Top 20 Principal Interview Questions and Answers 2021


The principal is one of the most important leading figures at school. It is crucial to hire the most effective principal to ensure good results at the end of the year. This article provides 20 questions along with the answer that could be used when interviewing for a principal position.

1.    Why Are You Interested In This Position?

It is important to hire a candidate who is the most serious about getting the job.

Tip #1: Provide convincing reasons

Tip #2: Be clear and concise

Sample Answer:

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Why Should We Hire You? 5 Best Answers

I have been involved in the education field for years hence being a principal has been one of my enthusiasm. I would love to become the leader and become the brain in transforming the school system to a whole new level. I want to express my passion for education by becoming an effective principal that could bring the whole school community together to build a top-notch environment for students.

2.    What Are The Roles Of A Principal?

A good candidate should be familiar with the job scopes.

Tip #1: Provide specific roles

Tip #2: Avoid mulling your answers

Sample Answer:



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The main role of a principal is to lay out the most effective strategies in directing the school system. The principal is the main brain to develop curriculum while simultaneously monitor the progress of teachers and students. They are also in charge of ensuring that all procedures conducted at school abide by the policy established by the educational ministry.

3.    What Are The Qualities That A Principal Should Possess To Be Effective?

Aside from technical and theories, the candidate should be clear of the qualities fundamental to become an effective principal.

Tip #1: Align the qualities with those sought by the school

Tip #2: Be confident

Sample Answer:

The most important quality needed for a principal is strong leadership. This is because they are the highest position established at the school level hence they must be able to lead effectively. That aside, it is important for a principal to envision improvement for school so that the school system could consistently improve towards betterment.

4.    What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Handle It?

Challenges faced may help the candidates to grow as a better person.

Tip #1: Do not be afraid to genuinely share your challenge

Tip #2: Display your problem-solving skills   

Sample Answer:

One of my biggest concerns during my previous role was to balance the teachers’ needs with the national educational system established. Nowadays, there have been countless changes conducted at school which gradually increase the teachers’ workloads. I did not want to pressure my teachers so much but it was inevitable. To counter that issue, I outlined several strategies for teachers so that they do not exhaust themselves too much.

5.    Describe Your Daily Routine As An Assistant Principal?

The candidate should be clear of the daily tasks of the position offered.

Tip #1: Provide specific roles

Tip #2: Be familiar with the tasks

Sample Answer:

The mundane task of a principal is monitoring school operations regardless of who the involved people are. A good principal should be able to observe subjectively and widely from students to even the school staff. Another task of a principal is deciding on any events or situations that happen at school. Lastly, they have to manage risks that happen at school.

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6.    Describe Briefly Your Experience In This Field?

Being experienced in the profession provides a bonus point.

Tip #1: Share relevant experience

Tip #2: Share your contribution in your previous position

Sample Answer:

I worked as an assistant principal for three years in my previous workplace. My principal knew that I strive to become a principal myself, hence he always kept me close to watch how he does his work. Sometimes, he would offer me to make the decision and provide constructive comments. During those years, I was able to get the ideas and skills needed to become an effective principal such as developing an organized curriculum for the school.

7.    What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role?

This question displays the candidate’s preparedness for the job.

Tip #1: Be concise and clear

Tip #2: Provide how you would implement the strategies

Sample Answer:

My mindset for this position is to always be supportive of students. As a principal, I want to provide the best and safest environment for my students. Transformations and the needs of meeting KPIs ought to be done, however, if these things push my students to their limit, I will refrain from pressuring them. My most important goal is to make students enjoy their school life. I believe their academic improvement may come together if they enjoy school.

8.    What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Job?

This question also will provide insight into how prepared the candidate is for the task.

Tip #1: Provide a specific challenge

Tip #2: State how you would tackle the challenge

Sample Answer:

Since this may be my first posting as a principal, the biggest challenge I foresee for this job is to effectively involve and communicate with parents. I have experienced dealing with teachers when I was a teacher but I believe the pressure is higher if I were the principal. I have researched several suitable approaches that could be done when dealing with parents if I were the principal.

9.    How Do You Stay Motivated At Work?

A good candidate should have clear strategies to stay motivated at work.

Tip #1: Share your ways to counter demotivation

Tip #2: Share how those strategies worked in the past

Sample Answer:

My biggest motivation since I involved myself in the education field is by reflecting on students’ success. As a principal, I may not be directly involved with students’ academic improvements. However, I always remind myself to provide my utmost support for students in their academic and co-curricular activities so that they could accomplish their goals. Seeing how much they accomplished gave me the motivation to continue giving my best support as the leader of the school.

10. Describe A Time You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learned.

Provide a genuine experience of failure or mistake you made.

Tip #1: Admit your mistake

Tip #2: Share the lessons you gained

Sample Answer:

The failure that taught me a lot was when I was in charge of coming up with teacher committees for school events. I insisted to do the job alone without consulting any teachers or staff. My refusal to discuss with others backfired since most of the teachers were not able to provide their cooperation because the school event clashed with another event at the state level. From that, I learned to be alert at all times and always discuss with others.

11.        Describe Your Leadership Style.

Having a clear and effective style helps a candidate to be consistent in their principles.

