Baseball is a passion, a dream career for many underprivileged youngsters, but first and foremost it is a big business. The big stars earn just a fraction of what the real players earn–the people who own the clubs, and associations, and TV rights, and basically run the show. Anyway, for any single million dollar/year player there are thousands of players who cannot live from baseball, and will always play just for fun, or to make some extra buck, or because they want to get a scholarship at a good college. And hence every high school and city has their own club and teams, and every team has a coach. Do you also want to become one, perhaps discovering the next Walter Johnson or Barry Bonds? Let’s have a look at what you can expect in an interview.
First and foremost, they will ask about your experience with playing the game, and coaching the game. They do not say for nothing that a great coach doesn’t have to be a great player (or a player at all), but once you are starting your career, and applying for your first coaching jobs, it would be tough to get hired without an actual experience. Besides the experience they will inquire about your vision for their team, your leadership philosophy, and they may ask you also a couple of rather technical questions on offensive or pitching. Let’s have a look at some of the questions you may face.
Can you tell us something about your baseball background?
Focus on facts and numbers. How many seasons you played, how many matches, wins/losses ratio, coaches who led you, your position in the team, any titles and notable achievements, and so on.
The same goes with coaching. World of baseball is ruthless, and unless you have achievements, they won’t keep you on their team for long. So you should talk about achievements, but this doesn’t necessarily means winning the title in some local league, or progressing to a higher division. If you coached a team that used to finish last or second to last before you came onboard, and you managed to bring it to the middle of the table, it is without a doubt a big achievement, and something you should mention in the interviews.
Be honest, and tell them a lot. This is likely the most important question of an entire interview, and there is no need to rush. If they like what they hear they may come up with follow-up questions and will be 90% convinced that they want to hire you, after your very first interview answer.
Why do you want to coach our team? Why not some other high school, club, etc?
Mark my words: The more time you devote to your research, the better your chances of succeeding will be in this interview. Learn as much as you can about their club–every little detail. Check the stats, read their website and social profiles inside-out, make notes, print everything, and read it twice before the interview. You can even go and watch a couple of games live, if they happen to be searching for a new coach in the middle of a season.
Then you should explain them your reasoning. Perhaps you see a great potential in the team (something all club directors and owners would love to hear). Or, on the contrary, the team is not performing well, and you believe to know how to turn their fortunes around, with some drastic changes to the coaching process. And you are up to the challenge.
Another option is talking about your personal preference for their brand, their club. Maybe you’ve been following them for years, cheering for them, or even played for the club while younger. Hence you will have a dedication and passion not many coaches would have on your place, and it will definitely translate into some interesting results. Similarly to the first question, the more details you mention the better. Did any particular player catch your eye? Can you suggest any particular improvements? Your interviewers would love to hear such things from a great candidate for the coaching position.
* May also interest you: Describe your passion for sports. 7 sample answers.
What is your vision for our baseball team?
If I should pick one thing that really drives America forward, I would pick ambition. Americans like to dream big, and the people who will interview you for the position of a baseball coach are no exception to the rule. Hence you should present ambitious vision, but at the same time a realistic one.
Consider realistically how the club is doing right now. And I do not talk only about results. Think about the size of the club, facilities for players, the player base, scouting activities, atmosphere in the team, fan base, sponsoring, and so on. That’s the starting point, and then you enter the picture. Now let your imagination roam and think how things can look like in five years from now. This is the vision you should present to the club managers, or to anyone else who happens to lead your interview.
Once again, this can result in an interesting discussion, and can move you just an inch from the covered employment contract.
How would you describe your leadership philosophy?
One can say that there are as many leadership and coaching philosophies as there are coaches in the world, but for the sake of the interview you should try to simplify things, and at least somehow categorize your leadership style. Now, it is important to remember that there isn’t anything like a single most successful leadership or coaching philosophy. Just look at the coaches of MLB teams. Some of them have egos so big that they always take the place in the spotlight, and cameras follow them more than they follow the players.
Other coaches are more in for empowering the leaders from within the team, and stay rather quiet during the matches, not caring for the media attention, or the spotlight. And then you have anything in-between, and each of these coaches can be successful and win the league. Hence you do not have to stick to one philosophy in your interview, just because it is labeled as the most successful one in the books. The key is to simply present something, some leadership philosophy you’d like to apply in the team.
Another alternative is saying that you can apply different approaches to coaching, and will decide according to the team, the players you have onboard, or even the situation in a game or time of the season. Best coaches can apply individual approach to their players and games, always saying the right thing. Sometimes they would coach loudly and criticize the players, and other times they would simply sit quietly on the bench, letting the leaders from within the team to figure things out. Maybe you feel up to becoming one of these coaches?
What do you expect from other staff members in the team, such as trainers, assistants, ball boys etc?
I’d say you have a few good options at this point. One is referring to communication, and feedback. Of course nobody is perfect (including you), and you hope to have an open and honest communication with other staff members. You hope them to be receptive to your feedback, and you also hope they won’t hesitate to share their feedback or question with you. People shouldn’t be afraid to talk to each other in any good team.
Second option is saying that first and foremost you want to focus on your job, your role in the process. If you manage to coach the team well, and give clear instructions to everyone, and manage to build a good atmosphere in the team, other people will no doubt take care of their duties. Of course, some conflict may occur once in a while–just like in any other job or sports team. But you will try to address it professionally and make sure that it won’t have a significant impact on the atmosphere in the team.
Other questions you may face in your baseball coach job interview
- How do you feel about having multi-sport athletes on your team?
- If I come to the lawn in the middle of one of your practices, what will I see?
- What is your offensive and pitching philosophy?
- What are your salary expectations? Would you be open to a hybrid model, when your exact compensation depends on the results you achieve with the team?
- If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you do as our new baseball coach?
- What do you consider your biggest weakness if we talk about coaching?
- Imagine that a scout brings a new boy to the training. How will you test them?
- We have several applicants for this coaching position. What can you offer us that they cannot?
Final thoughts, next steps
Interview for a job of a baseball coach belongs to tricky interviews. Sometimes you can land the job with one or two good answers–to the questions about your vision for their team, and the one about your baseball experience. And sometimes they may “torment you” with many questions about the technical aspects of the game. There’s nothing like a standard interview template each club manager will follow at this point, so you can experience both scenarios–and should probably prepare for both.
What’s more, the research you do about the team and school (if you apply for a coaching job at a school) is absolutely pivotal for your success. It would be extremely hard to come with a meaningful vision for the team you do not really know. So try to learn as much as you can about the team as a whole, players, former coaches, and so on. I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!
May also interest you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling anxious before the start of your interview? Check our 4 simple strategies on overcoming nerves and learn how to calm down when it matters the most.
- Football coach interview questions – Some of them may overlap with the questions for a baseball coach, and you should check them out.
- Sports captain interview questions.