Typically, the school principal, a specialized HR committee, or the local Department of Education will conduct your interview. You must answer challenging behavioral (situational) questions and convince the interview panel of the value you’d bring to their school as an AP teacher (VP).
In addition, you will need to demonstrate excellent communication skills and an understanding of what they are attempting to accomplish at their school, including their goals, vision, and challenges. Although the questions will vary slightly from school to school and will also depend on the interviewing panel (the experience and expectations of each member), you can expect to be asked at least some of the following:
Why do you desire employment at our school?
Tell them you desire to accomplish something, not for yourself and your career but for them and their students. Tell them you have done extensive research on their school, that you understand the obstacles they face, and that you believe you can assist them in achieving their goals.
You may also commend them for something, such as their excellent study programs, the reputation of their institution, their contribution to the local community, the results their students attained in regional and national competitions, their excellent working environment, etc. Your objective is to persuade them that you have a compelling reason for applying for the position and that you would prefer to work for their school instead of another in the city.
Have you ever held the position of vice principal? What are your thoughts on the experience?
You should speak favorably about your experience. Tell the interviewers about your accomplishments while working at another school (in terms of tangible results). Describe the lessons you learned in your previous position and how they have helped you become a more effective assistant principal.
What if you’ve never performed this task before? You can discuss experience from a teacher’s perspective or any other position. Your primary objective is to demonstrate enthusiasm for the position and knowledge of what is expected of you in this position.
A young woman is interviewed for an assistant principal position. The members of a hiring committee closely observe her.
You likely have some familiarity with our school. Do you see any improvement opportunities?
This is a tricky question because your criticism may personally affect a hiring committee member, who may take offense. Therefore, if you apply for a job at a reasonable, well-managed school, you can simply state that you do not see any significant areas for improvement at this time.
Expand on it by stating that you will assist the team of administrators in maintaining the current level and their excellent reputation in the district and that you will focus on improving some minor aspects of the education process, which can always be enhanced from the position of assistant principal.
You will often apply to a school that faces significant obstacles (it can be why they want to hire a new assistant principal). In this case, it is appropriate to mention the difficulties and demonstrate understanding of the situation and discuss the topic neutrally, without placing blame on anyone.
What do you think? Should the vice principal work independently, or should they be subordinate to the school principal?
Another challenging question, mainly if the school principal is a hiring committee member… However, assistant principals should have a certain amount of autonomy and decision-making authority (at least at their leadership level).
You can tell the committee that you are prepared to work independently but also understand the importance of teamwork and school leader unity and that you hope to meet regularly with the school principal to discuss your ideas and upcoming decisions.
Have you ever considered becoming a school administrator?
You could say that the thought has crossed your mind, but you recognize that you are not at that point in your career. Inform them that you prefer to concentrate on the present and the immediate future. You are currently focused on obtaining a position as an assistant principal because you feel qualified and prepared to do an excellent job in this role.
Tell them that you will assess the situation in five or ten years and that you may become a school principal after gaining sufficient experience as a vice principal.
What are your interests and hobbies?
In every interview, personal preferences play a significant role. When discussing jobs in education and education administration, the hiring committee members’ personal preferences can play a significant role. Consider that the people who conduct your interview, or at least the majority, are not skilled in conducting interviews or evaluating the skills of job candidates.
They do not specialize in conducting interviews; they have expertise in other areas. But they have their own lives, motives, and emotions, and they are looking for a good colleague, someone they will enjoy meeting in the school hallway and drinking coffee with.
Might it be you?
You can express your willingness to engage in any activity, including sports, art, hiking, etc. The more hobbies you list, the greater your chances of connecting with them.
How did you respond to an angry parent whose child had complained about you?
Everyone (who had a school-related job) has this experience. You should choose a situation where the conflict was resolved or one with a happy ending.
Describe what you did in detail and try to speak calmly, demonstrating an understanding of the parents’ emotions and a desire to resolve conflicts without excessive emotion.
Have you ever supervised a school event? What difficulties did you face? How did you approach them?
Assistant principals are frequently tasked with organizing and supervising various school events. Interviewers attempt to determine whether you have such experience and whether you are aware of potential issues that may arise during the event.
Try to maintain a positive attitude and demonstrate that you enjoy supervising events and performing the duties of your new position. Describe a situation in which you encountered a challenge but eventually overcame it (can be a problem of discipline, an organization problem, injury of one of the students, or anything else).
Describe a disagreement you had with a colleague.
Conflicts exist in all workplaces. Describe the conflict you experienced and what you did to resolve it. We care about your attitude, not the specific conflict situation you describe. You may discuss a disagreement you had with your supervisor, another teacher, or a school counselor.
Demonstrate that you respect the opinion of other professionals (regardless of their position), acknowledge that you can be wrong, attempt to approach each conflict constructively, and do your best to ensure that the situation will not negatively impact your relationship with your coworkers.
What are your five-year objectives?
Sometimes they require an assistant principal for a brief period, while they prefer to hire a long-term employee. They may seek a replacement for a retiring principal or have other objectives. You should modify your response based on your understanding of their ideas, which you should gain through research.
The second objective is to determine whether you are solely focused on your career or if your goals are connected to those of their educational institution. Try to discuss goals you can accomplish together at school…
Developing rapport with your interviewers
You should research the institution and the interviewers (if you know their names). Learn their values, teaching philosophy, and academic programs as much as possible. The information will facilitate a personal connection with them.
The majority of school hiring committee members are not trained, interviewers. These individuals can vouch for (or against) you simply because they like (or dislike) you as a person. Never underestimate this aspect during an interview…
Questions to ask after an interview with an assistant principal
Each effective interview is a dialogue. You will eventually have the opportunity to ask questions, and they may encourage you. However, I believe you shouldn’t ask them a question just to ask them something. When the interview went well, and questions arose during the process (they asked you about something, you responded, asked for their opinion, a short discussion ensued, etc.), it is acceptable to simply thank the interviewer and state that you have no further questions. In all other circumstances, you may ask one of the following:
- Do you have any objectives for the new vice principal’s first year in the position?
- What, in your opinion, are the most significant obstacles a new assistant principal will face in this position?
- What do you believe are the students’ (parents’) expectations for the new vice principal? What should they bring to the table to meet these stakeholders’ expectations?
- What are the subsequent steps in the hiring procedure?
14 Difficult Interview Questions for Assistant Principals
You will be able to remain calm and give your best performance on the big day if you are prepared to answer fourteen challenging interview questions.
- What is your motivation to do the job of assistant principal?
- Why do you think you can be a good assistant principal?
- Please describe the role you feel parents should play in the operation of the school.
- How did you deal with upset parent whose child complained about you?
- What experiences have you had in working with low income and “at risk” students?
How do you plan to work with them?
- How did you cope with stress at school?
- Did you supervise any school event in the past? What problems did you face when
supervising the event? How did you handle them?
- How did you motivate the students to do their homework, or to prepare for an
- What actions would you take to monitor staff members’ performance at our school?
- What classroom management strategies have been most effective for you? Do you
think that assistant principal should help teachers to improve their classroom
- What do you consider most important when we speak about maintaining high staff
- What do you consider the main challenges school principals and their assistants face
- How would you win the hearts of the students at our school?
- On which side would you stand if there was a conflict between a student and a teacher?