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School Counselor Interview
Questions

35 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated July 21st, 2020 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Education    

Question 1 of 35

What would you do if a student told you they were touched inappropriately by a teacher?

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1.

What would you do if a student told you they were touched inappropriately by a teacher?

Questions like this would also test your knowledge of the due process. It's not just about comforting the student but also being able to proceed with the right course of action especially if it will turn into an administrative/criminal offence such as sexual harassment or abuse.

Rachelle's Answer

"I will first get the facts from the student such as the details of the incident. I will also ask the student if he/she has told anybody so that I would know how to proceed with the incident. Normally, students are afraid because they are threatened by their abusers. As such, I would assure the student that I am there to help. I will escalate this to the school officials so that an investigation can be conducted. Meanwhile, I will ensure that the student is cared for by making sure that his/her family is informed and that there is protection from the suspect."

Anonymous Answer

"In this situation, the first thing I would do is contact my administrator and discuss the allegation with him/her. I would then assist in any way I could to ensure that proper procedures were followed (including contacting the police, informing parents, contacting a crisis outreach center, etc.) and that the student was kept safe and most importantly away from this teacher. I would follow up with my administrator in the days that followed and maintain confidentiality while also working with the parents of this student to ensure he/she gets the proper care, both physically and emotionally."

Rachelle's Answer

Highly professional response. If you have dealt with a situation like this in the past, you could mention that you have taken these steps, while maintaining complete confidentiality of course.

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2.

For you, what is the role of a school counselor?

It is always best if you read and understand the job description because some schools may require more of a specific task than the other. By reading the job description, you'll be able to focus your answer on the highlights of the job.

Rachelle's Answer

"As a school counselor, I am not just after the welfare of the students but also everybody who is involved in the child's life as a student of the school. That means, I should be able to initiate programs and be proactive in making sure that the students, teachers, parents and school staff are in sync in making the school a conducive environment for the children"

Anonymous Answer

"In my opinion, a school counselor needs to be an empathetic and objective listener who will advocate for student success and not judge students for their mistakes, but instead, work with them to realize that they have the power to make positive decisions everyday that will ensure their ongoing success as they get older."

Rachelle's Answer

Very good response! If there are specific responsibilities mentioned in the job posting, be sure to include them as well.

"I agree with your organization that a school counselor needs to be an empathetic and objective advocate for student success. You even say so in your school's mission statement, which caught my eye. As a school counselor, I am acutely aware that I need to work with students to help them realize they have the power to make positive decisions every day which will ensure their ongoing success."

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Anonymous Answer

"For me, the role of a school counselor is to provide support to students and staff by managing the school counseling program as well as providing individual counseling, group counseling, and classroom lessons. I want to be someone that students feel safe coming to. By providing support to staff and students, I want to make the school culture a more positive environment to work and learn."

Rachelle's Answer

Fantastic! You have a clear grasp of the role and its responsibilities. If there are any specific details to add from the job posting, be sure to sprinkle those in.

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3.

What is your experience with parenting programs?

A job that involves students would involve their parents. It would also help to research the general profile of the students in the school so you have an idea of the kind of parents you will encounter (e.g. middle class/upper class, rural/suburban) That way, you can tailor fit your answer depending on their profile.

Rachelle's Answer

"There was a time when we had to conduct an information drive on negative effects of bullying and we had to involve the Parent-Teacher Association to create a symposium. It was challenging to get everybody together to plan the event, but because I was able to discuss the objective of the program to everyone involved, it became easier to get their support. Overall, the event was a success, and as a follow through, we allot a section of our succeeding Parent-Teacher meetings by discussing any concerns, incidents or questions that they may have regarding bullying."

4.

Can you walk us through a time when a case you handled failed? If you would be given the chance to redo it, what would you do differently?

Interviewers know that not all endeavours end up as a success. Do not be afraid to share failed experiences but always ensure to add what you learned from the experience and to share what you are doing so that you won't fail again in the future.

