If you have a strong background in elementary education administration or teaching and wish to pursue a position of more advanced leadership, such as principal, landing a job interview is the first victory. It's imperative to always enter these kinds of job interviews with ample preparation, as a principal's position comes with many diverse responsibilities and tasks.
When you interview for a job as the head of an elementary school, you have to be prepared to answer questions about how you operate as a leader. When you're in charge of an elementary school, you must be on top of everything from daily attendance of pupils to the working methods of teachers and other employees. You have to be able to effectively convey how you go about leading groups of people, whether your focus is centered more on communications with educators or with pupils. Explain in detail how you go about leading. Perhaps you emphasize keeping track on students' grades and improvements. Perhaps you spend a lot of time monitoring teaching sessions and tweaking subject planning.
Goals as Principal
Not only is it smart to detail how you plan on proceeding in a position as principal, it's also smart to indicate your goals for the job. Your goal might be to provide the youth of your region with a nurturing, safe environment conducive to promoting a healthy desire for lifelong learning and success. It might be to help inspire elementary children to aspire to leadership themselves -- both at school and in their communities. It might be, rather simply, to enhance education in the school atmosphere. It might even be all of these things put together. Let your interviewer know what your aims are. That way, she can see whether your objectives are in line with the school district's.
Communication and Elementary School Principals
When interviewing for an elementary school principal job, questions about communication techniques are inevitable. Being an elementary school principal calls for a lot of direct interaction with people. Not only do elementary school principals have to direct the teachers, janitors, administration, school nurses and food-service workers, they have to communicate heavily with young students and their parents. Highlight what kind of communicator you are and how you handle difficult situations. Talk about how you would approach a teacher if complaints about him became a problem. If a student was experiencing behavioral or academic problems, talk about not only how you'd communicate with him, but also how you'd communicate with his concerned family.
Experiences and Achievements
Go into elementary school principal interviews prepared to talk about your life experiences and achievements. Mention what initially interested you about a career alongside young kids. Perhaps one of your parents was an educator. Perhaps you remember elementary school as being one of the happiest and most exciting times of your life. Then, discuss what kind of relevant experience you have in the field, starting from teaching positions you might have had straight out of college up into other positions in administration. Be prepared to indicate your most shining career achievement. If you were voted teacher of the year in your county a few years back, don't hesitate to note that.
Not only is what you say during a principal interview important, so is how you present yourself. As with other positions in the educational field, modest professional attire is a must. Business suits work well for candidates of both genders. Keep any extras subtle, whether fragrances, cosmetics or accessories. Refrain from chewing gum or eating candy during the interview. A tidy and polished appearance is vital for elementary school principals.
- National Association of Elementary School Principals: Interviewing for the Principal's Job - A Behavior-Based Approach
- Education World: Interviewing for the Principalship - Tips from Principals
- Chicago Public Schools: Sample Principal Interview Questions
- Cleveland State University Career Services Center: Interview Preparation for School Administrator, Supervision & Curriculum Development Candidates
- GreatSchools: What Makes a Great Principal?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
- University of West Georgia: Analyzing the Leadership Behavior of School Principals
- The Wallace Foundation: The School Principal as Leader
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images