30 Questions and Answers by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 30
As a coach, what values do you have for your team?
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The interviewer wants to get to know how you are as a leader- what is important to you. As a coach you are the leader of that team and depending what you value will reflect on the team. Do you care about timing? If you arrive five minutes late everyday, your players are going to the same thing and it shows you don't value time.
Don't list off a ton of values that are important to you while answering this question. Pick two or three values that you believe are important to you as a coach and explain why. You don't need to talk about everything that is important to you.
"My top two values for my team to have are being committed and teachable. I want my players to show up everyday on time and ready for practice- showing up is a huge part of commitment for me. It shows that they want to be part of the team. I'll also show my commit to the team by always be there early and ready to start on time. I also believe being teachable is an important factor in playing sports. If a player isn't willing to try something new, they won't be able to grow with the team."
What was your most successful team you have been a part of? Why was it successful?
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This question isn't meant to scare you if you don't have many winning records. You can use a team that you came in first and talk about how you lead the team to victory, but it is not the only way to approach this question.
Success comes in many different forms, you can talk about a player that struggled at the beginning of the season to be part of the team and by the end he/she ended up being an important leader. You should think of a team that you were proud of by the end of the season (we are proud of all our teams, but one that really stuck out). When you are passionate about the team you pick, you'll be able to bring more engagement to your answer.
"The most successful team I was apart of was when I first started coaching club season. It was the first club for me as well as my girls., most of the girls came from many different schools and didn't know what to expect. All were still learning basic skills while trying to get to know each other, so they could be prepared to play together for the next six months. Club is much more challenging than I expected, because we all only saw each other once a week for practice, they weren't able to get to know each other very well. During practice and game days, I set aside time for team bonding time. During those team bonding times I watched the girls connect on a deeper level, which improved our playing on the court. We did not end in top four for the season, but they improved on the court with their skills and working together so much by the end of the season- that is what success is to me. Being able to see the positive change in the players."
The interviewer wants to know what keeps you going, what part of coaching keeps you coming back season after season. You don't need a huge elaborate answer for this question, you just have to find what drives you.
It could be the thrill of the game when you have one minute left and your team is down by one or the look on your player's face when they get a touch down. Most of you already know what keeps you going; take time to thing about it prior to your interview, because the interviewer will want to know what will keep you going with their team.
"I love the look on the teams' faces each time they score a well deserved point. It's seeing them working hard together and earning each point they get. They realize their true potential when they work as a team and everyone is doing their part."
If we asked one of your players to describe you and your qualities as a coach what sort of things would they say about you?
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The interviewer wants you to put yourself one of your player's shoes, if you haven't done this before you should considering doing it. It helps coaching understand how their message is coming across. For this question think about a few qualities you want to have as a coach and then think if you believe your players would see you that way, if yes explain why to the interviewer- if not it would be best to pick another quality.
There is no right answer for this question as long as you back up your answer with why you believe your players would describe you with those qualities.
"I believe the my players would describe me as honest and patient. I am very honest with my players on what they need to work on and what they need to change to get there. I had a player once who had incredible talent but she didn't practice as hard because she believed she was already the best player on the team. I had a conversation with about this and explain how much further she could go as an athlete if she put in the time. Another quality would be patient because I will always take the time to help a player is isn't grasping a concept."
The interviewer wants to know how many years of experience you have. For young coaches this can be an intimidating question; no matter how many years you have show the interviewer your passion for the sport.
This question is meant to scare young coaches away, this question can spark a conversation about this new journey you are on or for older coaches a conversation about what you've learned over the years.
"I have been coaching for two years, over these two short years I have discovered the positive impact I can have on athletes and I am looking forward to continuing that impact."
Second Answer Example
"I have been coaching for fifteen years and every season brings a new set of players with different challenges and curiosity for the game. Each season ignites my passion for the game."
6. Your previous coaching record does not show many successes. Why do you think we should appoint you? Generally, not every season is going to be a winning season, but it is alarming when a coach's record shows a lot of losses. Don't be alarmed by this question during an interview, the interviewer is going to do their research too, so it is better to be up front and honest with your record.
For this answer try to focus too much on what went wrong or putting blame on other people. The interviewer mainly wants to know how you plan to do better. Here is an answer example: "My record does show quite a few losses, the team I coached with was brand new to sport. This is not an excuse, but for the first part of the season we were very focused on the basic skill of the game and working together as a whole. Towards the end of the season you are able to see we won a few games. I believe you should appoint me as head coach because I will not give up on the team and my focus is always on getting the players to improve."7. Our team finished top four last year, what would be your approach to improving the teams ranking this year? The interviewer wants to know that you are here to improve team- this doesn't always have to be focused on winning, but part of what we do is to help our players succeed at the sport.
