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.
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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?"
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
Encouragement to others is a great skill to possess. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to encourage creative ideas in your students.
"I like to encourage my students to be creative in their thinking and present ideas to their teachers, no matter how off the wall they may seem. Some of our most successful students are ones who are confident in their ability to bring forward their unique ideas and express themselves. I encourage participation through an open door policy and strong praise for those who show initiative."
Talk to the interviewer about any interest or creative outlets that you have, and how you have implemented your creative nature in the workplace.
"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."
"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."
Personality and character are two very different things. The interviewer is looking for more information on your personal traits vs. your integrity.
"I would describe my personality as approachable, light-hearted, and positive. I believe that, if asked, my colleagues and students would say the same about me."
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.'
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
If you struggled in a particular subject while attending post-secondary studies, be prepared to discuss that course, and why you think it was a struggle. Assure the interviewer that you are now capable in this area. Perhaps you have taken additional training or coursework to improve your knowledge or perhaps your work experience eventually created a resolve for you in that particular area.
"Athletics was never my strong suit growing up so when it came time to take a course in the History of Intercollegiate Athletics - I felt it was a really big challenge. Since taking that course and beginning a career as a school superintendent I made a conscious effort to expose myself to more athletic activities and have become very involved in our school's athletic programs.I would no longer consider this are of knowledge to be a weakness."
As a school superintendent, there is a lot of pressure on you to make the right choices at all times. You will often encounter stressful situations and be required to think on your feet. Assure the interviewer that you are well equipped to handle this level of stress.
"I feel that my ability to handle stress has come from my many years as an educator and business leader. I ensure that I release stress every day through exercise, which is a great help. On the professional side, I have taken some very helpful coursework on stress management."
Talk to the interviewer about the most significant challenges you have faced as a Superintendent. Be sure to complete your answer on a positive note by highlighting how you were able to overcome the challenge.
"My biggest challenges in my most recent position are surrounding the demographics of the schools I supervise. Often, our young students are coming to school hungry, not properly clothed for the cold weather and have low attention spans because of issues associated with their home life. I have initiated a few programs such as a breakfast club and a clothing swap to try to offer some relief. Those initiatives have proven to help significantly. My teachers are telling me new success stories every week and I am thrilled to have made an impact on this common problem."
Discuss with the interviewer how you evaluate student success. You can expand on your answer by discussing what success means to you.
"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."
Talk to the interviewer about the proudest moment in your career. Use passion when you are discussing your career achievements. This is also a great time to highlight any professional awards, or accolades. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself a little bit!
"So far, my biggest career achievement has been winning the 'Superintendent of the Year' award in our region. It's an award that you must be nominated for by the school leadership. It really spoke to me that my presence was a positive one and affirmed what I stand for in my career. "
The role of a school superintendent is a vast one. Talk to the interviewer about a time that you went above the call of duty for your students and faculty.
"One way that I go over and above my requirements as a Superintendent is by taking extra steps to stay in tune with the needs of my staff and faculty. I meet with the school staff once per month for a formal meeting to discuss any issues that we could fix, and any that we should present to the Board. Our communication levels are high and this has a direct impact on the success of our school."
"I make it a personal mission of mine to learn the names of every single leadership staff member in my district and to spend time with them to learn about what their dreams and fears are. This is crucial to bonding with them as a team, and to learning how to communicate to them. I make sure that I always have an open dialogue with each of them, and I let them know that I care about their lives outside of work, that if there's anything that they need help with, I'll happy to do it myself or to put them in touch with someone who can help. For example, I had a principal who was feeling burnt out and expressed concerns about whether or not he could continue in the position. I took him to dinner and invited his family to mini golf that weekend and spent time to understand the pressures that he was facing outside of work. I gave him some strategies to make sure he could spend quality time with his family. He ended up leading his school to win several awards the following year."
Reading for professional development is a very valuable use of time. Assure the interviewer that you see the importance of professional development. Use a recent example and highlight what your biggest take-away was.
"The last book that I read for professional development was 'Predictable Success' by Les McKeown. It helped me to better understand the structure of an organization and how to pin point a variety of success factors. Since implementing some of the steps outlined in the book, our faculty engagement has increased and I have felt like an even more effective leader."
As a school superintendent, your task requirements are going to be vast. Talk to the interviewer about any work related tasks that you do not enjoy or ones that make you uncomfortable. Be sure to mention what you would do to create a work-able situation, if needed.
"I am very comfortable with the requirements of my role as a school superintendent. If I were to be asked to perform a task that I am uncomfortable with, I would brainstorm ways to tailor the task to make it more do-able. If I felt the task should be delegated to someone more appropriate, I would take that step."
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.
"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!"
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.
"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."
If you had to credit your success to anything in particular, what would that be? Discuss with the interviewer what you feel is your secret to success.
"My secret to a successful career as a school superintendent is to be observant, a good listener, and to lead by example. I have found that with these qualities, my work is authentic and my opinion is well received."
"A school system is far too complex for just one person to make improvements: it takes a lot of people agreeing to the same plan and moving in the same direction. The key to my success is my ability to get the best out of everyone. By engendering an environment of trust and safety, I enable my team to do what's in the best interest of the entire organization, not just what's good for themselves. I'm also great at balancing the needs of different people and different departments and making sure that everyone gets what they need in order to get the job done."
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.
"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."
"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."
Show the interviewer that you are engaged in the process by coming to the interview prepared with an impact plan. Keep your answer to the point while expressing your passion for the role.
"If I were hired, I would plan to make an impact on the school board and leadership team by meeting with them immediately to discuss the short and long term vision for the schools. When everyone is working towards a clear goal, successful change is much easier to achieve."
