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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.
Question 1 of 40
What is the primary difference, in your opinion, between school board goals and school district goals?
View Answer
How to Answer
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.
40 Superintendent Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
  1. What is the primary difference, in your opinion, between school board goals and school district goals?
  2. On an especially tough day, what motivates you to succeed as a superintendent?
  3. What are your career goals as a school superintendent, and how will this role help you to achieve those goals?
  4. What are the standards you use for judging whether or not your board of education is doing its job?
  5. Do you have a valid certification to be a superintendent in our State?
  6. What was your favorite post-secondary course, and why?
  7. When did you complete your Masters' degree? What was the focus?
  8. Do you have experience wit hiring senior staff members?
  9. Do you have experience with professionally developing senior staff members?
  10. In your opinion, how important is careful budget planning and resource allocation in the school system?
  11. 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?
  12. Many superintendents have their Doctorate in Education. Are you planning to obtain this designation?
  13. Do you think honesty is always the best policy?
  14. Setting educational standards is incredibly important. How do you ensure that your standards are set, clearly communicated, and met?
  15. What are your salary expectations?
  16. Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?
  17. Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?
  18. How would you describe your personality?
  19. Would you consider yourself a creative person?
  20. How do you like to encourage ideas in your students?
  21. How do you respond to feedback?
  22. What major challenges and problems did you face in your last position?
  23. To be a successful superintendent, you will have to deal with a wide range of personalities. Can you handle this?
  24. Talk to me about the various ways that you evaluate student success and achievement.
  25. What has been your biggest career related achievement to date?
  26. How do you go above and beyond your general requirements as a school superintendent.
  27. Tell me about the last book you've read for professional development purposes. What did you learn?
  28. Are there any work related situations or tasks that make you uncomfortable?
  29. Tell me what led you to choose a career as a superintendent.
  30. How important is it for the superintendent to have a strong relationship with the school board's leadership team?
  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?
15 Superintendent Answer Examples
1.
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.
Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
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."
Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (1)
2.
On an especially tough day, what motivates you to succeed as a superintendent?
Even when some days may be overwhelming you must have the ability to pull yourself through it, all while maintaining a winning attitude. Discuss the ways you stay motivated to succeed. Sharing this information with the interviewer will also help them know how to encourage you on tough days, should you be hired for the job.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am motivated to succeed through the success and excitement of my students. Even on the toughest day, if one of my teachers tells me a student success story, it completely turns my day around. These instances encourage me to keep doing my best every day."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Continual improvement is what really motivates me. I strive to make incremental improvements every chance I get. Small successes add up and lead to big successes, and that's keeps me going. Seeing the big picture helps as well. When the teachers benefit from the improvements, so do the students and the parents, which has positive impacts on society as a whole."
Anonymous Answer
"On an especially tough day, my purpose motivates me. In an educational setting, little lives are watching and learning from the behaviors of the adults around them. Remember, what is said and done will be used to motivate and inspire those who are watching."
Rachelle's Answer
Very good response! You show a genuine care for the lives that you impact as a superintendent. Nicely said.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
Anonymous Answer
"On an especially tough day, what truly motivates me to succeed as a superintendent is seeing the many successes of both the students and the teachers. That is the motivation I need to know that I still have purpose in the many tasks that I still have to complete. What motivates me to continue serving students and teachers as well as other stakeholders is trying to make a difference in their lives."
Rachelle's Answer
Very heartfelt response! I have reworded this slightly, to eliminate repetition.
"On an especially tough day, I am motivated by seeing the many successes of the students and teachers. Seeing these successes is what drives me to continue to serve, and make a difference in their lives."
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
3.
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."
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
4.
What are the standards you use for judging whether or not your board of education is doing its job?
The number one job of the school board is to ensure that student's are receiving quality education. As a school superintendent, how do you gauge the success and effectiveness of your school board when it comes to reaching that goal? Be as specific as possible.

Rachelle's Answer
"When I am assessing a school boards' effectiveness I will look at a few things. First, where are their priorities? Priority must always be on the well-being of the student body and the quality of their education. Second, how well does their vision align with the needs and requests of the community? And lastly, how accountable are they for the results - positive or negative - of their policies?"
Anonymous Answer
"When community surveys are done, and the data is gathered and analyzed, this is how the board will demonstrate its effectiveness."
Rachelle's Answer
Community surveys are very important. Good answer! I have reworded this slightly to add clarity.
"I believe that community surveys are the best indicator of a school boards' efficacy. It's important to look into the survey data and analyze responses, then improve from there."
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
5.
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.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
6.
What was your favorite post-secondary course, and why?
Generally speaking, the post-secondary courses one excels in will be the areas they excel in most while in the workplace. Give the interviewer some insight on your post-secondary areas of excellence and how that relates to your performance at work.

Rachelle's Answer
"Statistics for Education Research and Policy Analysis was my best and favorite course while taking my Masters' Degree. I say this because I am naturally very analytically minded and really enjoy collecting data to use for positive change and growth."
7.
When did you complete your Masters' degree? What was the focus?
This information is likely on your resume so the interviewer would like for you to expand on what they already know. What did you focus on throughout your studies? Discuss any highlights from your post-secondary studies that made you a stand-out student.

Rachelle's Answer
"I completed my Master's Degree in 2005 at Brown University. My focus was on 'The Art of Teaching Secondary School'. It was a really great program and I was able to graduate third in my class while still maintaining my full time teaching job."
8.
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."
9.
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."
10.
In your opinion, how important is careful budget planning and resource allocation in the school system?
Discuss with the interviewer the importance of budget planning, and resource allocation, in the school system. Talk about the ways you involve yourself in the process, big or small.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I feel that the budgeting process an integral part of educational planning. There are limited resources in the public school system so these resources must be very carefully allocated. If a school district has financial planning issues, it affects the students negatively. Since quality student learning is our top priority, we must be incredibly diligent with our resources."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Budget planning is incredibly important. No general has every had enough troops, no CEO has ever had enough money. What's important is how you distribute the limited resources that you have in order to make the biggest positive impacts that you can. Of course, you also have to be wary of second-order effects. The education system is extremely complex and doing one thing might have unanticipated effects. So we have to plan for as many factors as we can to manage the risks, but we have to remain flexible enough to handle the unknown unknowns."
11.
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."
12.
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?"
13.
Do you think honesty is always the best policy?
Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on honesty in the workplace and if you truly feel that honesty is always the best approach. Why or why not?

Rachelle's Answer
"Sometimes full disclosure can damage someone's self esteem, and reality isn't always best expressed in full and can be self-indulgent based on the person's intention. In those instances, honesty isn't always the best policy."
14.
Setting educational standards is incredibly important. How do you ensure that your standards are set, clearly communicated, and met?
Discuss with the interviewer the measures you take to ensure that your students are aware of your educational standards and expectations. Talk to the interviewer about how you clearly communicate your standards and vision for the year.

Rachelle's Answer
"Every year, I hold a school wide meeting where I present the school's vision for the upcoming year. Teachers, students, and parents are welcome to attend. I wholeheartedly believe that when everyone has their sights on the same educational goal, it can easily be achieved. Clearly communicating this to everyone is very important to me."
15.
What are your salary expectations?
The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.

Rachelle's Answer
"Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 20% annual bonus. Last year my earnings were $52,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
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