Enthusiasm: The Most Important Controllable in an Interview

A very practical idea for perspective basketball coaches is what mindset they should have going into an interview. Matt Willis has coached at two different schools. The interview processes were very different at each. At his first school, he had never been a varsity coach before. During the interview he was stating what he thought he would do and what he would like to do. Most of his answers were hypothetical because he had never been a head coach before. In his next coaching job, it was the opposite. He already had proof of what he did, it was just a matter of if the interviewers were looking for those specific ideas. In either case, Coach Willis shared with me that the number one thing a perspective coach can control during the interview process is their enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm During an Interview

His most recent interview was a couple years ago at his current job, but Coach Willis told me he remembers giving an answer about youth teams. He advocated that a youth team refrain from having a single point guard. The reasons for that are well-supported by research. I read this in Coaching Better Every Season by Wade Gilbert:

“Quality coaches understand that relegating young athletes to a single position or role on a team at an early age limits their long-term development…The most successful coaches and sport clubs adopt a position-sampling approach to athlete development.”

Coach Willis did not elaborate on what his exact answer was. His point was that often interviewers will say, “Thanks” and move onto the next question. When you are sitting on the hot seat, a million thoughts could be racing through your head. Did they not like that response? Should I change my tune? Am I speaking too long? Did that come out the way I intended?

The interviewers feedback is often ambiguous and that can derail the person being interviewed. There is a temptation to question yourself. That is why before you enter the room, the perspective coach needs to accept that they cannot control the reaction of the room. All they can do is speak positively and honestly about the direction they want to take the program. If the interviewers do like you for you, it will much likely be a fit long term.

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