High School Soccer Coach Interview Log and Notes

Interview 1 Kalaheo High School, Head Varsity Girls Soccer Coach

Wednesday April 29th, 2015

Interview Questions

  1. Q: "It's the day of a championship game and one of your best players skips her morning classes, do you start her in the game?"
    A: Definitely start her, we want to win the game and can deal with the discipline action afterwards. A better answer perhaps would have been: she will play in the game but not as a starter. Always handle discipline issues upfront. Students are allowed to be absent for half a day, but must have a good reason, like a medical appointment. There is no best answer for this question, it is specific to the students' circumstances and the reason for missing classes that day.
  2. Q: "What's your plan to find assistant coaches?"
    A: Meet with previous years assistant coaches and determine if they would like to return that is if the coaching philosophies are in-line with the head coach, enough so that we are able to function peacefully and happily as a coaching team. Other options would be to reach out to AYSO and Club Coaches whom I know, or others know, to see if any of them would like to be an assistant coach for the upcoming season.

Interview Result: did not get the position.

Feedback: none, and did not solicit.

Interview 2 Moanalua High School, Head Varsity Boys Soccer Coach

Monday May 11th, 2015

Interview Questions

  1. Q: "You see a student athlete participating in illegal activity, what do you do?"
    A: Report it to the Athletic Director and Principal.
  2. Q: "How do you feel about students participating in more than one sport?"
    A: I think participating in more than 1 sport is a good thing for all athletes. It helps to improve their general athleticism and prevents overuse injuries. If an athletes participation in another sport overlapped the soccer season I would not have a problem if they missed some practices or even a few games because of the conflict and there would be no playing time punishment.

Interview Result: did not get the position.

Feedback: You're over the top, relax, don't try and over sell yourself. If you don't know the answer or what to do in specific scenarios simply say you would report and check-in with Athletic Director or Principal for guidance.

Interview 3 Saint Louis School, Head Varsity Boys Soccer Coach

Thursday May 14th, 2015

Interview Questions

  1. Q: "What do you say to a team on the first day of practice?"
    A: This was the first time someone asked me this question... and I had never really thought about it. After looking up at the ceiling for a few seconds, I realized there's nothing I would say. So my answer was... "I would say nothing other than briefly introduce myself and the other assistant coaches, then we would begin training and get to know each other while we trained and played together."

Interview Result: did not get the position.

Feedback: none, and did not solicit.

Meeting at Saint Louis School, possible assistant coach

Tuesday May 26, 2015

After being notified that I did not get the Head Coach position, I was contacted about helping the team, presumably as an Assistant Coach. While I feel strongly about my coaching philosophy and training methodologies, which is why my goal is to obtain a head coach position, but I don't have anything at the moment, so why not help right? So, I go to this meeting and learn that the school has in fact not hired a head coach. In the meeting are several other coaches whom may or may not have interviewed for the head coach position. The plan is, once per week through June and July, we meet and cover training sessions as a group. Not sure what to make of this yet, perhaps a field test, and time to get to know one another.

Interview 4 Waipahu High School, Head Varsity Girls Soccer Coach

Friday June 12th, 2015

Interview Questions

  1. Q: "If a student athlete wanted to attend another school event such as prom versus attending practice or playing in a game would you be okay with it?"
    A: Yes I would be okay with it because there's always another game and because some school events may only occur once per year or just once for the student in the 4 years they attend the school.

Interview Result: did not get the position but was the closet yet, I was only beat out by one person, a teaching faculty member.

Feedback: Athletic Director said I was great and thought I was ready to become a High School Head Soccer Coach. If a faculty members wasn't interested in the coaching position she would have hired me, shoots so close, so far.

