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Superintendent Interview
Questions

40 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated August 17th, 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 40

Many superintendents have their Doctorate in Education. Are you planning to obtain this designation?

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1.

Many superintendents have their Doctorate in Education. Are you planning to obtain this designation?

Now that you are a school superintendent, you likely have a Master's degree in an education related field. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on a higher education. It's a good idea to ask the interviewer if a Doctorate is a must-have for this role as you will want the opportunity to overcome any objections during your interview.

Rachelle's Answer

"I have looked into obtaining my Doctor of Education Leadership from Harvard University. It is an intensive 3 year program but I do see the value in it. Is this a requirement for the role, or an achievement you would like to see me work towards over time?"

2.

Do you have experience with professionally developing senior staff members?

As a school superintendent, it is important to show that you take the time to mentor, teach, and develop your key staff members. Discuss with the interviewer why you think it is important to do so, and the steps that you take to ensure your team is performing at their highest level.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I take the time nearly every day to develop my staff members into excellent teachers, critical thinkers, and educational leaders. Our school district offers many opportunities in the form of professional growth seminars, workshops, and opportunities for additional coursework. I ensure that all team members take advantage of these opportunities on a regular basis."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Absolutely. I make sure that I have regular meetings with my senior staff to make sure that they're heard, understood, and their professional growth is heading in the right direction. I started a leadership programs that our staff can take advantage of during professional development days, and I've invited the business community to take part in annual conferences with our teachers so that they get exposure to the wider world at large. I give my staff many different opportunities to expand their horizons."

3.

How important is it for the superintendent to have a strong relationship with the school board's leadership team?

A school board plays a very important part in your role as a superintendent. Assure the interviewer that you are engaged and interested when it comes to getting to know your leadership and school board.

Rachelle's Answer

"To me, it is incredibly important that the school superintendent know everyone who plays a leadership role in the school. For that reason, I hold a semi-annual leadership event where everyone has a chance to network. I like to become involved with my leadership staff, and board, as much as possible."

4.

What are your career goals as a school superintendent, and how will this role help you to achieve those goals?

If you would like to be a school superintendent for years to come you should have a strong career plan. Express the ways in which you feel this particular role will help you to get there. Avoid answering in a way that will make this position appear to be a mere stepping stone.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I really enjoy setting goals for myself and my biggest goal was to become a school superintendent. If I am successful and achieve this goal, I plan to enjoy this role for many years to come. My first goal as a superintendent is to bring this school district to the top spot in all areas of education."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I've enjoyed a lot of success on my way to becoming a school superintendent, and I find a lot of satisfaction in being able to bring positive impacts to so many people on so many levels. I'd like to stay as a superintendent for as long as it takes to create lasting changes in the community. Once I see that I can create sustainable success in the district, I might set my sights to a higher position so that I can replicate that success."

Anonymous Answer

"My career goals as a school superintendent would be to stay at any given location for (3-5) years to make a difference and then move on to the next challenge of becoming the State Superintendent."

Rachelle's Answer

This is an excellent goal! I would avoid giving a time-frame, unless a 3-5 year commitment is already an understanding between yourself and the interviewer. I have reworded your response, below.

"My goal as a school superintendent is to make a difference in the lives of the students and teachers where I am placed, by being an active advocate and positive representative of quality education. Ultimately, I would like to earn my way into a State Superintendent role."

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5.

Do you have experience wit hiring senior staff members?

Having the proper discernment to make the right hires is a very important quality as a school superintendent. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of hiring senior, and key, staff members for your schools.

Rachelle's Answer

"I have over 6 years of experience in hiring senior staff members within my school district. In total I have hired 4 principals, 2 assistant principals and many other key associates. I am very comfortable making critical hiring decisions."

6.

Tell me what led you to choose a career as a superintendent.

Show the interviewer that you are passionate about your career path by discussing what brought you to this path in the first place. It is okay to reply with a bit of a personal tone but try to avoid rambling. Keep your answer to the point while maintaining excitement.

Rachelle's Answer

"A career within education was always in my plan. I grew up with two parents who were teachers and I was infinitely inspired by their passion for empowering others through the strength that comes from knowledge. After spending many years as a teacher myself, I wanted to boost my career to include a path where I could positively influence the school system. I haven't looked back since!"

7.

