Questions Not To Ask In An Interview

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Sometimes it’s not what you do or say in life, sometimes it’s what you don’t do or say.  Take Jim for example.  Jim has been searching for a job for a couple of months since graduating from college.  He has struggled in his first couple of interviews so he decided to do some research into the proper techniques a person should use during an interview.

As he was reading through a book on career development, he ran across a section that discussed the types of questions a person should not ask during a job interview.  The author reasoned that the goal of the interview is to build positive relationships during your meetings and that you need to show the hiring manager that you have done your research.  By asking the following types of questions, it is clear to the search committee that you have not adequately prepared for the interview.

  • Avoid asking questions that are answered in the institution’s general information or on their website (e.g. number of sports offered, the record of last years team, etc).  These types of questions will let the interviewer know that you did not do your homework.   But by all means ask questions if some information is not clear to you.
  • Avoid asking about the salary or benefits in the first interview.  This is a major mistake.  Quite often, the salary can be found on the Internet or in a published article.  The interviewer may choose to bring this information up, but you should not initiate the topic.  By asking about the salary too early in the process, it will give the impression that you are more concerned with what is in it for you.  In fact, the interviewer may give you the salary range up front to see if you are still interested in the position.  If the salary is a bit low, do not acknowledge this; rather allow the process to take its course.  If you are their choice, you can attempt to negotiate a better salary.  However, do not think that you can get the hiring manager to increase the salary by 25-50 percent.  This is a waste of time for both you and the hiring institution.
  • Avoid asking any personal questions or questions that will put the hiring manager on the defensive.  These may include, but are not limited to:  their age, race, religion, health, or marital status.
  • Avoid asking questions that have already been answered in the interview session.  If some of the questions on your list have already been answered during the current interview, do not repeat them.  However, feel free to ask the same question to a different group of people within the organization, especially if you are not comfortable with the answer you received.

These are some of the basic interviewing techniques that Jim uncovered in his research.  Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is best prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

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Strategies For Breaking Into College Coaching

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Six years ago, John was searching for a way to break into college coaching.  He had a real passion for basketball but didn’t have a mentor to help him along in the process.  After class one day, John approached his sports management professor and asked, “What is the best way for someone to break into college coaching?”   His professor shared some general tips and then asked, “Why don’t you schedule an informational interview with the head men’s basketball coach here at the university.”  Their conversation continued for a few more minutes before John was convinced he needed to visit with Coach Thompson in the basketball office.

John scheduled an appointment with Coach Thompson and was prepared with several questions.  Two days later, John was excited and nervous as he met the coach for the first time.  As they began to get to know each other, John was anxious to find out all he could about becoming a college coach.

Coach Thompson shared a book with John entitled “Getting Hired in College Sports”.  It was a book on career development and outlined the formula that many coaches and administrators have used when they were breaking into the industry.  In short, the book suggested that there are three broad areas a person should focus on as they develop a strategy for becoming a coach.

  • Learn all that you can about your sport
  • Begin to network within the industry
  • Get experience

Learn All That You Can

Beginning your career in college coaching is an exciting time. You will need to prepare yourself to eventually become an expert in your sport. Research shows that if a person wants to become an expert in a particular activity, they will need approximately 10,000 hours of experience.  This experience will include learning all you can about your subject; such as reading all you can about your subject, listening to audio programs about your craft, watching videos by expert coaches, and attending coaching clinics.  You will want to learn the proper skills and techniques for teaching and coaching your sport, and you will want to learn the strategies and schemes.  Finally, you will want to learn everything you can about developing a sports program.

Begin To Network

Networking is one of the most important elements for getting hired in any industry.  This is because people want to hire employees who they know and trust. Networking is building friendships and relationships with others within your profession. These friends/colleagues should help one another with advice, strategy, and emotional support.  Quite often, people will get to know each other through working in the same organization, by working sports camps and clinics, through attending games or tournaments, and through attending regional or national conventions.

Gain Experience

Keep in mind that having a successful career in any profession is a journey and not a race. Building a career takes time if done right.  Be patient and work your way up.  Prove yourself as a passionate and professional coach.  The following are some of the types of jobs that people are able to secure in order to start their coaching career and gain experience – graduate assistant, volunteer assistant, director of operations, small college assistant, student assistant, student manager, high school coach, or junior high coach. There is not one single right way to begin your coaching career.  The key is to work hard, learn all you can about your sport, network and get to know others in the profession, and be patient as you work your way up within the profession.

It didn’t John long to break into college coaching.  He used the advice Coach Thompson provided, and the tips and strategies he uncovered in the job search book.  John first became a student assistant, then a graduate assistant, and now he has a position as a full-time assistant coach.  John is definitely following his passion.  Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

Sports Management: Responsibilities in Hiring

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Recently, one of our graduate students, Brad, presented an issue to our sports philosophy class and wondered what our moral responsibility was as leaders and coaches in this situation.  Our student is a head high school football coach for one of the best high school programs in the state.  The other night they played a game against a conference opponent that was an inferior team.

Brad’s team at the time was 8-1, ranked in the top five in the state, and had an average margin of victory of seven points.  The opponents on the other hand were 0-9 and have gotten beaten badly every game.  As the game unfolded, Brad’s team jumped out to an early lead and the score was beginning to get out of control.  Brad played his starters for only one quarter before putting his second unit into the game.  By halftime the game was out-of-reach for the opponents as the score was 49-0.  The third and fourth quarters were the same lopsided affair even though Brad played his third unit the entire second half.

In the second half, Brad’s team didn’t throw a pass.  They played a very conservative running game, but kept scoring anyway.  The final score was 77-0.  After the game, the coaches from the opposing team complained to Brad’s athletic director and principal that Brad had run the score up on them.  The coach claimed that Brad’s team should just have been taking a knee and downing the ball every snap in the second half, or that the game should have been called off at halftime. On Monday morning Brad was called into the principal’s office and asked to explain himself.

Brad shared with his principal that he played every player – the team only had three units of players on this 65-player squad.  In addition, the opponents kept going for fourth down – even when they were inside their own 20-yard line.  Brad was frustrated because the opposing coach was not qualified to coach football at the high school level, and he didn’t even have a game plan.  He argued that if he wanted to run the score up, they could have scored close to 120 points.

The class was asked to examine four ethical questions:

First Question: Did Brad run up the score?

Second Question: Does an athletic director have the moral obligation to hire qualified coaches?

Third Question: Do coaches, teachers, and administrators have the responsibility and obligation to continue to grow and develop their own skills and abilities?

Fourth Question: Do we as educators have a responsibility to expect success from our students and ourselves?

The class discussed these questions and they came to the conclusion that Brad’s team didn’t run up the score – they played every player, and played a very conservative running game.  The students argued that if anything, it would have been morally wrong to take a knee on every play.  The students went on to say that whether the coach should have called off the game or had his players take a knee isn’t the real issue. The real issue was that the opponents hired a coach who wasn’t qualified to coach football, and the players on the opposing team were the real victims here.  The students in our class went on to say that the real issue was that as leaders and educators, we have a responsibility to provide a positive experience and learning environment for our students.  And to provide these positive experiences and learning environments we as leaders need to:

  • Hire quality coaches, teachers, and staff members
  • Develop and train them
  • Have high expectations for their success, and
  • Support them

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 8 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.