I get a LOT of questions about the job search process. A LOT! And I love helping coaches! It is a life’s passion of mine to help coaches find new jobs, find their dream jobs and more. So, I’m going to start this page, and start putting Frequently Asked Questions here.
If you would like to ask some questions about the job search process, please fill out this form here. I will look at it often, and will add answers to this database here.
If you do not know, I have a consulting company called Eight Laces Consulting. I offer a wide array of services to help coaches land the job of their dreams! We write custom coaching resumes, cover letters, conduct mock interviews and more! Eight Laces Consulting is the “National Champion of Resume Writing For Coaches!”
I have also written a book called An Insiders Guide To Scoring Your Next Coaching Job, and have published a SIX HOUR on demand video course about creating eye catching and interview getting coaching resumes!
Coach Fore. When in an interview and they ask you to tell them about yourself what should I say? Life history? Philosophy? Something else?
Hit on anything not on the resume or on your cover letter. Start with your family, interview panels like to hear about that. Think critically about this answer. Write it out ahead of time. I’m a major proponent of writing out interview questions and answers. This will help you to think through exactly how you will navigate the interview. Close with a strong tie between WHO you are and WHAT they need. This is often the #1 mistake candidates make in the interview process: they fail to connect themselves to the job they are applying for. They do not sell themselves well enough for that specific job. Big mistake!
Quick question – I have two interviews coming up, but I think both are going to be courtesy interviews because they already know who they want so the interview process is a formality. Do I take these interviews?
YES!! Absolutely yes! Take any interview that you can. Even if it is a sham interview, you will learn something through the process. At least, you SHOULD learn something through the process. It is always good to get interview practice as long as (and this is VERY important!!) it will not hurt your current employment. If your boss is not going to be happy hearing about you going out on interviews, then do not put your current job in jeopardy, that’s not a good idea. But if your boss knows that you are trying to “move up the ladder,” then go interview. For a few reasons, it is good to take those interviews. #1 You never know if the guy they want, or the guy you THINK they want wants them! Maybe they are going after someone, but can’t afford them? Or maybe the negotiations break down behind the scenes. You just never know what might happen. If you are the runner up, and something breaks down with that guy they want, BOOM! #2 You just never know who you will meet in that interview, and how that meeting might help you in the future. In 2012, I was hiring a Head Basketball Coach at a school where I was the Athletic Director. Our runner up that day was very, very good. When another school in our league was looking for a Head Basketball Coach, I called the AD and hold him “You should take a good look at this candidate named Daryl who we just interviewed. He is excellent.” Guess what? He became their new Head Coach! You just never know how things will play out down the road. ALWAYS take that interview!
Coach, I was wondering what you thought about some sort of former athlete reference or their words of experience being coached by me. I know its not something you input into your resumes but is there a way we could make that work? How would you feel about that as an AD?
Yep, great idea! I’ve got a one pager in my resume/cover letter package of my own that I call “What They’re Saying About Chris Fore.” I just put it in towards the front of my portfolio to get the attention of the reader, to allow them to hear from a variety of people. I have some quotes from former players, from parents, from administration, from CIF officials, from cow0rkers, etc. etc. They are short statements, just 3-4 sentences each. Quick hitters that all say something a little different. And again, they come from a wide variety of people, and I’ve taken them directly from the letters of reference that I had them write. I always advise coaches to have a LOT of letters of recommendation/reference to pull from. I hit on this in both my book and my resume video course. The reason that you want to have 12-15 letters of recommendation/reference is so that you can customize your “package” when you apply for the job. For instance, if you know that one of the people on the search committee is both a school employee, and the mom of a player in the program, it would be tremendous to have a letter in your stack from a mom! That will speak a lot more to that mom than a letter from a Principal! This is little thing that can make a big difference!
Should I include my teaching experience on a job for coaching?