Talk to me about the various ways that you evaluate student success and achievement.

Discuss with the interviewer how you evaluate student success. You can expand on your answer by discussing what success means to you.

Rachelle's Answer

"I evaluate success and student achievement through specific data analysis and also by keeping note of student engagement in extra-curricular activities. Success cannot be evaluated on grades alone and I want our students to always feel a sense of achievement whether it's a small personal goal or a community related win."

8.

To be a successful superintendent, you will have to deal with a wide range of personalities. Can you handle this?

Dealing with a wide variety of personalities is a big part of your role as a school superintendent. Talk to the interviewer about your method of juggling diverse personalities in your day to day work.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am able to successfully work with a wide range of personalities because I take the time to get to know everyone's strengths and work with those. Not everyone is your cup of tea but there are ways to involve everyone no matter their personality type."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have treat each person as an individual and take care never to jump to any conclusions. I take note of what they respond well to. For instance, some people respond better to empathy and compassion, whereas other people respond better to tough love. I test the waters early in an interaction and adjust according to the way they respond. I make sure that I frame things in the right way by understanding what's important to them and what kind of people they respect and admire."

9.

How do you respond to feedback?

Receiving and accepting feedback can be tough. You can't always predict what they may say, and you also can't always predict how you might feel in response to the feedback. Learning how to respond when given a performance review or negative feedback is important.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Even though it can be difficult to hear criticism, I always pause before I respond and take time to think about it first. If it's something that catches me by surprise, I usually ask if they can clarify or explain. I want to grow and improve so the more specific the feedback is, the easier it is for me to implement personal change."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I'm a huge proponent of continual improvement, so I see feedback as a critical part of that growth. I'm always inviting feedback, and I make sure to create an environment in which people on all levels feel safe to give and receive feedback. I myself invite my senior staff to a dinner outside of office hours to give me feedback, so that they don't feel pressured to be biased by the school hierarchy."

10.

Do you have a valid certification to be a superintendent in our State?

As a school superintendent, you will likely need to have a valid certification for each independent state. Assure the interviewer that you are aware of this and that you are, in fact, eligible to work in their state. If you have a physical certificate that you can bring with you to the interview - even better.

Rachelle's Answer

"I have a valid state certification, yes. I obtained it just last year when I relocated to California. I brought the certificate for you to see as well. Feel free to make a copy for your records."

Anonymous Answer

"I do have a superintendent certificate in two other states. I will be able to attain the certificate in this state before hire."

Rachelle's Answer

Great! Clear and to the point.

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11.

Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?

Many employees will look for new work if they feel that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Talk to the interviewer about your current compensation and whether or not you feel it is fair.

If you feel you are currently paid what you are worth: 'I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities.'

If you do not feel you are currently paid what you are worth: 'I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. Our school board is small and they do what they can but this is part of why I am seeking a new position.'

12.

As the school superintendent you are the point of contact for all government related interactions. Are you confident in your ability to professionally communicate with government agencies?

As a school superintendent it is very important that you are able to comfortably communicate with formal agencies such as the government. Assure the interviewer that you are able to be a strong point of contact on the school district's behalf. Discuss your presentation skills and your ability to public speak.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am a strong public speaker and a smooth communicator. Giving interviews and presentations comes second nature to me at this point in my career. Just last month I spoke at a community event where our Mayor was in attendance. With 15 years' experience in government / school board liaison, I am confident that I would represent you in a very satisfactory manner."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Being an effective communicator involves understanding the concerns that inform the perspective of the person you're communicating with. I've had to report to and communicate with government agencies in my previous positions, so I understand exactly what they're looking for and why they ask the questions they ask. I'm comfortable interacting with the government and I'm confident in shouldering that responsibility."

13.

Would you consider yourself a creative person?

Talk to the interviewer about any interest or creative outlets that you have, and how you have implemented your creative nature in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I do consider myself to be a creative individual. One example of this would be the variety of school fundraisers and programs that I have headed over the years. I try to incorporate new and exciting initiatives for my students on a regular basis."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I consider myself a well-rounded person. I can think outside the box just as well as I can coloring inside the lines. If I can't find an answer, I'll find someone who can give me the answer. Creativity is a tool to use, and I've used it quite effectively. For example, we had a stubborn truancy problem and the deans didn't know how to solve it. So what rather than using a top-down approach or investigating it as a disciplinary or security issue, I took a different view of it. I directed the counselors to look for patterns of truancy and to map out their social networks to find out common traits between those who were chronically truant. They found that they were students who were having conflict at home and who had few relationships with peers. To solve the problem, I instituted a policy where school counselors had to interview students on a regular basis immediately after the third truancy."

