Principal Candidate Pool FAQ


Who can apply? What are the minimum qualifications and/or criteria for entrance?

Anyone with a NY State school leader license (e.g., SAS, SBL, or SDA) is eligible to be a Principal Candidate Pool member. In addition, successful applicants possess and exhibit proficiency in the five DOE School Leadership Competencies.

Who must apply?

Anyone who is not currently a DOE principal and wants to become a DOE principal must apply and gain acceptance to the Pool in order to apply to individual principal vacancies. (The only exceptions are current DOE employees who successfully passed the Board of Examiners principal exams prior to 1990 and interim acting principals assigned before February 1, 2008 for whom the associated principal vacancy had not yet been posted or filled.)

What can I do to prepare?

First, consider whether you feel ready to become a principal now. Do not apply to the Pool until you feel ready to take on a principal role. Reflect on your strengths and growth areas in the five DOE School Leadership Competencies and review the competency continuum to see what each competency looks like in practice at five levels of leadership development – emerging, developing, proficient, mastery, and exemplary leadership. Ask your supervisor, mentor, coach, or trusted colleagues for feedback.  Seek out mentors who have been successful school leaders and learn from their experiences. Review the DOE website to understand how DOE principals are held accountable for student outcomes. Also increase your understanding of how to use the full range of accountability data and tools to drive dramatic student achievement gains.

I used to be a DOE principal and then changed jobs or left the system. If I want to be a principal again, do I have to apply to the Pool?

Yes, if you were not a sitting principal on or after February 1, 2008 you must apply to the Principal Candidate Pool.

I am a current DOE principal and want to change schools. Do I have to apply to the Pool?

No. All currently appointed principals have all been placed in the Pool.

Selection Process

Does everyone go through the same process?  

Yes, every applicant to the Pool goes through all steps of the selection process.

How long does the process take?

The full process takes about 2-3 months. First candidates must submit an online application. Once an application is received, candidates are invited to an evaluation session.

The length of time from application submission to invitation varies depending on the volume of applications the office receives. Candidates will be notified of the final decision 1-2 weeks after the date of the evaluation session.

How do I apply?

You can find the online application by visiting the Becoming a Principal page:

What does the application process entail?

The application requires the following information:

  • Two essays that give candidates an opportunity to share their experiences leading a group of adults and impacting student achievement
  • Work history and accomplishment record (in place of a resume)
  • Educational and background information
  • Names and contact information for 3 professional references, including at least 1 current or recent direct supervisor

Please note: For applicants who are currently employed with the DOE, the Office of School Leadership will contact your current supervisor.

When do I get invited to an in-person evaluation session?

Applicants typically receive invitations at least 7 days in advance of the session.  Candidates must RSVP to the invitation by the deadline stated in the invitation. If you cannot attend, you will be rescheduled for a future date, with preference given to applicants who are first-time invitees.

What does the in-person evaluation session entail?  

The redesigned pool process ensures that selection activities reflect the current principal role in NYC and gives candidates increased opportunities to demonstrate individual thinking and skills through one-on-one and group activities.  The in-person evaluation sessions include 4 different activities:

  • Un-moderated Group Discussion based on a school leadership challenge
  • Case Study Individual Interview – review a school case study, including the school’s budget and NYC accountability data, distributed in advance
  • Instructional Analysis Individual Interview – based on viewing a classroom video of teaching
  • In-Box – respond to 3 scenarios in principal’s email in-box

How long are evaluation sessions?  

In-person evaluation sessions are 4 hours long.

Where are evaluation sessions held?  

All evaluations sessions are held at 65 Court Street in Brooklyn Heights.

How do I get scheduled for an in-person evaluation session?  

All scheduling is done via email, so please accurately enter your email address when completing your online application. Ensure that your email account accepts mail from Check your email frequently.  Candidates are invited to in-person evaluation sessions based on their application date and must respond by the deadline stated in the invitation.

What if I need to reschedule my in-person evaluation session?

Candidates must respond within 48 hours of receiving an invitation to an in-person evaluation session. If you cannot attend the selected session, inform the Office of School Leadership immediately. You will be rescheduled based on availability, with preference given to first-time invitees. If you confirm via RSVP and then cancel after receiving the case study materials, you will not be rescheduled for 30 days to ensure that you receive a different case study for the next session.

What happens if I do not show up for my scheduled in-person evaluation session?  

When you accept the appointment to come to a session, you are making a professional commitment.

  • If you do not show up for your scheduled appointment, the session could be cancelled, which causes a hardship for the other participants who honored their commitment as well as the evaluators who run the sessions.
  • Notify the Principal Candidate Pool office at least 24 hours in advance if you cannot make the session that you committed to attend.
  • If you fail to show up for your scheduled session without contacting the Office of School Leadership at least an hour prior to the session, you will not be rescheduled for at least 60 days from the date of the missed appointment.

We realize that emergencies come up, so please let us know immediately if you need to reschedule so we can accommodate all of the participants and avoid unnecessary delays in the process for you and your colleagues.

Is there a Pool application fee?

No, there is no fee to apply to the Principal Candidate Pool.

Notification, Appeals, and Reapplication

Will your office provide feedback?

Yes, you will receive a Candidate Report upon completion of the evaluation process that provides a visual graph indicating how you performed in each competency. Please note that we are unable to provide additional feedback on your report or application decisions.

Can I reapply if I do not get into the Pool?  Do I have to wait to reapply?

Yes, anyone who does not get into the Pool may reapply. If you do not gain admission to the Pool, you may reapply six months after the date of your application, if you do not appeal the decision. If you appeal the decision, and the decision is not overturned, you may reapply eight months from the date of your application.


Will your office help Pool members get jobs?

When you are admitted to the Pool, you fill out a survey that asks about your strengths, interests, and job preferences. Based on that information, we may notify you of specific principal vacancies that may be of interest so that you can apply in a timely manner.

Will I have to take a job in a part of the City that is far away or inconvenient to reach?

No. It is up to Pool members to select and apply to the specific schools when those vacancies are posted.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Please contact

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