School counselors are integral to a successful student body. School administrators want the best of the best, so if you have an interview coming up, it’s important to prepare for school counselor interview questions.
School counselors provide important support for students. They help with academic struggles, social problems, behavioural challenges, career guidance, and more. They are advocates for students and can be an important resource when a student is struggling or in need of help.
If you want to ace your school counselor interview, it’s important to demonstrate that you have the right qualities to work with students. You should show that you are a good listener, a strong communicator, and an empathetic counselor. You should have strong emotional intelligence, as well as a proven ability to develop study plans and provide career planning advice.
Use these common school counselor interview questions and example answers to prepare for your interview with these qualities in mind.
School counselors serve various functions in a school ecosystem. They help students choose classes, find their career path, and navigate the difficult social and emotional turbulence of their school years. School counselors may work in a high school, middle school, or elementary school, as students of any age need support and direction. School counselors should be advocates for students, listening to their problems and concerns and giving them guidance as needed. As a school counselor, I may need to help students deal with poor academic performance, bullying, mental health difficulties, college applications, and more.
When I was in high school, I had a school counselor who really helped me with my college applications, and I felt like they were one of the only people at the school who really listened to my needs and helped me articulate my goals. I know what a difference a strong student advocate can be in a young person’s life, and I want to provide that for others. Helping young people find their path is important and fulfilling. My goal is to help others achieve theirs.
In my previous jobs I developed good communications skills and a strong capacity for empathy, and I think I can bring these qualities to a school environment. As a volunteer at a local youth organization, I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of young people from all walks of life, and everyone’s story is unique and inspiring. It’s important to me to make sure students have a safe space where they can speak honestly and get the support they need. My experience working with children and young adults, combined with my certification as a counselor, makes me a perfect fit for a school counselor position.
I believe I’m ready to work at any grade level. I have worked with children of all ages, and I am able to provide support to students no matter their age. I have a particular interest in working with high school students, however, because high school is such an important and challenging stage of people’s lives. It’s where children learn to be adults, and it’s where they begin to make the decisions that shape the rest of their lives. I think that a positive influence at this pivotal time can have a huge effect on the rest of their lives. While I know that my role as a school counselor is limited, I believe that a stable and compassionate helping hand at the right time can be an asset to many students and I would like to provide that for them.
Of course, being a school counselor isn’t only about helping students find their way. Counselors also need to manage angry parents from time to time. Parents might get into contact with a school counselor to talk about their child’s grades, school policies, the behaviour of a teacher, bullying, and more. The best strategy will depend on the specific situation.
If the parent has a concern, I believe it’s important to hear them out. Listening empathetically will help me to understand their position. A lot of frustration from students and parents stems from feeling that they are being ignored by teachers and other faculty.
No matter how angry they are, I would stay calm and open-minded, and consider how I can support them. It’s important for them to know that if they have a legitimate concern, they are right to reach out. It could also be that they simply need to vent.
I would never be defensive or combative, but I would make sure to set appropriate boundaries and let them know what language and behaviour that I won’t tolerate. In all likelihood, the anger isn’t personal–the parent doesn’t have a problem with me; I am just the face of the school that they feel mistreated by.
Once I have heard them out, I would try to help them find a solution. Their concern may be legitimate, but it could also stem from misplaced expectations, or simple communication breakdowns from the teacher or student.
If there is no real solution, I would try to guide them to a calmer perspective. Their anger may be justifiable, but there are better ways to express that than taking it out on a school counselor. Leading them to a better emotional understanding of their child, or of a teacher, or of the frustrating situation, may be enough to satisfy them.
If a student wants to drop out of school, it’s important to figure out why. Some students want to drop out because they are failing, some want to drop out because they feel like they can learn better on their own, some want to drop out because they are being bullied, and some simply want to start working. There are many reasons why a student would want to leave school, and it’s important to understand their situation to really help them.
Once the specific issue has been established, I would begin looking for a way to help them sort out their problems. This might be as simple as giving them a quiet place where they can eat lunch away from bullies, or a more tailored study plan that can help them get their grades back on track. I might even ask to involve a parent or teacher in the solution if there is an issue they would be well suited to help with. Every student is unique, and the support I provide will depend on what difficulties they are facing.