Being new to a team that is coming off a winning season isn't always easy, there will be push back against changing an approach that has been working. Players and parents can be resistant at first and important to remember that any frustrations come from a place of passion. Here is an answer example: "Last season the team did a great job and I hope to continue that record for this coming season. I continue to learn new drills for improving skills on the court. I also believe in open and honest communication, so I like sitting down with my players and discussing what has made they successful in the best and what hasn't. Sometimes with team sports the individual athlete is forgotten about and how the majority of the team thrives is what over rules other needs, one of my strategies I use to improve season by season is looking at all individual needs and team needs and focus on fostering success."8. Is there any further specific training you see yourself requiring to meet the needs of this position? All coaching positions required generally require First Aid and CPR, so if you don't have that will be a training that you'll need prior to coaching. This certification expires every two years, so it important to keep it up to date- sometimes schools will train you to get this done.
Look into the requirements that the school has for coaching and if there is something you need knowledge that during the interview- this will show the interviewer you are educated with their requirements and are also on top of your trainings. Also, if there is any future training that you would like to attend this would be a great time to mention it. Here is an answer example: "I notice CPR and First Aid are a required, I currently am certified, but half way through the season I will need to re-certify. Re-certifying isn't an issue, but I wanted you to be aware." Here is an answer example: "I believe I have all the required trainings for this position, but there is a summer lacrosse coaching seminar coming up that I am hoping to attend to bring new drills back to the team."9. How do you know as a coach if you are doing an effective job, what are your measures? The interviewer wants to know what drives you as a coach. Think about how the school measures the success of their coaches, your answer may be based on the school's record and their core values for their sports teams- if the school has a strong winning record for the past five years, they will want to hear that you plan to continue that.
At the end of the day, coaches are more than just their winning or losing track record; coaches improve athletes on and off the court. Here is an answer example: "It is a great feeling to end a game with a win, but it is just as great to see my players having fun and giving the game their all. I want my players to be challenged and earn every single point they get. I measure my effectiveness as a coach on how much my players have grown as players during their time with me."10. Have you experienced coaching a team who have struggled to perform? How have you resolved the problem? The interviewer wants to know more about the different methods you use when the team isn't performing as well as you'd hope. Do you focus more on team drills, individual drills, conditioning? More importantly the interviewer wants to know that you'll be able to problem solve the difficulties that your team is faced with.
Sometimes players aren't doing well next to each other and they just need to be moved around, sometimes problems are bigger than a simple which. When answering this question you should talk about a time you problem solved an issue with a team. Here is an answer example: "I had two twin sisters on a team together at one point and they played horribly next to each other because they weren't always focused on the game. I was able to switch the line up around and both players and the team were able to perform better." Here is an answer example: "When a team of mine is struggling, I take a step back and look at how each player is doing with the team as a whole. Sometimes it is just a player not understanding where they should be which throws off others players, but sometimes it's something bigger like I'm not explaining something the way they can understand. When looking at a problem I look at it as whole so I know where in the process that something is going wrong."11. How do you know when you have delivered a coaching session that is of high quality? The interviewer is interested in how you measure the success of your season. Do you measure the season with your wins, your losses, how your players have improved? However you measure your success as a coach be ready to back it up.
You can tie this answer in with the school's mission as well, make sure and do your research prior to the interview. Here is an answer example: "I know I have delivered a session of coaching that is high quality when my players have improved as individuals and as a team. Constantly winning would be great, but that doesn't always happen and as a coaches we need to remember that our players are human and things don't always work out the way we hope."12. Why do you want to coach here? The interviewer wants to know you've done some research about their school prior to the interviewer. It's important to know what you're getting into when applying to different schools. Research a little history about the school, their sports programs, and what they value.
You don't have to know the full history of the school, but you should know a few things that interest you about the school. Here is an answer example: "I have looked into your core values here- respect and pride. I believe is important for each student to learn what respect is and how to give it. Pride in your school and teams is also important- it gives students something to be passionate for."13. If a player openly badmouths your coaching decisions, how will you handle the situation? The interviewer wants to know how you handle conflict with players. The interviewer wants to hear about different ways you deal with players and if those ways are appropriate. One of the best ways to handle the situation is to pull the player aside and have a private conversation.
