Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Interviewing for that Head Coaching Job

Posted by admin February - 2 - 2011 - Wednesday

I was asked by a colleague for some pointers in interviewing for a HC position that’s come open in his area. He’ll be meeting with the committee next week. I may have commented on this in an earlier blog (last year) but it’s “that time of year” when people are hiring so I thought it was worth repeating.

My views on the interview process are based on a background in Psychology and a study of this whole process. You might consider my views as a little “radical” because I don’t take the “normal” approach to interviewing. My feeling is: The LESS the better! Many of you want to come in with these booklets— which would put War and Peace to shame in their number of pages— that you think are going to impress the interview committee. Let me tell you, that’s the last thing that will impress a principal, a Math teacher, a player’s mom, the local bank president— whoever is sitting on that hiring committee! They will hire you because of: Who you are and NOT what you know!!!

People are not aware of how much impact “body language” has on our interactions and, more importantly, the opinions we garner about others when we first meet them. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “first impressions matter” but WHY do they matter? Because our tendency is to “size up” people based on what we perceive at the non-verbal level. Too much cologne; deodorant break-down; too much hair gel; wrinkly clothes; food stuck between your teeth; looking down instead of making good eye contact…. and more. All of these “body language” cues speak louder than anything you will verbalize.

Not that WHAT you say isn’t important also! You need to be ready to give good answers to the questions posed. This is where rehearsal comes in. Videotaping yourself is good but getting in front of an “audience” is better. You need feedback from people… about how you made them feel. You want to focus on their emotional reaction to you… not your answers. You might sway someone on the committee with a good answer to a question posed but you’ll leave a lasting impression based on whether you touched them on an emotional level. That’s what effective sales techniques are all about. What are you selling to the committee? You are selling yourself!!! Again, it’s not how much you know; it’s what kind of impression you make. Think about it… the guy who got that job that you intereviewed for 3 years ago. He’s now gone from that school with a record of 2-28!!! Someone on that committee must have thought he was the best candidate! Somebody thought that the guy could coach! But… look at the record. What did he do; what did he say that got him the job??!!! I would bet that he came across on that non-verbal level as being more pleasant or more enthusiastic than the other candidates. It could have been something like he had some college experience or knew somebody on the committee— who could speak to what kind of person he was. Very rarely do you find the coach who’s selected as being the guy who comes with the biggest resume/playbook!

When you go in to meet with them, shake everyone’s hand and look them in the eye and… SMILE!!!! Sure you’re a little nervous but smile anyway. Before you sit down, ask where they want you to sit. Upon seating yourself, make sure you’re sitting up straight. If you brought a resume or booklet, do NOT distribute it until you get up to leave. You don’t want anything distracting them from observing and/or listening to you. They can look over the written material later.

When answering questions, be succinct. You don’t need to “impress” them with your vast warehouse of knowledge. My thought is: make them ask for more. Give a response that answers their question. And… it’s important to know HOW to “end” a response. “In conclusion” or “to summarize” lets your audience know you are finishing. A voice inflection up says the same thing. Make sure you make eye contact and smile at the person who asked the question as your finish. If they want more information, they can ask for it. Leave them wanting more…. don’t have “diarrhea of the mouth!”

Once you’re excused, thank them again and there’s nothing wrong with shaking hands with each person again. If you brought written material, you better be sure that you have a copy for every member of the committee. Find out beforehand how many will be on the committee and bring at least 2 extra copies in case they sneak somebody in on you! OH… your handshake tells a lot about you too! Don’t crush someone’s hand and certainly take it easier when shaking a woman’s hand. I think it goes without saying that how you dress and what you wear speaks volumes about you too.

I would say in conclusion that substance is important but… appearance is everything! I love the statement: If subliminal cues don’t sell products, then why do advertising companies spend millions for 30 seconds of commercial time during the Super Bowl broadcast?!

My “5 P’s of Success” once again come into play here: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance! If you have questions

One Response to “Interviewing for that Head Coaching Job”

  1. Coach Hargitt says:

    Good points coach!!!! 🙂