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.
"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."
"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."
"In my previous role, I was the fundraising lead for all of the athletic programs. Each year, we needed to raise an additional $50,000 to support our hiring of coaches and purchasing of equipment. I implemented small-scale fundraising efforts like a local donation drive, and I also led the large-scale efforts such as the annual auction. In all, we did meet our goal but it was a team effort, and I had some of the best volunteers you could ask for."
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.
"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."
"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."
"As an athletic director, I negotiate deals all the time! I love to negotiate because it brings out the competitive side of me. This may mean working out deals with vendors, or the school board. I don't back down from the chance to work out a deal for my students and athletes."
This is a problem-solving question. Consider your experience from the past. If you have experienced this scenario before, discuss how you handled it and what the positive outcome was. Share that you understand this is a situation you would be responsible for resolving, even though the coach is to be held accountable.
"If I had a well-liked coach who was underperforming, I would discreetly put the coach on a performance plan. Most individuals perform better when their work is monitored, and it's a short-term requirement. I have found that performance plans are fast solutions for those motivated to keep their jobs."
"This situation has come up in my current role, and I think clear communication on expectations is key. By providing solid feedback to the coach, while setting specific goals and guidelines, we can create a performance plan to measure success."
"If the coach is unable to meet the needs and requirements of the school, there may be an opportunity to move them into another role. I would hope to keep the strong team dynamic in place while managing our team members appropriately."
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.
"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."
"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."
"I have experience in writing job descriptions, posting job ads, sourcing candidates and managing the interview process. I have also been involved in the negotiation and offer process."
Attendance is not the only indicator of a successful event. How will you ensure everyone has a positive experience? Consider all of the different elements that play a role in the success of a sporting event.
"Overall attendance is always important, but the experience of the fans is key. There will always be hiccups, but as long as the fans don't notice, and enjoy themselves, positive feedback and energy are what makes it successful."
"The fans always make the event great! There should be elements of hype, excitement, and competition. This energy is what drives that athletes to perform, and the crowd to cheer!"
"A successful event should be fun, fair and safe for all participants. By effectively managing the details, participants can show up to a safe and clean venue, ready to compete with the support of fair officials and helpful staff."
This questions is open-ended and allows you to share your past experiences. Give an example or two to build confidence that you are skilled in fulfilling the responsibilities of an athletic director. Show that you have done these tasks before and have overcome challenges along the way.
"A large part of my current role has been fundraising. Every year we do a chili cookoff with live music and a basketball toss. My role in this event is coordinating with the band, volunteers, and catering. It is bigger every year, so I have learned to anticipate the numbers and accommodate changes."
"I have not personally been in charge of events, but I have helped coordinate events as part of a team. The part I enjoyed the most was recruiting the volunteers."
"I've coordinated small and large events. For smaller events, I've been able to take a minimal budget and drum up local resources and volunteers that offset certain expenses. For the larger events, I've managed the bid process for venues, food vendors, and transportation. I'm organized, efficient and a strong communicator."
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?
"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."
"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."
"In my current role, I had a coach that was underperforming, and I was getting unfavorable feedback from the participants. Initially, I laid out a short-term performance plan in hopes of bringing her skills up to standard, but she was not able to meet the goals we set. It was tough, but I was committed to the integrity of our athletic program and let this coach go."
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.
"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."
"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."
"What has brought me the most joy over the years is the idea that I am making a life-long impression on my young students and athletes. I have had the honor of mentoring many different people in my career as an athletic director, and for that, I will always be grateful."
The interviewer would like to know what characteristics you look for when hiring coaches. List characteristics that would make a person successful in a coaching role. Imagine your favorite coach and explain what they were like. Being able to speak from experience will make your answer more authentic.
"My ideal athletic coach is passionate about their work and their students. They are self-aware and a visionary, goal-minded and determined to meet and exceed the school's financial goals."
"I want coaches who truly care about their work and want to improve themselves. The type of coach I want to work for me wants to learn more and is a problem solver, looking for ways to improve the programs and strengthen their teams as well."
"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 of the team members while also leading the entire team towards one goal, is truly an amazing coach. I like to hire coaches who are empowered and committed."
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.
"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."
"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."
"I envision change when it comes to growing the attendance at sporting events. I have researched your attendance numbers and the lack of profit from your events. I believe that a fresh new marketing strategy will greatly help."
The interviewer wants to know that you have a genuine passion for sports. This desire will keep you going, even on tough days where students may be acting out, or you experience multiple losses. When faced with challenges, you could lose momentum. Share how your passion will keep you going and motivate others.
"I have always played sports and enjoy the game, the friendships made, and the energy. My passion for sports and coaching can be seen in my enthusiasm to maintain and grow our sports programs. I'm committed to empowering my coaches and offering programs that meet the needs of the students."
"In my youth, I participated in numerous sports including soccer, volleyball, and swimming. I competed in collegiate volleyball and became a high-school coach after graduation. I've volunteered at the Summer Olympic Games and enjoy sport and competition at any level. Rest assured, I will bring this passion with me to this role as athletic director."
"My passion for sports is strong which is why I completed my degree in sports marketing. I understand that there are ups and downs of being an athletic director but the excitement never disappears."
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?
"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."
"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."