Possible Head Soccer Coach Interview Questions

  1. Why do you want to coach here?
    Kalaheo Interview Answer: (1) I was impressed to learn Coach Alan Heu was the head soccer coach at Kalaheo for 15 years. In my opinion, coaches don't usually stick around unless they enjoy their job. The fact that he stayed 15 years, says a lot about the school, players, and athletic staff. (2) Last year (2014) the varsity girls team was promoted into Division-I, I would enjoy the challenge of developing and training players to be successful at the Division-I level. (3) Kalaheo school is participating in OIA. I like the league and know several coaches from other OIA high schools.
  2. What is your soccer philosophy?
    Please see my Soccer Coaching Philosophy here.
    Summary: Attack minded coaching. Players must work towards and achieve a high level of technical ability which in turn allows the team to play both possession and direct tactical styles. Integrity to win, fairly by the rules, with honor. Unrelenting drive to win and conquer our opponents, true competitive spirit when in the arena of competition, and the discipline to never give up when we are down. As a player myself, I don't like coaches who talk a lot. when I coach, I try my best to keep my coaching points simple, quick, and with as few words as possible.
  3. Can you explain in detail what your typical practice will be like?
    I believe and follow the USSF stage I-IV session organizer, here are some examples of training sessions I have designed. A typical practice session would be 90-120 minutes in duration. For a Stage-I (warm-up) I would usually plan a technical activity such as footwork or passing, and always include dynamic stretching as part of the warm-up to get the muscles ready for more intense activity. For Stage-II (small-sided activity) this might be working on 1 v 1 (2v2, 3v3) moves and combination plays with small mini-goals or cones. For Stage-III (expanded activity) we would use 2 full-sized goals with goalkeepers and use number up/down, neutral or bumper players. For Stage-IV game activity I like to play 5v5 or up to 7v7, even numbers and would allow the players to play and use natural stoppages to make coaching points.
  4. How do you handle criticism from fans?
    I try and keep and open mind and be considerate and patient as fans are looking from the outside in. What is visible to an outsider is not the complete picture, I take their criticism lightly. Knowing this helps keep me stay calm when facing fan criticism. I do not take offense to criticism directed towards me, a player, the team, the school, or the referee easily. Everyone is going to have an opinion and I'm comfortable hearing those opinions. Another coach told me once, "if you don't like criticism, then don't coach", so I suppose I'm okay with criticism because I still love coaching.
  5. What are your plans for hiring assistants? Will you retain any current assistants?
    I would certainly like to retain assistant coaches but not before meeting with them first and getting to know them for example, during a tryout/preseason event. As far as hiring new assistant coaches there are several coaches I know through AYSO, Club Soccer, and from coaching courses I could inquire with.
  6. Can you call a NCAA Division 1 coach and get a 'look' for a player?
  7. How will you handle the winning tradition here?
  8. How can you change the soccer status from that of a losing program to a winning program?
    I can't think of simple answer to this question. It really depends on the root cause of why a team is losing. For example, if it is a matter of team bonding, in other words playing well together as a team, the problem can be corrected quickly by providing a professional, fair and safe training environment, consistently from week to week. If there are athletes distrupting or preventing the team from jelling, then in my opinion those individuals will need to change their attitudes or they risk being expelled from the team as a last resort. If the team is losing because of skills and abilility this problem has no short term solution. In this case I would focus on the player pipeline, younger players, and widen our involvement with community youth development, in other words a long term outlook to turn the program from losing into winning.
  9. How will you gain the players trust? Parental trust?
    I would earn trust from players and parents by being professional, knowledgeable, respectful, consistent, following thru, communicating information timely, and setting expectations based in reality.
  10. What experiences do you have with (inner city/rural, etc.) student-athletes?
  11. What steps will you take to improve the overall grades of your players?
    I strongly believe in after school tutoring, so I would encourge student athletes to take advantage of tutoring services the school provides. Arriving late to practice would be acceptable to me so long as it is related to academic improvement. For this example, I would require the athlete bring me a note from their tutor. In addtion, I would also be willing to discuss with the student, their academic challenges he/she are facing and help devise a plan of action for improvement, hopefully with their teacher(s) involvement as well.
  12. What makes you stand out among all the applicants?
    (1) I routinely workout to stay in good shape, including working on my own personal technical skills (moves, passing, shooting). (2) I still play soccer myself as well as ice hockey. (3) I am continuously learning and furthering my coaching credentials of the modern game. (4) I am a winner, but I only want to win by the rules. When I lose the first thing I do is assess why, then change too improve. I try and never make excuses or place blame on uncontrollables such as the field, referee, weather, spectators, or whatever outside influence there may be. (5) I don't believe in luck other than luck you make, I believe in self responsibility, having a high individual work rate, and a relentless competitive drive and tenacity to win. I expect and strive for these qualities myself, and hope my players do as well, and if not, I'll do my best to hopefully help them adopt some of my life philosophies and turn them into their own.
  13. What are your thoughts of replacing a popular coach?
    I believe earning the players trust and respect will require patience, especially from players who were dedicated and very disappointed to lose their old coach. The new coach will have to prove himself or herself through their words and actions, so starting off on the right foot, and making a good first impression will be critical. Getting player "buy-in" may take weeks especially in cases where daily training routines and styles could greatly differ between the previous coach and new coach. It's possible that some players may want to leave the team, in this case I would ask them to please stay and try for a few weeks, we need a fair chance to get to know one another. Be well prepared and prompt.
  14. What are two of the most prominent mistakes you have made during your coaching career?
    (1) Pressuring and yelling at U10 girls to win games when they could care less about winning, they wanted to have fun and the game score was inconsequential to them. (2) Solely focusing a team on attacking and not spending time to cover defensive techniques and tactics.
  15. What roles will the athletic director and principal play in your soccer program?
    Help connect me with the local youth soccer community sourrounding the school. Monitor and discipline student athletes when it comes to there academics and or behavioral issues. Managing budget, equipment, uniforms, identifing good assistant coaches. Safety and emergency plans of action if there is an incident. Training and league regulations, rules, eligibilty and compliance. Transportation plans and budget. Help recomending and hiring assistant coaches. Field maintenance and setup
  16. How will you increase participation in the program?
    Prior to pre-season, I would design a 1-page print flyer for distribution around school campus, also an online image banner for the schools web site and/or social media sites. Both flyers would provide the what, when, and where facts, as well as information about the coaching staff and philosophy. Preparing a Team Handbook One time-honored device for organizing your Soccer program is a team handbook. A handbook conveys the personality of your program and most of the important administrative information your athletes need to know. It also is a resource for your athletes full of information, motivating images and quotes, team history, and pages on which they should record practice notes and thoughts about their play. The team handbook becomes the written document of your program.
    "Well-behaved women seldom make history." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you take." - Anonymous
    "Nice guys finish last." - Leo Durocher
    "When you're going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
    "The object of war is not to die for your country; it's to make the other guy die for his." - General George S. Patton
    "He who angers you conquers you." - Elizabeth Kenny
    "It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life." - Elizabeth Kenny
    "The harder I work, the luckier I get." - Samuel Goldwyn
  17. What steps will you take when a teacher informs you of a player's attitude while in his/her class?
    I would discuss the issue directly and privately with the student athlete as a first step. Pending how the discussion goes and the specifics of the teacher/classroom issue, I may implement some form of disciplinary action or consequences in regards to their participation in athletics. Another less severe option would be to monitor and assess the players attitude going forward, for example: maybe 1-2 weeks or until an improvement is made by the student athlete.
  18. What is your off-season conditioning program like?
  19. What is your opinion of multi-sport athletes?
    Personally I think it's good for youth atheletes to play more than 1 sport. The variety helps prevent overuse injuries and if it makes the student athlete happy then no coach should stop them from playing more than 1 sport.
  20. What part does soccer play in the overall picture of the school?
  21. What is your opinion of youth soccer?
  22. How will you generate community interest for the program?
  23. How will you handle an irate parent questioning a player's playing time?
    I believe "playing time" is an expectation that needs to be established before the season begins, in fact before there is a tryout. If a parent questioned my decisions regarding playing time, I would simply tell them, playing time is determined by the players ability and work rate and not by anything or anyone else. If you want to play more then make yourself better and work harder than your teammates.
  24. If a player openly badmouths your coaching decisions, how will you handle the situation?
  25. How do you define success for the Freshman, Junior Varsity, and Varsity programs?

