45 Interview Questions That Will Help You Find an Effective College President

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. This is undoubtedly true in the case of presidents of higher education institutions. Since an appointment to a college or university board of trustees is only a part-time obligation, they must hire a president to oversee the day to day operations of the institution and to carry out their decisions.

Finding an effective president is not an easy thing to do. If you are a board of trustees member in charge of leading the search for a new president, how can you be sure that you are hiring a transformative leader, every time, without fail? The key is asking the right questions during the interview process. Let’s look at 45 interview questions that will help you find a quality president for your institution.

General Questions

  1. Tell us about an encouraging higher education innovation that you are aware of. Why is it innovative, what value will it bring to our university, and what have you done to incorporate it into your presidency?
  2. If you had the power to change one thing in higher education, what would it be, and how would you go about implementing that change?
  3. What attracted you to apply for this position at our university?
  4. What qualifies you for the position of president? Do you have the educational background, the proper credentials, or professional experience needed to assume a job of this magnitude and scope?
  5. We assume that you have you researched our university and the surrounding communities? What did you find out?
  6. If your current university tried to entice you to remain there after we offered you the position, what would you do?
  7. How do you plan to keep yourself and the board abreast of current trends and issues in the field of higher education?

Questions Regarding Board-President Relations

  1. As you see it, what is the role of the university president? What is the role of the board of trustees?
  2. Are you capable of working with the board to set university goals?
  3. Have you ever worked on or authored any university board policies?
  4. Should the president make a recommendation to the school board on every agenda item that would require any type of board action?
  5. Are you familiar with Robert’s Rule of Order-Revised?

Questions Regarding Personnel

  1. How do you see the chain of command operating at a university of this size?
  2. In the hiring process, what is the job of the professors, administrators and staff members, president and board of trustees?
  3. In the personnel evaluation process, what is the job of the professors, administrators and staff members, president and board of trustees?
  4. Have you ever authored or revised an evaluation system for the university?
  5. What is your thoughts on delegating authority? How do you do it?

Questions Regarding Professional Negotiations

  1. What are the pros and cons of employee unions?
  2. In the negotiation process, what is the role of the professors, administrators and staff members, president and board of trustees?

Questions Regarding Higher Education Finance

  1. Do you understand the financial accounting process at the university level?
  2. Have you ever developed a comprehensive university budget?
  3. What is, are your thoughts on deficit financing and deficit spending?
  4. Are you familiar with how the funding formula for this state works?
  5. How would you describe the financial condition of our university?
  6. Have you ever been required to conduct a campaign for an annual general budget vote or a capital project campaign and vote?

Questions Regarding Curriculum & Instruction

  1. Should be the university be held accountable for improving the instructional effectiveness of its professors?
  2. How would you implement a university-wide curriculum change?
  3. How would you organize the university, regarding academic disciplines, in a way that maximizes student performance and potential?
  4. What is the role of the president, and the board of trustees in the curriculum development process?
  5. How many curriculum offerings should a university of our size offer?
  6. How will you ensure that the universities curriculum is audited and aligned with discipline-specific standards?

Questions Regarding Maintenance, Transportation, and Food Service Programs

  1. Would you create a custodial and preventive maintenance plan for the university?
  2. Do you have any experience managing a university food-service program?
  3. Do you have any experience developing or managing a student transportation program?

Questions Regarding University/Community Relations

  1. How would you establish positive public relations between the university and the community?
  2. Are you open to the community using university resources?

Questions About Accreditation

  1. What experience do you have with the university accreditation process?
  2. What experience do you have with academic discipline-specific accreditation?
  3. Have you ever authored or co-authored an accreditation report? What were your experiences? What did you learn?
  4. Have you ever participated in an accreditation visit, as an evaluator or university official? What were your experiences? What did you learn?
  5. Has any university been placed on probation or had their accreditation revoked under your presidency? If so, what did you learn? How will you use this information in your next presidency?

Questions About Athletics

  1. What experience do you have overseeing a university athletic program?
  2. How important is a successful athletics program to a university?
  3. What was the student-athlete graduation rate at your last university?
  4. A student-athlete or coach is accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, etc. How do you approach this situation, and take preventative measures to stop it from occurring again?

Well, that’s it for my list. Let me know how it goes.

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