15+ Best Principal Interview Questions & Answers

a picture of business professionals interviewing for a Principal role and conducting an interview

If you are looking for principal interview questions and answers, we've compiled the absolute best. This guide is to be able to help you with your upcoming interview. Being hired as a principal isn't an easy task. You must spend the time to prepare in advance of your meeting. Be prepared to speak with the school board or other faculty members who are hiring. Let's get started.

What is the role of a principal?

The role of a principal is to act as the general manager of an institution essentially. Usually, the institution will be between kindergarten and 12th grade. Principals aren’t part of any university or college-level education programs. Principals work with teachers, parents, students, other faculty, and board members to direct the course work for an entire year. Then manage the school's cadence and the success it’s driving for both the students and the community. Principals take a very active approach to overall management, budgeting, proposals, operations, and leadership within the school. And if you were to compare a principal to a role that would be outside an institution. It would be similar to a CEO position.

Why it’s important to study interview questions for a principal

Getting hired as a principal isn't an easy task. For the most part, many teachers spend their entire careers trying to gain experience to lead an entire school one day. Principals are under a large amount of scrutiny from the faculty level, parent level, and community. This is because most of the city level funding comes from taxes. It can be difficult not only to get hired within but also to keep for long periods of time. The average time it takes to hire a principal can be up to 90 days. This gives you some idea of the diligence that happens when a principal is hired.

15 Principal Interview Questions and Answers

1. How would you help advantaged and disadvantaged students gain equal opportunities and relate to each other?

The first step is always to treat every student with the utmost respect, regardless of background. Traditional school leadership styles force a deep dividing line between students and faculty, which I don’t believe works in our current culture. I believe that being in a leadership position can help build a community between students and faculty.

And when it comes to helping disadvantaged students excel, I think that building a classroom-based on principles of equality is key. Key for helping students of all backgrounds build a community with each other. Disadvantaged students tend to struggle, depending on financial, family, and learning problems. More focus should be put on helping students catch up with the rest, but I would keep an eye on excelling students. From a principal's perspective, rather than a teacher, it should be the principal’s responsibility to facilitate a school-wide culture of support. Support between teachers, faculty, parents, and students.

2. When dealing with problematic or difficult students, when do you choose to contact the parents? How do you commit to this communication?

Well, when it becomes apparent that the student struggles with things that aren’t solely their schoolwork. I think it should be a priority to involve the parents to help. Still, faculty should commit to providing mentorship and in-school therapy to students before dumping the parents' problem when it comes to building trust. In communicating with parents, I think it is vital to concern about the student’s well-being rather than antagonism.

3. Was there a time when you discovered a student was affecting the well-being of students or bullying? And how did you handle the situation?

The answer to this question will vary depending on experience. Look for answers that show a dedication to level with the student, rather than strict punishment.

4. If a student or group of students made a complaint about a teacher, how would you handle the situation?

The safety and well-being of students is wholly the focus of a principle. I would immediately discuss the matter with the teacher, hear the students out, and investigate the situation further with tact and understanding.

5. How do you empower teachers to be leaders?

I would put more focus and worth into weekly and monthly meetings. Rather than seeing these meetings as mandatory events with little substance. I would take meetings as opportunities to provide teachers with team building resources and leadership training. Consistency is key.

6. What do you consider the traits of effective teachers, and how do you interview for them?

Empathy, strong relational skills, and history of equally good relationships between the teacher and students as well as the teacher and faculty. I focus a lot on the references provided when hiring a new staff member.

7. Many teachers complain about a lack of administrative support. How do you feel about this, and how would you address the issues?

Teachers are the foundation of a good school. It’s important to take the time to listen to any grievances or critiques from teachers. I would make sure to use meetings to give teachers a chance to voice their concerns. And work with them to improve how the administration supports them.

8. Why is it so important to get parents involved in children's schoolwork?

It's essential to get parents involved in the classwork because it shows children of all ages that the classwork is important. It creates a vital connection between what the young child is spending their day doing and how they value it. It creates motivation. And that can be a powerful way to push a child to greatness.

9. How can you help teachers improve their methods of instruction?

I’m very interested in innovation and using technological tools to help teachers build their classrooms. I’m very aware that a lot of the time, too much tech can be difficult for teachers to keep up with. But I think surveying tools with the teachers can help find what will work more effectively from the educator’s perspective.

10. If a teacher is beginning their first semester at a school, how would you support them?

Mentorship is vital for new educators. I would either pair the teacher with a teaching assistant to help with the often overwhelming load of the first year. Or pair them with a seasoned educator to provide them with insight and guidance. I would always make sure every educator and staff member knows that I have an open-door policy. If a struggle or issue is happening with a new teacher, I want them to know that I’m available to help solve their concerns.

11. Was there ever a time when you had to give negative feedback to a long-standing teacher? How did the situation play out?

Answers will vary. Look for answers that suggest a level of tact and respect for the educator, as well as a mutually beneficial solution.

12. How would you improve the school’s level of involvement with the local community?

I think fun events can really bridge the gap and offer an initiative for students and community members alike to get together. Fundraising for festivals, luncheons, sports events, and other events can help students invest more in their community. And see the school as a part of it.

13. What do you believe are the strengths and weaknesses of our school?

This can be a touchy question, as the interviewee definitely does not want to make a comment that could affect their likelihood of employment. However, it would be best if you looked for confident answers and have significant merit. And if the prospective principal seems to have done a lot of research on the school’s financial situation. And the graduation rate. That means they're invested.

14. Describe your vision of an effective and successful school.

The answers to this question will be quite mixed. Look for answers that blend disciplinarian elements and overall student success elements. In one way or another, it can show how the interviewee is set in one particular principle style, which can often be a problem. A willingness to be fluid between leadership styles shows that the interviewee sees themselves as a leader. And part of a team, not a boss.

15. How would you describe your leadership style? Would you consider yourself a disciplinarian?

This question is quite similar to the above question. The difference here is that the interviewee should show an understanding of the benefits of being fluid as a student and faculty leader. For example, the interviewee may cite their history of a “no third chances” leadership style as a factor behind high student graduation rates. This may not be an accurate assessment, and the interviewee may have too intense of a disciplinarian, traditional leadership style.

Related Principal Resouces

Related Hiring Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Fact checked: Our small and dedicated team rigorously evaluates every article, guide, and reference to ensure the information is accurate and factual. Learn more.


Help us by spreading the word