Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tips for Interviewing New Assistant Coaches/LTS Instructors

Over the last 5-6 weeks my coaching staff has gone through quite a bit of change.  I had two great assistants move on to work on other life ambitions.  Combining that with my upcoming fall session in our Learn to Swim and Stroke School program, means that I have been conducting a lot of interviews over the last 2-3 weeks.

There are definitely a couple strategies that I have used during this round of interviews that I feel worked really well.  It has taken me years to discover some of techniques, and some of methods I have been doing for years.

  • Be at the interview early.  Get there before your candidate gets there.  You can tell a lot about a person by how timely they are to a job interview.  You tell the candidate a lot about you if you get their after them.
  • Dress professionally.  You probably expect this from them, but they are going to learn a lot about how important you think the job you are offering is by the way you dress.  I think a collared shirt and long pants are good for an interview.
  • Write down your set of questions.  You may come up with more during the interview, but conducting an interview in "freestyle" mode can be rough.  You will almost always forget to ask a question you needed to ask.
  • Whenever possible, conduct the interview as a panel of interviewers.  I think a panel of 3 is nice.  You take turns asking questions, and the two not asking get to focus on not only the question, but the body language, the answer, everything.  Sometimes when you are asking questions you miss out on these little things.
  • Choose a public place for the interview.  This is good for a couple of reasons.  For one, you make sure you are both safe by conducting the interview in a public space.  Second, you can see how focused your candidate is on the interview.  Now, I don't have an office for this kind thing, so if I had one, I would probably prefer to conduct the interview their, but then I would have to make sure that I had at least one other interviewer with me at every interview.
  • During the interview, be sure to:
    • Start the interview by specifically asking them if they understand the exact days and times you will need them to be at work.  Obviously this is key, but for some reason it was a tough one for me to learn.  If they can't be at work, then you just saved yourself the time of an interview.  
    • Be sure to make it clear that, if you hire them, you expect at least 2 weeks notice if they are going to quit the job.  A lot of young people don't know this particular standard.  Of course, there is nothing illegal about just quitting, but it is a generally accepted norm.  I don't think it is too much to ask.  I have actually had one of my Learn to Swim instructors quit a couple of weeks into a 2 month session, via texting, about an hour before lessons were about to start.
    • Make sure that you leave the interview with all of the candidates contact information.  This should be on the resume, but this may be a candidates first may have to fill in some blanks.
  • Follow up with a phone call or, at the very least, an email.  Whether or not you are going to continue the selection process with a candidate, let them know where they stand.  Don't just leave them wondering.
I wrote this posting, in part, to see if I could coax any comments and suggestions that would help with future interviews.  So let me have it.

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