Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Carolyn L. Wanat


In an era in which school principals' jobs are much more complex and demanding than they were a few decades ago, the increasing challenges of the position have affected principal recruitment and selection efforts by school districts nationwide. Moreover, the rapidly increasing rate of principal retirements has exacerbated the problem of a shortage of qualified candidates for principal positions. As a result, it is important to explore current principals' perspectives on how best to attract and retain qualified prospective applicants during the hiring process.

In this case study, 16 principals and associate principals from both public and independent schools in three states described their experiences, their reasons for applying for a principalship, their perspectives on the application process. They also gave advice and recommendations for both administrators of hiring processes and for future applicants. One-on-one qualitative interviews with a pre-established interview protocol were conducted as the sole data collection method.

Three primary research questions were investigated: How do school principals perceive the existing principal recruitment processes? How do school principals perceive the processes used by the school districts to select them? To what extent do job descriptions, as currently written, systematically cover the realities of the duties of incumbent principals?

From analysis of the interviews, the researcher chose to focus on four main topics that emerged from principals' perspectives on the hiring process: (a) the decision to pursue a principalship and searching for openings, (b) going through the process, (c) personal reactions to the process, and (d) recommendations. These topics were compared and contrasted with relevant research reported in the literature to generate the following four major results of the present study.

First, standardized and structured interviews not only helped decision making but also won applicants' trust. Second, hiring processes were generally similar to what previous research suggested. Third, deficiencies in hiring processes that were first identified a number of years ago continue to persist. Finally, whether applicant pools are shrinking appeared to be an open question.

These findings contribute to the very limited research that has thus far examined principal hiring practices from the perspectives of school principals, and have allowed suggestions to be made for possible areas of improvement in principal hiring processes.


principal hiring process, principalship application, qualitative interviews, recruitment, school principals, selection


vi, 91 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 86-91).


Copyright 2013 Yu-Hsin Lin