The interviewer is asking what makes you stand out from the crowd! This is not the time to say that you are organized, and reliable. Boring! You need to dig deep and think of the unique skills that make you an obvious stand-out from other potential applicants.
"What makes me unique from your other candidates is that I am a continuous learner, always working to improve my skills. This year alone I have completed four professional development courses, and I plan to attend four more. The more knowledgeable I am in my role as an admissions counselor, the more your students will benefit from having me here."
"Some unique qualities could be that you are: - A Continuous Learner - An Imaginative Thinker - An Engaging Speaker - A Strong Motivator - Bilingual "
"What makes me unique is the amount of years' experience I have working in both public and private institutions. I am passionate about professional development as well, having taken two industry-related workshops per year for the past eight years. That additional coursework is available on my resume."
Is honesty always the best policy? Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on morality when it comes to your roster of students.
"Sometimes full disclosure can damage someone's self-esteem, and reality isn't always best expressed in full and can be self-indulgent based on the person's intention. In those instances, honesty isn't always the best policy."
"I do feel that honesty is the best policy so long as the honest comment does not come with the intention of being hurtful."
"Honesty is always the best policy. Often, it is just a matter of how you communicate and deliver your message so managing this with each situation is critical to building honest and trustworthy relationships."
Everyone will have their particular triggers that cause them to feel dissatisfaction on the job. Talk to the interviewer about any factors that may deflate or discourage you in the workplace.
"I can feel dissatisfaction on the job when I am not feeling heard or when there is not mutual respect among the team members. I work best in more harmonious situations where there is little drama or gossip."
"I have felt dissatisfied on the job when I feel underpaid and overworked. This has been primarily with my pre-university days. I don't mind working hard at all, but I don't like to feel as though I'm being taken advantage of, either."
"I feel dissatisfied when I work hard but constantly hit roadblocks. Obstacles happen, but when you can't get anywhere because there are so many of them, it is frustrating."
The interviewer would like to know what you consider to be strong leadership qualities. When describing leadership qualities, try to avoid general terms and give some unique ideas. A great leader is someone who people naturally want to follow. They have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with nearly any personality type. A respected leader will take ownership of their mistakes and will always lead their team by example. True leaders see the importance of motivating others and recognizing even the smallest achievements. Which of these qualities do you most identify?
"I have taken many workshops and courses to improve my leadership skills over the years. My leadership qualities are best summed as dedicated, attentive, and motivating. I like to recognize my students' small wins because that motivates them to continue achieving."
"To me, a leader is someone who is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, adaptable, and open. A leader wants to nurture others to their fullest potential, and it is something I have enjoyed since childhood. I love to be an example to follow and help guide others to bettering themselves and their careers."
"My leadership qualities are communication, drive and mentoring others. I seek out the best in people, which helps them increase their performance."
The interviewer would like to know who in your life inspires you. Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewer about who has inspired your life and why.
"I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked and she loved everyone. She was well respected and always gave more than she received. I try to live like her as much as I can."
"My previous sociology professor was a huge inspiration to me. Her passion for education was motivating and put the fire in me to graduate with top marks."
"My students inspire me! Who better to inspire me to do the best work possible, than the exact individuals that I am trying to help?"
To many employers, the number of years' experience is flexible - so long as you have the results to show for the years that you do have. Talk to the interviewer about your major career successes. This is the time to sell yourself. Make no apologies for your lack of years!
"Although I have five years' experience vs. 8 years' experience I can do this job well. In my previous role, I was outperforming colleagues who had 12 years of experience. To me, it's all about drive and ability to be a quick study. I have all of these qualities and more."
"I may not have the desired years' experience; however, my experience does match all of your must-have's for this role. In addition to this, I have an elevated degree which accounts for a lot. I am confident in my ability to do this job very well."
"Along with my five years working in this industry, I have worked in related industries my entire career. Also, I hope that my masters' degree gives me a little boost in experience over the required undergraduate degree."
