How do I prepare for a principal interview?
Interviews can surely be overwhelming. But, good preparation can help you counter just that by boosting your confidence, reducing nerves, and increasing your chances of getting hired.
And since the role of a principal is a leadership one, your interview answers must effectively highlight the same to impress the recruiters.
Some of the general responsibilities of a school principal include directing and guiding day-to-day school operations, developing curriculum standards, and managing the school budget.
Thus, to nail the interview and get hired, you must showcase your ability to effectively execute these duties.
Read on to learn more about principal interview questions and related FAQs like the following:
- How to prepare for a principal interview?
- What are some of the common principal interview questions and answers?
- What are the top elementary principal interview questions?
- What are the most frequently asked interview questions for high school principals?
- What are some questions to ask at the end of a principal interview?
How to Prepare for a Principal Interview?
Besides analyzing the job description and reading up about the school, an important part of your interview preparation is to practice answering common principal interview questions.
Since some questions asked during interviews are meant to put you on spot and assess your potential, it is imperative that you prepare your answers beforehand.
However, this doesn’t mean that you need to memorize a scripted answer.
Instead, you must analyze the job description to probe the type of questions recruiters are likely to ask based on the requirements.
Accordingly, you can think of instances wherein you’ve demonstrated your ability to meet these requirements in the past and incorporate the same in your interview answers.
You can create a mental outline of what you’re going to talk about or create bullet points around the same.
Also Read: How to ace a job interview in 2022?
Common Principal Interview Questions and Answers
Given below are some of the most common principal interview questions with their sample answers that you can refer to:
What is Your Leadership Style?
With this question, recruiters want to know whether or not you have set up a system or method that works for you and how successful you have been at it.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. You simply need to describe which approach has worked for you in the past.
Sample Answer: “I believe I do not fit into one leadership style. In my previous work experiences, using elements from several methods has brought me greater success in the workplace. For example, when I’m dealing with highly experienced teachers who don’t need a lot of guidance, I give them space to lead their classes in a way that works for them. Whereas, when I’m dealing with students, I believe providing them clear-cut guidelines and guidance works better.”
Have You Resolved a Conflict Between Adults on Campus?
Since conflicts and fights among students and even teachers in schools is a common scenario that principals have to deal with, recruiters are bound to ask you if you have experience in dealing with the same.
Sample Answer: "In my previous role as an assistant principal, I often had to resolve disagreements between parents and teachers. One case I can recall is when I had to deal with a parent who was insisting that her son’s teacher should give him a third opportunity to take a class test that he had already failed twice. However, the teacher didn’t agree to this, as she had already given the boy a second chance. I listened carefully to both parties, including the son for his reasons why he failed to perform. After an extended discussion, we came to an understanding that the pressure of the test was to blame for the student's performance. We then decided on an alternate method of assessment, wherein the student performed well."
What Steps Would You Take to Support a Safe Learning Environment at the Campus?
Nurturing a safe and healthy learning environment for students is one of the biggest responsibilities of a principal.
Thus, with this question, recruiters want to see if you are capable of providing the same for the students and the campus.
Sample Answer: "I believe that when dealing with kids specifically, it is important to educate them not only on bookish knowledge but also on kindness and empathy. In my previous role as a middle school principal, I implemented many educational programs and models to support and promote the same. This resulted in a 15% reduction in school transfers due to bullying and we received lesser reports of fights among students."
Common Elementary Principal Interview Questions
Listed below are some of the common interview questions for elementary principles:
- What has been your greatest contribution to the schools you have worked in?
- Why do you want to become the principal of this school?
- How do you think leading an elementary school is different from becoming the principal of a high school?
- What would be your top priorities in this position?
- How would you provide feedback to a teacher who is underperforming?
- How do you nurture good relationships with teachers and parents?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
High School Principal Interview Questions
Since dealing with teenage kids requires a different approach, the recruiters might ask slightly different interview questions to a high school principal.
Take a look at the below-given common high school principal questions that you can prepare for:
- How do you motivate students to do better?
- In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good high school principal?
- What were the biggest challenges that you faced in your previous role as a school principal? How did you overcome them?
- What are your strengths as a leader?
- What do you know about this school’s improvement plan and how do you plan on contributing to it?
- What is your idea of an effective high school campus?
- How do you empower teachers to be leaders and role models for students?
Questions to Ask at the End of a Principal Interview
At the end of the interview, most recruiters will ask you if you have any questions for them.
In such scenarios, if you fail to ask them good questions, you can risk seeming uninterested in the role. Or you might get tempted to ask salary-related questions, which are a big no-no.
Given below are some good questions that you can ask the recruiters at the end of your principal interview:
- How would you describe the school culture?
- What is the process for addressing parental concerns should they arise?
- What are the biggest challenges of this role?
- What is the general student-to-teacher ratio in the school?
- What type of training/education opportunities are available for the faculty?
Key Points from the Blog
- Besides analyzing the job description and reading up about the school, an important part of your interview preparation is to practice answering common principal interview questions.
- Analyze the job description to probe the type of questions that recruiters are likely to ask based on the requirements.
- Some of the common principal interview questions are related to leadership, conflict resolution, and behavioral questions.
- “What would be your top priorities in this position”, “how would you provide feedback to a teacher who is underperforming” and “how do you nurture good relationships with teachers and parents” are some of the common elementary principal interview questions.
- Avoid asking salary-related questions to the recruiters at the end of the interview. Instead, ask questions that are related to school culture, student-to-teacher ratio, responsibilities, etc.