Win The Interview

—John Atkins, CAA, Athletic Director – Corydon Central High School

Think for a moment about any interview you have been in as a coach. What stood out to you about the people who were conducting that interview? Were they going through the motions and asking a systematic array of questions or were they sincere and open? Did they seem passionate about the position, their program, and their student-athletes? Were they knowledgeable about you and your background? Now ask those same questions about yourself in that interview. Were your answers calculated and premeditated, or were they profound? Did you do your homework and show knowledge of the program’s past, present, and future? Did you convey that you were passionate about being the next head coach at that school? As the landscape of coaching in sports has changed over the years, so has the description of what schools are looking for in their coaches. For this athletic director, it is a solid mixture of old school values and new school approaches that I desire and here are five categories of questions I ask myself about each candidate that I interview.

  1. Is this candidate knowledgeable? Do they actually know what they are talking about or are they just a good interview? Can they think and react to questions and scenarios on the fly with little to no preparation? Were they honest and sincere about their past experiences?
  1. What kind of relationships is this candidate going to have within our school and community? Can they relate with the student-athletes in our program from top to bottom? Will they work well, and in cooperation with other coaches, especially when it comes to multi-sport athletes? Can they be productive members of our school staff outside of their coaching responsibilities? Are they willing to be a public figure?
  1. Are they driven and passionate about their job? Will our kids buy in to him/her? Are they a program coach who takes pride in success at every level? Do they have fun coaching the game and will they allow it to be fun for those around them?
  1. Is he/she a system coach or are they flexible in their approach? Is this person open to suggestions and insights or do they have to have full control? Can they recruit a coaching staff that they trust and feel comfortable delegating authority to?
  1. Is this person going to follow the rules (school & IHSAA) or are they going to try to find ways to bend and circumvent them? Is this a person that I will have to keep a close eye on or can I trust them completely? Is he/she the same person when nobody’s looking?

It needs to be understood that as an athletic director, I am not looking for the perfect person because the perfect person simply doesn’t exist. It is extremely unlikely that you are going to give me the perfect answer to every question you are asked, and if you did it would raise some concerns for me about your sincerity and honesty. I have never come away from an interview, reflected upon my answers to the questions above, and realized that a certain candidate had checked every single box for me. However, the majority of the time the candidate who gets offered the job is the one who answered questions honestly and left me with confidence that they were the right person for our job.

The author can be reached for questions or comments at

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