The Coaching Interview — Best Practices, by John Leonard

The Coaching Interview — Best Practices
By ASCA Director John Leonard


Good beginnings and good process usually mean good results. When a club is looking to hire a new coach, be it for the Head Coach Position, or an assistant position, quality preparation for the interview process will give all candidates a good opportunity to show their strengths and discuss what they can bring to the program.

Asking quality questions of the coach is an important part of this process. A good interview process does several things:

  1. Allows the interviewed coach to present a coherent picture of what they are looking for in a position.
  2. Allows the club to provide a clear picture of what its goals and objectives are, and what it is looking for in a head coach.
  3. Allows for a “discussion period” when both parties can freely explore questions and unexpected opportunities.

Generally, a format for the interview would first have the club discussing its history, current situation and expected needs. Following this, the coach might make a presentation of his history, current situation and what they are looking for in a new position. Finally, both parties should fully explore important questions that have arisen during the process.

Open ended questions typically are most comfortable and most educational for both parties. Here are ten sample questions that, if not covered during the early presentations, should be asked directly of the coach during the question period.

  1. What are your Coaching goals? What do you see yourself doing in 5-10 years?
  2. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses, and how do they enter into your response to the first question?
  3. In our team we have “x” number of training groups. How would you develop and maintain a sense of “team” among our “Y” number of swimmers?
  4. What do you see as the key elements in maintaining an effective Coach/Board relationship?
  5. Staff continuity and improvement are key to any program. How do you develop your assistant coaches and what do you expect from them? What qualities do you look for when hiring assistant coaches?
  6. Describe the transition from age group to senior swimming and how you accomplish this critical task?
  7. We believe that all swimmers should value their personal achievements regardless of whether they are top swimmers or less talented. How would you go about reinforcing and focusing on this goal?
  8. Describe your philosophy with regards to the competing items of family, school, and swimming. What priorities do you espouse, and why?
  9. If you were not a swimming coach, what would you do for a living?
  10. High school swimming is important here. How do you see the best relationship between High School swimming and club swimming being implemented?

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