I recently had a #PrincipalCast subscriber email me asking for interview suggestions as he was interviewing at a Catholic school. I
wrote him the following email, but thought I would share it here, too. Most interviews are similar – asking about curriculum, what your ideal school might look like, etc. – but these are a few things that you may not have thought of.
Good luck, and let the #PrincipalCast crew know how we can help you!
(#1 may not apply to all of you, but I’m sure there is something about your new school that you should know. Always go in with SOMETHING you know about the school. DO YOUR RESEARCH.)
1. Make sure you know what your Catholic Identity is. Who are you in your faith? What do you believe the identity of the school/students should be? How and where does this group of students “belong” in the church?
2. Know your leadership style. They may ask you what your staff meetings may look like, how often you’ll have them, etc. Will you require your teachers to turn in lesson plans? How often will you be in the classroom (ideally)?
3. Be prepared to answer the question “What will be the first thing you’ll do as the Principal?” A good answer to that is that you will spend a lot of time observing the climate of the school and begin to understand the community. You never want to make too
many changes at once. Especially if the school is having an issue with stability. They need to know you are there to support them, not to make it “your school.”
4. If this is a job that may require a relocation, know that it may come up in the interview. Just so you aren’t surprised 😉
5. Finally – be yourself. This cannot be understated. You NEVER know what they are looking for in their leader. If you do get the job, you want to be sure it is because it is a good fit for you AND for the school. There is nothing wrong with ‘losing’ out on a job because you weren’t the right fit. They may feel they need someone who is more of a disciplinarian, more gentle, taller, older, etc., etc., etc (of course those last ones aren’t real, but you get the point). You just never know what they are looking for, and in the long run it is a better decision for all involved if you aren’t chosen for a position that wasn’t a good fit. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s the truth.
Just be prepared for them to ask anything, and there is nothing wrong with taking a deep breath and thinking about your response before you verbalize it. Nothing at all.