Questions candidates get asked - Assistant Principal
Questions candidates get asked in job interviews: Assistant Principal

We deal with hundreds of clients going for job interview each year – and we’re constantly asking them what they get asked.
This a collection of those very questions. We update it on an ongoing basis and hope you find it useful. If you would like to submit to us questions you’ve been asked, email

These are actual questions asked of our clients in job interviews

Leading Teaching & Learning

  • In your present role at the school, could you share one example of how you have influenced teaching and learning on a whole school basis?
  • From your experience could you outline two/three characteristics of a school activity trying to improve teaching and learning?
  • What strategies have you put in place in your practice in order to ensure that the middle child achieves his/her potential? How have you encouraged others to practice differentiation in the classroom?
  • What practical steps have you taken to create a culture of high expectation in the school? Have you been successful in encouraging others in any teams you have been involved in to raise expectations? Give examples.
  • Can you tell me about a time when you proposed something in your school that you felt would improve the quality of teaching and learning but it didn’t take off?
    • What was the approach/strategy that you proposed?
    • Why did it not take off? Can you tell me the reason(s)?
    • How did you discover the idea was not taking off?
    • What would you do differently if you had the opportunity?
  • Looking at Our Schools, 2016 states that: ‘The Principal and other leaders in the school promote a culture of continuous improvement by supporting colleagues to become reflective practitioners’
    • Could you share with us an example of how you have supported a colleague in engaging in reflective practice?
    • What were the benefits for your colleague?
    • What were the benefits for you as a teacher?
    • What steps have you taken to encourage those who have not engaged as readily with reflective practice as you would have wished? 
  • Looking at Our Schools,2016 states that: ‘The Principal and other leaders in the school have highly effective systems for monitoring students’ progress and development’ Could you give an example of an effective system you implement to monitor and track student progress to assist your students in reaching their full potential?
  • Could you give us an example of a professional network that you are involved in at present? What are the benefits of your involvement with this network? Could you share three key teaching and learning approaches that you now use as a result of your involvement with this network?

Managing the Organisation

  • From your experience could you share with us some of the key considerations for schools in order to ensure that they are compliant with all legislative, policy, child protection, health and safety and governance matters?
  • What approaches will you use if appointed to members of staff not following processes, policies, and procedures to ensure that the school is compliant?
  • A good curriculum/schedule for the day/timetable is at the core of teaching and learning in every school. Each school seeks “to help each student to reach his full potential”. From your experience and your understanding of curriculum change at present, what elements would you consider essential in a good timetable to achieve this?
  • As an Assistant Principal, how would you contribute to ensuring that the school finances would manage in accordance with the procedures for ETBs in this area?
  • How would you support the Principal, Deputy and Board of Management in ensuring that resources, both financial and human are closely aligned with identified learning priorities and the school’s strategic plan as outlined in Looking at Our Schools, 2016?
  • How have you contributed to fostering a positive school climate and to encourage respectful interactions at all levels within the school community? What are the challenges in this area from your experience? From your observations, what facts should be in place, to help overcome these challenges?
  • Could you share with us examples of how you have developed your organisational administrative skills in your current post?

Learning School Development

  • Could you share with us some of the documentation you have read in preparation for todays interview? What have you learned from what you have read and how do you propose to change your current practice based on what you have read?
  • Looking at Our Schools, 2016 states that: ‘The Principal clearly communicated the guiding vision of the school to teachers, parents and students in a way that empowers the whole school community to translate the vision into action.
    • Could you share wit us two key priorities in your school’s strategy statement/vision at present?
    • How have you contributed to the development and/or implementation of this vision at school level?
    • Could you share with us anything you would change with the strategic vision for the school moving forward?
    • From your experience, what supports are necessary to implement the vision across the school?
  • From your experience of working with teams what key skills have you developed that would help you to support school development as an Assistant Principal?
  • Following an External Inspection by the Department of Education and Skills a number of recommendations are made. Could you give us an example of a recommendation that was made in your area and outline your role in responding to the recommendations?
  • What is your experience of using School Self Evaluation (SSE) as a strategy for school development and improvement? What improvement plan is currently being implemented in your school? In your experience, what are the most important factors in developing a culture of School Self Evaluation in the school
  • Looking at Our Schools, 2016 states that: ‘The Principal and other leaders in the school value and support partnership with parents as a means of supporting students’ learning and wellbeing. They build and maintain very constructive relationships with parents.’
    • In your experience, what are the most important factors in maintaining constructive relationships with parents? Could you share an example of a negative interaction with a parent that caused you to reflect and perhaps review your practice/approach?
  • Have you experienced resistance to change around the area of School Development? As an Assistant Principal working with the Principal and Deputy how would you propose to deal with such resistance to change at the school?

