Leading a school, or any other educational institution, is a serious endeavor. One needs to know what they are doing, unless they surround themselves with an experienced team of assistants and administrators to help them out. You can become an excellent school principal, without ever working as an assistant principal, or holding any other leadership role at school. Yet to succeed, reach your goals, and earn a great salary, you’ll have to navigate a tricky selection process, often consisting of several interview rounds. One of the questions you will always face–and sometimes more than once (job application, essay, interviews), is the “why” question. Why you want to work as a Principal?

I’ve done the job before, and I’ve been a part of the hiring committee many times. I can assure you that someone always asked the “why question”. And while it is neither the most difficult question you will face, nor the most important one, your answer matters. Remaining silent or blabbering will immediately disqualify you from the selection process, and you won’t even get a chance to prove your skills and readiness for the job while dealing with other challenges of your interview.

Anyway, let us have a look at an interesting list of 7 sample answers to this question. With a help of my colleague I tried to come up with some variety of answers on my list. Answers for first time applicants, experienced, conventional but also out of the box answers. I hope reading them you will get some food for thought, and at the end of the process you’ll emerge with your own perfect answer to the “why question”. Enjoy your reading!


7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be a School Principal?” interview question

  1. I want to be a principal because I believe I can take this school to the next level. I’ve been teaching here for years already. Knowing the teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders, I know exactly the challenges this school faces, and have a plan how to tackle each one of them (we can elaborate on this later in the interviews). What’s more, my desire to make things better is strong, since I also live in this community. Making the life at school better for everyone is probably the most I can achieve while doing a service to local community, and it is my dream to do so.
  2. I just believe to have what it takes to become a great leader of this school. Judging by my previous experience and successes I achieved as a teacher and vice principal, I feel I have the qualities and skills to lead the team here, to represent the school in the eyes of public, and to simply do a great job as a principal. In my opinion, we should strive for excellence in life. I’ve done my duty as a student, teacher, vice principal. And I did well I believe. Now it is time to make another step and benefit from my entire experience in the highest role one can have at school.
  3. Considering my experience and things I achieved as an assistant principal, both on management and organizational level, and in daily contact with my colleagues and students, I feel that I can really help to transform this school to a better place, and address the problems it faces right now. When I saw the job opening I considered it for a long time, imagined my job, and the responsibility it carries. The more I thought about it, the more I felt a desire to apply. The responsibility and the options this position offers are very motivating.
  4. I’ve been working on leadership positions in the school district for years. And while I believe I did a good job, and helped the entire district with a difficult transformation through the pandemics, the true is that I missed daily contact with students and teachers. While I was in a way “directing the play”, I missed “being on the stage”, if you understand what I mean. Hence I decided to submit my application for this principal role. For many people it may seem illogical, since I earn better as a deputy superintendent, but salary is not everything. In my opinion, it is important to see the meaningful purpose in your work and enjoy your everyday life, and I believe I will do that as a principal.
  5. It is a goal I’ve been following since high school. I chose my education accordingly, studying education leadership and later getting my PhD in Education. It’s been a long time at school, and though I know learning never ends in life, I finally hope to put all my knowledge and education to the text. And I cannot see a better place to start than an elementary school, since I think a principal at elementary does not face as many challenges as principals do face at secondary or high school. That’s why I applied for the job with you, and I hope to convince you of my readiness to do this role, and to become a great principal at your school.
  6. Better questions would be why not? Let’s be honest: Who would not want to work as a principal at this school? You’ve done an amazing job up to this point here. The place runs like a well-oiled machine, and if the current principal wasn’t going to retire this year, she would not doubt continue doing a great job. But the time has come for a change, and someone else will get this prestigious job. I feel that I have the qualification and commitment, and what the job has to offer in terms of remuneration, prestige, but also professional challenges, is just a dream come true for every motivated professional in education administration. That’s why I see no reason why I would not apply for this job.
  7. First of all I have the passion for this role. Working in education in general is highly motivating for me, and you can be sure I do not struggle to get up from bed in the morning. On the contrary, I am looking forward to my days, trying to make a positive difference in the life of all stakeholders in this school district. Secondly, because I have the experience. I’ve never worked as a principal before, but leading this and that department at school, and being involved in the solution of many challenges, I feel to be ready to spearhead the entire school. Thirdly, because I have a plan for this place, how to make it better. Before the interviews I thought about it a lot, and came up with 5 key strengths and 5 areas of improvement for this school. I know what I want to achieve here, and believe it is possible, with such a great team as you already have onboard. And last but not least, because it has always been my career aspiration to become a principal, and I feel it the time has arrived to make it happen…


Final thoughts and answers to other tough interview questions for principals

Selection process for principal role is always complex, and the “why question” is just one of many you will have to deal with on your way towards a coveted prize–the job of a principal. Nevertheless, it is one of the first questions you will face, and sometimes the very first one. Dealing with it smoothly helps with setting the right tune for the entire interview, and also it helps to calm down and overcome the interview nerves that even the most experienced people often struggle with…

I hope that my list of 7 sample answers gave you some good ideas, and you now know what you want to say in the interviews, or write on your essay. I suggest you to check also my article about 40 most common principal interview questions, and I wish you best of luck on the big day!


Glen Hughins
Latest posts by Glen Hughins (see all)