I interviewed for a Vice Principal of Athletics position here in Southern California in the last year. After making it through the first round of interviews, I developed a list of questions to ask in the second round.
The second round featured a panel of just three people, as opposed to the first round where there were eight. On this second panel were: the Superintendent, the Principal and the Director of Human Resources.
You know the drill. You answer their questions, and then at the end they have the question, “Do you have any questions of us?” I really believe that candidates can help or hurt themselves quite a bit with this portion of the interview.
Having been an Athletic Director for six years, I always learned a lot from candidates during this part of the interview. Most of all, it told me a WHOLE LOT about how serious the candidate was for this position.
Here are the six questions I asked of the panel.
Why have their been so many administrative changes in the district lately?
The Superintendent had just started within the last month, and the Principal had just started within the past few months. And these weren’t the only two changes in admin. Administrative turnover can be a red flag in some districts. It’s important to try to get a grasp on this issue. Sometimes there are underlying issues, and sometimes there are not. Do your due diligence in this area.
What is the current administration’s philosophy of athletics?
I wanted to hear these newly appointed administrators talk about their philosophy of managing, building and sustaining an athletic department, and where they believed athletics to fit in to the high school campus. I really have no desire to be an athletic director where athletics is simply an afterthought, or somewhere athletics is just another program. These answers are key.
You can determine a lot about the future of athletics under a new admin by their answer to this question. You need to also wade through what they say, and what is real by properly researching the status of athletics on campus through a variety of ways. I discuss this at length in my book “An Insider’s Guide To Scoring Your Next Coaching Job.”
How committed is the district to getting coaches, both head and assistant, on campus when their are vacancies? Can you share some examples from the last year of getting coaches on campus?
There are a lot of ways to get coaches on campus. You can tell how committed a school is to getting coaches on campus by their recent hires. Have they hired instructional aides, security guards, teachers, etc. as coaches when the opportunity arose?
In my experience, there are two different types of administrators: those who work hard to get coaches on campus, and those who do not. There is no doubt that there is a direct correlation between coaches on campus and the success of an athletic program. (In this interview, it was very encouraging to hear how many coaches they have on campus, and how they were continuing to make this happen.)
What percentage of the day is spent doing “other” administrative tasks compared to what percentage is athletics?
The demands on a Vice Principal of Athletics position will vary from district to district. Rare are the positions when this administrative position is 100% athletics. In California, there are very few administrators who are 100% athletics during the day.
Most districts require their Athletic Director to have their hands in a variety of different departments if you’re hired as an administrator. It is important to know what you’re walking in to here. Regardless of what the job announcement says, make sure to have this discussion.
Does this position have secretarial support? What does this look like?
It is so important to know what kind of support you will have in the office. Remember, not every school works the same way that yours does. I’ve spoken to coaches who didn’t ask enough questions, then got to a new place, and didn’t have the needed support. This is key to deciding on a job should it be presented to you.
How will I be evaluated, and to whom do I answer?
It is imperative to ask this question. I think it might be the most important one! It is crucial to know your future performance will be evaluated. What is important to your success? What things will bring you favor, and what things will hurt you? Make sure to always ask this question in an interview! It will tell you a lot about the way things work, and what your future might look like.
Chris Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the M.S. Physical Education – Sports Management program at Azusa Pacific University. He is a speaker with the Glazier Clinics, and a Coaches Choice author. Coach Fore runs Eight Laces Consulting where he specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process. He also serves on the California Coaches Association Board of Representative