It really just depends. Is there a teaching opening at the school you’re applying to? Then obviously, yes! Include that teaching experience because you probably want to be in the same building. You want to be very careful about how you format the resume. You can lose people on the resume just because of the poor formatting. For instance, if you have been at different schools for teaching and coaching, then separate ALL your teaching and coaching. Two separate and distinct areas on your resume. If you do not separate them, then you will tend to confuse the reader of the resume. Make sure to remember your educational credentials as well. A lot of teachers fail to do this on their resume, so it gets lost in the pile. Do not make the reader search for your educational credentials on the state’s website. Keep the reader engaged on YOUR resume.
If you are NOT applying for a teaching job where you are applying for a coaching job, then there is no need to really include your teaching information and credentials UNLESS you would like to be at that school someday. In that case, it’s a good idea to have the administration see your teaching experience and credentials. You never know when they might come up with a teaching job for you.
I am currently a sub-varsity football coach with the goal of one day becoming and AD. I have my Master’s degree in Education Administration as well as the required license for my state. Do you have any advice for me getting an AD job? Do I need to be pursuing a Head Coaching position first?
First of all, I think it is tremendous that you have an MA and the required license for your state. I encourage you to keep growing professionally. Check out the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrator’s Association (find them here NIAAA), and get involved with your state’s Athletic Director association. Start to attend their conference, if you are able to without holding an AD position yet. That networking and professional growth can pay big dividends for your future!
Many districts, but not all, will want to see an Athletic Director with Head Coaching experience. So, I would pursue that position right now. It is not to say that someone who has never been a Head Coach can’t turn out to be a dynamite Athletic Director. As a current Principal though, I would have some real hesitancy in hiring an Athletic Director to supervise and evaluate Head Coaches when they have never been a Head Coach before. This would be akin to hiring an Assistant Principal to evaluate teachers who have never taught before, it just doesn’t make a lot of practical sense. I think that Head Coaches need to be able to trust their Athletic Director, and I’m not seeing a Head Coach have a lot of faith and trust in an AD who has never been a Head Coach. It is in my opinion that an Athletic Director who has never been a Head Coach before lacks a certain amount of credibility to really gain the trust and respect of the entire Athletic Department. So, I do encourage you to pursue a Head Coach position, even if it is a means to an end.
I saw the story of a Coach who announced his resignation at the end of a team’s season. The job hasn’t posted yet, but the story of that team and that community has me inspired. Should I send an initial email to tell them I’m interested in the job or just wait until the job is posted? I don’t want to be bothersome but I am very interested in that particular job.
I get this question a lot of times. Often, guys are keeping their eyes open for a specific job, maybe a “dream job” that they have had their eyes on for a long time. Maybe it is a job at their alma mater, or a job in an area they would like to leave. I would give it a week or two before emailing them about the job. Give them a little time. Let the dust settle. Sometimes if you’re too quick to email them, you may come across a bit desperate for a job. You don’t want to look like a vulture! A lot of times when a coach has announced an impending resignation, there are some things that need to happen before the Administration is starting to look to fill that job. They need to wrap up the season, they need to take care of their kids, have a banquet, etc. Let some of that dust settle before reaching out. So, I advise to give it a little time. Don’t reach out right after it hits the media.
How can a coach tell an interview process is a sham when the admin has their choice and the rest of the candidates are just filling out the field?
That is a great question, and this is actually a chapter in my book. I wrote a book called An Insider’s Guide to Scoring Your Next Coaching Job. And in that book I talk about this very thing. There’s fourteen chapters in that book. I spent six years as an Athletic Director and two years as an Athletic Administrator, meaning as the Assistant Principal over athletics. Currently, I’m a Principal, and still play a role with every single coaching hire we make.
I wrote a chapter on sham interviews because I’ve been in plenty of those over the years. I had an interview one time for a Head Football Coach position, it was like 18 minutes and I am not kidding you. At one time, the principal never even looked at me in the face. Never even looked at me in the eyes. But this principal, it was at a school up in the mountains, here in Southern California. She never looked at me the whole entire time, which is interesting. Maybe it was their strategy, I don’t know.
