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The 10 Best Questions to Ask Assistant Principals During an Interview
AdobeStock / Monkey Business
AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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Are you a principal looking to hire an assistant principal? You've come to the right place! Hiring an assistant principal can make your job a whole lot easier — so long as your assistant principal does their job well.

How can you be sure that your assistant will be a supporter, however? While you can never be too sure how an employee will perform until they're given the opportunity to try, you can set yourself up for a better chance at success by asking the right questions in the interview process.

Here's everything you should know about what an assistant principal can do for you, what you should expect of your assistant principal and what assistant principal interview questions you should ask of candidates.

What does an assistant principal do?

An assistant principal serves as the assistant to the principal of the school. If you're the principal, this assistant will help you with your day-to-day duties, which, of course, may vary by school. Generally speaking, an assistant principal may perform the following duties: 

  • Overseeing teaching staff
  • Ensuring that school standards for curriculum are being met
  • Ensuring that disciplines are being followed
  • Meeting with parents to discuss any ongoing issues
  • Meeting with teachers to discuss any ongoing issues
  • Meeting with students to discuss any ongoing issues
  • Administering the school's mission, values and priorities
  • Adjusting class schedules
  • Evaluating, hiring and training new staff
  • Ordering textbooks, equipment and any other school supplies
  • Implementing new school programs and various activities
  • Evaluating teachers' performances
  • Responding to complaints regarding school policies
  • Disciplining students who need it
  • Preparing reports for juvenile court hearings
  • Monitoring classrooms
  • Meeting with social workers, probation officers and other professionals to discuss any misbehaving students in need
  • Day-to-day administrative duties 

What should I expect at an assistant principal interview?

You should expect an assistant principal interview to be a two-way conversation between you and your prospective assistant principal. You'll want to get a better idea of how well this person would fit into the school culture, as well as how well you two may or may not be able to work together. Because you'll be working so closely together, you'll want to be sure that your personalities and work ethics match up well with one another.

What questions should I ask in an assistant principal interview?

Here are 10 assistant principal interview questions you should ask candidates.

1. Why should we hire you as an assistant principal?

First things first, you want to know exactly why this candidate believes that they're cut out for the job. This is their chance to try to sell you from the start — and knowing their answer to this early on will help you form deeper questions to really dive into the interview.

2. What experience do you have in school systems?

Has this person ever worked in a school before? If so, in what role(s) did they serve? Their experience with school systems in the past will surely color their experience working for you, so it's important information to know.

3. Please describe a time that you disagreed with a boss, and how you handled it?

You're going to be working very closely with your assistant principal, so it's important to understand how they respond to disagreements, which you'll inevitably have at times. You want to know whether or not this person is going to be able to professionally communicate concerns and have constructive conversations with you.

4. What is your approach to disciplining students?

A big part of an assistant principal's job is disciplining students, so you'll want to know how they plan to do that when it comes time. Does their approach feel similar to your approach? If not, is their approach just as good, if not better?

5. How would you deal with an angry or upset parent?

Another big part of an assistant principal's job is dealing with angry and upset parents of students. You want to be sure that the assistant principal is handling these conversations with parents well so that they don't reflect poorly on the school itself.

6. How would you ensure that teachers are following the school curriculum?

Assistant principals will be responsible for ensuring that teachers are following the school curriculum well. Understanding how they plan to tackle this part of their job is important. 

7. How would you deal with a troubling student?

In all schools, there are at least a few students who cause more trouble than most. It's an assistant principal's duty to handle and discipline those students. It's critical that they do so professionally and in a way that will help the student to learn, change and grow — and not just shame them or cause them to act up even more.

8. How would you evaluate and respond to a teacher who is not meeting expectations?

If a teacher is not meeting the expectations of the school, it's up to the assistant principal to help handle the situation. You want to know what kinds of conversations they'd have with this teacher and what kinds of decisions they'd make for the teacher's career. Often, this situation might end up with the loss of a staff member who must be terminated — and you want to be sure that the assistant principal is prepared to tackle these tough, confrontational conversations, too.

9. What are your biggest strengths?

This is always a great go-to question. Knowing the candidate's strengths will help you to understand what you're working with and how you might be able to hone in on their strengths and capitalize on them to make your job easier, too!

10. What is your biggest weakness?

Likewise, knowing the candidate's weaknesses will also help you to better understand what you're working with. You also want to know that the candidate is aware of the inevitable weakness(es) and have an open mind and a willingness to learn. It's even better if you discover that they've learned from their mistakes in the past.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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