the night b/c of problems that arise. Spending time is arguably the most important part of this job, and I will devote whatever time is needed to help us succeed."
Rachelle's Answer
You sound incredibly dedicated to your work. If I were the interviewer, my next question would be, 'How do you avoid burnout?' so I recommend speaking a bit on this as well.
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11.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
You should always be prepared to show the interviewer that you have a natural ability to lead others. Whether you have led a group of 500 or a team of 12, you must display to the interviewer that you are capable of handling the responsibility that comes with being a leader and mentor.

Talk about your desire to be a leader. Share with the interviewer that you strive to be a role model for others. Explain that you jump at the opportunity to lead groups, encourage your counterparts, and be a face of the school's athletic department.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current position, I am also the president of the social committee. I love that I have the opportunity to encourage staff and student engagement while being a positive influence on the workplace culture. I am a natural leader because I start with leading by example. As a leader, I make myself available to others who need mentor-ship, a bit of assistance in adjusting to their teaching role, or just a listening ear when they've had a tough day. I am confident in my leadership abilities and look forward to joining your team as athletic director."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I do consider myself a leader. Since becoming an athletic team lead, I have hired, trained and promoted numerous members of the staff and students. My leadership style is to empower those around me so that collectively, we are a stronger and more productive team."
Anonymous Answer
"Definitively yes. I have always served in leadership roles, whether it be as a captain when I played, or as a coach, teacher, or advisor. I take on those roles because I am confident enough (and maybe delusional enough) to think I can make a difference on a broad scale. I believe in empowering the people you work with and mentoring them to become better leaders themselves. I am organized, always with a clear vision for where we are headed with distinct goals for our success."
Rachelle's Answer
Your leadership mindset certainly shines through in this answer, and in others. The splash of humor is great, too, especially if you are interviewing in an environment where you feel comfortable.
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12.
How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
We all like to recognition for our accomplishments in the workplace. Share with the interviewer how you want appreciation for your hard work. Through gifts? Financial perks? Public recognition? Kind words? Title promotions?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is through words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work makes an impact."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am a highly competitive person who is compensation driven. I like recognition for my accomplishments through monetary bonus' or contests where the stakes are high."
13.
What role do you believe athletics play in a students development?
Participation in athletics makes a positive influence in the development of students. The interviewer wants to know how you feel athletics would help a student. There are numerous benefits so share your opinion and support with an example.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I strongly believe that participating on an athletic team improves health, teaches kids about cooperation and how to work in a team. There are numerous benefits that every person should experience as they grow up."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I think that participation in sports can play an important part in a child's development. Sports can instill confidence, teamwork, communication and leadership skills."
Anonymous Answer
"It is absolutely an extension of the classroom. Skills learned through sports are the exact skills business and employers are looking for in today's world: commitment, willingness to collaborate, leadership, sacrifice for a team goal, ability to influence and motivate others. These things aren't always available in the classroom, but sports are an avenue to open some student-athletes up to new experiences and showcase those intangible skills."
Rachelle's Answer
Your perspective of athletics being an extension of the classroom is a very wise one. Athletics do so much for a young person, and you bring up some fantastic points in this response.
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14.
How would you try to improve fan attendance?
As an athletic director, you are in charge of coordinating events, marketing, and management for all associated sports teams. Discuss a marketing strategy that shows off your experience and knowledge.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Enhancing the fan's experience is one of the best ways to improve attendance. Last year we rewarded superfans with prizes through online contests using social media. This strategy increased overall attendance by 30%."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my current position, we have improved fan attendance through social media strategy. We have seen a great increase in attendance by creating Facebook fan a page and marketing events through that platform."
15.
When have you negotiated a deal?
Negotiation is a large part of your role as an athletic director. Show your knowledge of the position and the types of negotiations you will anticipate. You will have new and existing vendors, and you want to show how you cultivate relationships with these businesses. You also want to articulate your creativity, the ability to create alternative options within the framework of the contract.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I had to negotiate the price of uniforms with an athletic outfitter for our basketball teams. I had worked with them before, but the price increased since the last time we made a purchase. We had a longstanding relationship with this mom and pop company and wanted to continue to support them. I anticipated needing new uniforms for the softball team, so I was able to get a better deal because of the volume, which kept us within the budget as well."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have negotiated deals in the past which include supply costs and overtime hours for coaches. Before becoming an athletic director, I worked in sales. I believe this experience has greatly increased my negotiation skills."
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25 Athletic Director Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. Define a good coach.
  2. What do you envision for our athletic program, if you were hired?
  3. What motivates you as an athletic director?
  4. What brings you the most joy, as an athletic director?
  5. Have you had to fire a coach before? How was that process?
  6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  7. What type of experience do you have with hiring?
  8. What experience do you have with fundraising?
  9. As an athletic director, what do you believe is your best asset?
  10. Being an athletic director requires a flexible schedule. Are you able to meet these requirements?
  11. Do you consider yourself a leader?
  12. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
  13. What role do you believe athletics play in a students development?
  14. How would you try to improve fan attendance?
  15. When have you negotiated a deal?
  16. If a coach was loved by the students, but under-performing on the field, what would you do?
  17. What makes a successful athletic event, in your opinion?
  18. Tell me about your experience coordinating, and developing events.
  19. Describe your ideal athletic coach, and what types of coaches you would like to see in our program.
  20. Describe your passion for sports, and how that passion will translate into this position.
  21. How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
  22. What do you like about your present job?
  23. Give me a time when you had to set an important goal in the past and tell me about your success reaching it.
  24. What major challenges and problems did you face at your last position?
  25. What is your current salary?
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