"I am an athletic director, so I naturally love competition and winning. Beyond that, I love accolades given, in sincerity, by those whom I respect. I love the shout-out in the school meetings. The pat on the back in a private setting is fantastic, too, but honestly, it's even better when others know that my hard work is not only noticed but appreciated and commended. "
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?
"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."
"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."
"I have been told that my best asset is my ability to motivate others to be the best they can be. Kids need motivation, and at times I know that I am their biggest fan. It's a great feeling and keeps me accountable to bring my best to work every day."
Give the interviewer an idea of the tools you use to stay organized. You can share that you keep a calendar, make lists, set alarms on your phone. When you have multiple high priority objectives, you need to be able to explain how you dedicate your time to each one to accomplish each task efficiently.
"When prioritizing, I look at the deadlines first. Then, based on urgency I decide where to focus my attention first. An event might not happen for five months, but there are always details that need to be tackled along the way."
"Each morning, I meet with my team, and we prioritize the workload for the day. By being in communication with my staff, I can ensure that the highest priority items get tackled first and that everyone is working towards the department goal."
"I break down the needs for events and set dates for each one, like finding a photographer or hiring a caterer so that the pieces come together smoothly promptly. Most of the time other daily tasks need attention at the same time, so I keep track of these in my daily calendar, setting reminders and checking things off my lists."
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.
"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."
"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."
"Coaching sports teams has taught me what it takes to be a leader. I have learned to be assertive, organized and disciplined. I anticipate needs and plan for the future. I set goals and teach my kids to set goals. I apply these same skills and characteristics within the athletic director role to lead my coaches and my schools."
The interviewer would like to know which aspects of the job make you happiest. Share what makes you want to go to work every day. Elements such as the team you work with or your responsibilities are good examples.
"I like the camaraderie among our staff. It will be difficult to leave, but my current faculty is supportive of me taking on more challenges in a new position. We are a tight group and I hope to establish that in my role with my new team."
"I love making an impact on my students. I have seen many students excel in areas of self-confidence and academics after becoming part of a flourishing athletic group."
"The most fulfilling part of my current job is the opportunity to lead a team of talented and committed department heads. My current athletic program is one of the best in the state, and I am grateful for the chance to have grown the program to this status."
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.
"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."
"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."
"I'm proud of the progression I've had in my career so far, but ideally, I'd like to run a large, top-tier athletic program like the one at your university. I believe that with my determination and continued education that I can achieve this goal."
Discuss something relevant to this role that shows off your strengths. Share an accomplishment that gives you a feeling of pride. Your goal could be a promotion or the idea that you graduated from college with honors. Share the steps you took to reach the goal and why you think you were successful.
"While finishing my masters' degree in sports marketing, I vowed to graduate top of the class. Even though I was working full time while upgrading my degree, I managed to achieve this goal. I was very proud of this achievement."
"The most important goal that I set for myself was to become an athletic director five years into my career. I worked very hard to make it here and studied diligently."
"Early in my career, I was tasked with building out a new team within the youth soccer program. I needed to hire a coach, support staff and drum up enough participants to justify the new program. I was very proud of the fact that in just a few short months, that program was fully staffed and full of participants...we even had a waitlist. It was an early accomplishment but one that I am proud of."
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.
"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."
"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."
"I am motivated by a few things. First, I have in pride in meeting the budgetary goals and being fiscally responsible. I have been on budget every year in my role. Second, my motivation also comes from the opportunity to lead coaches and program directors who take excellent care of the student of this school."
The interviewer wants to know how you handle conflict or challenges in the workplace. Share an experience and a strategy you applied to resolve a problem in your most recent role. If you were working in a place that was entirely different from the athletic director role, think of a situation that applies to the types of challenges you might anticipate, such as difficulties with an employee or low attendance at sporting events.
"In my last position we did not have a great turnout for our women's sporting events. To solve this, we created a new marketing campaign with a slogan that caught everyone's eye. We began to get local media coverage, as our teams started to win more games. Slowly and steadily, the school spirit increased, and we saw a 40% attendance increase in just three months."
"The most challenging aspect of my last role was a very tight and sometimes restricting budget. Our athletic programs had to be efficient and productive without many resources. This opportunity allowed me to fine tune my budgeting skills and learn to better collaborate with all of the head coaches. It was a challenge but a great learning opportunity."
"In my most recent position, the biggest challenge we faced was participation. It's tough to have an effective team when you are short on players. I launched a recruitment campaign that offered free swag and highlighted the open use of our school gym if you tried out. It worked well, and we continue to grow."
The interviewer would like to know what you are currently earning so that they can make a competitive offer when the time comes. A potential employer will often base their offer on your current salary. You should be transparent about your most recent earnings and be prepared to back up any salary requests.
"I am currently earning a base salary of $98,000 plus a car allowance of $900/month and health benefits. I am looking for a competitive salary in my next position."
"As I am a recent graduate, I would like to be offered a fair salary that reflects my recent education. I am most concerned with joining an organization that will help me to grow my career in (industry). Compensation is not my primary driver."
"I am currently making $100,000 per year with two bonus opportunities. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth."
An athletic director (commonly "athletics director" or "AD") is an administrator at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, who oversees the work of coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic programs.