Interviews are an integral component of recruiting senior personnel in any school.  This applies especially when Boards appoint a new Principal in which multiple interviews are not uncommon.  Interviews are also a vital part of the process when a Principal appoints new staff.  Interviews are usually also a step in the recruitment of new board members, although surprisingly this isn’t a universal practice.

Of course, interviews are never the only step in a school’s recruitment process.

The first step for most candidates in a recruitment process is responding to an advertisement or an approach from a third-party recruiter by submitting a resumé, or curriculum vitae (CV).  There are many divergent viewpoints about what comprises a good CV (which may be a good topic for a future article?).  However, the general consensus is that a good CV is visually appealing, easy to read, tailored to the specific job requirements, congruent with the school’s mission/philosophy, includes a strong personal summary, contains a comprehensive work experience section, shows relevant education and skills, is error-free, and is easily verifiable.

A good CV can be thought of as an entry application.  It should attract sufficient interest and attention that it results in an invitation to attend an interview, preferably face-to-face, especially for senior positions.  Even face-to-face interviews have their limitations, which is why no offer of employment should ever be made without first conducting due diligence checks, including thorough reference checks – confidential spoken conversations with referees, not just relying on written open or ‘public’ references which have almost no value whatsoever.

Adapted image from Keiser University criminal justice student's experience mock panel interview at

Interviews for senior positions usually involve a fairly standard set of often unimaginative questions which are posed uniformly to all short-listed applicants, questions such as:

Of course, questions such as these all have inherent merit, but perhaps the most significant value of these (and similar) uniform questions is seeing how much humour or personality applicants can infuse into their answers to help the interview panel stay awake.

With that in mind, I recommend trying to insert less predictable, more original and creative questions into the mix, like some of these 12 examples:

As mentioned above, the interview is just one component of the selection process for a new school leader, board member, or middle/senior manager.  It is, however, arguably the most important single component.  Whether this is the case or not, it is vitally important to maximise the effectiveness of the interview.

It is hoped the questions and advice in this article help you achieve this.  However, interview effectiveness means much more than just finding the right interview questions – it means learning how to listen and interpret applicants’ responses appropriately in order to find the stand-out person you need – the one individual who will be the ideal fit for the school to take it into the future.

-Dr Stephen Codrington   

We offer support to Principals and Boards with recruitment of senior personnel.  Details are available at HEAD SEARCH AND RECRUITMENT.

Detailed advice on attributes of effective leadership is also provided in the book “Optimal School Governance", which can be ordered directly through Pronins.

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