Make it real, make it about you
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The application form asks you to outline the characteristics of an effective school principal – your answer should go way further than just a generic list of attributes, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers, Ballinrobe.

The answer should incorporate two key elements:

  1. The characteristics needed to be an effective principal of this very school, the one for which you are applying;
  2. The evidence you possess those characteristics, and a clear resolution to deploy them in this role. 

    Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

Too often, I see candidates writing in this section a theoretical assessment of an effective principal. This is not a college exam. This is real, and you need to make it real.

So, look at the school. What challenges are coming? A building programme? Falling local population? An amalgamation? Whatever reality looms for this school is where you should pitch your answer.

And, to revisit No. 2 above, you’re in six-numbers territory if you can link those challenges with experience you possess. Have you been involved in a building programme in the past? If not in a school, perhaps in your community? It’s unlikely you were involved in an amalgamation – but brilliant if you were – but maybe you have led dramatic change heretofore? Excavate your career to find some parallels and list those too.

In this way, you move away from generic and go closer to the kind of surgical strike you need to really impress those creating the shortlist for interview – and what you write should hopefully form part of your discussion in the interview.