Thursday / April 25

If You Want to Be a Superintendent, Master the Application and Interview Processes


SuperintendentRead their first posts, So You Want to Be a Superintendent in 2015? and If You Want to Be a Superintendent, Get Started NOW.

Your success in your current position, the time you spent learning about the superintendency, the additional courses and workshops, the network of leaders assisting you, the research you are doing on districts, all now come into play. This preparation to become a superintendent will serve you in good stead as you prepare to apply and interview.

Take the time to complete applications thoughtfully, demonstrating your competency and readiness for the position. Prepare psychologically for the interview process. Think of an interview as an opportunity to demonstrate one of the most important skills a superintendent needs:  the ability to respond to questions and provide information in a pressured situation. Present yourself as the confident, grounded and mature professional you are!

Listed below are some invaluable tips on how to prepare applications and interview:


  1. Demonstrate that you’ve met the listed district criteria or qualifications. Take full advantage of the application process to sell the board. Complete all questions; provide all information requested.
  1. Use your home e-mail, address, phone or cell phone numbers as your primary contacts instead of your district information. It is not appropriate to use district resources for your private purposes and risks a breakdown in confidentiality.
  1. Provide thoughtful and complete responses to open-ended questions. These provide you the opportunity to market your achievements, skills and character. Use the opportunity wisely as other candidates will certainly do so.
  1. Work on completing your application early; do not wait until the last minute. A well prepared and thought out application requires a substantial commitment of time and effort to complete. Leave sufficient time for a full review of all requirements and questions with ample time for editing and proofing.
  1. Proofread all written materials for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. While spell check and grammar check may be helpful word processing tools, you are responsible for all errors. You are an educator and expected to model good writing skills.
  1. Address issues or problems from your past that could influence a board’s decision to hire you. Explain obvious “holes” or “gaps” in your work history or background. In this day of instant communications there is no such thing as “privacy.”


  1. Pay close attention to your appearance. First impressions are powerful indicators of success. Be appropriately dressed for all interview events, even those which may be deemed “business casual.” Boards and committee members expect you to look professional.
  1. Practice interviewing, especially if you haven’t interviewed for a long time. First impressions are extremely important. Master your nervousness and interview anxieties before the first interview takes place.
  1. Prepare to answer basic questions usually asked all candidates. Such as: Why you are interested in the position, What are your strengths and weaknesses, Why the district should hire you instead of the other candidates?
  1. Demonstrate confidence and authority during the interview process. By: looking directly at interview committee members when answering questions, listening carefully to the question and answering them completely; providing sufficient depth of response for the time allotted per question; responding to all parts of a multi-pronged question.
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and familiarity with the district. Do your homework and learn about the district through on-line and print media, consulting friends and professional colleagues familiar with the district.

If you want to be a superintendent you must present yourself with the same skill and confidence needed for success in the position.

Written by

Mary Frances Callan and Bill Levinson are experienced superintendents with over thirty years of superintendent experience. They are the authors of Achieving Success for New and Aspiring Superintendents: A Practical Guide, which was written specifically for experienced principals and district office administrators who want to become superintendents.

They are committed to the belief that the more knowledgeable an administrator is about the superintendent position before seeking the position the more likely they will obtain a position and be successful in their first, most challenging year.

Latest comment

leave a comment