Authentic Interviews: Tips to Land Your Administrative Role

February 13, 2024

Nneka McGee

Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Photo of individual conducting a job interview

Typically, in education, the start of a new year is when administrative licensing tests have been passed, the internship hours have been gained and the networking has yielded what is sure to be lasting connections. Many of us seek our first leadership positions as deans, assistant principals, principals and roles in central administration. Regardless of when it’s your time, how can you prepare for the interview to become a leader in education?

Research: Get to know the campus and district.

Each school and district has unique dynamics. Thankfully, information is available online so prospective candidates can familiarize themselves before interviews. Official websites are good places to start, but candidates can also gain insights by viewing social media pages such as X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and TikTok. Viewing meetings of a district’s board of trustees or governing body is essential and highly recommended. Take notes and be prepared to leverage your knowledge during the interview. 

Practice: It may not make perfect, but it does make prepared.

When interviewing for administrative positions, you’re most likely to face a panel of seasoned professionals who will ask many questions. You might be nervous. Therefore, preparing before the interview by responding to practice questions out loud is imperative. A quick internet search should yield a decent sample of interview questions based on your desired role. The best kind of practice is running through questions with a colleague or family member. If you must practice alone, consider using video to record your responses. Some districts and organizations even offer mock interviews. If you find a session, sign up immediately!

Understand: Safety – it’s always first!

During the interview, an interviewer may ask you about a scenario involving different events happening all at once. An angry parent wants to talk to you immediately. Three teachers called out sick. There is a fight in one of the classrooms. You’ve been tasked with preparing a report about student achievement for your supervisor. You may be asked what you should tackle first. The answer is simple: Which event most impacts the safety of students? No matter the scenario, if you have to choose, ensure your answer speaks to how keeping students safe in the school environment is paramount.

Respond: Authenticity is key.

During the interview, an interviewer may ask a question you don’t know how to answer. It’s okay to not understand. Don’t try to feign knowledge. Instead, acknowledge that the question is reasonable and admit your lack of familiarity. Next, align and connect your related experiences and transferable skills. For example, you may not have prepared a budget for an entire campus, but you managed a club at your school, which required collecting funds and ensuring funds were available for activities. Also, indicate a desire to learn more about unfamiliar topics. Maintaining a positive attitude, showing curiosity and staying authentic will go a long way.

Connect: Give thanks and follow up.

The interview is done. You’ve shaken hands. Now what? By the end of the interview, you should have the names of all members of the interview team. Send a thank you email to the interview team. At a minimum, follow up with the hiring manager, lead interviewers or the known point of contact. In your communication, note a couple of interview highlights and take the opportunity to clarify responses. Keep it short but authentic.

Interview season doesn’t have to be stressful. Be prepared, be authentic and be positive. Your first (or next) administrative role is on the horizon.

Gain the skills you need to become an administrator with the education programs at American College of Education.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Nneka McGee
Nneka McGee, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Nneka J. McGee is an innovative educator, researcher and advocate dedicated to creating and promoting pathways that provide students access and opportunities to navigate a future driven by automation and artificial intelligence. Prior to earning her Ed.D. at American College of Education, Nneka obtained a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a juris doctorate. As part of her doctoral studies, she researched the experiences of K-12 teachers implementing or planning to implement artificial intelligence in classroom learning environments. She is a sought-after speaker on artificial intelligence in education and has shared her work as a panelist or presenter at national, state, regional and local conferences. Nneka is a proud member of HAKing Innovation’s Board of Directors, a non-profit, social impact organization on a mission to create a community of technical talent by exposing students to STEM experiences. She also serves as an AI practitioner advisory board member for the Engage AI Institute and was selected as an EdSAFE AI Alliance Fellow.

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