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Principal Interview Questions

Last Updated on:

23 November 2022
Principal Interview Questions

The hiring committee of an educational institution prepares the principal interview questions after analyzing the needs and requirements of the position. In such an interview, you may face the interview committee first and then the administrative committee. Therefore, you must prepare well for all the stages of the hiring procedures. 

A school's or college's principal needs to be able to manage and guide the institution’s culture and curriculum. Only proper management by the principal can ensure a healthy and safe environment for the kids to build an excellent foundation in education and character. 

So, while preparing for the post, ensure you prepare well enough to answer all questions regarding the standard education system, effective communication, soft and hard skills, and an intense mental state to solve any problem-related questions during the interview.

What Does a Principal Do?

It would be best if you prepared yourself for the principal interview questions only when you know that you have a passion for teaching, administrative work, and the capability to work in stressful environments. 

A principal's primary job is to supervise a school's education system by guiding the students through the army of teachers of that institution.  

Here we have discussed some of the duties a principal may take over after recruitment.

  • Supervising the admission process of students 
  • Setting a good example for kids so they can grow in a favorable way
  • Strictly monitoring the discipline of the school 
  • Hiring qualified teachers and staff members  
  • Regulating the school's whole operation
  • Managing the budget and overall expenses of the school 
  • Effectively communicating with the faculty, parents, and students 
  • Planning the academic activities throughout the year 
  • Creating a positive and healthy environment for learning
  • Creating the policies and rules for the institution 
  • Arranging funding by networking with other educators 
  • Restricting the old programs and designing new ones involving students 
  • Maintaining an up-to-date curriculum that reflects the specified educational system
  • Researching for measures to increase educational effectiveness and school quality
  • Attending daily, weekly, and monthly meetings to make rational short- and long-term decisions

Basic Skills Needed for the Principal Job

If you want to be a principal, your journey toward this position must start right after graduation. Your educational background is necessary to find a teaching job initially. However, the certification courses in teaching will help you develop the leadership and management skills to guide a school. 

Here are the necessary skills you need to be a principal:

1. Educational Requirements

To land a principal job, you’ll need to fill in the following educational criteria:

  • Bachelor’s Degree of four years
  • Master’s Degree (in educational administration, human resource management, and leadership)
  • Online Master of Science Degree in Educational Administration
  • Secondary Education Degree Program
  • Educational Leadership Degree
  • Principal Certification Program

2. Teaching Experience 

It is better to have roughly one to five years of teaching experience before applying for the principal position.

3. Additional Skills

You probably already have many great leadership traits needed to be a principal after working as a teacher for four to five years. Now, continue reading to find out what additional skills you need. 

(a) Communication skills

Being the principal of a school means that you need to be the head of every committee regarding the matters of the school. Therefore, you need vital communication skills to get in touch with the staff, faculties, parents, and students. You may have to share the following: 

  • Send weekly newsletter 
  • Student achievements 
  • Exam results 
  • Attendance
  • Events 
  • Weekly or monthly bulletin or 
  • Arrange meetings to let the staff and teachers know your decisions to improve the learning environment

 (b) Leadership

Having prior experiences in various other educational leadership positions, such as department head or co-curricular activity coordinator, might benefit candidates aspiring to be the principal. The hiring committee often mentions having these prior experiences in many job postings. 

Hence, during your teaching period, you can lead smaller teams and hone your leadership ability to become ready for and accept the position of a leader.

(c) Prioritizing the list of work

The principal may need to deal with several issues on a busy working day. Therefore, to address the most pressing problems as soon as possible, it is vitally crucial for a principal to be able to prioritize them.

(d) Adaptive and creative

The world is changing in the field of technology. A principal must have two qualities- be adaptive to new ideas and creative enough to utilize them to improve the school's teaching quality. 

The evolving technology and new teaching methods developed by the intellectuals can help maintain a good learning ability in the school. So, the skill of additivity is a must-have skill in a candidate.

(e) IT and ICT skills

You must have noticed the dramatic change in the teaching sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. The world was under lockdown, and teachers had to move to online-based systems. 

Suppose you want to prove yourself as a competent candidate for the principal position. In that case, you have to show the hiring committee that you have sufficient and up-to-date skills in information technology. Furthermore, you can train your teachers about these new changes.

(f) Decision-making skills

A crucial skill to make people realize that you can quickly and confidently address any issue. The craft will help your colleagues believe they can rely on you regarding any arising issue.

(g) Problem-solving ability

If you need more ideas on improving your problem-solving skills after being a principal, complete a 21st-century-teaching course online. The system will give you insights into the issues you may have to deal with in your job.

