6 Deputy Headteacher Interview Questions With Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Deputy headteachers are responsible for assisting the headteacher in overseeing daily operations and the needs of staff and students. When conducting interviews for this position, employers often ask in-depth questions to ensure candidates have the necessary credentials and qualities to fill this important role. If you're interviewing for this position, it's helpful to know some questions the recruiter may ask you so you can practise your answers. In this article, we share six common deputy headteacher interview questions and provide tips and directions to help you answer these questions.

Common deputy headteacher interview questions

Here are some of the common questions interviewers ask candidates for deputy headteacher positions:

1. Describe your strengths as a leader

This question aims to ensure that you have the proper leadership skills you need as a deputy headteacher. As an assistant headteacher, you assist the headteacher in overseeing the school. To do this, you need to have several leadership skills, such as communication, vision and dependability. When answering this question, consider which of your skills and traits make you a good leader. Try to share at least two of your leadership qualities and explain why they are helpful.

Example: 'One of my greatest attributes as a leader is my willingness to listen to my team's concerns and my practice of effective communication and problem-solving. These skills allow me to recognise when my team faces an issue and provide the proper support to come up with a solution. In my previous job, when I heard a staff member express concern about an issue, I'd ask them for more information. Then, after carefully considering the issue, I'd suggest a solution.'

Related: Top 9 Leadership Skills to Develop

2. Why are you interested in being this school's deputy headteacher?

The aim of this question is to understand what you value in an employer and to discover if you completed any research on the school you're applying to work at. Consider researching the school's reputation before going to your interview to prepare for this question. It may be helpful to share a sentimental reason for wanting to work at the school as well.

Example: 'I'm very interested in working here because this is the school I attended as a child. During my time as a student here, I always felt supported and cared for by the staff, so I would love to provide that same feeling for the students currently enrolled here. I also admire this school's reputation of high academic standards and would love to help maintain that achievement here.'

3. Where do you see yourself in this school in five years?

Interviewers may ask this question to gauge whether you want to build your career at their school. They may prefer a candidate who wants to work at the school for an extended period of time. This question also allows the recruiter to learn more about your goals. When answering this question, try to focus on your career goals and consider how you can achieve them in this position.

Example: 'In five years, I'd like to be seen as a leader at this school. I'm excited to earn this reputation by leading efforts to maintain the school's excellent reputation and providing full support to both students and staff. I feel this is a role that I can grow in and help students and staff reach their personal goals as I gain more experience.'

4. How do you ensure that your staff's wellbeing is a priority?

A primary duty of a deputy headteacher is to address staff concerns, especially if the headteacher is unavailable. Interviewers ask this question to ensure that you intend to provide support to the school's staff. When answering this question, consider sharing details about your plan to promote the staff's wellbeing or describe a situation in which you prioritised the wellbeing of your colleagues.

Example: 'I believe that one of the best ways to ensure that students receive a quality education is to ensure the staff feels supported. In my last position, I helped promote my colleagues' wellbeing by encouraging them to take personal days when they needed them and covered their responsibilities while they did so. This helped my colleagues address personal issues and avoid burnout.'

5. How would you handle a child who has behavioural issues?

Though many teachers handle discipline inside their classroom, deputy headteachers may need to address larger behavioural issues. Interviewers sometimes ask this question to ensure you are ready for this responsibility. When answering this question, consider sharing an experience in which you handled a child's behavioural issues.

Example: 'In my previous role, I handled a situation in which a child was consistently disrupting class and having outbursts. To address this behavioural issue, I first spoke with the student to discover why they were acting this way. After speaking with the student and their parents, I discovered the child had recently experienced a change in their home life and was having trouble adjusting. Knowing this changed my approach to disciplining the child, and with the help of the school counsellor, I was able to address the behavioural issue and the student's needs.'

Related: Common Second Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

6. Tell us about a time when you managed a change at school. What challenges did you face?

This question aims to gauge how well you handle changes at work and whether you can guide others through transition periods. Since you may assist the headteacher in executing a vision for the school and guiding students and staff through policy and curriculum changes, it's important to be able to help yourself and others adjust to transition periods at school. When answering this question, choose an experience from your previous work history and explain your actions and goals.

Example: 'At the last school I worked at, my supervisor altered school hours to extend the school day slightly. This meant that students had to come in forty-five minutes earlier than they used to. At first, this was a challenging change for both staff and students because many of us felt tired from waking up early to start our day.

To remedy this, I established a fifteen-minute morning assembly period for school announcements and socialisation. With the help of our school cooks, I also presented the idea of offering breakfast to the students, as some children didn't have time to eat before coming to school. These actions helped students adjust to the change quickly and energised the staff and children.'

Tips for answering interview questions

Consider following these tips to help you answer interview questions:

Use the STAR method

When answering interview questions, try to use the STAR method to ensure your answers are concise, clear and effective. You can use the STAR method by following these steps:

  • Situation: Describe the situation you are discussing. This often includes details about previous work experience and environment.

  • Task: Explain the task and goal of the situation. Be sure to establish your role in the situation as well.

  • Action: Provide details about the actions you took to ensure the achievement of the situation's goal.

  • Result: Share the results of the situation, including how your actions shaped this result.

Read more: How To Use the STAR Interview Technique in Competency-Based Interviews

Practise your answers

Practising your answers to interview questions the interviewer might ask can help you feel more comfortable during your interview as you'll become more confident the more you practise. Consider asking a friend to do a mock interview so they can help you create effective answers. It's also helpful to take note of how much time you spend answering a question. Often, it's beneficial to spend one or two minutes answering a question to ensure it's concise yet comprehensive.

Mention your skills

It's often beneficial to mention your skills in your answers to interview questions. This provides support for your answers and can be an easy way to remind employers of your professional skills. Consider rereading the job posting before your interview to notice any skills listed in the advertisement. If you have experience in using these skills and they apply to the interviewer's question, try to include them in your answers.

Consider your body language

Your body language during your interview can be as important as your verbal answers. Try to maintain a good posture and make eye contact with the interviewer when they're talking and when you provide your answers. Practising your answers beforehand may help you feel more comfortable during the interview, which can improve your body language.

Related: 13 Ways To Calm Interview Nerves

Ask for clarity

If you're confused by the interviewer's questions, be sure to ask for clarity. When they're speaking, try to listen closely to avoid missing any relevant details of their question. If you're unsure about what they're asking, it may be helpful to ask for clarity so you can provide a relevant answer. Consider rephrasing what you believe they're asking to outline your understanding before answering an unfamiliar question.

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