The Characteristics Principals Look For When Interviewing New Teachers

The Dim Bulb

The Occasional Musings of an Educator

by Michael Keany

#18 - July 10, 2024

The brain is capable of performing 10 quadrillion (that’s 10 to the 16th) “calculations,” or synaptic events, per second using only about 15 watts of power. At this rate, a computer as powerful as the human brain would require 1 gigawatt of power. Maybe a dim bulb isn't really as dim as it seems.

The photo at the left is the  Livermore Centennial bulb, the world's longest burning electric bulb


Based on a recent poll on School Leadership 2.0, the following responses were given when principals were asked "Which qualities or characteristics do you look for when interviewing and selecting new teachers?"

Based on the responses from the principals, I organized the qualities they look for when interviewing and selecting new teachers into common themes and listed the most frequently mentioned attributes under each theme:

1. Interpersonal Skills and Relationships:

  • Communication/Communicative/Communicative: Principals emphasized the importance of teachers being able to effectively communicate with students, parents, and colleagues.
  • Empathetic/Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of students is crucial for building trust and rapport.
  • Caring/Attuned/Sincere Connection to Children: A genuine care for students and their well-being is fundamental.
  • Personable: Being approachable and likable helps in creating a positive classroom environment.
  • Connective: The ability to form meaningful connections with students and colleagues is valued.

2. Adaptability and Flexibility:

  • Flexible/Adaptable: The ability to adjust to changing circumstances and diverse classroom needs is highly regarded.
  • Adjusts to Change: Being open to and comfortable with changes in the educational environment is important.
  • Attuned: Being aware of and responsive to the needs and dynamics of the classroom.

3. Enthusiasm and Passion:

  • Enthusiastic: Principals look for teachers who are passionate and energetic about their profession.
  • Passionate about Teaching and Learning/Passionate: A deep-seated passion for the subject matter and the act of teaching itself is crucial.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration:

  • Collaborative/Team Player: Working well with others, sharing ideas, and contributing to a positive team dynamic are essential.
  • Coachable: Being open to feedback and willing to learn from others.

5. Professionalism and Dependability:

  • Dependable: Reliability and consistency are critical for creating a stable learning environment.
  • Professional: Maintaining a high standard of professional conduct is expected.

6. Creativity and Innovation:

  • Creative/Innovation: The ability to come up with original ideas and approaches to teaching is valued.
  • Engaging: Making lessons interesting and interactive to captivate students' attention.

7. Intelligence and Knowledge:

  • Intelligent: Being knowledgeable about the subject matter and having the capacity to understand and solve problems.
  • Knowledgeable: Having a strong grasp of the curriculum and teaching methods.

8. Organizational Skills:

  • Organized: Being able to manage time, resources, and classroom activities efficiently.

9. Commitment to Continuous Learning:

  • Willing to Learn: A commitment to ongoing professional development and self-improvement.
  • Self-Reflective: The ability to reflect on one’s own practices and make necessary adjustments.

10. Health and Well-being:

  • Healthy: Maintaining personal health and well-being to be effective in the classroom.


Principals seek teachers who are communicative, flexible, empathetic, passionate, collaborative, professional, creative, intelligent, organized, and committed to continuous learning. These qualities ensure that teachers can create a supportive and dynamic learning environment, adapt to various challenges, and foster meaningful connections with their students and colleagues.

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