Perhaps you are an honest go-getter who pushes past your own personal limits in order to achieve your goals. Maybe your personality is such that people just want to jump in and collaborate with you! Assure the interviewer that you are capable of setting professional goals and that you have what it takes to achieve them.
"The most recent professional goal that I set for myself was to have our school district be the top ranked in the state. We achieved that goal by the second year, bringing us up from the third place spot. I was able to achieve these goals, along with the school board and leadership team, through dedication to the vision. I have a healthy competitive streak and the ability to get other people very excited about playing their part in our schools' success."
"I set the goal of increasing parental engagement to 75% in each classroom. By the end of the year, 77% of parents were engaged with the school. I did this by planning workshops to teach teachers how to get parents more involved with the students' academic achievement, and developing a community outreach team. It was important that I had a clear vision and that I surrounded myself with the right people who knew how to achieve that vision. I had to lead them by getting the most innovative ideas from them, and I had to motivate the staff and students to align with this vision as well."
As a school superintendent, you will need to have a wide range of skills and abilities. There are may expectations in this role. Share with the interviewer an area that you would like to strengthen, and how you are going to do so. Ensure that you do not give an example that would be a red flag for the interviewer (IE: I don't like being around large groups of people).
"I think that I could strengthen my abilities when it comes to the physical demands of the job. I have been exercising more and eating better so that I can be more physically active in the schools. This role does require a lot of walking, standing, and physical involvement."
It is important to show the interviewer that you see the importance of community involvement and the role that the school plays in that involvement. Display that you have done your research on the school district and the surrounding community.
"I have done a great deal of research on this school district and the surrounding community. It's amazing to see that the community is so involved with the schools. There is a real sense of pride here. This school districts' athletic teams are very competitive and it seems that the community plays a huge part in fundraising as well as volunteer participation in these athletic programs. The parent's are involved as well which is great to see."
"Before coming here, I've spoken with teachers from different schools and I think that there are both some great strengths about the district as well as some areas of improvement. I know that while standardized testing scores are rising, we're also seeing an increase in substance abuse. I have a few ideas of how we can investigate the issue and make some improvements."
It it important to understand the goals and needs of the school district before you attend your interview. Your answer should reflect a solution to their current needs and concerns. Offer up a unique piece of information about yourself. This will ensure that you stand out from any other potential candidates.
"I understand that your biggest concern for this particular school district is it's reputation for low student grades and the low level of community and parent involvement. If you hired me to be the superintendent, I would set a strong plan to change that. I have a solid track record of increasing student and community engagement. In fact, I have brought you a letter of recommendation from my previous role that outlines these successes in detail."
"As I understand it, the majority of the schools in this district have at-risk populations and graduation rates need to be improved. I really think I'm the best person for this role because of my track record of improving three key areas related graduation rates. Student engagement, attendance, and course failures. Student engagement improved when I implemented student surveys about topics of interest. Attendance improved when I implemented a policy in which teachers took the time to meet with students individually once every two weeks. And I improved course failures when I implemented after-school tutoring and other educational initiatives. Given the chance to bring all these successes to bear, I have every confidence that we can prevent a lot of dropouts and increase the graduation rate."
The interviewer would like to ensure that you understand the school hierarchy and that you would respond professionally in a situation like this. As a school superintendent, you will come across parents who will try to 'get to the top' when an issue arises. Assure the interviewer that you would handle a matter like this professionally and appropriately.
"If a school board member were contacted directly by a parent I would expect that board member to listen to the parent, then encourage them to talk to the school principal. If the principal was unable to handle the situation, they would then bring it to me. If it were a matter to be discussed at a board meeting then I will do so. It's important that our community of parents be heard but we also need to allow our staff and leadership to be involved in the resolution process. We have to keep our teachers and principals empowered."
"It's important to make sure that a parent feels heard and understood, not to make them feel brushed away. The school board member should most certainly listen to the parent's concerns carefully, so that he or she can direct the parent to the principal of the child's school with specific advice on how to approach the principal. Following the appropriate protocols in terms of escalation is important in ensuring that staff at all levels are empowered to find solutions, which also leads to less frustration for all parties involved."
Discuss how have you worked with your school board on setting new goals or policies for the school district. Use real life examples if you can, otherwise you can refer to the hypothetical.
"I have worked closely with my school board on setting new goals and fine tuning existing policy. It is the board's job to refine or create the policy and then I will clearly communicate it to the schools' leadership and administration."
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?
"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."
A school superintendent holds one of the most important and highest career rankings in the school system. A superintendent is responsible for overseeing the actions of multiple schools. Some may even be in charge of an entire school board, depending on the size and needs of their city. The superintendent reports to the board of education in their region.
A school superintendent is the face of the school board - addressing related concerns to the public. They are also meant to be the primary facilitator between the board of education and the teaching staff. The superintendent is responsible for creating and nurturing community relationships and relationships with local politicians for the purpose of lobbying support and funds for their public school district.
Critical thinking skills are very important. A school superintendent must be able to plan and budget for current/future needs when it comes to school funding, hiring, and staff development. They must also be able to be pragmatic when conducting performance evaluations on staff members. Being a dedicated and respected leader is also a required skill. Strong presentation and public speaking skills are required as the superintendent will be expected to relay concerns and solutions to their board of education as well as to the public and media.
The minimum education required of most school superintendents is a Bachelor's Degree in Education. Most school boards prefer a Master's Degree in Education. Other related degrees, such as Business, may be considered. Licensing and certificate requirements may also vary depending on the state or province.