I have a friend who was applying for a principal position. For the interview she was asked to do the following:

“You have just been appointed as principal to an academically acceptable campus. During a 7 to 9 minute PowerPoint presentation, outline your focus and activities during the first 30 days in this new position. Include the three key things that you will do during this time to prepare your staff to accept the challenges and opportunities that face the campus.”

I’m all for adding a performance piece to the interview process, but it needs to be meaningful and thought out. However, there are a couple of issues with the above instructions.

1. The academically acceptable status of the campus. This is a landmine. The correct answer is that an academically acceptable campus is often closer to the bottom than it is to the top. As such, it is important to quickly assess campus strengths and weakness, and then take aggressive action to improve. Unfortunately, in this East Texas district, they are satisfied with their acceptable rating. The blame for academic failure is placed on “those” kids, instead of adult practice.

2. A 7 to 9 minute power point presentation? Are you kidding? This is not a venue for power point. The first reason is that a 7 to 9 minute power point presentation is one slide. By that I mean that you should allow about 10 minutes of talk for each slide. Second, this is your initial meeting with your staff. They need to be reading you, not the screen. If all you have is 7 to 9 minutes, and you are the leader, then you best be the whole show.

Here’s how I would have used the performance piece (this is free advice):

“You have been appointed as principal to a campus that is not meeting its potential (this covers every campus). “

1. In a one page memo to the Superintendent, outline your action plan for the first 30 days in the position (this is the working rough draft, if the candidate gets the job).

2. Prepare and present to the interview committee, your five minute introductory address to the staff (again a working draft, if the candidate gets the job and a chance to see how he or she communicates and responds in a high stress situation).

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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