12 Thoughtful Questions Every Headteacher Candidate Should Ask in an Interview

Great Responses to “Is there anything you would like to ask us?”

Asking thoughtful questions during the final few minutes of an interview can be an effective way to demonstrate your keen interest in and suitability for the position. The questions you choose to ask should show that you have listened carefully throughout the interview, understood the school’s needs, and can envision how you might contribute and thrive in the role of Headteacher or senior leader. 

Simply reiterating things already discussed or asking matters easily found on the school’s website reveals a lack of preparation. However, focused inquiries that provide new insights into the strategic vision, culture or specific opportunities and challenges of the role can help affirm for the interviewers that you are a strong candidate worthy of further consideration.  

Try and notice things throughout the process that you could ask for clarity on. “I noticed a lot of the displays highlight the work of the PE department, what is it about that team that makes it so effective?”. “The business manager mentioned in the show round that there had been an unusual amount of capital expenditure last year, can you tell me about that?”.

It is imperative to choose your final questions wisely, asking only a few that truly reveal your sincere interest and potential fit within the school. An interview should close with the interviewers feeling they now better understand you as a candidate and colleague, leaving you poised to make a positive lasting impression.

12 questions to ask as a headteacher candidate at an interview

1. What are the school’s objectives and development plans for the next few years?  

This shows your interest in the school’s long-term vision and growth, and how you could potentially contribute as a strategic leader.

2. What professional development opportunities, mentoring and training does the school provide for senior staff?

As a headteacher, your own growth is important to successfully lead others. You want to know the school supports ongoing learning.  

3. What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the school currently?    

Understanding the school’s priorities and challenges gives you a final chance to show impact in these areas.

4. The recruitment process mentioned the words……….. (values) ? Why are those important to you?

Knowing the interviewer’s perspective on the key responsibilities and traits will help you show how you embody those.

5. How would you describe the culture of the school currently?

The headteacher shapes school culture, so you need to understand its current state to determine how you might build on its strengths or guide needed change.

6. What would success look like for a new headteacher in the first year? In the first 3-5 years?    

Clarifying the interviewer’s expectations gives you a benchmark for creating an impactful strategic plan from the start of my tenure.

7. What support and autonomy would I have to fulfill this role?

A headteacher needs honest insight into the stakeholder relationships and institutional structures that enable or constrain leadership decisions.

8. What most excited you about this headteacher position and this school?    

The interviewer’s personal passions will reveal aspects of the role and school you can highlight in showing our missions aligning.

9. What would your advice be for a new headteacher joining your team?

The wisdom of experienced colleagues who know the school systems and culture can help optimise transition into the role and school community.

10. Do you have any reservations about my fit for this role? 

The chance to directly address any doubts leaves the interviewer feeling heard and confident in their ability to work with you.

11. How much autonomy would I have over staffing decisions? Over the school budget? (Especially important if the school is part of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) 

Depending on your experience and leadership style a lack of autonomy could be frustrating. Remember the job has to suit you too!

12. What is your vision for the partnership between the governors, leadership team, staff and parents?

This just reinforces you are aware of the importance of including all stakeholders. 

Bonus Question. Is there an aspect of the school culture that makes you particularly proud and may not come across fully on the website?

The key is to ask focused, thoughtful questions that demonstrate sincere interest in the school, its vision and the people you may work with, while staying concise and relevant to the specific role. Remember this is meant to be a quick back and forth not a reason to talk about yourself for another 10 minutes.

 12 Thoughtful Questions Every Headteacher Candidate Should Ask in an Interview

1 thought on “12 Thoughtful Questions Every Headteacher Candidate Should Ask in an Interview”

  1. Pingback: Successfully Completing Group Interview Tasks: School Leadership

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