But sham interviews? Yeah, they happen. What’s a sham interview? That means the committee basically already knows who they’re gonna hire, and they’re just going through the process. It’s a waste of time, everybody’s time. I spent four years as an Athletic Director at a private school where we really didn’t have to do that. We zeroed in on somebody. We liked them. We would probably just interview them, to be real honest with you. And then I spent a couple of years at a charter school, and I learned way different. There had to be more specific policies and procedures in place. And then even more in the public district I spent as an Assistant Principal for two years. And there, the Human Resources gave us all of the documentation, set up the interview questions, all of that.
Sham interviews are very annoying. Like I said, I’ve been in a few of them where you kind of know that they’re just trying to get you in and out of their 20 minutes, like a 20 minute interview. It’s a freaking joke. There’s some schools that will, like interview 10, 12, 15 people in a day, 30 minutes of pop. You know, they are just getting guys in and out of there because it is just a screening. But what ticks me off and how you know it’s a sham interview: when you go into that and they say, “Yeah, we’re not sure how long the process is gonna be, we don’t know how many interviews there will be for this process.”
So here’s one way to know it’s a sham interview. I always like to have an understanding before I interview of how many steps they’re gonna be. How many interviews will happen? One, two, three? And a good way to do that is by asking whoever asked you to come to the interview. Ask them “How many interviews are there going to be for this position?”
I interviewed for a principal job one summer at my alma mater, Fallbrook High School. Before I accepted the interview, I wanted to know about the process. So when I called the lady back, I asked “Can you tell me how many interviews there are going to be? And she said, “Well, we’re not really sure at this time how many interviews we will have.” To me, that’s always a little bit of a red flag to be honest with you. Because it kind of makes it feel like they already know who they’re going to hire.
Now, sometimes it’s a timeline thing. I mean, this principal interview I just referred to, it was in July, kind of a timeline crunch. That’s a very late time to higher principal. So I kind of understand and get it, depending on the timeline, the time of year that they’re doing the interview. But if they’re doing interviews in December for a head football job and they’re telling you, “We don’t know how many interviews we’re gonna have,” that usually means they already know who they’re gonna hire.
Should you go on a sham interview? Sure. Just know going in if you think it’s a sham, just know you’re going in to get some interview practice. But I’d say one of the number one ways to know if it is a sham interview is the number of candidates. A second way to recognize a sham interview is to know the length of the interview. This one time, back in 2011, I showed up to an interview, and the lady at the front desk asked me to find my name on a piece of paper, to sign in. She actually handed me a clipboard with a piece of paper with all 10 candidates right there on it. All of their names. It was amazing, never seen anything like that. “Can you find yourself here and let me know who you are?” And so I knew right away this was a sham interview! They interviewed 10 of us today for 20 minutes each. What? Can you really find out in a 20 minute interview if you should hire this person as your next Head Football Coach? They were just moving people in and out there so they could say they did it, so they could go tell their constituents “Hey, we interviewed 10 people for this position. We worked REALLY hard to find the right person for you kids.” In reality, they interviewed 10 for 200 minutes.
So try to find out how many people are going to interview before you get there. Find out how long the interview is. Like I said, if they explained you “Hey, we’re gonna get a 30 minute interview today, and in a week from now, we’re going to do a second interview,” well, that’s probably not a sham. They’re investing some time into their process.
So that is one way to know it’s a sham, and if the admin has already made their choice, and the rest of the candidates are just filling in. Find out what the interview process will be like. Many times from my experience, if there’s one interview, it’s a sham. The key here is to figure out what the interview process will be like.
Number two: Another way to figure out if it’s a sham is to figure out who is being interviewed. Try to find out who else is getting an interview. This will help you to determine if your interview is just fake, if it is a sham. For instance, if they’re interviewing three of you and one of them is already on their staff as a coordinator and he’s been at the school for 10 years, you might be walking into a sham interview. If you’re able to find out one of the finalists for an Athletic Director job at a school where you’re interviewing at is married to the most popular coach on campus, it might be a sham interview! That happened to me one time.
Network with anyone you might know at the school. Network with anyone you might think you know in the league. You never know what you might hear just by asking around. Interview the press, talk to the press about it, get to know some media guys in that area. Do what you can to find out who’s being interviewed. This again will help you prepare. And it will help you interview better.
