18 July, 2010

Principal Interview Questions

SOURCE: From Good Schools to Great Schools - Adapted from Jim Collins (2001)- Principal Interview Questions Derived from Collins’ (2001) CEO Interview Questions And Demographic Questionnaire.
  1. Briefly, give me an overview your relationship to the district, years in the district and at the school, and primary jobs held in the district.
  2. Give me a brief description of the demographics of the school. Student? Community?
  3. Tell me a little about the staff of the school in 1999 [first year of the API]
  4. Why do you believe you were selected as principal of the school?
  5. What kind of leadership style do you think you have?
  6. What kind of leadership style would your teachers say you have?
  7. I’d like you to take a minute and write down the top five factores that you believe have contributed to the school’s success in improving student achievement performance at the school. [Give interviewee a piece of paper.]
  8. Now number them in order of importance with 1 being the most important factor.
  9. Talk a little about the [top two or three] factores that you listed. Give me some examples that illustrate the factors.
  10. What decision did the school make to initiate an increase in student achievement during the year’s prior [1997-1999?] to receiving a ranking of 9 or 10 on the 2000 API? What sparked that decision?
  11. What role did technology play in all this?
  12. What latitude did you have as principal of the school to make the decisions you had to make? In what ways were you restricted?
  13. What process did you and the school staff use to make key decisions and develop key strategies that led to the increase in student achievement performance at the school? [Not what decisions the school made, but how did it go about making them?]
  14. On a scale or 1to 10, what confidence did you have in the decisions at the time they were made, before you knew their outcome? [10:you had great confidence that they were very good decisions with high probability of success; 1 you had little confidence in the decisions; they seemed risky—a roll of the dice.] [If interviewee had confidence of 6 or greater: what gave you such confidence in the decisions?]
  15. What was the role, if outside consultants, advisors, and central office personnel in making the key decisions?
  16. How did the school get commitment and agreement with its decisions from everyone? Teachers, parents, students? Give me a specific example of how this took place.
  17. What did you do to ensure that teachers continued to focus on improving student test performance?
  18. What did you try that didn’t work during the years before attaining a similar schools ranking of 9 or 10? Why didn’t it work?
  19. How did your school manage the pressures of district, state, and federal accountability while making these long-term changes for the future?
  20. Many schools undertake change programs and initiatives, yet their efforts do not produce lasting results. One of the remarkable aspects of [Successful school’s] transition is that it endured over several years, and was not just a short-term upswing. We find this extraordinary. What makes [Successful school] different? What were the primary factors in maintaining the similar schools ranking over the years?
  21. Tell me about one particularly powerful example of vignette from your experience or observation that, to you, exemplifies the essence of the success at [Successful School].
  22. I’d like to switch gears a bit here. Talk to me a bit about the administrative credential preparation courses you have taken. On a scale of 1 to 5 how would you rate them? [1: of value; 5: of great value]. [If 3 or more: give me a few examples of elements of your course work that you believe to be of value to the work you do as a principal.]
  23. Whom do you consider to be your mentor(s)? Talk to me about that person(s) and why he or she is your mentor.
  24. Talk to me about some experience related to work or to your personal life of experience that you have had in the past that you believe helped to shape your leadership.
  25. What did you do to ensure that teachers continued to focus on improving student test performance?
  26. What do or did you want most for your school?
  27. When you think about your work here, what are you most proud of?
  28. What efforts do or did you make to ensure that the school continued to sustain its success?
  29. When you leave your position as principal, what do you want to be remembered for?
  30. What else would you like to tell me about the reasons for the success of your school in raising student achievement?
Few of the questions given above need slight change while using in Indian context. But majority can be used as it is.

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