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Superintendent Interview

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?
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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.
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Top 40 Superintendent Interview Questions with Full Content
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."
Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (1)
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.
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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."
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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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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."
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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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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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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