I have experience in individual counseling, group counseling, academic guidance counseling, and grief counseling. I have experience helping students deal with difficult social situations, mental health problems, academic struggles, and choosing the right classes for their career path of choice.
Bullying is a major problem in most schools, and as school counselor I have an important role in both preventing it and dealing with the emotional fallout.
If I had to intervene with a student who was caught bullying, I would first talk to them as an individual, to see if I could see what was causing them to misbehave, and make sure they know that their actions were unacceptable. I would try to help them understand the effect that bullying has on the victim, and try to engage with them empathetically but firmly. Depending on the severity of the incident and the bully’s relationship with the victim, I might try to arrange a moderated conversation between them to see if they can come to understand each other better.
The best way to deal with bullying is prevention, however. As school counselor I would collaborate with school staff to establish anti-bullying programs for the whole school. For example, a previous school that I worked at used the PATHS program, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies, to promote social and emotional learning among the students. This helped students interact with each other in understanding ways and helped to prevent bullying. I have also seen successful student seminars on things like conflict resolution and peer intervention, which can help students prevent bullying themselves.
Every student is unique, so if I saw that a student was at-risk, I would make sure to tailor my approach to their situation. For example, a student who is failing classes because they skip school and miss assignments will require a different approach from a student who works hard at all of their homework but still earns poor grades.
When dealing with an at-risk student, I would meet with them one-on-one and see why they think they are failing. Understanding their position will help me find the best way to support them. Once that has been established, I would offer the resources I have. For example, I might encourage them to join a club or team to find a different motivation to come to school, or offer some resources for effective studying so they will be able to achieve better test results. In some cases, I could even recommend a tutor or some other assistance.
As school counselor, I will have to deal with some criticism, some of it fair and some not.
Criticism from peers and mentors I take very well. I want to be the best school counselor possible, and feedback from my co-workers is very important to me.
Criticism from students and parents can be more difficult to deal with. Angry students and parents can sometimes feel they are being treated unfairly and lash out at a school counselor, even if the problem is with the school more broadly.
In these situations, I would make sure to stay calm and understand the situation from their perspective. While they may be lashing out unfairly, there can still be some truth to their feedback, so it is important to understand where they are coming from. In the moment, I would respond to the criticism calmly. After the meeting, I would reflect on what they said. Their feedback could provide insight into things I could do better. When it comes to dealing with other people, especially parents and students, there are always new things to learn and ways to improve.
An individualized education plan is a special education program for students who need extra help and support to succeed in school. I know that the right individualized education program, tailored to a student’s strengths and accommodating their needs, can be an enormous help to their school experience.
I have never been personally responsible for implementing an Individualized Education Plan, but in previous volunteer roles I have worked individually with young people to understand their learning process and make sure they had the support they needed. I know that the scope of an IEP is larger than this, and working on an IEP is something that I look forward to learning more about. I believe that ensuring every student has a program and environment they can learn in is an integral part of a school counselor’s role.
In most schools, it is the vice principal’s responsibility to discipline misbehaving students. However, if that role were to fall to me, it is my belief that disciplining students does not need to be excessively punitive. A school counselor’s relationship with students should not be adversarial; it should be non-threatening and encouraging. To discipline a student, I think it’s important to understand the student and what might cause them to act out. I would speak with them one-on-one, and try to understand the type of discipline that would be effective for them.
Once I understood the student, I would follow the school’s policy on disciplining students in order to craft an effective punishment. In my view, an effective punishment is one that encourages positive behaviours. I would help them understand why their behaviour was unacceptable, and how it makes other people feel.
More broadly, as school counselor I would have a hand in crafting the school’s disciplinary policies. I would do my best to instill this type of empathy in the policy, so that disciplinarians can prioritize encouraging good behaviour. Modeling good behaviour and promoting social intelligence will help students understand what bad behaviour is and ensure they know not to engage in it.