How To Unlock Senior Leadership Potential at Interview?

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If you were to appoint a number of teachers to join the (extended) senior leadership team, what questions would you ask them at interview?

This is a blog about how to unlock the next generation of senior leaders at interview; to unpick reasons why they would like to become senior teachers, working with our current senior leadership team to build upon our progress with whole-school priorities.

This exercise forms part of a professional development opportunity for middle leaders in our school.

Last month, I shared our plans and draft job descriptions in this blogpost, Shadow Leadership for CPD and explained how and why we are looking to develop our leadership CPD capacity. At TeachMeet Enfield and TeachMeet Islington in North London last week, I shared how schools could start to identify Hidden Leaders; staff who are not yet in a senior leadership capacity, who has the ability to step up and become our next generation of school leaders.

Here I share our interview process, the questions asked and the template used.

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Image: Shutterstock


This week, we have conducted interviews for our teaching staff to join our extended leadership team as a CPD opportunity; identified through a candidate specification and person specification process. Teachers complete an in-tray exercise. After this rigorous stage, we then, of course, interviewed the candidates to hear more about their views, values and vision for school leadership. This blog shares the questions we asked of our teachers at interview. They may prove useful for you if you wish to adapt them to your own school. You can find the template at the foot of this blog.

If we were not pushed for time (at the end of the academic year), we would have asked internal candidates to teach a lesson, lead an assembly; complete a data exercise and role-play a difficult conversation under IRIS Connect observation.


*This part of the process was 25 minutes long.

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The first question is for current members of the extended leadership team only:

  1. How have you used the opportunity this year? And why do you want another opportunity?
  2. Why do you want to be a senior leader?
  3. What is it about your track record that points you towards senior leadership?
  4. Plot your journey towards senior leadership detailing what you need to do and how you need to develop over the next 3 (or less) years?
  5. How would you fit this in with everything else you have to do?
  6. Scenario question about middle leadership: you walk into the department/year team office and there are various comments and complaints being made about ‘SLT’. What do you do?
  7. Name one current development in education you are positive about; another one you are a negative about and give reasons why.
  8. Discuss any (personal and significant) CPD you have started/completed over the past 12 months? (this should not be school-led) And what CPD have you led across the school?
  9. If you were in the senior team, what would you recommend as the priorities for next year? How do you see this being implemented? If appointed, what whole-school projects do you see yourself leading?
  10. If you were a senior leader what would you want middle leaders to say about you? What is your area for development? Weakness…
  11. Any questions for us? (Record any actions the interview panel need to find out / follow up)
  12. Safeguarding and application check questions to finish the process. Strengths/weaknesses/interests, followed by an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions/clarify.



Download the template.


3 thoughts on “How To Unlock Senior Leadership Potential at Interview?

  1. Hi
    Thanks for these, very useful
    If you have time could post potential answers to some of the key answers – what you would be looking for?

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