Bill Walsh on Interviewing Coaching Candidates

Sitting down with an individual for a limited length of time and determining whether a candidate has the requisite capabilities is one of the most ambiguous, subjective and challenging tasks that a head coach or administrator will face. The individual interviewing the candidate must know what he is looking for and how it will be determined whether he finds it.

Of this process Walsh states:

“Even the most seasoned, veteran head coach can have a tough time determining if an individual has the abilities he is looking for in a position coach or has exemplary communication skills and gives good interviews. This dilemma is why head coaches often hire people with whom they have worked before or individuals who have been recommended by someone in whom they have a great deal of trust.

When developing a systematic plan for conducting interviews to hire staff members, the head coach should consider the following factors:

· At some point, a single individual will have to make the choice of whom to hire (like most sound decisions).

· The more people who are included in the hiring process, the greater the likelihood that either a superfluous number of criteria will be added to the approach employed by the organization for decision making or the effectiveness of the undertaking will be diluted. This situation is particularly true when colleges look to hire a head coach. (Maybe Steve Pederson isn’t so crazy after all).

· The process of interviewing and hiring an assistant coach will be relatively easy if the individual conducting the interview (and making the hiring decision) has a history or a working relationship with a candidate who is well-suited for the position.

· If the situation, however, involves a candidate with whom the organization has little or no familiarity, it is imperative that a specific plan be established regarding whether a candidate has those attributes, and how the organization can make the process equitable for all the interviewees so that the procedures are not unknowingly biased toward one candidate.

· A precise set of criteria detailing what the position calls for must be established. If such criteria are not identified, the head coach (or whoever is conducting the process) may become distracted by the different skills and capabilities of the individuals who are being interviewed and may lose sight of the specific position he is trying to fill.

· The basic qualifications of each candidate must be assessed. This step can be accomplished in several ways. For example, his background should be closely scrutinized to determine the level of success he has enjoyed as a coach, the caliber of competition the teams which he has coached have faced, the level and type of responsibility he has performed as a coach, etc.

· An organization must make every effort to ensure that the different candidates are evaluated on an even field. For example, the unique qualities of a particularly talented candidate may be overlooked simply because the individual has been working for a team that has an inferior win-loss record compared to those of other candidates.”

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