Depending on the situation you may have to have a team decision, so for this question you may want to pick a situation where you had to deal with this and explain what you did to handle it. Here is an answer example: "I once had a player who during practice was talking how they didn't think the drill I was running was helpful. I pulled the player aside afterwards to hear their opinion why they thought what they thought- there was a deeper issue that the player was dealing with and we discuss proper ways that she should work on frustrations."14. How will you handle an irate parent questioning a player's playing time? No matter what level of sport you coach there will always be back leash with playing time. It is nearly impossible to create a completely equal set up. It can be tricky at the high school level because parents approach a lot of coaches right after a game about playing time because they are generally not at practice.
When approaching parents it is important to remain calm and collected or the situation may heighten with feelings of angry. A common solution to dealing with an angry parent is to have a private conversation with the parent and player- this will keep everyone on the same page. It is the preference of the coach whether or not they want to have the conversation with the parent right away or set up a meeting. Here is an answer example: "After a game when a parent approaches me that is clearly upset and is concerned about playing time, I generally ask them to set up a meeting with the player and myself for after practice. I like letting after one cool down prior to having the conversations because I believe it makes everyone more level-headed."15. How will you generate community interest for the program? Most sports at the high school leave need funding to continue to support the team. Many coaches have fundraisers in many different ways to sport their teams- bake sales, car washes, candle drives, and many more. Through these fundraisers you'll need community support for your team or else they won't generally want to support the fundraiser.
The interviewer wants to know that you'll continue generating sport so that the program will continue and thrive. You can talk about different ways you've reach out to the community on past teams you've coached or on teams you've been on. Be creative and come up with something new to peak the interviewer's interest. Here is an answer example: "I always have my teams volunteer at least once during our season- we've gone to soup kitchens before, cleaned up trash, volunteered in a nursing home, etc. I believe the best way to generate community interest for a program is to show that we have interest in community as well. I also believe that volunteering and helping others is a great lesson to teach our athletes."16. What is your off-season conditioning program like? The interviewer wants to know your plans for your athletes when you no longer see them for practice every school. Off-season conditioning is a choice that coaches sometimes choose to do or not. Some of your athletes may be multi-sport players, do they fall into the same conditioning plans? Some coaches recommend that players exercise at least three days a week to keep in shape but other coaches don't expect their players to thing about the sport off season.
No matter what your plan is for your athletes just be prepared to back it up. Here is an answer example: "I would love for all my players to play club season once they are done with our regular season but I know that isn't reasonable, because it gets expensive. I ask my athletes to try to exercise 3-4 times a week to say in shape, but when the season gets closer I encourage them to attend the open gyms lead by the seniors."17. How do you build trust with your athletes? You should explain the different ways you create team unity and how you build rapport with your players. Do you do team bonding games or have players come to practice 10 minutes early? What ever method you do to build trust be ready to talk about it.
Online you can access tons of team bonding activities by each sport, so if you are having trouble coming up with ones as a new coach you can look ones up that interest you or as a seasoned coach you can learn new ways to build trust. Here is an answer example: "I like to ask my players individually: what is something you wish past coaches knew that would help the coach you better. Players don't always get asked about how they need to be coached and I think this is a good question to help build trust that I am here for them."18. How do you handle criticism from fans? Unfortunately, criticism is apart of every game and coaches will get the bulk of the complaints when the team is losing or for anything else related to the sport. It is never a good feeling when people are criticizing the way you are coaching, but no matter what you need to remain professional.
Base your answer around remaining professional during stressful times of criticism. You don't have to say your completely okay with being criticized because that's unreasonable. You can talk about having conversations with fans after the game if you know who is causing it. Here is an answer example: "During the game I try to focus on the players and how the team is doing. I want to show my players that you shouldn't just react to negative things with a negative response. After the game if I know the fans who were doing the criticizing I'll have a conversation with the person."19. What does your bench look like during games? Every coach has a different style for how they want their bench to be- some coaches require that everyone is standing during games, others have all their players sit down, as a coach just know your style and be ready to back up your reasoning to the interviewer.
There is no right or wrong way to answer this question, it is about preference. Here is an answer example: " Here is an answer example: "For example: "I let my players choose whether or not they are going to sit or stand when they are off the court. My only major rule related to bench time is to make sure you are focused and cheering for your teammates."20. How do you communicate your expectations to parents/guardians? Players do not always communicate well with their parents/guardians, the interviewer wants to know your style of communication. Every coach is different- some tell players to tell their parents, others create group emails/texts for parents/guardians to stay informed. There may be different policies and procedures around communication so just keep that in mind.