Remember that lady who handed me the piece of paper said “Find your name, circle your name.” I was second on the list, so I found my name real fast, but I had the opportunity to see who my competition was. I saw the last name on the list, the coach who had the last interview. I recognized it from the research that I did on the school in preparation for that interview. In fact, it was the only name I recognized on the list of candidates. He was a coordinator, and on staff at the school.
I respect the process of hiring from within. I’m fine with it, but just don’t waste my time, you know? Sure enough, that guy got the job. Another head coach interview I had one time at a school that I really wanted to be at. I knew it was an underachieving school for a long time. I figured I would be able to find success at that school. When I signed in at the front office, I looked at the names of the people who signed in before me. That’s a little trick I used. You know when you go sign in a lot of times, the front office folks will make you sign in. You can kind of see who else has signed in before me. Sure enough, I saw two names of males there who had been to Human Resource is within the past three hours. So I sit down as I wait and I Google those names. I found out they’re both football coaches, one who had been fired from his job a few months prior. So I did a little research on him while I was waiting for my interview and I found a great piece about him online. And I tried to actually work that into my interview, not his name, but that story I found about him which was pretty interesting.
Another way to find out who your competition is through message boards. You know, there’s a lot of message boards out there you can find out on message boards who might be interviewing for a job. A lot of good insight on who’s interviewing for a job, that sort of thing. So there’s a couple ways to know if you’re sitting on a sham interview. They aren’t listening to you. Like I told you about earlier, the one lady never looked at me. She was on her phone the entire time. It was actually pretty embarrassing, I said one point during the interview does this interview even matter? And she didn’t still didn’t look up. She did not even end up looking up.
Another way to know it’s a sham interview. If you get a denial email that same day, that’s happened to me before. I had about an hour and a half drive home after interviewing. I got the denial email before I even got home! They sent an email saying, “Hey, thanks for interviewing today, but we have offered the job to another candidate.” And so I think that was a sham interview.
Coach, I was looking at a job that was on an internet based application system. Didn’t ask for a cover letter, or even a resume. I just filled in all of my information. Then, they asked two questions: 1. Why are you the perfect candidate for this position? And number 2, Write a letter that will be distributed to the football community that outlines your coaching philosophy and role of parents, players and school administration. Is this the new norm?
That’s interesting. I don’t know if that’s the new norm or not. I have not heard of this happening from anyone else. But I like this idea. I think that they’re wanting to see what kind of writer and communicator that you are. They’re wanting to see a little bit about your vision, your mission, your plan. So you have got to be an organized person for this school. A lot of administrative interviews nowadays, they make you go do a writing prompt. You have no idea what it’s gonna be until you get there and you’ll go in and they will say at the end of the interview, go into that computer lab, and there will be a writing prompt in your email. One time, I wrote my response, it was for a highly populated area of spanish-speakers. I got into Google translate, and I translated my letter in Spanish and they loved that. So just a little hint if you’re in a Spanish speaking area.
I am currently finishing up my masters and internship to be a school counselor, getting certified in Idaho, but I would like to get transferred to California? Do you know what the demands are, or what credentials are needed? I figured with you being an administration you might be able to give some advice.
Yes, I do specific. Let me give you the website as a resource for this. This takes you to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. They will tell you exactly what you’ll need, and you’ll be able read about all the credentialing information that you need specifically in California. Also, I wrote an article about finding a teaching and coaching job here in California. You can find that here.
If you become a teacher in California, it’s easy to transfer anywhere in the nation. Becoming a teacher inside of California is a little harder than most states. I’ve seen some guys in some states who are already a history teacher, for instance, to add on being a special ed credential, it’s a pretty simple process. Here in California, it is not that simple. It is a brand new credential. There’s a variety of ways to transfer your credential in, and you have to look that up on ctc.ca.gov.
Hey, Coach, I’ve applied for a head coaching job in HBCU. That means historic Black College University, and I’ll keep the school name out of it. I’m currently a head coach at a high school in the same state. I would like to talk to you about how to get a head coach job in college and my response.
