When hiring an executive coach, it pays to be an educated consumer. In order to get the best, always interview at least three coaches and be persistent in getting very specific answers to the following:

  1. How many executives has the coach coached and for how long?
    • You want to be sure to ask about “paid” coaching the coach has done vs. free “practice” coaching or “bartering.”
    • Ask about the level of the executive clients and how many hours the coach has practiced.
    • Most experienced coaches have a full practice of anywhere between 12 and 30 clients a week, working with each executive about 2 to 6 hours a month.
    • Ask to speak to 3 past executive clients.
  2. What’s the coach’s personal experience as an executive managing people?
    • If a coach is going to relate to the issues of high level executives, they need to have been there.
    • How many people did the coach manage when they were an executive; and at what level of responsibility?
    • What were the toughest challenges the coach faced as an executive?
  3. What type of coach specific training has the coach completed?
    • Since executive coaching is popular, lots of people want to call themselves coaches.
    • Look for specific well-known coach training programs recognized by ICF (International Coach Federation).
    • What undergraduate and graduate education has the coach had?
  4. Is the coach credentialed by ICF?
    • ICF started credentialing coaches in 1998.
    • Basic level is PCC (Professional Certified Coach). Advanced level is MCC (Master Certified Coach).
    • MCC requires 4 years of paid coaching along with leadership in the coaching profession and strong coaching experience and education.
    • PCC requires only 1 1/2 years and less leadership.
  5. What is the coach’s specialty?
    • Most coaches have a niche. See if that specialty relates to the needs of an executive.
    • Ask about the 3 major issues that the coach sees most frequently across all the executives they coach.
    • What specific goals does the coach help clients with most often?
  6. Does the coach know the difference between coaching and other disciplines?
    • How is coaching different than therapy, counseling, or consulting?
    • Ask for a specific distinction. Well-trained coaches can give one.
  7. How does the coach decide on a coaching strategy for the executive?
    • Give the coach 2 sample situations an executive would face.
    • Ask the coach how they would approach creating solutions.
  8. When does the coach turn down a prospective client?
    • Strong coaches don’t just coach anyone.
    • They have an ideal client profile.
    • They also have criteria for when someone is “not coachable.” How do they know?
  9. What is the structure/content of a coaching session?
    • Ask the coach to describe specifically what they do in a session.
    • What’s the agenda? Who composes it?
  10. Ask the coach to describe 3 success stories of how they coached an executive from beginning to end.
    • Experienced coaches can describe the goal of coaching, the tools they used and the outcome for the client.