06/12/2014 10:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Strategic Business Coach

Business coaching has grown in popularity, which is really no surprise. Considering the rapid pace of change across the entire landscape of our lives, we all need someone who can keep us focused, on track, and help us sort through the multiple decisions we make in a day. It's not that we can't do it all on our own, working with a business coach just makes things move more quickly.

Although business coaching has been in existence since the early 90's as an organized profession, it's still in its infancy. This newness makes it more challenging to find a good fit when looking to engage a business coach.

To assist in your quest to identify the best business coach for you, here are several questions you can use when interviewing coaches:

1. What coach training have you attended? Here's where a good dose of "buyer beware" comes in handy. If the coach tells you they've been coaching their entire life, run in the opposite direction as fast as you can. Not everyone who calls him or herself a "coach" is trained. The profession of coaching has over 200 competencies and an in-depth body of knowledge. There are plenty of trained coaches available for you to choose from so there's no need to hire a coach who merely hangs out his/her shingle and calls themselves a "coach".

2. What size business do you specialize in coaching? Different business sizes have different needs. You want to select a coach who understands the challenges and opportunities YOUR business faces.

3. What industries have you coached? It's good to get a sense of the depth and breadth of experience of a business coach. Frankly, I'd rather hire a business coach who works across a wide variety of industries than one who works within only one industry. It helps to take on a business coach who doesn't come equipped with their own blind spots.

4. What do you do best? What a business coach does best is not the same as that in which they specialize. Listen carefully when you ask this question. The answer will reveal how well the business coach actually listens.

5. What additional skills besides coaching do you bring into play? With the pure coaching model, the business coach asks you discovery questions to bring you some clarification. If that's all you need, an additional skill set won't be as important. However, depending on the type of support you want, you may prefer a business coach who also has strong critical thinking or analytical skills so they can help you scrutinize and strategize your business.

6. What kind of results have you helped your clients achieve? A smart business coach knows they are not completely responsible for the results achieved by their clients, but they do play a role in pointing out opportunities and helping their clients think through the myriad of strategic decisions. The bottom line is that a good business coach should be able to state the results achieved by a variety of their clients.

You can count on a solid ROI from business coaching when you select the right business coach for you and your business, identify what a successful engagement looks like, and outline your plan of action. Without that, it's all just wishful thinking.

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