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Assistant Principal Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated August 30th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Education    

Question 1 of 30

What do you like about your present job?

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Answer Examples

1.

What do you like about your present job?

Share the commonalities that your current job have with the assistant principal position you are seeking. Talking about people interaction is a great place to start as well as the variety in your day. Highlighting your desire to problem solve and develop innovative solutions is a nice touch. And, discussing your passion for helping people is a great way to wrap things up!

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I like that my present job gives me the opportunity to express my passion. I work with a group of similarly-minded teachers who put a lot of effort into their teaching and genuinely care about their students."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"What is not to like! I enjoy making the difference in the lives of children in this community. Everyday, I get to work towards this goal through my work as a teacher, peer advisor, and liaison for families throughout this local community."

Anonymous Answer

"I like working and collaborating with my team to find new and innovative ways to accommodate the needs of all the students in our care."

Rachelle's Answer

It seems that you love to innovate and bring positive change. Any interviewer should be happy to hear this!

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2.

When have you made a difficult decision, in regards to education? What were the risks of your decision? What was the final impact?

The interviewer wants to determine your level of experience with making complex decisions. The best answer to this question will involve something that directly impacts the students or teachers. Examples may include curriculum changes after budget cuts or changing the start and end time of the school day. Telling the interviewer that you recognize how your decision will impact the lives of the students or teachers is a great idea.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"The school I worked for was making budget cuts and I, along with the principal and board, had to decide which of two teachers to lay off. This choice was tough as they were professionally capable and I had good personal relationships with them. I made a pros and cons list, talked to their students and their students' parents, and discussed options with each of them extensively before making a decision. In the end, I wrote a stellar recommendation for the teacher we let go, and he got into an amazing school. I think it's essential to go the extra mile when making difficult decisions like this."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have had to make difficult decisions, along with my principal, on a regular basis. The most challenging situations are surrounding students displaying behavioral issues. Often we need to make recommendations for these kids to be put into other programs. It is a challenge to talk to the parents about our concerns regarding their children."

Anonymous Answer

"Launching a new site in Atlanta had its challenges, and this created some frustrations with my staff. I worked hard to maintain positivity and to build a culture based on TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. One staff member was continually negative, complaining about every little thing. Several of my staff came to me about this because it was starting to affect them. I had to have a difficult conversation with this teacher because I could not allow her to keep filling our TEAM with negativity. It was a difficult decision to have this conversation because this particular staff member was headstrong, and I knew she would not take this conversation lightly. But, to my surprise, that did not happen. She was receptive and acknowledged her negativity and promised to have a more positive outlook. The risks of my decision could have been a confrontation, emotions, or dismissing the employee. The final impact was beneficial."

Rachelle's Answer

Your answer is very detailed and helpful. Nicely done!

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Anonymous Answer

"I made the decision not to change a grade for a football player-even though I was told to do so. He had 51% in my English class, and the administration wanted him to have a 79.5%. It was a large Catholic High School. They fired me!"

Lauren's Answer

Since you are comfortable sharing this example, add more context to your response so the interviewer gets to know who you are. You want to be a standout candidate, so adding more information with your example could be helpful.

"I have once confronted by a very difficult predicament. I was instructed to change a grade for an athlete. There were a multitude of risks for me, the student, and the school depending on how I decided to deal with the issue. Ultimately, I could not go against my integrity, and therefore did not change the grade. As a result, I was terminated from that school. That experience taught me many lessons. I stand firm my values, and know that I made the right decision. I lead by example, and will not alter my integrity personally or professionally."

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3.

What would you change about yourself to make you a better assistant principal?

This question holds two purposes. First, the interviewer wants to see that you understand everyone holds the room for improvement. Second, this item provides insight into who you are as a person. Pick a quality that is not essential to your success in the role. We all have something to improve on, so don't be afraid to tell the interviewer what you would change.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I would make myself a super-speed reader to breeze through my emails quicker each day which would allow me to have more time to spend interacting with my students and teachers."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I would become more mindful of getting to know the students and teachers on a personal level. I tend to dive into work so deep that I could better remind myself that some play at work is alright, too."