Tip #1: Be consistent in your style

Tip #2: Share why do you prefer the style

Sample Answer:

My preferred leadership style is transformational. I like to involve the teachers’ involvement in throwing in ideas for school improvement. This will ensure that they feel a sense of belonging as part of the school community. After gaining ideas or insights, I like to conduct discussions to come up with the best choice. This could be done to a certain degree. There are times where I have to make the decision myself.

12.        Share About Your Greatest Contribution To School Before?

This question may increase your likability of being hired.

Tip #1: It is encouraged to provide numerical achievement

Tip #2: Be relevant to the position

Sample Answer:

When I was the assistant principal at my previous school, I managed to boost students’ attendance by 30%. The school before has a worrying case of students skipping school. To counter the issue, my principal assigned me and several other staff to conduct plans to improve the students’ attendance. We discussed and planned for strategies and managed to achieve that improvement in five months.

13.        Share Your Definition Of Effective Instruction?

This question may display the candidate’s competency as the future principal.

Tip #1: Be consistent with your principles

Tip #2: Stay confident

Sample Answer:

As a leader in a community, the most effective instruction should be one that is clear and feasible. I will explain the instruction clearly to a certain extent. However, I will not restrict the teachers’ freedom in coming up with ways to achieve the goal I instructed. This will be achieved by their strategies. As long as the instruction is clear enough to be met, I think that is one of the most desirable definitions of effective instruction.

14.        Briefly Share What Do You Think Are The Skills Needed To Be A Good Principal?

Aside from the theories and techniques, possessing relevant skills is highly sought.

Tip #1: Relate the skills with the profession

Tip #2: Be concise

Sample Answer:

A successful principal should be equipped with decision-making skills and interpersonal skills. Commonly, the principal should be the key decision-maker in a school compound thus it is crucial to be able to consider a lot of things before coming up with decisions. Interpersonal skill is also highly needed since the principal has to interact with many people, for instance, teachers, staffs, students, and even parents.

15.        Have You Ever Had A Conflict With A Teacher Before?

This question will test the candidate’s conflict-management skills.

Tip #1: Clearly share how you deal with the conflict

Tip #2: Provide what you learned

Sample Answer:

When I was patrolling the lessons, I advised a teacher to control the classroom more effectively since the class was quite noisy. However, the noise did not decrease after several times I advised the teacher. When I went to discuss with the teacher, she rebutted that the noise was due to students’ active participation in the classroom. I immediately apologized for jumping to conclusions unnecessarily and learned a lot from that mistake I had done.

16.        What Is Your Aspiration For This School?

Having a clear vision displays how serious the candidate is for the job.

Tip #1: Be feasible

Tip #2: Provide what you will do to achieve it

Sample Answer:

My vision for an effective school is to provide the safest environment for students. I will take into account the opinions suggested by all stakeholders. Doing this will help improve their trust for the school hence collectively bring them together to work on the school’s improvement. While improving academic achievement has to be highly considered, my biggest goal is to ensure every student enjoy their school life.

17.        What Do You Think Is Your Biggest Weakness As A Principal?

Admitting your flaw and improving is important to increase the candidate’s chance of being hired.

Tip #1: Avoid stating a critical weakness

Tip #2: Display that you are working on overcoming the weakness

Sample Answer:

My biggest weakness as a principal is my leniency towards teachers. I often encourage teachers to come up with solutions or strategies in improving their teachings. Sometimes, the teachers were not able to meet the KPIs expectation since they were too free in their lesson. Hence, I learned that freedom among teachers is fundamental but to a certain extent. I must emphasize that they should also try their best to meet the expectations established by the ministry.

18.        How Do You Handle Angry Parents?

This question displays the candidate’s communication and problem-solving skills.

Tip #1: Display that you can remain professional in such situations

Tip #2: Be quick but provide a strong measure in handling the issue

Sample Answer:

The most important thing to do is to stay calm. I will maintain my professionalism and composure while dealing with angry people. I will listen to their complaint calmly and judge the situation in the best way possible. If I sense potential harm from the parents, I will mention the policy that must abide by and what measure I would take if they intend to act aggressively.

19.        What Kind Of People Do You Find The Toughest To Deal With?

A principal should be able to handle all kinds of people and be adaptive to the situation.

Tip #1: State your measures clearly

Tip #2: Remain professional in dealing with others

Sample Answer:

I often find it tough to deal with people who take things personally. As working adults, it is important to stay professional with every comment or advice hence when a person took my critiques personally, it left us uncomfortable. To handle this kind of people, I had to word myself clearly and be adaptive to their behaviour. However, there are times when I have to be firm in stating my points.

20.        How Do You Cope With Pressure At Work?

The pressure at work is inevitable. The main point here is how candidates handle them.

Tip #1: Prove that pressure will not disrupt your work quality

Tip #2: You may share an experience

Sample Answer:

As a leader in a community, I cannot escape from the constant pressure. To handle my pressure, I often list down what are the goals I wish to accomplish. I will thoroughly go through my schedule and plan every week and every day. Another way to cope with pressure is to be engaged with the school community. Doing this will remind me that I am not working for my sake only, but also for the sake of all other people at school.

These 20 questions along with the answer could serve as guidance if you are interviewing for a principal position. Both candidates and interviewers could refer to the questions before. We wish you luck in your future endeavour.

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