15 Surprise Questions to Prepare for Your Principal Interview

Are you ready for your interview? If so, I have 15 questions that might surprise you. You might be freaking out. Luckily, you came to the right place. If you are nervous, good. It’s a big job, and that ring of school keys is quite heavy. Let those nerves inspire you to prepare for one of the biggest interviews of your career so far.

It’s hiring season, which means that some of you are applying for the tremendous job of being a Principal, AP, Supervisor, or Director of something awesome. I wanted to draft a few ideas of how to prepare and what you questions you might be asked.

I Remember my Interviews

I was pretty nervous for my Principal interviews. I had my handouts and highlighted packet of school data. I did some basic research of schools, looked over their websites and looked for any news reports. Some even have public newsletters. All of that gives you a feel for the community.

Shit, I was still sweating.

Would they think I was ready? Did they already have an internal candidate? Would I make sense? Enough details? Not too much rambling? Would I be too radical, too black, too young, too political?

Quick story. I interviewed at the school, I attended as a middle schooler. And, one of my teachers was still there and on the panel. Crazy. The interview went well but I was destined for another lovely school. (wink)

Here are 15 Questions

  1. What makes you ready to move from being an assistant principal to become a principal?
  2. What is your vision? How will people know it?
  3. What do you think our school needs to make the next jump?
  4. Describe your leadership style.
  5. How does your racial, gender, and class identity influence your leadership? (take a look at white fragility)
  6. What type of adult culture do you want to build? How might you address someone who consistently shows up negatively in staff meetings? (here’s a cheat sheet)
  7. What is your ideal discipline policy and how might you develop that?
  8. What did you learn most from your previous Principal?
  9. What is your experience with inclusive leadership?
  10. Where is one area where you will need some coaching and support?
  11. What experience do you have with school budgets (equity-based budgeting tips here), school site councils, and working with district council members?
  12. What is your equity imperative in schools? (when to communicate your equity purpose)
  13. What do you think is missing from schools? (wink wink, culturally responsive teaching and deeper learning)
  14. Based on the data you know about this school, if we were given $100,000 additional funds, what would you recommend we spend it on? (equity ain’t free)
  15. How might you deal with an upset parent who is pressuring you to make a decision that supports their child but is against your values and/or takes away from an underserved group of students? (start with some anti-racist mindset work)
You should have good answers to these questions for hiring teachers too!

Types of Interviews

  • Typical interview with a supervisor
  • School hiring panel (there might be students, staff, and parents)
  • Performance Tasks (craft an email response to a crisis, create and present a PowerPoint a analyze school data and propose a PD focus, or watch a video and share how you might give a teacher feedback on their lesson)

Final Words

Listen. If you are considering applying, you are on the right track. This job is not for everyone, and it’s hard as hell. Take it from me. It’s more than fulfilling. You are capable and if you want it, and if you are willing to reflect and grow, you can do this. Believe in yourself.

Practice your answers more times than you think.

A Principal’s main job is communication. Clarity and articulation are paramount and folks want to see if you have it. At least the potential. So practice answering these questions with your friends/family, in the mirror, or record yourself.

One more thing. Tone, body language, and eye contact matter. You have to embody and convey strength, poise, humility and confidence. They have to feel it, so you BETTER feel it.

So make them feel it!


More Resources

Thoughts to Consider for the Principal Job from Principal Kafele

52 Practical Interview Questions

https://www.principalcenter.com/interview/

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