Anonymous Answer

"I would try and build positive relationships with both teachers and students by making myself more accessible. I would like to be present at the morning line-up to meet and greet the students and teachers or visit classrooms as often as I can."

Rachelle's Answer

This is a nice suggestion and a great start to being the best Assistant Principal you can be.

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4.

What makes you passionate about being an assistant principal?

The interviewer wants to know that you will be engaged and passionate about your role as assistant principal. The best answer to this question is to share your heart with the interviewer. Be a real person, and candidly describe the impact schools have had on you, who impacted your decision to become an assistant principal, and how you feel like you are bettering the upcoming generations through your work in this capacity.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I had an amazing principal in elementary school. I remember I was struggling with transitioning to a new school and she let me spend my breaks hanging out in her room, drawing and chatting. She cared about me. I probably wouldn't have made it through that year so successfully without her help."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"In high school, our assistant principal worked closely with the student council to organize prom and school carnival events. I enjoyed working with him and saw how well he shared his responsibilities with the principal."

5.

What improvements in the classroom have you made with teachers in the past?

The interviewer wants to see your resourcefulness and your creativity. Think about a single improvement you have made in the classroom with teachers. Explain the problem using positive language without demeaning any students, teachers, or parents. Delve into how you interacted with the teacher.

Talk about how you delegated the work to staff members as well as what specific pieces of the puzzle you handled yourself. Finally, wrap it up by highlighting the positive outcome you achieved and the impact it had on helping the school achieve success.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"This year my primary focus was on adding more technology to the classroom. This generation needs to become accustomed to working on laptops, smart boards, and using board-approved applications."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have recently worked with teachers to improve the classroom evaluation process. We have streamlined it and found a way to engage students in the process."

6.

Tell me about your ability to handle stress and work under pressure.

Employers are looking for individuals who can perform under stress and pressure. For instance, tell the interviewer you remain calm, professional and productive under stress and when faced with numerous deadlines. Are you someone who can handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to control pressure in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I thrive under pressure and stress serves as a motivation for me to perform to the best of my abilities."

7.

Who are the stakeholders in each child's education? Do any of these have a higher priority than the others?

Highlight that all staff members, board members, volunteers, and community members are stakeholders. In public schools, each voting member of the community is a stakeholder making decisions through elections that affect the students' education. At the same time, families and friends are also stakeholders. No group of people takes priority over another. Show the interviewer that you are willing to collaborate with all of these stakeholders to positively affect each child's outcome.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I believe everyone is a stakeholder. This goes from faculty to the members of our community. Simple interactions in the hallway can impact students just as much as their home life."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"We are all stakeholders of our children's education. The parents, the teachers, the school leadership, and administration, alike. While some of these stakeholders have a closer connection with students than others, it is something that is important to everyone."

Anonymous Answer

"Anybody who cares about that child's success is a stakeholder in their education. I think that the important aspect of this question is not who the stakeholders are but how are you going to properly engage them, so that the child's needs are going to be met. Teachers are stakeholders and they need time to teach. Parents are stakeholders, and sometimes they need extra resources to parent. Administrators are stakeholders in a child's education, and they are the gatekeepers that ensure that fairness and accountability are being met by all the other stakeholders."

Alexandra's Answer

Great answer! I like that you describe the role of each stakeholder.

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Anonymous Answer

"Parents have the highest priority. Teachers and coaches and other school personnel also have a high priority, depending on what involvement they have with the student."

Lauren's Answer

I suggested making a generalized statement preceding your response. See below.

"All adults in a child’s life have the ability to impact their educational success. School staff have a large responsibility in supporting the educational values and consistency put forth in the home. To me, parents have the highest priorities followed by teachers, coaches, and other school personnel."

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8.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Share with the interviewer that you feel leaders are people who others want to follow, and you do this through building relationships! Tell the interviewer that you try to spend time every day speaking with staff and students getting to know them better. The better they know you, the more responsive they are to your decision making.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"My leadership style is to be present and approachable. I want to know if my students are struggling in the classroom or at home. If my teachers need additional training, I like to be a part of their career development."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I would describe my leadership style as strong and supportive. I engage with others, and I strive to truly add value to the work that I am responsible for."

