Interviewing Potential APs? We’ve Got the Questions to Ask

Finding the right candidate requires asking the right questions.

Assistant Principal Interview Questions

Finding an assistant principal to meet your school’s needs is a challenging prospect. After all, you’ve got to find that one person with the skills and the ability to do the job who is also the right fit for your leadership team, staff, students, and broader community. To help, we’ve rounded up a few queries to add to your repertoire of assistant principal interview questions.  

Interviews are like cold pools. They can shock when you just jump right in. Here are questions to ease into the conversation and get an initial vibe.

  • What in your education background has prepared you for this job?
  • What diverse or special skills do you bring to the table (special ed, ESL, SEL, GT, conflict resolution)?
  • Share your teaching philosophy.
  • What excites you about the opportunity to help lead the campus? What are you most nervous about?
  • Up to now, what has been the proudest moment in your career?

No goal is ever met without mapping out an actionable plan. Here are questions to measure whether a candidate knows how to use the tools.

  • Explain your involvement in professional learning communities and how you have used data to promote student achievement.
  • Describe a time you used data to make decisions.
  • What do you know about RtI? PBIS? MTSS?

You know the old saying, It takes a village … . Here are questions to gauge a candidate’s potential for connecting with the community.

  • As a new member of our community, how are you going to get to know everyone (students, parents, community members, stakeholders, etc.)?
  • Tell about a time you involved the community in the decision-making process, including the outcome.
  • What ideas do you have for family engagement activities?
  • What role do you think service learning plays in education?

Positive school climate starts at the top. Here are assistant principal interview questions to get a read on a candidate’s philosophy.  

  • What do you think the most important factors are for promoting a positive culture and climate for students? For teachers?
  • What do you think is the best way to motivate children at this level?
  • Share some ways to motivate teachers.
  • How can we ensure that every student finds a place in our community?

Lifelong learning isn’t just for kids. Here are questions that invite a candidate to showcase their commitment to continuous improvement.  

  • What professional book has most influenced you?
  • What books have you read lately? Can you share some follow-up actions you have taken since reading it?
  • Share what kind of professional development you think is most valuable for teachers.

Leadership requires vision. Here are questions that help you get a peek at a candidate’s crystal ball.

  • What is your vision for this position?
  • How would you describe the role of assistant principal?
  • If you could write your own job description, what three things would be at the top of your list?
  • How will you measure your success after the first year?

Savvy management skills are essential. Here are questions focused on instructional leadership.

  • How will you support our teachers?
  • How would you handle a teacher discipline situation?
  • What strategies do you have for dealing with veteran teachers?
  • How would you deal with a grade level that was “blowing up”?
  • What do you look for when you do classroom observations?
  • How can you tell if a teacher’s instruction is effective? What if it’s not?

School leadership is nothing if not a juggling act. Here are questions to make sure a candidate has the multitasking skills you’re looking for.

  • Let’s say that while you’re meeting with a student, your phone rings, a teacher needs you, and at the same time the school secretary peeks in and tells you there is a fight happening on the playground. How do you react?
  • You have a very persistent parent who insists their child is being picked on by a teacher. You’ve been monitoring the situation, and you know it’s not true. How do you handle the situation?

The principal-assistant principal relationship requires trust and compatibility. Here are the questions that will reveal whether your work styles will mesh.

  • What is your leadership style?
  • At what point in the day do you have the most energy?
  • What are your optimal work conditions? 
  • How will you support the vision of the principal?
  • If your principal made a decision you disagreed with, what would you do?

When it comes to meeting the needs of students with disabilities, special knowledge is required. Here are questions to measure a candidate’s grasp.

  • Can you walk the committee through the SPED referral process?
  • How would you lead an IEP meeting?
  • What do you know about SPED law?
  • What do you know about trauma-informed practices?

Conflict management is a critical component of the AP job. Here are questions to tease out a candidate’s views on discipline.

  • What is your philosophy on discipline?
  • What is the difference between discipline and punishment?
  • Can you share your experience with restorative justice and what role you think it could play in our school?
  • What behavior-management plans have worked best for you in the past?

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in a culturally diverse community of learners. Here are questions that address diversity.

  • How do you consider cultural or background differences in your work with families and staff?
  • With a diverse setting, how will you close the achievement gap for English learners?
  • Tell about a time where you felt like a duck out of water. How did you cope, and what were the most important lessons you learned?

School safety is a very important, timely topic. Here are the questions to ask to make sure it’s on a candidate’s radar.

  • What do you think are the most important factors for ensuring a safe school environment?
  • What strategies have you used in the past to confront and manage bullying?
  • Learning can’t happen if children don’t feel safe. How would you help make our school a safe space for everyone?

And finally, there must be time in every interview to turn the mic over to the candidate. Here are questions to let them shine.

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why would it be a mistake not to hire you?
  • What else would you like us to know about you?

Here are 52 practice questions for administrators from The Principal Center. 

What are your favorite assistant principal interview questions? Come share in our Principal Life Facebook group, and get access more questions in our shared files.