Developing Leadership Capacity

  • Give us an example of where you in your roles in school have practiced distributed leadership where it didn’t work out as you had hoped? Why didn’t it work out? What did you do to rectify it? What did you learn from this situation?
  • In your roles in the school to date describe the greatest challenge(s) which you have faced in dealing with colleagues? What helped you in dealing with this challenge?
  • Describe a situation where you motivated a difficult or under – performing staff member
    • What worked?
    • What did not work?
    • How would the factors that contributed to the difficulty effect your approach?
  • You have engaged in significant CPD during your time in the school. What type of CPD have you recommended to other teachers that would enable them to form collaborative partnerships with their colleagues? How have you motivated reluctant teachers to participate in important and necessary training?
  • Describe a task that you have delegated to a member of your team on any initiative/project that you led? What instructions/directions did you give? How did you monitor the progress? Were you satisfied with the result? Why? What were the benefits of delegating from your perspective and from the team members? What were the greatest challenges you faced in delegating and how sis you deal with these?
  • Looking at Our Schools, 2016 states that: ‘The Principal provides and manages an effective mentoring programme both to support teachers in new roles and to develop the leadership capacity of mentors’.
    • From you experience what are the key elements of a good mentoring programme? What should it include for new teachers at your school?
  • From your experience, how important is Student Voice in the development of the school? In your current work, how have you promoted and developed student participation and leadership?


  • Briefly talk me through your education, work experience and any voluntary or charity work you do?
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Why have you applied for the job?
  • XXXXX school is under the XXXXX charter, discuss how you have followed this charter in your daily teachings/living or what does it mean to you?
  • What is the ethos of the school – how is it linked to your subject?
  • What is your understanding of Looking at our School 2016: A quality framework for Post-Primary Schools?
  • School self-evaluation – discuss one example where you have been involved in this and what learnings did you get from it?
  • How have you contributed to the assessment for Learning in the school?
  • How can we improve links with parents?
  • What makes a good team? Can you give me an example of where you worked in an effective team or name a time when you lead a project/group in your school?
  • Do you have ideas for communication strategies and how to improve communications? What forms of communication has the school got, for example a website, a Facebook page, internal or external WhatsApp networks?
  • How do you facilitate the student voice in the school? Give me an example of where this worked well for you.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a complex situation?
  • Extra-curricular activities?
  • What do you believe is your greatest strength?
  • If you have a weakness, what is it?
  • Why should we promote you into the role of APxxxxx?
  • Do you have any questions for us?
  • What does it mean to be professional?
  • What are your goals in five years?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What makes a good Assistant Principal?
  • What improvements would you make to the school?
  • Regarding policies (e.g. child protection, data protection), can you give concrete examples of the challenges they pose?
  • What are some of the common challenges faced by schools today?
  • What challenges do you see facing this school today?
  • What makes an effective and successful school?
  • Are you reading any interesting articles on education now – whose writing do you follow?
  • What are the key elements of a professional code of conduct for teachers?
  • Tell me about an initiative that you have taken a lead in?
  • Name three skills you have as a leader and demonstrate where you have displayed them.
  • What is your leadership style? Where have you taken a leadership role on board? How did you deal with the conflict that may have arose? How did you manage the schools resources doing this job?
  • Tell us about an initiative you implemented related to T&L (Teaching and Learning) e.g. How you have developed it in your own classes / strategies for managing a CBA and what you learned from it?
  • What competencies you have shown in T&L?
  • Can you tell us about a time that you encountered challenges from a complex situation?
  • Say, hypothetically, you were organising an event and another teacher did not want to help you because it was your post and they wouldn’t get paid for it. How would you encourage them to assist?
  • Vision – what is your vision for the school?
  • How do you work the vision of the school into your daily life?
  • Student voice –  where have you displayed it?
  • What makes us (a Catholic school) different from an Education Training Board (ETB) school?
  • What Continuing Professional Development have you done to develop leadership and management in this school and where have you brought it in?
  • What courses you would like to do in leadership and management?
  • Is there anything that you would like to add?
  • You say in your application form that you engage well with students – how do you know this?
  • Domain One – Leading Teaching and Learning (practices in the classroom)
    • Self-evaluation: How do you self-evaluate? Name a significant change you made in the classroom. Were you involved in School Self-Evaluation (SSE)?

Read more on why you should consider Slí Nua Careers for Interview Training HERE

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