By David Hoch

The following are some things to think about prior to walking into that interview.

  1. Know something about the school. For example, my former school has an excellent academic and athletic reputation. Most schools are also distinctive in some manner. It is important for the candidate to understand what makes a school click, because most of the questions are going to center around the distinctive requirements and features of that school.
  2. Don't say anything negative about the former coach. One of the candidates for our position did just that. He obviously didn't know that I thought very highly of our former coach. This is not a good way to create a favorable first impression. If you would like to take a different approach to the former coaching philosophy, that should come out in the interview. However, don't take shots at the previous coach.
  3. While you don't want memorized and stilted answers, do be prepared for common questions. When I asked one of the candidates to describe his philosophy of coaching, he struggled greatly. It was as if he had never been asked this question before. Surely this is one question for which you should prepared.
  4. When answering a question, do not give more of an answer than is needed. Some candidates didn't know when to stop and just kept talking. In doing so, they presented some information that actually hurt their candidacy instead of helping. One candidate referred several times to a limitation that he felt that he had. If a question is asked such as, "Name one area in which you can improve," obviously you will have to supply an honest answer. However, don't volunteer this information unless it is specifically asked. Also, try to put a positive spin to it.
  5. Normally, our first question is, "Please take 2-3 minutes and tell me something about yourself." This is done to allow the candidate a chance to relax and to reduce the possibility of becoming flustered at the beginning of the interview. Some of the answers and the directions that the candidates took were very revealing. All candidates would be better served by having prepared something that will actually enhance their candidacy and yet not reveal damaging or questionable information.
  6. Understand that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. One of the questions I asked was, "Name some of the qualities that good coaches might possess." The follow up question was, "OK, which of these qualities do you think that you possess?" I was utterly amazed when one candidate quickly and without hesitation responded with, "All of them." Even if it is true, the answer comes across poorly. Don't we all have things that we can work on and improve upon? Nobody is perfect.
  7. From one candidate, I repeatedly heard what getting this position would mean to him and to his future goals. While I can understand his eagerness to secure the position, it would be much better if the answers had centered on what he could do for our athletes and our program. This should be very easy for a candidate to understand, because as the athletic director this is what I am concerned about the most. To be successful, a candidate must impress the interviewer.
  8. More than once, the candidates continued to answer a question which they truthfully didn't totally understand. If you don't understand a question, ask the person conducting the interview to repeat or to rephrase it. There is nothing wrong with asking for a clarification. Your success does depend upon answering questions to the best of your ability and this is certainly compromised if you don’t even understand the question.
  9. There is also nothing wrong with hesitating for a few seconds to gather your thoughts. Too many of the candidates were fearful of silence. A few quiet seconds spent formulating an answer are much better than a quick, poorly constructed one.
  10. Bring along written copies of your coaching philosophy, off-season conditioning program, summer workout program and playbook. These are other ways of greatly impressing the interviewer. At the appropriate point in the interview, for example, after answering a related question, you can offer a copy which supports your answer. This is an excellent way to show that you have prepared not only for the interview, but that you have a well-thought-out philosophy and approach to coaching. Not one of the five candidates did this.
  11. Be prepared to answer hypothetical questions. For example, what action would you take if one of your players (or your star athlete) was at a weekend party in which alcoholic beverages were present? The chances are that the reason the question is being asked is that there was a similar problem in the past at the school and this is a legitimate concern. Take a minute to gather your thoughts, because even though this may be hypothetical, your answer will be considered very seriously.
  12. In every interview, I always close with, "Do you have any questions for me or about our program?" Not one of the five candidates had any questions for me. This doesn't signal to me any real preparation for the interview. If you have even one good question, this is one more chance to impress the interviewer. Even if you know the answer, don't miss this opportunity!
  13. It was also interesting to see if any of the candidates would follow up with a thank you note or, in this day and age, an e-mail message. This is another sure-fire way to impress the interviewer with your professionalism and class. Often it is these little things that may separate the candidates who may all have similar backgrounds and experience.

