Top Ten Questions to Ask Before Selecting
a Coach or Consultant
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1. Have you clearly defined the goals of your project, or the issues,
questions, and concerns you want addressed by the professional?
- Articulate your goals and objectives for the project. If you
require/desire certain methods, specific procedures, or special
arrangements for the project, outline those in detail. Present
your plan to a colleague unfamiliar with the project for constructive
2. Which type of professional do you need for this endeavor? Do
the project outcomes necessitate a combination of solutions (i.e.,
training and coaching)?
- A coach will partner with an individual or team to set goals,
provide tools, support and structure, and challenge the client(s)
to accomplish results. Coaches hold clients accountable for reaching
- A consultant brings specific content knowledge and expertise
to produce specified outcomes. Consultants plan for, develop and
deliver the results. The client holds the consultant responsible
3. What qualifications and work experience should the professional
possess? What does the project require and are you willing to be
flexible in any areas?
- Is having specific academic training or particular credentials
a prerequisite for considering candidates?
- What types of experience is critical to understanding the complexity
of the project?
4. Does the coach or consultant offer a complimentary session to
learn firsthand about his/her personal style and how s/he likes
- Coaches generally offer a free session to the client to learn
about the client: what brings the client to coaching, what the
client(s) would like to achieve, and whether there is a match
between the coach and client.
- Consultants usually set an appointment to meet with the potential
client to discuss the goals of the project and background information
about the company, department or work group.
5. Do you have an interview format for use during the complimentary
- Decide how you will describe the project; how much detail is
required for the professional to have a sense of the results you
desire? Ask how s/he would approach the work and relationship.
- Ask questions to discover the consultant¹s breadth and
depth of experience in your area of interest. (Ask, "Tell
me about a time when you worked on a project of this nature
how many people were involved, how did you manage communication,
etc ." or , "Describe a situation in which you developed
a response to a hostile work environment through a training and
6. Will it be possible/practical for you to see illustrations/learn
about their previous work? What has been the scope and length of
- A consultant may have a portfolio of projects representing
the variety, complexity, and styles of her work.
- A coach may have a website or brochure that illustrates his
work with various types of clients (from different fields, using
different formats, and methods).
7. How will you ensure that the professional shares your vision
and plan for achieving the goals?
- Ask the consultant to create a project plan, based on your
dicsussions, which includes: goals, objectives, timeline, methods,
- Communicate with the coach to create a deep understanding of
who you are, your goals, your style of interaction - how you want
to be supported and challenged to achieve results.
8. What is the anticipated length of the project/commitment? Will
this professional have the necessary time to work with you, and
what type of access will you have to him/her when new information,
questions or concerns arise?
- Consultants often have several concurrent commitments. How
will s/he ensure project completion?
- Coaches usually require a three month commitment, and a coaching
relationship may last from six months to two years.
9. What's the plan for formalizing the business relationship?
- Will you/does your company use a contract, letter of agreement,
or verbal agreement? What are the cost categories and parameters?
- How will changes be made to the relationship or outcomes, if
10. How will progress toward goal achievement be communicated?
- Will you set aside time each call or each month to reflect and
share your thoughts and feelings about your ³wins² and
shifts resulting from the coaching relationship?
- Will you want discussions regarding progress weekly, email updates,
or formal reports from the consultant.