The good news is that you won’t face a tough competition in your interview for a school counseling job. In many cases, you may actually be the only applicant for the position, or one of two or three applicants. Nevertheless, you still have to convince the hiring committee of your skills, and your readiness for the job. How can you do that?
You will have to demonstrate strong listening skills, understanding for the problems the students face, and for the emotions they experience, as well as knowledge of various situations that happen in a job of a school counselor, and a right way of addressing each situation.
The bad news – a difficult interview
The bad news is that you will have to deal with a variety of questions, ranging from simple personal questions to difficult behavioral and technical (job-specific) questions.
Last but not least, the school representatives must see an ally in you, someone who would advocate for the students, but not at all costs. Let’s have a look at the list of questions now. Find a short hint in the brackets.
List of typical interview questions for school counselors
- Why do you want to become a school counselor? (Try to speak about the future, not about the past–what you want to do, what value you want to bring to the school and to the students as a school counselor, the positive difference you hope to make on your position.)
- What do you want to accomplish on this position? (Again, focus on the goals from the perspective of the school, and the students. Tell the hiring committee how you want to improve the position of the students, their access to opportunities, the relationships between them and the teachers, how you want to help decreasing the dropout rate, etc.)
- What did you like the most on your studies?
- Why counseling, and not teaching? (You can simply say that you believe that your strengths and skills will be more useful in a position of a counselor, or give any other reason (personal, educational) why you went for counseling instead of teaching.)
- Do you plan to become a school psychologist later in your career?
- Why do you want to work as a counselor at our school? Why not some other institution? (This is your chance to show them that you care, that you did your homework. Do they face particular challenges at their school? Are you eager to address these challenges? Do the values they advocate resonate with your values?)
- What is it that you like about working with (grade level) students? (You can say that you feel close to the particular target group, or that you simply believe to have a better understanding for them, and the problems they experience. Or you can say that you feel ready to work with any grade level.)
- How would you gain the trust of the students? (A difficult question. You can go with friendly approach, fair and transparent behavior, individual approach, active participation in events and discussions, etc.)
- How do you handle criticism? (School counselors are often subject to criticism, from both students and teachers. Tell the hiring committee that you are ready to face constructive criticism, as you believe it helps you to become better in what you do. You can also emphasize that you do not take criticism personally, and it won’t affect your relationship with the colleagues.)
- What goals would you set for yourself in this job? (Answer depends on the place of your job application,and the problems they face at school. Your goals should relate to helping them with addressing the problems.)
- How would you approach individual student planning? (Do you find the questions difficult? Consider having a look at an eBook I wrote for you, the School Counselor Interview Guide. Multiple great answers to all questions you may face in this interview tricky interview will help you find the right words, connect with the hiring committee, and eventually get the job. Check the samples on the eBook page.)
- How important is the paperwork for you? (We live in bureaucratic times–sad but true. Tell them that you understand the importance of paperwork, and will approach it responsibly. At the same time, though, you may say that the actual work and talks with the students are your main focus, and you don’t want to get lost in paperwork.)
- How do you imagine a typical day in work as a counselor?
- How will you evaluate your school counseling program? (Setting goals, e.g, helping to decrease the dropout rate, eliminate most of conflicts, or helping some students to improve their grades, and then monitoring your progress in achieving each goal, is a good way of evaluating your program. Or you can describe your own idea…)
- What is the role of the school counselor in relation to teachers, parents, administrators and other counselors?
- How would you work with irate/angry/stupid/passive parent? (Try to show us that you have a clear system of work, that you are ready for each and every situation that can happen in your job of a school counselor. On the other hand, you should be aware of your limits. If a parent is not interested in their child’s education, and does not react to your prompts, there’s not much you can do apart from continuing working with the child, regardless of the attitude of their parent.)
- How would you work with children from orphanage?
- What would you do if one your students told you she was pregnant? (Support, support, support. Emotional, rational, all kind of support and encouragement. That is your goal with students that face difficult situations in their personal life, and decide to confide in you.)
- What would you do if a student shared with you their suicide plans? (You should definitely take the situation seriously–since it is serious. You can suggest calling the parents (guardian) immediately in lower grades, or asking students to call their parents. Waiting with the student until the parents arrive and ensuring that they will take the student to some mental health facility (or accompanying them to mental health counselor, if appointed at school), is the best course of action. Show the hiring committee that you don’t take the situation lightly, and will do your best to help the student.)
- One student wanted to drop out of school. What would you do? (The key is to show understanding for their emotions, and situation. Tell the hiring committee that at first you would only listen, trying to understand their reasons. Then you would try to convince them of an importance of the education in their life, and help them to reconsider their decision…)
- If there was a conflict between a student and a teacher (or one of the school administrators), on which side would you stand?
- Tell us about a time when you explained something difficult to someone. How did you get your message over?
- Tell us about a time when you struggled with motivation in work. How did you overcome the crisis?
- Describe a goal you achieved in your counseling (teaching) practice, and who helped you with achieving the goal.
- Is there anything else we did not cover that you would like us to know about you as we consider you as a candidate for the position of a school counselor?
Conclusion, answers to all questions
At the end of the day, you should demonstrate an honest interest for the problems the students deal with, for their life, for the challenges the teachers and the administrators face at school. Remember it when preparing for the interview questions.
And if you are not sure how to answer the questions (you are not alone), have a look at an eBook I wrote for you, the School Counselor Interview Guide. It includes multiple brilliant answers to twenty five questions you may realistically face in this interview, plus winning interview strategies–things you simply need to know to make the right impression on the interviewing panel.
You will find several great interview answers directly on the eBook page, so it makes sense to check it out even if you do not plan to purchase anything. Thank you, and good luck in your interview!
Glen Hughins, InterviewPenguin.com Expert Writer
* You can also download a full list of questions in a simple one-page long .PDF document, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
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