During his career, Mark Tennant, Director of inspire2coach, has interviewed many coaches. Mark has seen people do really well when interviewed – where others didn’t do so well. We decided that a great way to celebrate the launch of our new jobs page would be to ask Mark to share some advice that coaches can use when applying for coaching positions.
*This post supports our new jobs page – please check there for new job openings*
Q. What skills are employers looking for?
Employers are increasingly looking for suitability and not just employability. That means they aren’t just interested in your qualifications, where you have worked and who you have coached (employability), but also what type of person you are and how you will fit into the team and the work environment (suitability). There are hundreds or even thousands of coaches with the same qualifications as you, but what makes you the right person for the facility that is looking to hire?
Employers also increasingly look for a USP. Again, there are hundreds or thousands of other coaches with the same qualification as you, but can you bring something to the team which others can’t bring? Are you a specialist in working with older adults, or in Strength & Conditioning for example?
Finally, employers want people who are not asking silly money to do a job others can do. In fact, make sure you don’t just talk about money, but do talk honestly about what you can bring to the facility. Are you willing to compromise on your hourly rate in order to gain more in the longer term. Remember, it’s not just you taking the risk joining a new employer; they are taking a risk too!
Q. What qualifications are important?
Make sure you match the qualification the employer is looking for, or that you intend to do so in the near future. The challenge in an increasingly cosmopolitan world is that qualifications aren’t always transferable between countries. You may be a great coach, but will you adjust to a new country and a new coaching philosophy? You may have to take new qualifications in a new country or be prepared to upgrade your existing qualification to meet the local requirements in the country you intend to work in.
Q. What questions should I expect?
At inspire2coach, we always interview on the court for coaching roles. It’s amazing how many people with fantastic-looking CVs have fallen short in a coaching interview. It also tells us a lot about the way you prepare (or not!), the research you do on the employer and the programme.
Q. How do I answer tricky questions?
If you don’t know the answer, say so. Humility and honesty always win over blagging!
Beware of the questions which is, well, different! I remember a colleague asking in the middle of an interview we were conducting “if you were a biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be, and why?” The interviewee was completely thrown by the question, and she didn’t get the job, partly because she wasn’t able to think quickly. That was a key requirement of the job. Make sure you meet all the essential requirements of the job you are applying for.
Q. What career progression is it reasonable to expect in 2 years? 5 years?
That largely depends on you! Be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. Don’t expect to go in on the highest pay scale and to get the best jobs straight away. However, it is also good practice to interview the interviewers. Ask what the career pathway is, what the prospects are, and how can the role be further developed in the future. You may find that the prospects are limited.
Q. Any final bits of advice?
The tennis world is pretty small, and the word gets around quickly. Employers will question why a coach as good as you is available if you really as good as you say you are! Be prepared for that question. Also be prepared to explain why you are available, why and under what circumstances you left your previous role. There is a good chance that they employer might know you, know of you or have done some research on you, especially if it’s a higher level position. If not, Google and social media will reveal many things about you, so be ready to talk about your history.
Many coaches aren’t particularly academic and don’t present themselves well off the court. Remember what they say about first impressions?! Ensure your CV is professionally checked, as your ability to present yourself in written form says a lot about how thorough you are, how much attention you pay to image and how much you respect the position you are applying for.
According to their CVs, a large number of coaches have ‘coached’ Novak Djokovic and other pros. Have you really? If you have simply had the opportunity to meet or hit with a top player, say just that, but don’t over-do it. Be honest and be modest.