Principal Selection Process

Planning to become a school principal? Review the process.

Steps to becoming a principal: Application Screening, Screening Interview, On-Site Central Office Screening, Principal Pool, School-Specific Panel Interview, Region Interview, Superintendent Interview

In planning for future principal vacancies, Fairfax County Public Schools maintains a pool of eligible candidates who have participated in a series of rigorous competency-based assessments. When a principal vacancy is determined, candidates in the principal pool can express interest. Current FCPS principals are automatically considered candidates in the pool. 

The process for admitting candidates into the FCPS principal pool includes three screening steps. Once candidates are admitted, they have an opportunity to engage in professional development led by experienced FCPS principals.

Principal Pool Information Sessions

During each application window, members of the Administrative Staffing team will hold virtual information sessions. Representatives will review application steps, provide general guidance, and answer any questions related to the pool process or principal selection in FCPS. To register for a session, please email [email protected].

Approximate Application Windows Timeline

Window 1 Application

  • November through January: FCPS Principal Pool Advertises 
  • February through March: Screening of Qualified Applicants 
  • End of March: Principal Candidate Pool Determined

Window 2 Application

  • March through May: FCPS Principal Pool Advertises
  • June through July: Screening of Qualified Applicants
  • Early August: Principal Candidate Pool Determined

Window 3 Application

  • July through September: FCPS Principal Pool Advertises
  • October through November: Screening of Qualified Applicants
  • Early December: Principal Candidate Pool Determined

Principal Application Window

The principal application window is currently open. It will close May 31, 2024.

Principal Pool Selection Process

Our goal is to have a clear and transparent process for all candidates interested in becoming a principal at Fairfax County Public Schools. 

Eligibility Requirements for an FCPS Principal

To be qualified to apply for FCPS' Principal Pool, candidates must have or be eligible to hold a Postgraduate Professional License with endorsements in administration and supervision preK-12, plus seven years of progressively more responsible experience in teaching and administration or supervision, with a minimum of three years administrative experience (Note: acting, staff development, and/or resident assignments do not count toward years of administrative experience). 

Out-of-State Applicants: To be considered eligible for a VDOE postgraduate license, candidates must hold a valid professional license that permits them to be a principal in their state or jurisdiction. For more information, please visit the VDOE website (interested out-of-state candidates are encouraged to actively begin the process for their Virginia license).

Step 1: Application Screening

Candidates applying to the FCPS principal pool need to upload a current resume and respond to an essay prompt.

Documents are screened and assessed by the Human Resources Administrative Hiring Team using a performance matrix.

Step 2: Data Task

Applicants invited to move forward to Step 2 will participate in an online assessment.

  • Candidates will be given two days to complete the online assessment and submit a detailed response.
  • Candidate responses are assessed using a performance matrix.

Step 3: Performance Assessments

Applicants invited to move forward to Step 3 will participate in an evaluation of their skill sets relevant to the principal position.

  • Performance assessments include three tasks: a teacher observation task, a complex scenario task, and an interview. All tasks and interview questions are aligned to the FCPS Performance Standards for School Leaders.
  • Both tasks and the interview are assessed by members of the FCPS leadership team and experienced principals using a performance matrix.
  • Suggested reading materials include FCPS' School-Based Administrator Evaluation Standards, FCPS' Strategic Plan, and Portrait of a Graduate.

Contact Us

Do you have questions about the principal selection process?

Non-Principal Administrative Opportunities

Employees, Applicants, and Retirees

Submit questions or concerns, as well as upload forms and other documents through the FCPS StaffConnect portal. Human Resources representatives are also available for assistance Monday – Friday (8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) by calling 571-423-3000 or 1-800-831-4331.