How to Recruit Principals: 3 Strategies to Hire Talented School Administrators

Caroline Chessia | April 8, 2022

School districts must change their recruitment methods to meet the demands of a “new generation” of principal candidates. “Today I lead the school. Tomorrow my students will lead the world.” – a Principal

Strong school leadership is essential and effective leadership positively influences student achievement. Research shows that effective principals have a great impact on not only student learning and attendance but also teacher satisfaction and retention. However, recently there has been an uptick in principal turnover – which makes it paramount for K12 districts to focus on recruiting principals.

A survey conducted by the NASSP found that the pandemic, political tensions, and limited guidance could contribute to a “mass exodus of principals.” Recruitment methods for principals have changed very little in decades, yet the role and expectations of principals have changed drastically. School districts must change their recruitment methods to meet the demands of a “new generation” of principal candidates. 

We can’t control a pandemic or the political climate, however, we can plan and implement new talent acquisition strategies for recruiting principals who will be outstanding leaders and in turn, increase retention in their schools

3 Strategies to Recruit Principals

1. Grow Your Own: Hire from Within

Districts should create partnerships with local colleges and universities to drive the development of future administrators. Many school districts are already taking advantage of student teachers, and by prioritizing the development of these students, you’ll be able to see which ones could make great principals down the line.

Make a plan with each of your student teachers – find out what areas they would like to develop in, and allow those who are looking to become administrators to see what the daily routine is like for a principal or K12 administrator. Investing in the professional development of your employees and interns is a great way to increase retention.

2. Practice Active Recruitment  

HR teams need to be constantly on the lookout for candidates. While there is a shortage of both teachers (who could potentially level up to principal roles) and principals, you cannot rely solely on passive recruiting. 

Researchers have investigated principal turnover and found the characteristic most strongly associated with job stability is experience, including those who have had internships and/or mentors in administration. Actively recruiting these candidates can set you up for success – and you’ll have even more success if you can pair a teacher looking to become a school administrator with a principal mentor.

3. Devise A Rigorous Screening & Selection Process 

Districts generally have a selection process that begins with screening for basic qualifications and moves on to interviews with multiple stakeholders. More often than not, the process does not follow common selection criteria, hold to a structured interview approach, and lacks specific rubrics to assess the criteria. 

HR teams should create a “principal profile” identifying the values, talents, and skills they are seeking in a candidate. This profile can then be used to devise a set of structured interview questions to find the candidates that possess these qualities. Once this has been set up, implement screening with connect video interviews. You’ll be able to virtually interview your principal candidates without the expense of transportation fees. When you find a few top contenders, invite them to tour the school and meet department heads so you can get an idea of how they’ll fit in.

Implement Interviewstream Tools Into Your Recruitment Strategy To Hire Top Principal Candidates

As education and hiring processes continue to change, districts must evolve to recruit effective principals. Planning and implementing strategies to recruit and retain top-notch principals is essential to the success of a school. 

Talk to an expert today about how to integrate interviewstream tools into your district to step up your candidate screening process.

About The Author

Caroline Chessia is the Marketing Operations Specialist at interviewstream. She loves color-coordinated graphs, hiking in the mountains, and every dog she meets—especially the Golden Retrievers.


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