Rachelle's Answer

"I remember the first time I had to talk to a parent regarding a student who was caught pushing another student. However, the parent was not that amenable to meeting with the school due to her busy schedule. I was a bit too assertive when talking to her which angered her, and so she didn't attend our initial meeting altogether. I apologized sincerely, and explained to her the urgency of the meeting, and we were able to settle the issue. So if I could redo that incident, I would have been more diplomatic when I first talked to her so we could have settled the issue sooner. Because of that, I realised that I should also learn how to talk to parents because it is a part of my job."

Anonymous Answer

"I recall having the opportunity to work with an elementary school student that I had initially started working with when he was in the 3rd grade. He had difficulty controlling his anger and would often take his frustrations out on peers and teachers verbally and sometimes physically. He did not like being told what to do and often times wanted to be left alone to do what he pleased. During my three years of working with this student before going off to middle school, I attempted to gauge his interests and build a solid relationship with him. I succeeded modestly on this front and saw his behaviors fluctuate over time. He had a lot of problems stemming from his home life, and although I tried to empathize with his situation, I feel that overall, his behaviors did not improve noticeably over the three years. In this regard, I feel I failed him to an extent. However, I do not think, if given the opportunity, that I would change any aspect of what I had done to help this student because every decision I made was to help guide him and get him to realize that a person can succeed despite the obstacles out of his/her control."

Rachelle's Answer

It is excellent that you have taken accountability for the outcome while standing behind your approach. This is exactly what the interviewer would be looking for.

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5.

Why would you make a great school counselor?

It is not just about telling the interviewer what your skills are or the positive traits you have. This question allows you to raise the bar high and communicate to the interviewer that you can offer more than what is expected.

Rachelle's Answer

"Apart form having the educational background and work experience to do the job, I believe that my natural inclination to serve others will allow me to flourish in this position. As a counsellor, I need to be physically, emotionally and mentally ready to address people's concerns and being a service-oriented person allows me to do that wholeheartedly."

Anonymous Answer

"Other than my educational achievements and experience, I feel I would make a great school counselor because I have a natural ability to connect with people through positive avenues, such as humor, in order to build a relationship. I am inclined to listen rather than talk and find that my personal experiences growing up as an adopted, only child in a single parent home, benefit the students I work with, regardless of age or gender."

Rachelle's Answer

Fantastic way to draw back to your educational qualifications while also highlighting how your own personal and professional experiences will leverage you into a successful career as a school counselor. Perfect response.

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6.

What is the difference between Counseling and Coaching?

When answering technical or theoretical questions, it is important to create an outline of your answer to demonstrate an organized train of thought. Provide concise answers and throw in an example to clarify the definition.

Rachelle's Answer

"There are two important factors that differentiate these concepts. First, is the approach. As a counselor, we focus more on understanding the individual's past to help them resolve or heal from a particular problem or issue. Meanwhile, coaching is more focused on setting goals for the future and the action plans that the individual has to do to achieve them. Second, counseling and coaching differ in their educational and training requirements. For example, a counselor is required to have a specific degree such as Psychology or Counseling, while coaches are not. Coaches can undergo trainings offered by coaching institutions regardless of their educational background."

7.

Why should we hire you?

This is your chance to highlight your best assets and what you can offer to the school. It is also an advantage if your beliefs or values are aligned with the school's so you can use it as leverage. However, be conscious of your tone. You want to sound confident of your skills, but not arrogant.

Rachelle's Answer

"Apart from my educational background and work experience, I believe that my values are very much aligned with the core values that your school espouses. For me, that is important especially as someone who represents the school and, who will work with the students and their parents very closely. I am also very passionate about this profession and I know that I can take on the responsibilities that this job requires."

