Why They Hire Who They Hire

Why They Hire Who They Hire

I attended the Why They Hire Who They Hire workshop at this year’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association convention. Sponsored by NACWAA, panelists Joan McDermott (Metropolitan State University of Denver), Joan Cronan (University of Tennessee), Julie Hermann (University of Louisville) and Lee McElroy (University of Albany) shared key insights for coaches to understand what’s important to athletic directors in the hiring process.

If you’re an assistant who wants to be a head coach, or a head coach who wants to move to a different school or level, these tips are for you:

What is the most important quality athletic directors are looking for?

Fit—determined by your philosophy (how well does this fit with the university philosophy?), how you make decisions, how you will go about hiring staff along with where the program is and what it needs.

Skill set—how you manage the team is more important than the X’s and O’s, but you obviously need to know the game in order to get an interview.

How does an athletic director know if an assistant knows X’s and O’s?

Remember, assistant coach, that you are on stage. When athletic directors watch games, they observe the assistant coaches on the bench and in the huddle. Are you passionately involved, or wandering around during the huddle? What you’re in charge of and your ensuing results will give them a picture of your leadership skills.

What’s important to an athletic director in the interview/application process?

Athletic directors will involve many people in the hiring process to see if your message is consistent across the board. Many will want to see if you have the same energy when you’re tired at the end of the day as you did in the morning.

They prefer not to receive phone calls on your behalf unless they personally know the person calling. Don’t expect them to call your references—they will call people they know who know you.


What tips have you learned through interviewing? Please share them below.