You don't have to go into elaborate detail with this answer, just share how you've communicated with parents/guardians in the past or if you've only gone through your players. There isn't a wrong way to answer this question. Here is an answer example: "In the past I've used group email with my parents/guardians to keep them informed about practice cancellations, games, fundraisers, and any team bonding plans. At the beginning of the season I have a group meeting with both the players and their parents, this way we can make sure we are all on the same page."21. As a coach, how would you develop trust with teachers? As a high school coach, you have a shared responsibility with the teachers for making sure the students are getting an education and being successful. Teachers are with the students all day while you only see them after school, the players will not always tell you when they need extra help with an assignment which could lead to the teacher believing you don't care about the student's grades.
A great way to be successful working in a high school is to create a positive relationship with teachers from the beginning, prior to students falling behind. Ways to do that would to go in early to meet them and let them know you would love if they reached out if there are concerns about a student or invite them to parent night, that way players, parents, teachers, and yourself would be on the same page about education being important. Here is an answer example: "I would love to have parents come to my parent night with my players. This would happen at the beginning of the season and it would set up clarify for all involved with the player that education is important and I am open to being flexible to help a student that is falling behind. If that isn't possible for all teachers to make it, I would offer to come in early to at least have a conversation with the teachers that I would like to be a support when needed to help my players be successful on and off the court."22. How do you manage playing time? Coaches will get questions about playing time from all angles. When working within a school setting the conversation gets trickier, because grades are also involved with sports. Most schools require at least a C average in order to continue to be part of a sports team, so if a student's grades keep dropping they may have to be pulled off the team or benched until their grades get better. This is a part of playing time you can't control.
What you can control is who is on the court when. To get everyone on 100% equal playing time is impossible. There are lots of different variables that come into play- related to position, level of player, injuries, how many players are on the team, etc.- trying to make everyone completely equal isn't going to happen. Ultimately the decision is yours who is on the field and who isn't. As a coach you want to give the team the best opportunity to succeed, sometimes that means some players aren't going to get the same amount of play. You can be honest with the interviewer about this, because that is a part of playing a sport- especially in upper grade levels. Here is an answer example: "As a coach I want to see all my players getting the same amount of playing time, but that isn't always possible. I have to make calls that are best for the team as a whole, but I always try to pull players in to even out playing time whenever possible."23. What is one of the most important qualities to have as a coach? This question doesn't have a specific answer that the interview is looking for. The interviewer is looking to understand what type of culture you'll create as a coach for their team.
You can pick any quality that you think it most important to you- supportive, knowledgeable, patient, etc. As long as you support why you picked that quality there isn't really a wrong answer you can give. Here is an answer example: "The most important quality to have as a coach is to be patient. Each player has a different learning style and some will learn faster or slower than one another, so I believe it is most important to have patience for each player." Here is an answer example: "For example: "The most important quality to have as a coach is to be knowledgeable about the sport. I always been updated on the newest drills and different techniques. I think it is most important for players to know that you know what you are talking about and that their coach is always willing to learn something new- as should they."24. What does a typical day at practice look like for you? The interviewer wants to know about your practice plans and what the players will be doing on a regular day. A great way to prepare for this question is to bring one or two sample practice plans that you've done before. This will give the interviewer a visual of different drills you'll be doing with the players, along side showing the interviewer you are organized and prepared for practices.
It is okay if you don't have a sample practice plan with you, you can also just talk the interviewer through a typical. You can talk about warm up activities, drills, position skill development, cool down, etc. If there is something different that is interesting that you do with your team, that isn't very typical, be sure to mention it. Once a week do you have a different player pick a drill , whatever it is always mention fun things that make you stand out. Here is an answer example: "I like to start every practice with a warm up run and player led stretches. I generally pick a new warm up game like Queen of the Court to get the players energized for practice. Then I'll dive into individual and group drills to improve performance. I have a sample outline of a practice plan that you'd love to show you."25. What is the most difficult part of being a coach? This question isn't necessarily about any individual team and their challenges, but about a challenge you as a coach face. Coaches are presented with many different challenges whether internal or external. With this question you can keep the answer very surface level by talking about difficulties with parents or teachers; another option is to take the answer deeper into how you feel when players move on. Players get older and eventually graduate, it can be bittersweet when a player moves on and it's okay to express that challenge.
Another way to approach this question is to talk about direct difficulties as a coach related to playing time, making cuts, or even making calls about benching a player. Either way you approach this question make sure you also bring up how you manage that challenge. Here is an answer example: "I think the hardest part for me as a coach is watching a player graduate that I have worked with since freshman year. It is amazing to help them grow as an athlete and an individual, it is also bittersweet to watch them move on to other things. Thankfully, many times I have had players come back to visit just to tell me how things are going." Here is an answer example: "As a new coach, one of the hardest parts for me has been tryouts. When players are so young it is hard to make those decisions on who to cut from the team and who not to. I have been continuing to reach out to my coaching mentors to help learn to make the best possible decision. I think this will continue to be difficult, but I understand the importance of my decision and don't take it lightly."26. Why did you choose to become a coach? Each coach has their own reason for doing what they do, it could be because an amazing coach you had or even a horrible one. What ever reason got you to being a coach, be ready to share it. It is very common to be asked during an interview what made you want to become a coach, many times the answer is the help the players, which is 100% okay, but if you can bring a story about why you started it will be much more personal.