Anonymous Answer

"I lead by example. I keep myself in a positive mindset which flows to my students and colleagues, aspiring them to want to do the same. I keep my students' and colleagues' best interests at heart and ensure that I am feeling safe, comfortable, and appreciated."

Rachelle's Answer

It sounds like you are a lovely person to work with, and an effective leader. Good response!

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Anonymous Answer

"I would say that I am a cross between transformational and servant leadership. I like to look at everything with a discerning eye and see if there is a way to do it better. I want to encourage others to get outside their comfort zones and push their limits. I never think twice about helping out when I am asked—because I know that my own to-do list will still be there when I return. When students behavior escalates, I would offer to give that teacher time to build trust. I would go in and teach a lesson while the teacher and student play a game. Time invested in making that child felt valued will be returned."

Alexandra's Answer

Great answer! You have really thought this through and shown examples of how you employ your leadership.

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9.

How do you get a peer or colleague to accept one of your ideas?

The key component to answering this question is your relationship building skills. Tell the interviewer that you work each day to build relationships with your peers and colleagues. Explain how you get to know them, learn about their families and special interests, and ensure that you engage with each person on a regular basis.

Share that these relationships have helped you gain respect and trust from your peers because they allow these people to see that you care about them. Tell the interviewer that when you approach your peers or colleagues with a new idea, they typically accept right away because they know who are, respect you, and understand that you care about them!

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I think the most important thing is to listen to what my colleague wants. I ask them open-ended questions to get a good sense of their opinions and preferences about a certain topic. I try to combine their ideas with mine."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am good at laying out compelling reasons why my colleague should accept my ideas. I'm very persuasive. I address the problem at its core and present my ideas in easy to consume points, which is usually very effective."

Anonymous Answer

"I do this by being excited about the idea myself. I always encourage my colleagues and team members by making them part of the decision. I listen to their ideas and thoughts, which sparks an interest in them, which in turn leads to them getting excited over the plan."

Rachelle's Answer

Fantastic answer! It sounds as though you do an excellent job by leading with ideas that excite you; allowing you to pass on this excitement more naturally to your team.

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10.

What three words would your students use to describe you?

Select three words that truly define who you are Be sure to select words that have no possibility of being taken negatively. Just be yourself, and remember to keep it positive!

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I would say my students would describe me as fun, innovative, and passionate. I like to make my work environment and everyone around me comfortable."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I think my greatest assets are in my leadership skills, my friendliness, and my high level of organization."

Anonymous Answer

"My students have always described me as smart, funny, and honest. They often tell me I am hard-working and worry about their education and success."

Rachelle's Answer

It sounds as though your students have a great appreciation for you! Can you give some examples of ways you are smart, funny, and honest in the workplace?

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11.

How do you stay current on new teaching trends and techniques?

It is always a good idea to talk positively about change. Be sure to only talk about new teaching trends or techniques that you enjoy or support. Show the interviewer that you are entirely open to trying new technologies or teaching trends.

Describe to the interviewer trends or techniques that interest you, and give them a little insight into why you like it. Be sure to tell the interviewer about any conferences or workshops you attended where you learned about new trends.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"During one of my trainings, the teacher explained that the most effective way to learn a foreign language is through situational learning. We brought our students to the local Asian market and gave each of them money and a list of items to locate. By the end of the class, everyone knew basic phrases in Mandarin and were able to name a few fruits and vegetables."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"There are a lot of new, exciting trends in technology that are sweeping learning environments. I stay current on new offerings by following industry trends through Google alerts, education-related publications and networking with fellow educators."

Anonymous Answer

"I am currently studying my masters, and through the program, I've managed to bring a lot of the strategies I've learned into the classroom. Technology is another way I keep on top of educational trends. I am subscribed to many different blogs that help as well."