The majority of the world's workforce will work overtime hours or take work home with them on occasion. Talk to the interviewer about how frequently you take your work home.
"I make sure to utilize my work hours very efficiently, so the only time that I take my work home is when there is an extremely stringent deadline. I would say that, overall, I take my work home maybe twice per month. It's all about being diligent with your time in the office!"
"I try not to take my work home with me. Everyone needs downtime. However, if something needs to get done, I will get it done, even from home."
"I take my work home with me whenever it is necessary. Some positions I have held, I work from home nearly every day. Other roles, such as my current position, I work from home just a couple of times per month."
Open-ended questions are some of the hardest to answer in an interview. It's important to train yourself how to talk about yourself. It may sound a little silly because you've been talking about yourself for years! In an interview, you should leave out the highly personal stuff. No need to talk about your new puppy or your favorite foods. Keep it professional and concise. Interviews typically last for about thirty minutes to an hour, so keep that in mind as you prepare. Sometimes practicing with a friend or timing your response can help. Focus on your interest or passion for the field, your education, and accomplishments. Keep it relevant to the job at hand! Also, consider the fact that there is plenty of time for you to talk about your skills and strengths during the interview, so you don't have to say it all in one gulp.
"I graduated with a Bachelors of Education with a minor in Psychology from UBC in 2009. Since then, I have been actively making my way to an admissions-based role. I am an energetic and positive person, ready to make a difference in a growing organization."
"I am a seasoned admissions counselor with ten years of experience. I got my Bachelors degree in Education, then eventually went back for a master's degree. I have worked my way up in my field, and plan to continue my progression. "
As an academic advisor, you are likely accustomed to working with a very large or diverse student body. Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity.
"In my current role, I work alongside a huge group of individuals who represent much diversity. Together, we manage our business and effectiveness very well."
"I have worked with diverse groups of people during my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity."
"I would say that pretty much every educational facility I have worked for has valued diversity. Working with people from all walks of life help shed different perspectives and identify potential problems faster."
Working well on a team requires you to have solid interpersonal skills and self-awareness. Assure the interviewer that you have strong team-player skills. Briefly tell the interviewer why you see yourself as a team player.
"I truly believe that I am a team player because I cannot accept success without knowing that my team has been acknowledged for their efforts. Everything that I have achieved in my current role is not only due to my hard work but is also due to the great collaboration of my uber-talented team."
"Some qualities that make you an active team player: - Having the ability to empathize - Humility - Willingness to highlight the wins of others - Strong listening skills - The ability to encourage others - Desire to go beyond your job description - Participating in extra-curricular activities - Showing respect to everyone in the workplace - Being proactive on projects - Offering creative solutions - Contributing when it is not expected of you - Displaying self-awareness - Accepting feedback on your performance "
"I see great value in being a team player because you learn so much more vs. working alone. I prefer working as part of a team. It's diverse and engaging."
Being a bright communicator, in written form, is an essential skill to master. Have you taken any courses in communication and writing? Are you confident in your written communication skills? Talk to the interviewer about your written communication abilities and support your answer with a brief example or story.
"I would describe my written communication skills as above average and would rate myself as a 9/10. I have always had a penchant for writing and have taken university courses related to communication, writing, and journalism. I fully understand the importance of accurate reporting and clear documentation."
"I have strong written communication skills. I spent a lot of time writing papers during my time in post-secondary, and am confident in my ability to communicate my thoughts clearly, on paper."
"My written communication skills are solid. I often utilize written communications as a follow up to verbal communications. They provide a great resource for my students to go back to, and reference, plus they might answer any questions that come up along the way."
When the interviewer asks about your work ethic, they are looking for specific examples or relatable keywords. When you read the job posting or job description do they refer to particular ethics or values? Talk about their values and how those align well with your work values.
"I am a very dedicated and loyal employee. I saw on your website that you describe your school's culture as honest, transparent and you go the extra mile for your students. My work ethic is the same. I am honest, flexible, and come ready to work hard for my students every day."
