47 Questions for the Vice Principal to ask in an interview
If you want to be a vice principal, you should study the most common interview questions for the job. This article talks about 47 of the most common vice principal interview questions and gives you sample answers to some of them so you can get ready for your next interview.
Most interviewers will start by asking you general questions about your background, career goals, and why you want the job. Here are some examples of general questions they might ask:
- How do you decide what to do first and plan your work?
- How do you get the most out of your time, especially when you have more work than usual?
- How do you tell everyone on your team a lot of information and make sure they all understand it? How has this method worked or been questioned in the past?
- How do you keep the students in line and get them to work hard?
- What about this job makes you want to do it?
- Why do you think you’re the best person for this job?
- Tell me about your schooling and how it has prepared you for this job.
- Tell me how you take charge.
- What’s the best thing about your job? What questions or doubts do you have?
- What do you think are the most important skills you can bring to our group?
- What do you think a vice principal’s main responsibility is? What makes it different from the job of a principal?
- How does your idea of how to teach fit in with what our school is trying to do?
- How do you feel about the way you deal with punishment? What do you do best in this area, and what would you like to improve?
- What do you think are the most important traits and skills of a vice principal?
Questions about work and history from the past
After a few general questions, the interviewer will likely want to know more about your experience and education. When you answer these questions, don’t just say yes or no. When asked a question, give a specific example to add color and detail to your story.
- How many teachers did you have to take care of?
- Tell me about a time you did something good to help a parent, teacher, coworker, or student.
- Tell me about a tough time you had and how you dealt with it.
- Tell me about a time when you had to say something tough.
- Tell me about a time when you had to choose a solution to a problem based on what you thought and how you evaluated it.
- Tell me about a time when you looked at information to make a decision.
- Have you ever stood up for a student who other students were picking on? How?
- How do you give negative feedback in reports on observations or performance reviews?
- Have you ever thought a teacher or principal made a bad choice? If you did, how did you handle it?
- Have you ever gotten a complaint from a student about something they did that made you need to talk to a teacher about it? What would you do if that happened?
- Tell me about a time when your school’s budget forced you to make a hard choice. How did the choices you made turn out, and what would you do differently next time?
- Tell me about a time you helped or guided someone. What did you see happen after you gave advice?
- Have you ever helped find a new teacher for a school? If so, what skills and qualities did you value most when making your decision?
- How do you figure out how many people will sign up and if the curriculum needs to be changed?
Most of the time, the interviewer will ask more detailed questions to find out what it would be like to work with you. When you answer, give a thought-out answer that is clear.
- How would you react if a parent came to you angry and upset about one of your teachers?
- How would you help the test scores at our school go up if we hired you?
- Tell me about how you think about education and how that affects the decisions you make as a vice principal.
- How would you handle a teacher who was always late?
- Talk about a hard situation you didn’t handle very well. What could you have done differently that would have made things better when you look back?
- Please put the following problems in order of importance and explain how and why you chose that order: a sudden loss of a teacher, a drop of 10 points in the average score on standardized tests, a drop of 15% in the average rate of student attendance, and parents who want more activities after school.
- If we decided to add a new activity for students, tell us what you would do to choose the activity, set it up, and get the word out.
- How can you tell if a parent group is doing a good job? How have you improved it and gotten more parents interested and involved in the past?
- What kinds of tips and help do you think first-year teachers could use the most? Why?
- How do you judge the success or usefulness of new strategies or methods that you have tried yourself or that you have suggested to teachers?
- How would you handle it if you had to make a new rule for the whole school, but the teachers and staff were against it?
- If we ran out of money, how would you decide where to cut to stay within our budget?
- What would you do if your community or parents didn’t help you enough? How would you make your relationships stronger and get more people in your community to help you?
- Imagine that a frustrated parent tells you that their child’s teacher singled them out or picked on them. After watching the situation for a while, you know this isn’t true. How would you handle this situation?
Example questions and answers for an interview with a vice principal
As you practice answering the above interview questions, make sure your answers are well-thought-out, relevant, and to the point. Take a look at the answers below to get an idea of how to write your own:
- What do you think about teaching?
- What are you most proud of doing as a vice principal?
- Why should we pick you to be the next vice principal?
- When you go into a classroom to watch, what do you look for?
- How long have you been a teacher and worked directly with kids? How has this made you do your job as vice principal differently?
What do you think about teaching?
Most of the time, this question is asked to see if your ideas about education match the school’s mission statement. You should read the school’s mission statement before your interview. In your answer, tell them which parts of your philosophy are most like theirs.
Example: “I chose to work in this field because I believe that every child needs and deserves a good education to be able to reach any goals they set for themselves. I think teachers should try to make school a place where students are both pushed and encouraged to take charge of their own learning. That means we have to do our best to meet the unique needs of each student so they feel safe, supported, and confident in their ability to learn and do well.”
What are you most proud of doing as a vice principal?
Interviewers ask this question to find out what you are good at and what you are interested in. Instead of trying to think of something the interviewer will want to hear, talk about something you are really proud of.
Example: “About two years ago, our school’s budget went down, so we had to make cuts. At first, we thought we had to do away with the after-school tutoring program. I talked the principal into giving me a week to look over the budget and find another way to save money so that we could keep the tutoring program. I was able to find a few places where we were wasting money, and when I fixed them, we were able to stay within our budget and keep the tutoring program going. Because of this program, test scores have gone up by 20 points. This means that our school can get more grants now.”
Why should we pick you to be the next vice principal?
When an interviewer asks this, they usually want to know how you think you would fit into this role. Show that you’ve done research on this school and its community and that you’re sure your skills will help them reach their goals and solve their problems. Start with your best trait and then add one or two more things that make you a good candidate for the job.
Example: “I was a vice principal for three years in an area that didn’t have enough services. There were a lot of problems, especially when it came to making sure that all of the kids got the help and attention they needed on a small budget.
I was a substitute teacher for five years before I became a vice principal. I had to be able to teach a lot of different grade levels and subjects on short notice for this job. As a parent, a former teacher, and now a vice principal, I’ve seen the school system from a lot of different angles. I would use this unique perspective to find fair solutions to the problems your school is having and to help your parents, teachers, and administrators work together better.”
When you go into a classroom to watch, what do you look for?
This question helps employers figure out what you value most in a school and how you feel about education. Don’t talk about the bad things; instead, talk about the good. Think about what your ideal classroom would look like.
Example: “When I do an observation, I want to see a teacher who tries to get each student to actively learn the material by using interesting lessons and fun activities. Students should pay attention and ask questions instead of fidgeting in their seats or staring out the window. In an ideal situation, the teacher would check in with the students and ask them questions to make sure they are following the lesson plan. Last, the classroom should be neat, clean, and well-stocked so that it is a good place to learn.”
How long have you been a teacher and worked directly with kids? How has this made you do your job as vice principal differently?
Vice principals need to be able to see things from the point of view of a teacher in order to make good decisions and explain changes in a way that teachers will understand. Think about one or two things that have changed the way you make decisions as a vice principal if you have taught before. If you haven’t been a teacher, think about other jobs where you worked with kids.
Example: “During the five years that I worked as a substitute teacher, I got to see a lot of different classrooms and age groups. This one-of-a-kind experience has taught me a lot about how classrooms can be changed to meet the needs of many different types of students. As a vice principal, I would use these ideas to make sure that any systems or procedures we use are suited to the needs of each student.”