Coaches have many reasons that started their careers, but the players continue to keep coaches going. Here is an answer example: "My freshman year I joined volleyball for the first time, I was so nervous and very clumsy. I was still growing into myself while trying to learn this new sport. A few weeks into the season I saw the other players improving while I felt like I was still on week one. The assistant coach saw that I was struggling and sat me down, I expressed my concerns and she explained to me that part of the problem may be that I was too focused on other players. She helped me learn how to focus on my improvement, which really helped me. She took the time to help each player individually and really cared about us. It was the first time I had a coach so individual focused and made me realize one day I wanted to make a positive change in players just like she had."27. In fifteen years, what team do you see yourself coaching? The interviewer wants to know if you are planning on sticking around or moving somewhere else. Don't see this as a trap question, the interviewer doesn't expect people to say that 'this is your dream school to coach for'. You don't ever want to lie during an interview, so you could be interested in moving on to another role in the future- if it would be growing with the company share your interest.
Interviewers just don't want to hear you say that you're planning to be here for a year and then are leaving. If you are planning on being with this team for awhile, focus your answer on growing the sports program. Here is an answer example: "In fifteen years, I see myself continuing my education and becoming an Athletic Director for a high school. My hope is to move up within a school that I have coached at, so I could continue to build the program. I think it is important to understand all of the moving parts of a program prior to running the program." Here is an answer example: "In fifteen years, I see myself continuing to grow a softball program I'm working for. Softball has always been a passion of mine and I don't see that passion going away; I want to continue to share that passion with the younger population. I know that your middle school doesn't have a softball program, it would be an amazing opportunity to help grow this high school program into the middle school."28. How important is winning compared to how your students are doing in the classroom? As a coach you need to remember that you will be wearing multiple hats during the season- one of those hats is being an educator. The interviewer wants to know how you will handle difficult situations, like one of your starting players failing their science class- should they be starting in tomorrow's game or stay back to study with their teacher.
Juggling between sports and academics is never easy and it puts many coaches in difficult situations and the interviewer wants to know if you are prepared to make those calls. Be prepared to back up your answer no matter which ever way you feel. Here is an answer example: "On my past teams I have have set expectations for on the court and off the court. My players have needed to maintain at least a C average to be on the team, if a player is in jeopardy of falling below a C or is struggling with a class I work with the student and the teacher to create a plan to help the student get back on track."29. Thinking about a challenging team you've been apart of, what was difficult about the team and how did you improve it? Challenges can come from many different directions and sizes, the interviewer wants to know that you will be able to handle challenges when they occur. With coaching many different challenges can pop up from playing time, injuries, attendance, player to player conflict, grades, and so many more. No matter the challenge you will have to be ready for action and to handle problems on the spot if needed.
A team can be challenging for many different reasons and the interviewer would just like to hear about a problem that occurred and how you overcame it and continued to help the team. It is important to remember that challenging moments create learning experiences. Here is an answer example: "I coached for a team that had personalities that conflicted a lot. One of my players was new to our school and had a much different view on motivating teammates than the others. My player and I came to an understanding about how they were motivated verses how our team motivates each other. My team learned to work together on understanding each others' differences and there were far less confrontations."30. Do you have any other experience coaching, besides this sport? The interviewer wants to know about your experience with coaching as a whole. If you have coached other sports this would be a great time to share that information and talk about what you learned coaching that sport will help you in this one. You'll want to let the interviewer know about different techniques for leadership that you learned from the other sport to can help improve these players as well.
Other experiences you'd be able to talk about for this question is different experiences with youth. Have you ever worked in a youth center where you helped students set goals and coached them on how to do things? Many different experiences are coaching moments, you just have to think about what you've done and tailor it to coaching. Here is an answer example: "I haven't coached any other sports, but I have coached in a different way. I volunteered in a youth center where I helped with daily living skills. I created lesson plans for each day, during a cooking program I demonstrated how to do to something and then had the students repeat. This experience helped me understand how important demonstration is for students and more importantly to watch each student. Students sometimes misunderstood something and I would hel them individually. For volleyball, sometimes during an approach a player could just have one step wrong and just need help with that one part. The cooking program helped me notice the small things that could need correction."
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