"Some characteristics you may want to use are: - Determined/Driven - Accountable - Humble - Respectful - Dependable "
"My work ethic has been well honed over the seven years that I have worked as an academic advisor. If I had to describe my work ethic in just a few words, I would say that I am transparent, always a few steps ahead of expectations, and accountable for my work."
The interviewer would like to know more about your problem-solving skills, and your personality. Discuss how you tackle problems when they arise, and keep your answer work-related if you can. Whether you are the type to jump right into solving a problem or you are more methodical in your approach, highlight to the interviewer that you are capable of handling issues professionally while using sound judgment.
"When faced with a problem, I am more likely to jump right into solving it. I believe that you cannot leave a problem to fester or it will become bigger than it already is. You have to take ownership of the issue, and involve yourself in the resolution right away. With that said, I am responsible for my decision making and certainly don't jump in blind. If I am unsure of what action to take, I will ask my leader for advice."
"That depends on the situation and seriousness of the problem. I will not jump in with rash decisions on a problem that has a major impact on our students or the business."
"I have been with my current educational facility for many years, so the majority of problem-solving comes second nature to me at this point. However, when I first started this job, I would have to spend more time in careful consideration before jumping in. I would say that when I have a problem, I have a healthy balance of the two."
A potential employer will often base their offer on your current salary. You should be transparent about your most recent earnings and be prepared to back up any salary requests.
"I am currently earning a base salary of $78,000 plus full health benefits. I am looking for a competitive salary in my next position."
"As I am a recent graduate, I would like to be offered a fair salary that reflects my recent education. I am most concerned with joining an organization that will help me to grow my career as an admissions counselor. Compensation is not my primary driver."
"I am currently making $89,000 per year with two bonus opportunities. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth."
The interviewer would like to know what types of resources you prefer to utilize when advising your students on their potential career choices. Give two strong examples if you can. This will show that you are well-rounded and able to offer variety to your students. At the end of your answer, be sure to ask the interviewer if they have any recommendations or favorites as well. This can strike up a friendly and informative conversation.
"I like to take a well-rounded and modern approach when it comes to the resources I offer my students. These days, if it isn't online or available on a device, they simply don't follow through on the resource. For this reason, my top 2 resources are Gladeox.org where students can take an online career quiz as well as utilize other resources for career discovery. The second resource I frequently use is 16personalities.com. It's a fun, interactive, and incredibly focused personality quiz which gives career suggestions based on your core characteristics. Do you have other resources that you prefer to use?"
"While completing my masters' degree, I learned of a few fantastic resources for helping students discover new career choices. A few of the most memorable ones were an exploratory quiz as well as an academic success plan template. Which are the favorite resources used at your educational facility?"
"Over the years, I have leaned on two primary resources for helping my students to discover potential career choices. First, predictivesuccess.com which helps me to predict a student's behavior and then create an action plan. Second, my employer's internal program that offers a variety of career discovery resources. Could you share with me the resources that you use here?"
The interviewer wants to know that you fully understand the gravity of a decision like changing majors. They want to see that you can guide their students wisely. If you can, give an example of a time when you suggested a student change majors.
"Changing majors can be serious business, especially if the student is at risk of losing out financially due to the decision. I would suggest a student change majors once they have found themselves completely disengaged and uninterested in the program. I would also only suggest a change once the student is apparent on the alternate major they would like to take."
"The situation would have to be very severe before I would recommend changing majors. That isn't a small decision. It can be costly and time-consuming. I would only recommend changing majors if the student was highly unhappy and on the verge of dropping out altogether."
"As an experienced admissions counselor, I do not feel that it is my place to discourage heavily if a student is truly unhappy with their originally chosen major. It is their life and their future career path. I will provide them with a lot of well-researched information, supporting either decision. A pro and cons list so to speak. My primary focus would be to support the decision that they make in the end."
