Avoiding Major Mistakes inthe Interview Process
By Dr. John LaurieAmerican Football Monthly
© November 2003 I have been a high school principal for over 30 years and havehad the opportunity to hire a head football coach at threedifferent high schools. I would like to share with you someinterview tips that will help you with your next opportunity tocompete for a new position.Here are three examples of First-and-Goal: Red Zoneopportunities to improve your chances for a successfulinterview to get your next job:1. Learn about yourself 2. Learn about the position and its responsibilities3. Learn about the expectations of the position
LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF
The most important key to a successful interview is that youhave the ability to tell the interview team who you are, whatyou are capable of doing and what you can accomplish. Inorder to do this, you must do something that some of us havetrouble doing, which is to simply write down your greateststrengths and be able to give examples of each. My suggestionis that you list three to five of your most powerfulcharacteristics (strengths) and memorize them.If you are applying for a position in public education that youare expected to teach, I strongly recommend that you include astatement about your desire to work with student athletes, andyour ability and drive to be a successful “classroom teacher.”If this is not one of your top three strengths, I suggest you readno further if you are thinking about coaching in a public highschool.The key to identifying your three greatest strengths is whenyou are asked a question is to include one of your threestrengths with your response. This may sound a little“cheesy,” but I must tell you it will support your answer everytime. Think about one of your strengths right now ... keep inmind while I ask you some typical interview questions that Ihave seen stop high-powered applicants dead-cold in their tracks. Just remember to include in your response one of your (3) strengths, and see how much easier the answer becomes.
1. Why do you want to work here?2. What is your energy level? Describe a typical day?3. What aspects of this position do you consider most crucial?4. What have you learned from previous jobs you have had?5. What are your qualifications to be a head coach here?6. Can you work under pressure?7. What is your greatest strength? (skills)8. What are your outstanding qualities? (personality/character)9. Why should I hire you?10. What can you do for us that someone else cannot do?I hope you see how you can enhance the interview teamsopportunity to not only get to know you, but they will alsohear many times over, in a different questions structure, your strengths.Questions 5-10 will really catch many applicants off-guard if they have not thought about themselves carefully as it relatesto their perceived strengths.I would also add, that the very best way to close an interview,when asked “Is there anything else you would like to add”... of course thank the committee for the opportunity to interview, but also, take one minute to close with your three strengths.
LEARN ABOUT THE POSITON AND ITSRESPONSIBILITIES
The sign of a well-prepared applicant is to know someimportant information about not only the job he/she isapplying for, but also about the school and the community.This is great information to casually bring into the interviewwhen asked a question that aligns with your personalobservation of the setting.For 95 percent of coaches applying to teach in the public highschools, you are going to be told that 90 percent of your salaryis for teaching and 10 percent for coaching. Although a truestatement, it is my opinion that 90 percent of coaches are firedfor a poor win/loss record and only 10 percent for inferior teaching. But – and this is important – I am not aware of verymany good school districts that will hire an average or belowaverage teacher to be the head coach when all things are putinto the mix of selecting a coach.Sell your ability to teach in the classroom every opportunityyou have during the interview. A personal note, I have never hired an excellent coach that was not an excellent teacher inthe classroom. So my point, not all excellent coaches areexcellent teachers and not all excellent teachers makeexcellent coaches; but they are out there, and you will have a big-time advantage if you provide them with that perception.
LEARN ABOUT THE EXPECATIONS OF THEPOSITION
What are the expectations? How many assistant coaches? WillI share facilities? Am I assisting in other sports? Booster Club? Weight room? Lots of questions here. The key is to findwhat you need to know from others prior to the interview andask the questions that have not been answered at the interview.I believe it is not a strength to dwell too long on expectations,and that you should spend most of your time on your “strengths” and general “responsibilities” related to your coaching and teaching assignment.
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