Gino's Blog

Dream job – part 3. The biggest mistake at a job interview.

The biggest mistake at a job interview is the answer to the simplest question of all – why do you want to work here?

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sat on selection committees for college teaching/admin jobs, for jobs in my own businesses, and for assistant coaching jobs on my coaching staff. Over 90% make the same mistake when they’re asked why they want the job. In reality, the common wrong answer is not a mistake. It’s actually the truth. The candidate is telling the truth but the truth is often the wrong answer. There are infinite ways of saying the same wrong answer. Even though the answer sounds different, it boils down to the same wrong answer. Over 90% have said the same type of wrong answer because of past conditioning that leads to the wrong perception of what jobs are about.

Here are some of common ways that candidates have said the same wrong answer to, “Why do you want to work here?”

“I want to become an offensive coordinator in the NFL.”

“I want to get a job as a college head coach.”

“I just retired and want to supplement my income.”

“It’s just down the road from my house.”

“I want to pad my resume with defensive coordinator experience on your team.”

“My son will be old enough to play in a couple of years and I want to coach him.”

“I can’t get a coordinator job anywhere else.”

All of the above answers show the same intention – me-first. There’s the wrong answer – me-first. I have made the mistake of hiring me-first candidates and regretted each hiring. 100% nightmare. Not one has worked out – literally and figuratively. The ones who do work out answered the right way – players-first. Team-first. The following are examples of how to answer the interview question correctly:

“I want to develop players at this level.”

“I want to help this program succeed.”

“I want to learn while I’m teaching players and helping them reach their full potential.”

Career advancement in coaching is a by-product of performance, not the product of self-centered coach ambition. What matters is the interest rate – high self-interest won’t cut it. Low self-interest brings out coaching potential. I believe it’s impossible to bring out your very best as a coach if your career is the main focus of attention. Serve others, not yourself. Self-serving coaches are time-bombs. In my experience, every candidate who answered the interview question with a high self-interest answer always turned out to be a selfish glory-seeker who couldn’t handle the pressure and stress of true coaching – the development of human potential individually and collectively as a team.

Self-serving me-first coaching candidates have always proved to be a detriment to our team. I’ve been asked why I coach with a skeleton staff, often alone – because I won’t compromise any more by hiring me-first self-serving coaches. The wrong hiring of self-serving coaches always kills a team. It doesn’t just hurt the team, it slices the team’s heart and soul.

Mechanically answering the interview question correctly isn’t enough. The correct answer has to come straight from the heart. Your number one reason for wanting a coaching position is to benefit the players, benefit the team, benefit the entire program. Self-benefit is a natural by-product of spilling your guts for the team and the program. Serving others, serves self. Not vice-versa.
The number one cause of organizational sabotage is hiring self-centered, me-first candidates. Don’t expect me-first coaches to enrich your team because they don’t have the will or the capacity to do the heavy lifting when they’re top priority is self. Don’t complain about bad hirings. It’s your fault. Fix it. Don’t let it slide but letting it slide causes your team to slide all the way to dead last.

It doesn’t matter what side of the interview table you’re on because the same golden rule applies to both sides – the team comes first. Team-interest supersedes self-interest for one simple reason – team success builds individual success. If you can’t set aside self-interest, invest in individual sports.

Coaching is a privilege, not a right. There’s no constitutional right that guarantees a coaching position just because – just because you want ‘Coach’ embroidered on your jacket or just because you want ‘Coach’ on your Facebook profile or just because you want to impress dinner guests at cocktail parties. Don’t fill coaching vacancies just for the sake of filling up your staff to get numbers – We’ve got 10 coaches on our staff. Quality matters more than quantity. If you’re dream-job hunting, learn the Golden Rule – be an asset, not an ass. Prove your interest in the right place. Your interest rate shows what inside your heart. Set your heart straight and your team will follow. Dual meaning – your team will follow you into any fight and your dream team will naturally follow as a by-product.


Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at:

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