Rachelle's Answer

It sounds as though you are wholeheartedly involved in the student experience and ways that you can continue to bring meaningful improvements. Great work!

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12.

How important is a student-centered classroom for you?

School is all about the students! Administrators want to hear that this is your perspective. Tell the interviewer that the classroom must be student-focused. After all, the goal is to see students achieve success through dynamic teachers engaging with the students.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"A student-centered classroom is critical. When I taught ESL in China, I noticed that the teacher was speaking most of the time and students would be taking notes. The students lacked discussion ability and had little chance to develop their own opinions. I always ask my students to write down or talk about what they think about a certain issue."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Students make up the classroom and learning experience, so they are everything when it comes to a student-centered environment!"

Anonymous Answer

"A student-centered classroom is very important, especially if we want our students to have the skills to be successful in a 21st-century global society. Research shows that students need to acquire certain 21st-century skills. These skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. A student-centered classroom provides opportunities for students to learn these skills."

Rachelle's Answer

Excellent response! Well said.

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Anonymous Answer

"Student-centered classrooms are crucial to the development of 21 Century learners. We are living in a 21st Century Global World. With this in mind, we need to develop critical, innovative thinkers who can problem-solve, collaborate, and communicate effectively. Allowing the students to drive lessons and explore as they learn will help build these skills."

Rachelle's Answer

Very well said! You are very knowledgeable and passionate when it comes to optimizing student learning.

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13.

When have you worked together with teachers to create a higher standard or a better way of teaching?

This question is designed to see how well you collaborate with teachers to achieve desired outcomes. Interviewers want to know that you understand the importance of teachers and the vast knowledge they have of the classroom. Show that you are able to collaborate well with the teachers on your roster.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"A couple of students from different classes had discipline issues, and I held a meeting with everyone to discuss the cases and how to work on them. We shared our experiences and success stories and came up with a communication workshop for those students instead of sending them to detention or suspending them."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Recently, a group of teachers and I worked together to bridge some of the lesson plans from various classrooms. We wanted to add value to our classrooms with the goal of introducing a more holistic approach to teaching and learning. We implemented technology to help students stay on track and held peer work sessions before/after school where students could share their learnings."

Anonymous Answer

"We have just introduced Math Google Sites. After the Google summit held here at EMS, one of the teachers was excited about the idea and brought it to me. We took it to administrative, and they loved it. Since September we have been teaching Math Units through Google Sites as well as our Poetry Unit. We plan on adding other Units as well. Parents and students love the idea of having access at home to what is being taught in class."

Rachelle's Answer

This sounds like a very exciting initiative, and your enthusiasm really shines through here!

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Anonymous Answer

"I have been on the English Language Arts curriculum writing team for the last five years. I have collaborated on writing, reading, and word study with a team of 3 other people and have written the 4th-grade curriculum. I went through the training to learn how to write district benchmarks. I was also a Lab classroom teacher for two years for ELA. I would have 25 teachers come into my classroom four times per year and they would observe me teaching a lesson. This was my district-wide experience but on my team we data team every week to assess how to use our RTI time most effectively. We look at our CFA's and then divide them into groups so that each grouping is very strategic. We decide which teacher should take specific groups according to that teacher's strengths. The student then changes classes for that time. We set Smart Goals and usually do multiple rounds of instruction and reassessing before we end a cycle."

Alexandra's Answer

This is a good start to your answer. This clearly displays how you've collaborated with teachers. However, it's a bit unclear where the example of "creating a higher standard" or "better way of teaching" comes in. I recommend revising your answer so that part is very clear.

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14.

Why do you want a career as an assistant principal?

The interviewer wants to know that this is a long-term career move for you. It is a good idea to tell the interviewer that you like to help create a structure for the school and the environment where students succeed.

Tell the interviewer that you enjoy working under the leadership of the principal and are eager to work on curriculum endeavors. Get excited about tackling areas for improvement, and most importantly, express that you desire to see the upcoming generations be set up for success. Be passionate, and share that you hope you can continue to make your community proud of what the school is achieving.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I want to improve the structure of the school holistically, from staff relationship to classes implementation and professional development."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am excited at the thought of playing a more inspirational role in the lives of the students and teachers. In this fast-paced educational environment, I want to encourage them to be more curious and open-minded."