I’m really honest with coaches all of the time when I get questions like this. It doesn’t make any sense for me to tell coaches what they want to hear, or to lie to coaches. I want to give honest opinions and feedback to coaches because I know that is what I want when I seek advice from others on my own career. I don’t sugarcoat anything here.
I’ve got guys that say to me “Hey, when I hire you to do my resume for a college job, will it help me at all?” And I tell them the truth. My resume system will probably not get you a college job if you’ve never coached at the collegiate level before. I mean, sure, I could make a quick buck off of that coach. But I usually say something like “Coach, you’re probably not gonna make a move from high school to college like it’s so, so rare.” So many people out there think they’re going to make the move from high school to college. It is such a rare thing to do. It really is. Unless you know somebody.
More importantly, like I tell guys all the time, unless they know you, you’re probably not going to get a college job. Some people just don’t understand this, and I hate to burst the bubble of some of you guys, but you gotta be a realist. 15 years ago, I was not a realist. 15 years ago, I started applying to all of these college jobs. For what? I wasted so much time. What I know now I just didn’t know 15 years ago.
I thought “I’m a pretty good high school coach. I’ve been a head coach. I’m gonna go to college.” That’s not how it works, and this is something that I’ve learned over the years. Check this out, here’s a scenario, a true story. A former player of mine went to a Pac 12 school. He got hurt. They offer him a student assistant coach spot. He basically was there for two years as a student because he could not play football anymore due to an injury, tore up his shoulder. They honored the scholarship. That was awesome. And it was a lot of fun watching him on the sidelines. He loved it! He gave me some great insight going into games. “Hey, Coach, watch this fake we’ve got, we’re doing this or that, running this fake.” He spends two years there and he’s told by the head coach “Hey, as soon as the GA spot opens, it’s yours.”
My kid actually gets an offer to go with one of the assistants who got another head coach job, but he turned that down because he wanted to be a GA at this school where he had spent the last four years. Well, the GA position comes open, and he goes in, tells the head coach “Hey, just want to make sure we’re good, Coach? Do I need to apply officially?” The Head Coach kind of turns into a businessman, right there in his office. College football is a business. Ladies and gentlemen, he told my player told me “You need to go apply formally with HR.” There whole relationship changed right there, in a heartbeat. My kid knew RIGHT THEN that he wasn’t going to get that job, that something happened. He called me right after and says, “Dude, my whole relationship just changed with my Head Coach,” and then he explained to me what just happened. And sure enough, they hired another dude. Okay, so why did they hire that other dude?
Well, that other kid had just played, he had just graduated. He just started for three years for this Defensive Coordinator who went on to really push the Head Coach to hire him for that GA spot. He wanted a GA spot, and he had just played for three years and the Defensive Coordinator went to the head coach and said, “Hey, this dude, I want him as the GA.” So who is gonna win that job? A kid who just spent two years as a student assistant coach or a guy who just graduated, who just played that game? Listen, with these GA openings, I bet 99 out of 100 times they are spoken for. And yes, people are going to send me hate mails and hate DMs about this. “I know a guy who got one.” Yes, we all know a guy who just applied and got a job through applying for at the collegiate level. But it’s so rare, it is so, so rare.
I have a former client, he’s coached at three schools. Assistant Coach at a high school for four years. Parlays that opportunity, becomes a Head Coach at a high school. He’s a Head Coach at a high school. Let me look at his resume here so that I’m giving you exact, precise information because I just wrote his resume last season. He came to me. He sent me messages like, “Hey, Chris, I don’t even have a resume. I’m 34 years old. I’m a Head Coach of a college. I’m like your Head Coach to college without a resume.” He went 38-16. He won some Regional championships. It’s a pretty darn good record, but it’s not great. But he established a tremendous relationship at a high school, so he coached 2006 to 2011 as an assistant varsity football coach, he coached 2012 to 2017. So five years as an assistant high school coach, five years as a Head Football Coach at a high school level. And then he becomes a Head College Coach. I don’t know how many guys have followed that timeline, but there’s not a lot of them now. He’s at a NAIA school. It’s not a Power Five school. He didn’t make that jump from high school to LSU. But there are guys out there who think making the jump from high school to college is so easy. And I’m just here to tell you it’s not guys. It’s very, very difficult.