The correct answer to this question will always be 'as much as possible!'. The interviewer wants to see engagement with your students and that you have the natural desire to get to know them better. The more you know, the better you can assist!
"The more I know about each student on my roster, the more targeted I can be with my coaching and recommendations. I truly do take the time to get to know each student on my roster. I want to know as much as I can!"
"I will be eager to get to know as much about my students as possible. I feel that this will only make my job easier, and make their experience much better as well."
"I feel that, as an admissions counselor, it's my job to get to know the student body in its entirety. For that reason, I do get to know as much as I can about my students before the school year begins, and as it progresses."
The interviewer is wondering if perhaps you were influenced to the career path of admissions by a positive, or even negative, experience of your own. Hopefully positive! This question is not an invitation to complain about your experience or speak negatively about anyone. Keep your answer brief and positive.
"When I was an undergraduate student, my admissions counselor was well received and quite helpful. The resources she offered were strong. I knew my direction right from the start which meant that I didn't need to rely too heavily on her but, overall, I had a great example."
"Great question! I had an awesome relationship with my academic advisor, and she helped me immensely. Her influence is a big part of why I am pursuing a career as an academic advisor, today."
"It's tough to remember that far back! Just kidding, of course. I recall a being a bit lost during my undergrad, to be honest. My admissions counselor took the time to walk me through many different options, preferences, and even set me up with some opportunities to job shadow a few professionals. In the end, I found his job to be the most interesting of all!"
The interviewer would like further insight into your style when it comes to giving advice and helping any failing students on your academic roster. Give a brief overview of what you would do to help a student who was struggling.
"I believe that when a student is failing, there are usually some underlying issues that need to be dealt with. I will collaborate with that student and the professor of the course to create an action plan for success. I will also openly ask the student what they need from me to feel supported."
"If I were to have a student who was failing a course, I would want to take a more personal approach by sitting down with the student to find out what the source of their struggle is. I am always eager to learn. What is your most preferred method when helping a struggling student?"
"I certainly would want all of my students to succeed so if they were failing a course, I would meet with them and ask 'What can I do to make this easier for you?'. It's amazing how well a student will open up when they know they are being listened to."
By understanding why you find this career path rewarding, the interviewer will also be able to know how to keep you motivated on the job. Give a few examples of what you find most rewarding. Try to give unique answers vs. merely saying 'I like talking to people,' for instance.
"There are many rewarding aspects to being an admission counselor. If I have to choose the biggest stand-outs for myself, I would say that I love the fact that every person I meet has a different story to tell. Students these days are so diverse and forward thinking that it keeps me on my toes. Another rewarding aspect for me is all of the continual research and education that I can do. I feel as though I, myself, am constantly learning."
"I believe that the most rewarding aspect of being an admissions counselor will be getting the chance to help people carve their career path."
"For me, being a positive influence on my students is the greatest reward. I love to check in with my students, even years down the road, to see what they have been able to accomplish as a result of their well-planned educational path."
The interviewer wants to better understand your level of engagement with the students on your academic roster. Are you more hands off...waiting for the student to come to you? Or, do you take a proactive approach and make a note to connect with your students on a regular basis? Discuss the ways that you ensure your level of engagement with your students is high.
"I understand that most educational facilities recommend that a student connects with their academic advisor at least three times per semester. That's great for the students who are excelling; however, I prefer to have a better pulse on the students who are struggling a bit. This year I started using engagement software with the students on my roster. This software, called 15Five, elevates the engagement of my students by asking questions and starting the right conversations on a bi-weekly basis. The student logs on, they rate how they feel from 1 to 5 and then answer a brief question that I have pre-loaded into the form. If a student is feeling a 2 out of 5, this is an indicator that I need to check in more frequently."
"I believe in very regular progress monitoring with all students. It's important to me that they know I care about their progress and achievements."
"All the time! Maybe they get tired of me always checking in on them, but so far, my active involvement in their lives has shown positive results."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the school's website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their website!