14.

Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?

Do you feel that you should be paid based on tenure, or results? Discuss this with the interviewer and back your answer with an example, if possible.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I feel that employees should be paid, and rewarded, based on their performance. A new employee would be greatly motivated through being rewarded for performance and it encourages a healthy competition with tenured employees."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Experience must be taken into account, of course. The length and quality of someone's experience can inform an evaluation of the expected value that a person brings to an organization. At the end of the day though, performance is what matters because that's the measurable impact that we make on people's lives."

15.

What is the primary difference, in your opinion, between school board goals and school district goals?

Discuss with the interviewer how you view the role of your school board versus the role of your school district. Make your answer simple and direct.

Rachelle's Answer

"The difference between the school board and the school district is that the school district is primarily focused on overall student achievement where the board is more focused on policy, security and governance."

Anonymous Answer

"School boards and school districts have a common goal of supporting the education process of their students. The board, however, is trusted with allocating the budget, adopting local policies, and more of a governance role. The goals of a school district, as they trickle down, become more targeted and specific as they relate to student success and performance."

Rachelle's Answer

You make an excellent distinction! Your answer is clear and showcases your knowledge.

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Anonymous Answer

"The district carries out the initiatives that the board has as key measures."

Rachelle's Answer

Clear and concise!

"The school district carries out the initiatives and key measures that the school board has put in place."

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40 Superintendent Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. Many superintendents have their Doctorate in Education. Are you planning to obtain this designation?
  2. Do you have experience with professionally developing senior staff members?
  3. How important is it for the superintendent to have a strong relationship with the school board's leadership team?
  4. What are your career goals as a school superintendent, and how will this role help you to achieve those goals?
  5. Do you have experience wit hiring senior staff members?
  6. Tell me what led you to choose a career as a superintendent.
  7. Talk to me about the various ways that you evaluate student success and achievement.
  8. To be a successful superintendent, you will have to deal with a wide range of personalities. Can you handle this?
  9. How do you respond to feedback?
  10. Do you have a valid certification to be a superintendent in our State?
  11. Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?
  12. As the school superintendent you are the point of contact for all government related interactions. Are you confident in your ability to professionally communicate with government agencies?
  13. Would you consider yourself a creative person?
  14. Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?
  15. What is the primary difference, in your opinion, between school board goals and school district goals?
  16. On an especially tough day, what motivates you to succeed as a superintendent?
  17. What are the standards you use for judging whether or not your board of education is doing its job?
  18. What was your favorite post-secondary course, and why?
  19. When did you complete your Masters' degree? What was the focus?
  20. In your opinion, how important is careful budget planning and resource allocation in the school system?
  21. Do you think honesty is always the best policy?
  22. Setting educational standards is incredibly important. How do you ensure that your standards are set, clearly communicated, and met?
  23. What are your salary expectations?
  24. How would you describe your personality?
  25. How do you like to encourage ideas in your students?
  26. What major challenges and problems did you face in your last position?
  27. What has been your biggest career related achievement to date?
  28. How do you go above and beyond your general requirements as a school superintendent.
  29. Tell me about the last book you've read for professional development purposes. What did you learn?
  30. Are there any work related situations or tasks that make you uncomfortable?
  31. What is your personal secret to a successful career as a superintendent?
  32. What course was the most challenging for you during your post secondary studies, and why?
  33. If you were the successful candidate, tell me the first thing you would do to make an impact on our school board.
  34. Tell me about a professional goal you have set and achieved. What personal qualities and characteristics helped you achieve that goal?
  35. In what area do you feel you need the most professional development? What are you willing to do to strengthen yourself in that area?
  36. Community involvement is important to us. What do you know about our community and school district?
  37. What makes you the best superintendent for us?
  38. In your opinion, what should a school board member do when contacted by a parent with a school-related problem?
  39. Have you ever worked with a school board on setting school district goals?
  40. As a Superintendent, you will be under a fair amount of stress. How do you successfully handle stress?
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