Anonymous Answer

"I believe I am ready for this position. I've been influential in the lives of so many students over the past 19 years, leading, guiding, and supporting them. I am now ready to do more than just teach."

Rachelle's Answer

Good answer! You show wonderful career progression and a true desire to grow.

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Anonymous Answer

"I have been a teacher for ten years. I have taken every leadership position that was put in front of me as preparation for becoming an administrator. I understand classroom dynamics and how important relationship building is between children and teachers. It's important for teachers to empower children, engage them, and make them feel valued for their contributions. My career aspirations are to lead children and teachers to do their best."

Alexandra's Answer

Great answer! Your passion shows through in this answer.

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15.

How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?

The interviewer wants to hear that you think about your schedule before just jumping into it. It is good to start off with mentioning how you always keep your calendar up to date, your email inbox organized, or your trusty to-do list right next to you. This level of organization will show the interviewer that you always know what is on the docket.

Then, jump into how you identify that top priority! Perhaps you spend 10 minutes each Monday morning determining which items have deadlines that week. Maybe you start each day off by categorizing each piece based on the level of urgency.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I spend 10 minutes in the morning jotting down the day's tasks into a notes app, ranking them on urgency. I separate my tasks into urgent, not-as-urgent, and long-term. It's effective because it helps me keep track of my deadlines and prevents me having to rush to finish my tasks quickly."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I usually arrange one or two important tasks to accomplish each day if I can. As soon as there are more than three tasks piled up I start getting less organized and more panicked, so mentally it's helpful to compartmentalize my priorities by day. If there's a lot to be accomplished, I'll separate my tasks by morning and afternoon."

Anonymous Answer

"I am a stickler for time management. I look at deadlines and prioritize from there. Fortunately, I still have an excellent memory, but I still rely on Google Calendar and my notes on my phone to keep me on track."

Rachelle's Answer

The detail you offer here is great - these are very helpful tools for staying organized.

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Anonymous Answer

"Time management is critical for your school and community that is counting on you to manage your time. I look at items that have hard deadlines first. There are immediate situations that arise, but I don't like to multitask. If I am on a parent phone call, I would rather give that my full attention and make sure that it is handled properly. I use my google calendar to set alerts and reminders to make sure that priority tasks don't slip through cracks."

Alexandra's Answer

Great answer! This shows you are organized and understand prioritizing.

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30 Assistant Principal Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.

Interview Questions

  1. What do you like about your present job?
  2. When have you made a difficult decision, in regards to education? What were the risks of your decision? What was the final impact?
  3. What would you change about yourself to make you a better assistant principal?
  4. What makes you passionate about being an assistant principal?
  5. What improvements in the classroom have you made with teachers in the past?
  6. Tell me about your ability to handle stress and work under pressure.
  7. Who are the stakeholders in each child's education? Do any of these have a higher priority than the others?
  8. How would you describe your leadership style?
  9. How do you get a peer or colleague to accept one of your ideas?
  10. What three words would your students use to describe you?
  11. How do you stay current on new teaching trends and techniques?
  12. How important is a student-centered classroom for you?
  13. When have you worked together with teachers to create a higher standard or a better way of teaching?
  14. Why do you want a career as an assistant principal?
  15. How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
  16. Do you consider yourself a leader?
  17. Why should we hire you for our school?
  18. What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?
  19. As an assistant principal, what do you believe is your best asset?
  20. Describe how you work with others.
  21. How would you help us reach the point where students look forward to being in the classroom and are fully engaged?
  22. What strategies would you like to use to achieve higher student performance at our school?
  23. What do you know about our school, and our school district?
  24. What do you envision for our school if you were an assistant principal here?
  25. What programs or projects have you been responsible for implementing at your current position?
  26. Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
  27. Who would you say inspires you?
  28. Tell me about yourself.
  29. When would you be available to start?
  30. What questions do you have for me?
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