33 Interview Questions That Will Help You Find Effective Principals

Do you know what the number one predictor of teacher turnover is? Principal quality. If a school has a strong, yet compassionate principal that is tough on discipline, supportive of their staff, and is able to maintain a healthy school culture where everyone feels safe and valued, then teacher turnover will be low. If the opposite is true, then teacher turnover will be extremely high.

Regardless of the size of a school district, the hiring of principals happens at the central office level. If you are a district administrator in charge of hiring new principals, how can you be sure that you are hiring an effective leader, every time, without fail? The key is asking the right questions during the interview process. Let’s look at interview 33 questions that will help you find quality principals.


  1. What motivated you to want to become a school principal?
  2. If you could describe an effective school principal in just three words, what would they be?
  3. If you get this job, what would be the first thing you would do?
  4. What do you expect of teachers and staff members?

Knowledge of Students

  1. Have you worked with students in this age range before? Tell us about your experiences.
  2. Tell us about a situation where you had a student who was a threat to his peers and staff members. How did you handle the situation?
  3. A group of students lodges a complaint against a teacher. How would you handle the situation?

Teaching and Learning

  1. How did you ensure that your instructional pace was sufficient enough to cover all of the curriculum standards before the end of the school year?
  2. Have you lead or participated in a curriculum development team?
  3. How would you handle schoolwide discipline?
  4. What classroom management strategies worked for you?
  5. What is your philosophy of education assessment?

Personnel, Hiring, Induction

  1. What experience do you have with hiring teachers and other critical staff members?
  2. Some teachers feel like they don’t receive enough support from their principal. How would you address their concerns?
  3. What is your process for helping new and novice teachers improve their instruction?
  4. Tell us about a situation where you had to hand out negative feedback to a veteran teacher. How did they take it? If there was pushback, how did you handle it?

Facilities, Budget, School Safety

  1. Describe your experience with the management of a school budget. Are you comfortable making budget cuts, monitoring the budget, and reallocation fiscal resources to address student needs?
  2. What experience do you have with managing school buildings and facilities?
  3. Are you familiar with school safety protocols?

Public Relations, Communicating With Parents

  1. What experience do you have with increasing parental engagement in a school?
  2. What has been your involvement in extracurricular activities?
  3. Are you comfortable with giving presentations and speeches to community stakeholders?
  4. Tell us about a situation where you had to apply your knowledge of school law. How did it turn out?
  5. If a child is acting our behaviorally, at what point to you involve their parents.
  6. How would you work to increase the school’s relationship with the community?

Leadership, Vision, Professionalism

  1. Do you have any leadership experience?
  2. What is your vision for our school?
  3. As a disciplinarian, what grade would you give yourself?
  4. What is your professional development regimen? How do you stay abreast of current and emerging trends in the field of education?
  5. How do you empower the teachers under your charge?
  6. What is your impression of our school? In what areas can we improve?
  7. Tell us about a time when you had to make a decision, that you knew would be unpopular. How did you handle the pushback and backlash?

Well, that’s it for my list. Let me know how it goes. Whether you are a school/company looking for the perfect employee or an educator looking to advance your career, P-20 Education Careers is the site for you.

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