Over the last several years boards of education have become more actively involved in interviewing and selecting candidates for leadership positions. State laws dictate that only the Board can make personnel appointments. Of course, board members are elected officials and as such they have their own priorities and can be influenced by their constituents. Consequently, if a candidate is going to be interviewed by the Board, you need to find out who they are and what their priorities might be.
Find out the occupation of board members. The kind of questions that a professional educator might ask are different from those of an accountant, or a techie, or a real estate agent. Does the trustee have a child in the special education program, or is he or she involved in youth athletics, the music boosters, or the performing arts? Board Members for the most part are parents and will ask the kind of questions that parents ask. Be prepared to answer questions like these:
- What expertise do you bring to your staff in enhancing student learning through the use of technology?
- How would you go about assisting a teacher who is having difficulty with disruptive kids?
- How would you go about determining what your priorities should be in your new position?
- How would you deal with a veteran teacher who is burned out?
- What characteristics do you look for in an excellent teacher?
- What would you do if your supervisor made a decision that you disagreed with and you felt would harm children?
- How would you deal with a parent who is dissatisfied with how a teacher is conducting his/her class? Assume that the parent has already spoken to the teacher.
- If you interviewed candidates for a teacher vacancy, what three questions would you ask them?
- What would you do to attract more students into the music and arts programs?
- What would you do to support the philosophy of inclusion in our special education program?
- Do you have any ideas about saving money?
- What’s your approach to student discipine?
Beware that some Board Members can be aggressive and/or argumentative in how they ask questions and may challenge you. Do not fight back. Keep your cool, remain professional, and if you don’t agree, just say: “That’s an interesting point. I would have to think about that”.
A final reminder. Remember that the two most important factors in getting a job is being likeable and being a good fit for the school-community. Be pleasant, smile, and try to resonate with the cultural norms and values of the Board.