In addition to these suggestions, there are certain answers that will raise a red flag with many athletic directors. Try to avoid any mention of:

  • A poor relationship with a former athletic director. Why would I want to hire someone who has had a problem with a person in the same capacity at a previous school?
  • Inappropriate approaches with parents, the press or other coaches. These relationships are vital in any athletic program and are delicate at best. Why hire someone who brings questionable practices in these areas to the position?
  • A sudden resignation from their last position without a very good reason or constantly changing positions. If this is a re-occurring trend, why take the chance of it happening again at your school?
  • Inappropriate or foul language. All coaches represent the school and project its image. Also, sportsmanship has become an increasingly important part of athletics for many schools; therefore, anything that might harm or hinder the school's approach will not be well received.
  • A narrow vision that your sport is the most important or only sport that matters. While you want to be enthusiastic and passionate about your sport, most athletic directors and athletic programs value all of their sports. Someone not buying into this philosophical approach will understandably not be welcomed.

Since interviews play such an important role in obtaining a coaching position, it is only logical that coaches should prepare and practice for these opportunities. Very few coaches would approach a game without having prepared in practice sessions. Why would you enter an interview without making this same type of effort?

Interview Preparation Advice

Research the school or club as best as possible.

  • The history of the school (failing tax levies, declining enrollment, etc.)
  • The tenure of the last three head coaches.
  • The status of facilities (field, locker rooms, conditioning equipment, e.g.)

Realize you are one of five or more first round interview candidates, and many schools relate a higher number of interviews to a higher prominence in the media, community, etc. Also, many positions have a front-runner before the first interview is given.

Be Yourself
Convey enthusiasm and make sure your body language is sending the proper signals during the interview. Ask questions which pertain to the position, as it relays an interest in the position.

Dress Professionally
Do not wear shorts and a t-shirt, dress in business attire. If you have something that matches the school or club primary colors, wear it as long as it's nice and clean cut.

Questions for the School

  • As the Athletic Director, what is your vision for your soccer program?
  • How would you like to see you soccer program improve? Any specific goals, for example: winning the OIA or State Championship, or helping seniors identify and apply to colleges where they could play soccer?
  • What other school would you consider your number one rival?
  • Why did the previous coach leave the position? Did he/she resign, dismissed, etc...
  • Does this school have a "sixth period class" that permits athletes and coaches to conduct preseason training? If not could the school administration add one?
  • How long is the team roster tryout period, for example a 10-day tryout period? Are first-year players handled differently than returning players?
  • How many players does the varsity team carry on the roster? (note most varsity teams carry 16 to 18 players)

Sample interview questions of High school coach.

  • Please tell me a little about yourself?
  • What are key tasks for a High school coach?
  • What are top 3 skills for High school coach?
  • What have you learned from your past jobs that relate to High school coaching?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Tell me about your last position and what you did?
  • Where would you like to be in 3 years? 5 years?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a coach?
  • What is the most recent skill you have learned that relate to being a High school coach?
  • What tertiary qualifications have you attained that relate to being a High school coach?
  • What made you choose to apply for a High school coaching position?
  • How do you measure your job performance as a coach?
  • What do you know about this High School?