(h) Be visible

It is crucial for administrators to be visible in the hallways and to communicate with students, teachers, and caregivers on a regular basis.  Again, this helps a principal appear more approachable to students and staff.

(i) Delegation ability

A leader best knows his army of people who work under his supervision. He also understands each employee's ability to work in their field. Therefore, he needs to have the skill to assign perfect people to perfect jobs and be empathetic.

Common Questions Asked in the Interview for the Principal Job

You can only ace the principal interview questions when you are prepared to answer the questions in a knowledgeable, experienced, and professional manner. 

The hiring staff and higher authorities of the school will intentionally ask you tricky questions regarding different situations you may have to face during your job. Continue reading to know some of them and how to answer them correctly.

Question#1: What do you consider to be effective and high-quality instruction?

Answer: My principal frequently spoke with me about the classroom volume. I tried to reduce it, but I firmly believe that a lively classroom fosters learning. Student-centered learning focuses on the learning process rather than the subject matter. I shared lessons with coworkers and encouraged teachers to be lifelong learners. I contributed to my campus's 20% increase in state exam scores.

Question#2: What error have you made in the past, and how did you correct it?

Answer: I was planning the senior dinner for our grads the previous year. I am usually meticulous, but I overlooked printing the event's programs. Faculty, staff, students, and family get together during this time to celebrate the graduates and wish them luck. 

Even though I couldn't print out programs right away, I was able to construct one using an internet platform. I provided a QR code that attendees could scan to access the site, and they could see the form after that. That made me realize how to ask for help.

Question#3: How have you handled an adult dispute on campus?

Answer: In my prior position as a guidance counselor, I frequently had to resolve conflicts between parties. This incident stands out in my memory. A mom once insisted that I give her daughter another chance to take a teacher-administered test that she had already failed multiple times. 

The instructor firmly believed that the grade should stand. I paid close attention to everyone speaking, and after considerable discussion, we decided that the student's performance was due to exam anxiety. The student demonstrated mastery of those skills once we reached an alternative assessment agreement after using the test-taking strategies. And she passed all her state exams.

Question#4: Can you function well under pressure?

Answer: I recall a day when I had to act quickly and handle a life-threatening scenario while I was an assistant principal. When I learned that two kids were preparing to fight in the cafeteria, I knew it was my duty to stop any violence because the situation was getting worse very quickly.

I reached out to our officer on campus and the principal immediately. Fortunately, the police could diffuse the situation, and I was willing to send the boys to our room. The two guys could express their concerns clearly during our talk, which was very fruitful. They patched things up and restored their friendship after that day.

Question#5: Have you had experience working with students in different age ranges?

Answer: I began teaching in 2006, just after I graduated from college, and by the time I was elected a principal at my previous school, I had been doing so for almost ten years. I have been a teacher of junior, middle, and high school. I like how passionate young kids are, and I take pleasure in assisting them in realizing their potential.

Question#6: Explain an occasion when you inspired a colleague.

Answer: Our more recent physics teacher turned out to be upset when I was a high school math instructor. He felt he couldn't contact any of his students since they weren't paying attention to him.

We had coffee together and talked about our classes and students. I discussed the difficulties I've faced in the workplace and the many measures I've used to overcome them. I assisted him in putting in place a more practical syllabus for his students, which included a session where students constructed catapults out of Popsicle sticks.

His students showed more interest in the classes. And also, his students' performance on the weekly quiz increased by as much as ten points. I was thrilled that this teacher now felt more heard and linked to by his kids, which gave him the push he required to continue.

Question#7: What do you believe is lacking in many schools?

Answer: When I was appointed as the principal of X Elementary School, I observed that many students were agitated and unable to concentrate in class. Younger students may struggle with this because there isn't enough playtime or outdoor learning opportunities.

After studying, I decided to add 10 minutes to recess and allocate money to enhance the outside facilities and activities. Teachers reported higher retention rates even after just two months. Additionally, over 15% less bullying occurred at our entire school within a year, and exam scores went up seven points.

General Questions Asked as High school Principal Interview Questions:

  • What is your biggest accomplishment as a teacher?
  • Why do you think you'd be a good fit for this position?
  • Could you tell me a little bit about your professional background and experience?
  • What kind of schooling do you have?
  • Please describe your style of leadership.
  • What inspires you to be an educator?
  • What are the best qualities that will help you be a teacher?
  • What are some of the ways you have overcome obstacles? How have you handled them?
  • How do you function under extreme stress?

