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This toolkit will help district hiring teams immediately improve principal interviews to more accurately evaluate strategic thinking and interpersonal skills.

"There are a lot of school leader candidates who tell you what they think you want to hear or what they think the right answer might be. How do you know if it’s an accurate representation of what they truly think and how they would really act in that situation?”

Superintendent, Midwest School District

When asked what skills distinguish exemplary principals, 80% of the skills and attributes listed by partner districts related to either strategic thinking or interpersonal skills. Additionally, principals cited as having the greatest impact on student outcomes were not necessarily experts in industry-specific skills (i.e. teaching or pedagogy), but rather were incredible thinkers and problem solvers with great interpersonal skills. These competencies are qualities of highly effective leaders across industries, yet both are difficult to screen through typical principal hiring interview questions.

Instead of relying on candidates’ narrative accounts of prior experience, incorporate opportunities for candidates to demonstrate core competencies in the moment. Use the Principal Hiring Playbook to implement a real-time case interview and role play exercise that paint a more objective picture of candidates’ qualifications in strategic thinking and interpersonal skills.

Case interview requires candidates to present a data-driven plan of action for addressing a school’s challenges. Take an interactive problem-solving approach to interviews by requiring candidates to analyze a school profile and present a detailed plan of action for addressing the school’s challenges.

Objective: Candidates will demonstrate strategic thinking skills by analyzing data and presenting solutions to real school challenges

Time: 30 minutes of a 60-minute interview

Recommended facilitator: Superintendent or principal supervisor

Assess hard-to-measure…

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