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8 Interview Questions to Ask when Hiring New Sports Coaches

You’ve worked hard to craft your guiding mission, target your ideal athletes, and provide high-quality programming to those athletes. And, now, the time has come where you are ready to expand your coaching staff to support your growing clientele.

Just as you work hard to ensure that your offerings are the “right fit” for your athletes and their goals, you need to ensure that your trainers and staff are the “right fit” for your organization.

Do they understand your vision? Can they effectively interact with your clients? Are they going to elevate the rest of your team?

As you continue to grow your business, it’s important that any new trainers or staff members enhance the culture of your organization and positively impact your clients.

Here are a few questions you should ask potential new hires to ensure they are the best fit for your organization.

1. How would you describe your coaching style?

Knowing someone’s coaching style helps you understand if they will support the goals of your sports training business. Is this coach hands-on? Are they competitive? Do they have a knack for developing an athlete’s skills?

Different athletes need different styles of coaching. For example, young athletes may need more positive affirmation and fun learning the sport itself, whereas more skilled athletes may be able to handle more constructive feedback to fine tune a specific skill. When bringing in a new coach to your staff, it’s important that their dynamic complements your current staff, supports your mission, and fits in with the athletes that you serve.

2. What specific strategies do you use to help athletes improve their skills and reach their goals?

This question will also help reveal a candidate’s coaching style, in a less direct way. When the going gets tough, how will they motivate athletes to focus on things they can control and continue training? Will they create a fun learning environment?

In addition to coaching the technical side of the sport, your coaches are also motivators and mentors. So, you must also see how any new trainers or coaches will build rapport with your athletes and leave a positive impression with not only your brand, but also the sport.

Related: How to Increase Youth Sports Participation (and why it matters)

3.Can you tell me about a time when you had to adapt your coaching style to meet the needs of a particular athlete?

Like above, this question will reveal more about a trainer’s coaching style, as well as how they are able to adapt to meet the different needs of the athletes that come through your doors.

Athletes exist on a spectrum: some athletes are looking to make it to the big leagues, while others are looking for an energy outlet. Similarly, some athletes respond when you dig into them, whereas others react more favorably to more positive commentary. Prospective staff members should be able to recognize and adapt their style of feedback depending on the needs of the athletes in order to support a positive learning environment.

4. What core values do you live by when it comes to coaching?

Just as your coaches are the leaders of a sports team, your trainers are the leaders of your organization. So, it’s important that you understand their leadership style. Are they competitive? Do they have a win-at-all-costs mentality? Do they prioritize having fun? By learning more about a candidate’s guiding values, you are able to better understand what they prioritize as a trainer. And, as a result, you’re able to see how they will support the overarching vision of your organization.

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5. What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?

While you likely already have a copy of each candidate’s resume, it is still important to give them an opportunity to speak on their past experiences. This question gives prospective coaches a chance to “sell” themselves by highlighting not only their background experiences, but also their qualifications. Have they taken any certification courses? Are they trained in a specific method or technique? Do they have experience or training as it relates to the technology or equipment you have in your facility? While it’s important to ensure a candidate is a good fit for your organization, it’s also critical that you provide an opportunity for them to share what they can bring to the table.

6. What skills do you possess that will help you make an immediate impact on our team of staff?

Chances are, you’re hiring a new coach because you are looking to create additional opportunities for your athletes. So, you’re likely looking for someone who can make an immediate impact in the organization. What are this candidate’s plans to get up to speed? How will they begin to form relationships with your athletes? This question will unveil what a candidate believes is their “X factor,” as well as give insights into how they plan to roll up their sleeves and get started.

7. What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a coach, and how did you overcome it?

We all face adversity. Coaching is no exception. When the going gets tough, how do you respond? Asking candidates to share a time where they were challenged, and how they ultimately prevailed, is critical to understanding how a coach will respond in adverse situations. Are they competitive? Gritty? Resourceful?

Not only will their response inform how they will work with athletes, but it will also give you insight into how they will work with your team of staff members and other trainers.

8. How can we best support you to continue growing your knowledge and skills?

In addition to supporting athletes now, a great sports coach is also eager to continue learning to better support athletes as they progress. And, as mentioned earlier, an interview should not solely focus on how they can help you, but also how you can help them. We’ve previously talked about the importance of talent to growing a business. So, an interview is a great opportunity to hear from candidates about how they envision growing professionally and personally as a member of your team.

Related: How Group Training Became a Home Run for Ruggiero Hitting


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