Month: November 2017

So, You Want to Be a Superintendent

So, You Want to Be a Superintendent of Schools: Topics for Interview Questions

  1. Improvement of Learning and Teaching
  2. Implementing the Common Core
  3. Building Constituencies
  4. What do you think are the most difficult type of problems that you will face?
  5. Dealing with an angry hostile crowd
  6. Building an Effective Leadership Team
  7. Succession Planning
  8. Response to Crises
  9. Developing a School Budget

10.Capital Improvement Planning

11.Teacher and Principal Evaluations

12.Entry Plan–1st hundred days

13.What qualities do you look for in candidates?

14.Board-Superintendent Relationship—information to one is information to all; role is to protect the Board; Board is a body corporate; what gets communicated and how; building consensus; school board member visits to schools; communication with school leaders

15.Central Office Relationships

16.Principal-Superintendent Relationship

17.What functions does Superintendent take charge of directly?

18.Appointments and Tenure Decisions

19.Developing district goals

20.Negotiations with various unions

21.Communicating with School Counsel

22.Superintendent Hearings

23.Board Meetings—executive session; agenda; dealing with open session; role of Board President; open meeting law

24.Dealing with Grievances

25.Conducting Investigations of Wrong Doing

26.Superintendent Evaluation

27.Superintendent’s Contract

28.Bond Issue

29.Snow Days

30.Dealing with the Union Leaders


32.Building High Morale

33.Creating and Sustaining Positive Change

34.Decision Making Process

35.Making Unpopular Decisions

36.School Security and Public Safety

37.Relations with Police and Fire Officials

38.Maintaining Positive Public Relations

39.Visibility vs. Accessibility

40.Speaking with One Voice

41.Interfacing—parents, students, teachers, community leaders, community

42.Public Image

43.Dealing with “special requests and favors”

44.Dealing with Disloyal Administrators

45.Revising and Creating School Board Policies

46.What would you do if you strongly disagreed with a decision of the Board?

47.How long do you expect to remain in the district?

48.Are there any issues that might be non-negotiable?

49.Free speech and student publications

50.Role of technology

51.Cost of special education

52.Comprehensive Self-Evaluation

53.Buildings and Grounds

54.Cost Saving Strategies

Do You Need a Coach to Get Your Dream Job?

Recently, a school district posted an ad for an assistant principal. They received more than 150 applicants, met with 25 for a pre-screening interview, and then a hiring committee interviewed 12 semi-finalists. The Kentucky Derby had 16 horses “run for the roses”. Those horses had the benefit of the best trainers in the world prepare them. Trying to get a leadership job is very much like a horse race.

Extending the horse racing metaphor. Have you ever gotten a tip on a horse or a stock or a restaurant? Tips are for amateurs. A tip is nothing but an opinion. I never made money on stock tips, and am usually disappointed with tips in general. Tipsters aren’t coaches. A good experienced coach teaches you strategies, rehearses you, gives you feedback, and acts as your cheerleader.

How much of an investment does a serious candidate make to get a leadership job? There are education expenses such as application fees, tuition, books, and expenses for commuting… then there’s buying your interview suit or outfit. That’s at least $10,000 to $15,000. Does investing $45 to attend a workshop, or $20 to buy a book, or a few hundred dollars for a coach make sense?  Your salary will increase by 20%. What can a coach do for you? Does coaching actually work?

Being a well-coached candidate can mean the difference between playing a good game of checkers compared to being a fine chess player. A good coach will prepare you in: honing your resume and cover letter; presenting yourself with self-confidence; telling your story as to why you’re the right match; anticipating and preparing impressive and unique responses to the interviewers’ questions; and strategizing what to say, what not to say, and how to read body language.  And yes, coaching does work. Coaching should also be confidential. There’s no reason for anyone to know the secret to your success.

Your university probably offers free workshop in preparing your resume and letter, and provides a list of interviewing tips. However, an experienced coach has a network of former clients and colleagues. He/she knows the school districts and their inside politics. You will be guided in how to fashion your approach to the unique needs and wants of the district.

A good coach also helps build your confidence, guides you in closing the deal, and assists you in negotiating your contract.  Don’t leave getting a leadership job up to chance. Don’t rely on tips. Remember, getting promoted is a lifetime gain which requires a short-term investment. The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.


Dr. Larry Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching to school leaders and aspiring leaders in preparing for interviews and in the preparation of resumes.