Superintendents are administrative personnel that oversee school districts. Each principal within that district answers to her. Superintendents interview for their positions with their respective school boards, which are typically very cautious about who they hire. Answers to their questions are extremely important in determining whether you're right for the job.
Understanding the District
Each district has its own concerns, outside the usual concerns of improving student test scores and earning state awards. If you're a candidate for this spot, you'll need to perform due diligence in understanding the specific desires of the district you intend to lead. This is in conjunction with the usual questions about personnel and budget management. Researching online and speaking with teachers and parents are all considered necessary preparation in answering the board's questions. Rehearse these answers, ensuring you have the district's best interests at heart. Remember also that many times the "district's interests" are really the individual interests of each board member. They're the ones making the hiring decision, so you'll need to know who wants what though a similar research process.
Answering to Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Every school board wants to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. This is an element of self-examination that tells the board much about where you excel and where you can improve. Good answers to weaknesses should reference a strength. For example, informing the board that you're as impatient with improving district test scores as many of them are means you have passion, rather than a short temper. Your main strengths should point directly to successes you've had with improving teacher performance, a school as a principal or another district.
Addressing Previous Issues
Nobody's perfect. Even the most qualified superintendent had insurmountable challenges that could only be mitigated rather than solved. During the interview process, you'll need to be upfront and honest about "failures" you've had in previous positions. If you evade these questions or deflect blame, you'll have trouble being hired. Answer these concerns with confidence, discussing active steps you took to solve these issues, such as providing private access to teachers during off-hours to students with low test scores. You can't solve every problem, but the board wants to see your proactive efforts in taking on things you can control.
Answering Inappropriate Questions
Being a superintendent is a demanding job, requiring enormous commitment in time and effort for maximum success. There are times where a board may ask questions in an effort to determine if and how your time and attention gets divided. Some of these are illegal. For example, if you're asked when you plan to start a family, answer with, "I consider the student body my family" or, "my career is my top priority right now." Don't call the board member out for the question; just be diplomatic and look to another board member for her query. Questions regarding your race, sexual preference, family situation or religion are off limits by federal law.
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