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Preparing for headship: headteacher interview questions
Read tips on how to prepare for your headship interview, and get an idea of the kinds of tasks you'll be asked to do. Download our list of sample headteacher interview questions for an insight into what you'll be asked and how your answers will be evaluated.
How headship interviews differ
Headship interviews are different from interviews for other positions because:
- They are led by the governing board, not the headteacher
- They are likely to involve a multi-stage process
The stages will involve a combination of tasks and an interview. Get more information about both of these below.
How to prepare for your headteacher interview
David New, an education consultant and former headteacher, gave us some advice on preparing for headship interviews. Read his top tips below...
Reflect on your experience
- How can you demonstrate your experience of a wide range of school leadership challenges? If your leadership experience has been primarily academic (subject leadership or department leadership), how can you demonstrate leadership and understanding of pastoral issues (or vice versa)?
- Headship involves working much more closely with governors. How can you demonstrate experience of working with a governing board/local governing body?
- Be honest with yourself about what you don't know, and understand the support you'll need to develop in these areas
Get to know the school
If you're an external candidate, get to know the school. Use:
- The information and policies published on the school's website (including minutes of governors' meetings)
- Ofsted reports
- Performance data
- Basic information about the school (including size, demographics and pupil characteristics), which you can find via the link above
- Financial reports or data
- Your local heads' or school leaders' network
Use all of this data to compare the school to national standards and the other schools in the local area.
The headteacher interview process
Headteacher interviews are usually much more than just an interview. Schools will likely expect you to take part in at least one task during the interview process.
Common interview tasks include:
- Budget analysis
- Performance data analysis
- Presentations on a set topic
- Leading a school assembly
- Lesson observations (or delivering lessons, if the post includes a teaching commitment)
- Meeting with pupils, staff or parents
- In-tray exercises (these are designed to test your ability to prioritise, perform under pressure, think strategically and creatively, and pay attention to detail)
- Group discussions
- Role play scenarios
Sample headteacher interview questions
Download our list of sample headteacher interview questions. It includes guidance on what the recruitment panel will be looking for in your answer.
David New gave us the advice in our article, and he, Jacqueline Baker and Bernard Abrams helped us create our list of sample interview questions.
David is an education consultant. He was the headteacher of a large secondary school for 9 years. He has particular expertise in lettings, staffing, academy conversion and the secondary curriculum.
Jacqueline is an education consultant who specialises in senior leadership recruitment. She supports schools through the recruitment process and helps them develop leadership capacity. She also has experience as a chair of a governing board.
Bernard is an education consultant and former headteacher who previously worked as a school inspector.
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