Applying for a position as a superintendent/principal, vice principal, dean, director of students or other administrative role is challenging, but it can also be rewarding and fulfilling. For your interview, you will need to know your areas of expertise, as you will be interviewed by a panel of people who are knowledgeable in your field. Be ready to give an honest evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses and highlight why you are the best candidate for the job.
In any educational institution, students come first. An administrator should have an understanding of how to interact with students at any level. A committee might formulate interview questions around curriculum assessments as well as student learning styles and needs. For example, a school district might have a large population of students who are enrolled in remedial-level mathematics courses. How would you help boost the level of student work from remedial to proficient? Knowing the answer to this kind of question might be the key to landing the position.
Collaboration is an important piece of an administrator's job. Administrators frequently collaborate with their institutions, parents, districts, state offices and community members. A committee will look for candidates who can explain how they have incorporated parent involvement in their schools, how they have explained the activities and needs of the school to the community and school board and how they have collaborated with faculty and staff at their previous/current institution. Interviewers are interested in a well-rounded administrator who is able to collaborate across multiple groups with ease and can successfully manage various interactions.
Committees are always interested in leadership -- especially in an administrator position. What leadership qualities do you possess? How would you describe your leadership style? How have you encouraged participation of peers to increase standardized test scores? Interview committee members may also want to know about your previous experience with budgeting, health and safety issues and accreditation.
Prior to your interview, review the job description. Go to the hiring institution's website and look at the student population, areas needing improvement, retention rates and percent of English-language learners. Any tidbit may prove valuable during your interview to help you answer questions and to ask intelligent questions of your interviewers. Asking specific, informed questions shows that you are interested in the school district, know its issues and have done your homework. As you prepare to answer and ask these questions, request that friends or family members to help you practice. This may help alleviate any butterflies when the interview day arrives.
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