Educational and Experience-Related Questions:

  • What three words would you use to define the perfect principal of a school?
  • In what ways do you see yourself enhancing our campus?
  • What made you want to work as a principal of a school?
  • What do you do to help teachers most?
  • How would your former coworkers characterize you?
  • Why do you want to be a principal at our college?
  • What is most crucial to campus safety?
  • What pointers would you offer brand-new teachers in their first year?
  • Why are you the ideal candidate for this position?
  • Give an example of a moment when tact and sensitivity were required to address a situation. What was the problem, how did you solve it, and how did it turn out?
  • What has been one of your most significant contributions to the educational institutions where you have worked?
  • What constitutes a good indicator of student achievement in the classroom?
  • Describe a situation when you had to provide a seasoned teacher with constructive criticism.

In-depth Questions:

  • How do you equip instructors to lead by example and be student role models?
  • How would you respond if a teacher criticized the administration's level of assistance or lack thereof?
  • What techniques do you use to support teachers as they create their teaching strategies, and what faculty professional development would you look for?
  • What part will staff morale play in a campus's success?
  • What does a thriving elementary school campus look like, in your opinion?
  • How can a positive school atmosphere or culture be created? What changes would you make to this campus to maintain its success?
  • What actions would you take to ensure that every faculty member and staff member is aware of their part in the school's success?
  • What do you know about the improvement plan for this campus, and how can you help?
  • How do you approach teacher evaluations, and what significance do they have for students' achievement?
  • How early should parents be involved in student discipline issues, and how can you support them in ensuring their children achieve both at school and at home?

Operational and Situational Questions:

  • Give as much detail as possible about your ideal (elementary, middle, or high) school.
  • How can you equip educators to take charge?
  • How would you assess your own ability to enforce discipline?
  • How can you equip educators to take charge?
  • Think back to a period when you took an unpopular stance. How did people respond? What were your tactics?
  • Name a few characteristics of effective teachers. How does this affect how you choose to recruit them?
  • Some teachers are dissatisfied with the administrative help they receive. How about you?

Personal Growth Questions:

  • Give an instance where you brought about a good change on campus.
  • Describe an example when you had to find a novel solution to an issue on campus.
  • In five years, where do you see yourself?
  • What would your former coworkers say about you?
  • How would you approach policing students?
  • What guidance do you have for newly hired teachers?
  • Have you ever had any experience with students in this age range?
  • How have your management and leadership styles evolved?
  • What did you accomplish most successfully in your prior position?

Communication-Related Questions:

  • Describe how you might assist the faculty and staff.
  • What actions would you take to resolve a conflict if it arose between two employees?
  • How would you handle a parent who calls or comes up to you in a troubled or furious state?
  • How would you plan meetings for the teachers and staff?
  • Describe a time you successfully motivated a colleague.
  • Have you ever dealt with troublesome students? If so, did they get better?
  • Describe how you would reprimand a teacher who displayed inappropriate conduct.
  • How would you ensure students and teachers understand their role in school success?
  • When is it appropriate to involve parents in student discipline?
  • What steps would you take to recognize student and staff achievements?

Philosophical Questions:

  • What are your aims and vision for our school?
  • How would you create a supportive school climate?
  • Why do you think many schools cannot improve?
  • What view do you have of equity?
  • Do you view yourself as a born leader? If so, what kind of leader are you?
  • Describe your educational philosophies in detail.
  •  What are the benefits of education for young students?
  • Do you think elementary school children should have some degree of control over their education?
  • How do you think the educational system should address prejudice and inequality?
  • Why do you think school is essential to a student’s life?

Career Path of a Principal

Becoming the principal of an educational institution will require you to have a degree and teacher’s training. If you want to change your career or position after that, you can choose any of the following career options

  • Become vice president and senior vice president in 14 years
  • Become the director of the school 
  • Become superintendent 
  • Become an elementary school principal and then be promoted to curriculum director or professional development director in 6 years and secondary school principal in 8 years.

Current and Future Career Demand for Principals

In 2021, 292,200 jobs were available for elementary, middle, and high school principals. It is estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that the demand for this role will grow by 5% between 2021 and 2031. 

Around 23,500 new job openings will be observed throughout the decade as well.

Salary Range of Principals

According to recent statistics, a school principal earned $113,466 on average in 2022. Moreover, the salary range varies between $100,222 and $127,648 for 25% and 75% of job holders. 


Josh Evan

Written by:

Josh Evan

Josh Evan is the professional career counselor and career development writer at When Work Works. He loves to see people from this field succeed through initiating the right thing in the right way. He never tells; he shows the way. We appointed John not because of his impressive CV. It was his counseling charisma which stood out of everything. He can implant idea, confidence and productive thoughts into mind almost effortlessly. His pen and mouth both speak for the greater good.


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