How to Choose a Coach 

5 Tips to Find the Right Coach For You

So you’ve decided to take advantage of the many benefits that coaching offers.  Now, how do you find the right coach?  With a bit of planning and research, you will be able to engage coaches whom you can depend on to make a difference.  
Find a coach

Tip 1:  Clarify your objectives for coaching

What exactly do you want from the coaching program?  If you are looking for a corporate coach: Do you want to increase productivity in your company?  Improve interactions among leaders?  Improve project success?  Improve the company’s management style?    If you are an individual:  Do you want to be more successful?  More healthy?  Learn how to deal with difficult people?  Find your Purpose in life?  Determine what to do next?  There are many reasons to hire a coach, and since there are so many different coaching disciplines, it behooves you to figure out exactly what you want, so you know what kind of coach to engage.  One of the first things a prospective coach will do is to sit with you to determine the key results you expect from the engagement, which will become part of the contract if you should both decide to work together.  Most  coaches do this as part of the interview process.  Knowing your objectives up front will help you choose the best coach for you and/or your company.  Some types of coaching you may be interested in include:

  • Executive Coaching – partnering with Executives to hone their skills and improve their effectiveness
  • Individual Leadership Coaching – help improve interactions and effectiveness of you and/or your company’s leaders within and below the C-Suite
  • Personal Coaching – help you find your own unique strategy for well-being and success
  • Group Coaching – similar to  Individual, only as a group (can be more cost-effective)
  • Project Team Coaching – Improve your project success rate while reducing time to market
  • Agile Coaching – Implement Agile Methodology to get the same results as Project Team Coaching
  • Health and Wellness Coaching – Work with you on your journey to good health
  • Spiritual Coaching – Partner with you on your Spiritual Journey
  • Youth Coaching – working with young people to help them plan what they want to do with their lives
  • And many more!

Tip 2:  Understand Coaching Credentials, and decide what is best for you

What do all those letters after coach’s names mean?  Most coaches subscribe to a governing body.  The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the largest and probably most influential global coach regulatory organization.  The ICF has established a strong code of ethics as well as a detailed set of competencies that regulate how coaches deliver value.  When coaches have been credentialed through ICF, it means they meet rigorous training and experience criteria for their level of coaching.  The most common credentials you will encounter are:


Minimum Training

Minimum Experience

ACC – Associate Certified Coach

60 hours

100 hours of coaching, 8 clients

PCC – Professional Certified Coach

125 Hours

750 hours of coaching, 25 clients

MCC – Master Certified Coach

200 hours

2500 hours of coaching, 35 clients

ICF-connected Coaches are mentored and tested to ensure they understand the core coaching competencies, so when you hire credentialed coaches, you can rest easy that they know what they’re doing.  Since the higher the credential, the pricier the coach, determine what level you need to reach your objectives.  Don’t rule out the other levels, though; interview the coaches who seem like they are a fit before making a decision!

Tip 3:  Talk to people who have had successful coaching experiences

There’s no substitute for experience!  Talk to your peers who have used coaches.  Contact referrals for the coaches you select.  Find out what worked for them, what they learned about coaching and what (if anything) they would do differently.  Your peers may also have great suggestions for coaches to interview.

Tip 4:  Use the ICFGR Find-A-Coach program for referrals

ICFGR members are listed in the Find-A-Coach program on this website.  Simply select what kind of coach you need, and the credentials (if any) that you want.  The results will indicate the coach’s credentials, what type of coaching they do, where they are located, and a link to their website.

Tip 5:  Talk to multiple coaches to choose one who is right for you

Coaching style varies widely.  Once you have a list of coaches to contact, set up interviews.  Some questions you may want to ask (suggested by ICF):

  • What is your coaching experience (number of individuals coached, years of experience, types of coaching situations, etc.)?
  • What is your coach-specific training (enrolled in an ICF approved training program, other coach-specific training, etc.)?
  • What is your coaching specialty or areas in which you most often work?
  • What types of businesses do you work with most often? And, at what levels (executives, upper management, middle management, etc.)?
  • What is your philosophy about coaching?
  • What types of assessments are you certified to deliver?
  • What are some of your coaching success stories (specific examples of individuals who have succeeded as a result of coaching)?
  • Are you a member of ICF? Do you hold an ICF Credential?

The coach will be interviewing you as you interview him or her.  It’s important for both parties that there be a seamless fit, and if the coach feels he or she is not right for you, he or she will tell you so and maybe recommend someone else.  During the interview, pay attention to how the coach could fit in to your company’s style, and your own personal style.  By the end of the interview, you should have a clear idea of what to expect from engaging that coach, including how long the engagement will last.

Taking time for due diligence to find the right coach for your situation will pay off royally during the coaching engagement. 




ICF Virginia Charter Chapter


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software