I have had Head College coaches come to me, and say “Hey, I need you to help me find a coach. I’ve got these two GA openings. I’ve got a director of football operations opening.” A Head Coach at the NCAA D2 level came to me, and said “I wanna hire a defensive backs coach, I want to give a guy a shot. I want to give a guy a shot for a full time college job. It’s got to be his first college job ever.” I respect the heck out of that Head Coach. But he wanted to give a guy a shot, and that’s stinking awesome. And he said, “Here’s the requirements, a high school guy who can recruit this certain area, and somebody who has never been a college coach before. Help me find this type of person.” This was awesome, but I’m telling you guys, it’s very, very difficult to move from high school college. I don’t want to shut your dreams down. Pursue that everlasting heck out of it. I’m just telling you, it’s very, very difficult. I got a junior college coaching job back in 2017. Those are very, very difficult. The Head Coach asked me, “Hey, come in to meet with me, I need you to come in, talk special teams with me.” I live a quarter of a mile from this junior college. The Head Coach had seen me out coaching for five or six years. I guess he respected my coaching of special teams. So he says, “Hey, come talk to me about special teams.” I went in there and he asked me a bunch of questions for about three or four hours. I thought I was there just doing a consultation. At the end of it, he goes, “Hey, I wanna hire you as my special teams coordinator.” I was blown away, I didn’t see that coming at all. But those are the stories you hear of where a guy became a collegiate coach from the high school ranks. I had applied to a bunch of Junior College jobs 10-12 years before I got this one. Got nothing. Then there I am in 2017, I’m not even thinking about a Junior College job. It’s not WHO you know; it’s who knows YOU.
The best way to get a college job is to develop a reputation for being GREAT, for being DYNAMITE at your job. Develop a reputation for being THAT guy that others have to have. Have you developed a reputation in your area? In your state? “This guy runs a great defense,” or “Dude, there’s nobody in the area who coaches defensive backs like this guy does,” or “He is the best running backs coach in Southern California.”
Coach, when a job opens, are there any questions I should ask or just contact them to express interest in the job?
Here’s the deal: call, call, call! Use the phone unless it says no. If it says no phone calls, then do not call. I’m telling you right now as somebody who has hired many coaches, as both an Athletic Director, and an Assistant Principal, and now as a Principal, not many folks make phone calls. I think maybe one guy called me the last time I did a Head Football Coach search. We had 28 applicants, it was in a desert area, not a real popular job because of our location. So pick up the horn. Not enough guys make phone calls anymore. Too many guys just rely on the email, so pick the phone up. You know, maybe you want to know more about the job. Maybe you want to know more about what they’re looking for. You’re not gonna get great answers.
You want to find out what they are looking for! This is the most important thing that you need to figure out. Do they even know?! You would be shocked to find out how many schools out there never sit down to write a candidate profile. That’s something that I always do, and in fact, it is something that I help schools to do too. But ask about this. You’ll learn a lot by just listening to them answer this question. If they are really short with you, chances are that the job is not really open!
Then I think that the next most important part of making contact with the school is trying to figure out their timeline. What exactly are they looking for timeline wise? And how many people are they interviewing, and what does that timeline for an interview look like? Those are important things.
Chris Fore, CAA has his Masters in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as the President of the California Coaches Association. Currently, he is the Principal of a STEM charter school with 1,750 students in Southern California. He coached high school football for 17 years (8 as a Head Coach) and JUCO football in his last year (2017), before becoming an Administrator. Fore served as an Adjunct Professor in the Masters of Physical Education program at Azusa Pacific University for three years. He is a court-certified Expert Witness in athletically-based court cases, and is the CEO of Eight Laces Consulting. Eight Laces specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process, and consults schools to fill their vacant positions. Fore has been named to the Hudl Top 100 Coaches (2017), and the Top 5 Best High School Football Coaches to follow on Twitter by MaxPreps. Follow him!