Interviewing to Become a Head Basketball Coach: 30 Queries to Anticipate

Basketball coaches come in all shapes and sizes. Some rehearse pre-game speeches and map out potential tactical adjustments before the ball goes up. Others shoot from the hip when motivating their troops and allow the game to unfold like freeform jazz. It is important for candidates for head coaching positions, regardless of personality type, to enter the interview process with clear ideas about program building and coaching philosophy.


Over the past 12 years or so, I have collected a list of potential questions for interviews of candidates aspiring to lead athletic programs in scholastic settings. The 30 queries below have emerged from hours of conversation with coaching colleagues and much self-reflection about my own experiences as a head coach.


1)     What are your impressions of our school community, athletics department, and basketball program?

2)     How would you describe your style of communication with student-athletes?

3)     How would you describe your style of communication with the parents of student-athletes?

4)     How do you monitor the academic progress of your student-athletes?

5)     How do you promote the importance of academic achievement, especially to student-athletes who may be considerably more committed to sports than they are to school?

6)     What is your philosophy on offense?

7)     What is your philosophy on defense?

8)     Name one former and one current basketball coach who have influenced your coaching style.

9) What methods do you use to self-evaluate your performance as a leader?

10)  How would you go about recruiting and hiring a coaching staff?

11)  What tools do you use to evaluate the performances of the coaches on your staff?

12)  Describe professional development activities that you participate in yearly.

13)  What are some strategies that you would implement in the off-season to maintain continuity and growth in our basketball program?

14)  Compare and contrast one of your typical early season practices with one of your typical late season practices.

15)  How do you factor the health and welfare of your student-athletes into practice planning?

16)  What steps do you take during tough times to keep team morale as high as possible?

17)  What steps do you take during good times to ensure that your team remains focused and humble?

18)  How do you keep the “13th man” on your roster engaged and involved?

19)  What does one of your typical pre-game team meetings look like?

20)  What does one of your typical post-game team meetings look like?

21)  Provide an example of an effective in-game adjustment that you have made as a coach.

22)  Provide an example of an in-game adjustment of yours that did not work well.

23)  Describe the most successful fundraising event that you have organized.

24)  What are some procedures that you have implemented for ordering, inventorying, and storing gear and equipment?

25)  How do you define team success in your sport?

26)  How do you define individual success in your sport?

27)  Have you ever received a technical foul?

28)  What are your thoughts on referees?

29)  What message would you impart to members of our basketball program during your very first meeting?

30)  As our next head coach, what would your initial 30-day plan involve?


I will share one final thought: try to identify engaging stories from your professional career that address several of the queries above. During the interview process, weave these stories together effortlessly to paint a rich picture of who you are as a coach, leader, and person. Following this approach can turn an interview into a conversation, which naturally improves the flow of information in both directions.


Originally published here on LinkedIn