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Today’s #CoachesCorner is courtesy of from former James Madison (FCS – VA) head coach and college coaching veteran Mickey Matthews. Coach Matthews is a three-time National Coach of the Year who helped two programs win national championships. As head coach at James Madison, Matthews won the 2004 FCS National Championship. In 15 seasons as head coach at JMU, Matthews’ teams won 109 games. After serving as defensive coordinator at the FBS level for two seasons, Matthews most recently coached linebackers for the Dallas Renegades of the XFL.
Reflecting back on my time as a head coach and coordinator, I wanted to provide some interview tips from someone who has hired their fair share of coaches over the last several decades in football.
1 - Dress as nice as your budget will allow, you will not get a second chance to make a good first impression.
2 - Have your specific interview information materials organized ( Film, power point presentation, etc).
3 - Like all good sales presentations be a good listener. Be perceptive and read the room. Be slow to answer the questions presented. There have been many a coach that " talked " their way out of a job.
4 - Head coaches are usually looking for the right " fit ". They do not want to hire someone who is a "know it all." Usually you will be grilled about your football knowledge from a coordinator.
5 - When explaining the ideas of the staff you are potentially leaving, use the term "we" not "I." Do not give the impression you have all the answers. That is a big turn off among head coaches. Simply state your staff's philosophy in getting the job done on and off the field. While you need to be organized in your thoughts to get your points across you think are important. Answer their questions specifically and do not ramble.
6 - Do not ask about salary. They will give you that information at the appropriate time.
7 - If you have been released, or fired, do not worry about it. The people interviewing you have probably all been fired, in some cases twice! Just be honest and up front, but a word to the wise - don't go into detail unless they ask. You can answer questions about your past job by simply sharing that it was a positive learning experience and you are ready to move on. It's important to not be negative when asked about your prior jobs.
8 - Do not worry about landing the job during the interview. Instead, focus on making friends and leaving a good impression on everyone you come into contact with. If, by chance, you do not land the job just remember - the job you are interviewing will come open again and that particular staff may have another opening soon. Also, coaches talk. You may get recommended to another staff.
9 - Above all else, just be yourself and don't try to imitate someone else. Be sincere. Sincerity will always sell.
10 - Write a handwritten note (not an email) to everyone involved in the interview. People will love and appreciate it.