"Yes, I do have a couple of questions. First, could you tell me a little bit about your growth plan for this upcoming school year? Second, what is your timeline for making this hiring decision?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part of working here? - What is the primary goal of this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the most significant change in the education industry over the past three years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me? "
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
If you can successfully pass a criminal record check and education verification: "Yes, I am happy to comply with any background checks required. My record is clean." If you are not able to successfully pass a criminal record check and education verification, you want to be very upfront about that: "You are welcome to conduct a background check on me. I will disclose upfront that I have a DUI on my record from 2009. This does not affect my ability to travel for work, and I no longer have any restrictions on my drivers' license."
"Yes, I am happy to comply with any background checks required. My record is clean."
"I am willing to take any background check that you require. Rest assured, these checks will all come back clean."
"I understand why you would need to do a full background check. I have taken the liberty of bringing you a copy of my police check. I'm happy to fill out any other paperwork that you require in addition to this."
The interviewer wants to know that you can honestly say your co-workers enjoy collaborating with you. Select a few positive and unique keywords that genuinely define your work ethic.
"I know that my coworkers respect my work ethic. If I had to guess how they perceive me, I think they would say that I am a reliable person, an encouraging teammate, and a strong mentor."
"Some great words to use: - Encouraging - Helpful - Engaged - Positive - Hard-working - Punctual - Reliable "
"My coworkers would describe me as a natural leader with an immense amount of knowledge when it comes to the academic industry. I am seasoned and always willing to pass my knowledge along to others."
Are you someone who can handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to control pressure in the workplace.
"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
"I am accustomed to high-stress levels from my post-secondary studies and am well prepared to handle stress in the workplace as well. At times of peak stress, I ensure that I am eating well, and getting enough rest. It's simple but makes all the difference."
"Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
Workplace culture and fit is a significant factor when considering a career move. Assure the interviewer that you have put thought, research, and consideration into how the workplace culture will work for you.
"I have researched your school through your social media channels and on glassdoor.com. Your employees have great things to say, and overall it seems that you have fun while you work. I am looking forward to joining an organization, like yours, that is upbeat and thoughtful with an eye on helping the community at the same time."
"I read many positive reviews online about your organization and this school's culture. You offer great incentives to keep people motivated, and it seems to be the type of fast-paced environment that values innovation and performance. My type of place!"
"Through my years as an admissions counselor, I have met a few teachers, faculty, and students from your school. Everyone has had great things to say about your culture. I have heard it is encouraging and supportive, and very diverse. I look forward to learning more about your workplace culture as the interview process continues!"
Admissions counselors either help high school students gain admission into an appropriate college, or work in a college to recruit students. Both occupations have a wide range of responsibilities related to the college application process. High school admissions counselors work with students individually and provide guidance by advising them on which colleges are a match with their interests, career goals, and academic achievement level. College admissions counselors are expected organize recruitment events to promote the college by speaking with potential students and parents. They also provide information to applicants about financial aid and scholarships, as well as any other programs that would attract the student to the school and/or assist with successful acceptance.
Job openings for admissions counselors can typically be found on the careers website of colleges and high schools, as well as on online job boards, especially ones that attract nonprofit organizations such as Idealist.org and Indeed.com. The interview will assess your technical knowledge of the college application process and your interpersonal skills. You'll be expected to have a good understanding of how to navigate the administrative functions of institutions. For college admissions counselors, it's important to be able to attract the right applicants for the college, as well as the ability to build a strong network. For high school admissions counselors, it's important to be able to develop individualized plans for the students that are tailored for their success.
To prepare for the interview, make sure that you research the school that you're applying to. Do your best to find out what problems they're facing. Is the college trying to attract a different demographic? Is the high school trying to increase college graduation rates for their at-risk students? Start by understanding the challenges, then think of examples of your work experience that can help overcome that challenge. At the high school level, come up with examples of your listening skill. For colleges, have examples of your ability to attract and engage people.