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How to Prepare for a Catholic School Principal Interview

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Preparing to interview to be principal of a Catholic school involves not only assessing your experience and ability to fulfill the job, but also assessing your personal beliefs and how they will come into play in the role. You'll likely need to explain how your faith will impact your relationship with students and staff, along with showing why you're the best leader for the school.

Understand the Process

First, understand the process for a Catholic principal interview so you aren't surprised when you arrive. The interviews are typically done in a panel setting where you'll be interviewed by several people at once. Each member of the panel might have a selection sheet that shows what they're looking for, so don't be surprised if they refer to a paper while asking you questions or take frequent notes. The people on the panel can vary, but may consist of at least one executive staff member, a parish priest and a parent.

Study the School

Before you walk into the interview, make sure you've done your homework and know the school backwards and forwards. This means that you understand the school's strengths and weaknesses and are prepared to talk about these during the interview. Studying the school can include reviewing the school's website, reading articles about the school, and talking to other people who have worked there or attended the school. Is the school strong in academics but weak in athletics? Is the curriculum up-to-date with modern technology? Does the school stay within budget? Look for ways to compliment the school, but also come with concrete ideas as to how you can help fix the school's weak points.

Prepare for Faith-Based Questions

If you're going to lead a Catholic school, it's imperative that your faith is a driving force in your life. You'll be asked how your faith will impact your plans for the school and your relationships with staff, parents and students. You'll likely be asked about your own spiritual growth and what church you attend. Find out if the school has any oaths of moral conduct that you have to take. Are you ready to take the oath? Be ready to talk about how your faith will guide how you deal with students and help develop curriculum.

Be Ready for Tough Questions

Any interview for a principal position will involve tough questions about dealing with disciplinary problems, staff issues, and how your faith is involved with these situations. If there are any weak spots in your resume, be prepared to explain these, too. You'll likely be asked tough questions, such as how you would deal with a teacher who isn't following the school's code of conduct or how you would approach a student who is acting out and making trouble for his peers.

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