Anonymous Answer

"I believe you should hire me because I personify all of the traits necessary to be an effective school counselor and have a genuine interest in building relationships with students, parents, teachers, and administrators to benefit students academically, socially and emotionally. I also believe my personal experiences and my experience as a classroom teacher and counselor, who has worked with every age group from Kindergarten to high school, will further benefit students."

Rachelle's Answer

Well structured answer with very good points. Try to think of other features that those competing against you for the job, would not possess. What is unique just to you?

"I believe you should hire me because, unlike my peers or other school counselors I have met, I... (insert personal mission statement, continued education or training you have completed, an area where you are a subject matter expert, etc.)..."

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8.

Can you share an experience when you went above and beyond to help a student?

Employers want to hire people who can go the extra mile. For this question, just cite an experience that you feel is beyond your normal scope of duty but you did wholeheartedly, which produced a favorable or positive result. Share how you felt during that time, and if you received any commendations for that action.

Rachelle's Answer

"There was a time when (share experience). At first, I was nervous to actually do the job but fortunately, I was able to complete it even if it wasn't something I regularly do. I felt very proud of myself and my immediate superior was also very happy with the output that I delivered. Because of that, I was hailed 'Employee of the Month' for that period."

9.

How do you keep yourself organized?

Time and records management are very important skills that you need to have. They are easier said than done so keep your answers short, practical and believable.

Rachelle's Answer

"I always keep a to-do list to keep track of the things that I need to do for the day. I also make sure that my work space is clean, organised and properly labeled so that throughout the day, I maintain an efficient work environment. Lastly, I prioritise those that need my utmost attention so that my schedule is well-planned and easy to manage."

10.

How would you handle an irate parent?

Working for a school means that you would also have to work with the parents. For questions like this, be sure to outline your answers according to your course of action and the expected output of said action. You should be able to illustrate clearly how you will manage situational questions.

Rachelle's Answer

"I will first ask the parent to calm down. After the parent calms down, I shall ask for his/her concern so I can start addressing them. It is important that during the discussion, I empathize with them and tell them that I understand where they are coming from yet still making sure that all their concerns are addressed truthfully and accordingly. However, if the parent does not calm down, I will respectfully but sternly communicate that being angry will not solve anything and so he/she has to calm down so we can discuss the matter as how mature adults should."

Anonymous Answer

"I would first give the parent a safe place to calm down and once they have composed themselves, I would then ask what the problem is and listen to what they have to say. I would then work with the parent to try to come to a solution to their perceived problem."

Rachelle's Answer

Are there any additional steps that would be required, such as bringing in an Administrator or third party? If so, be sure to include that. Also, if this has happened in your career before, be sure to bring in your specific experience as an example.

"I have worked with an upset parent in the past. I gave this parent a safe place to calm down and compose themselves. Then, I asked to hear a breakdown of the perceived issue so that I could gain an understanding of the most sensitive points. Once I had gained a full understanding of the issue, I pulled in an Administrator to help create a plan for resolution."

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11.

Who is your role model? Why do you look up to this person?

Interviewers want to know your motivator/s or inspiration/s. When you are asked this question, highlight a trait that you admire about your role model and share an experience where you used what you learned from that person.

Rachelle's Answer

"My mother is my role model. She is a very confident and smart woman who has an excellent work ethic. But more than anything, it is her compassion for others that I admire the most. I learned from her that success doesn't matter if you don't care for the people around you and help those in need. Because of that, I always try to help others to the best of my ability so I can make a difference in their lives in my own little way."

12.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Most people find it difficult to visualise long-term plans. If you haven't decided on one yet, do not say something that you don't mean. Be truthful but keep your answers simple and believable. It would also help if your 5-year plan is still related to the field you are applying for.

Rachelle's Answer

"I see myself still in the counselling field, but I hope that by that time, I would have had more exposure in counselling various types of people - young children, older ones, those with special needs, etc. On a personal note, I hope that I am half way through finishing my PhD by then, if not finished."

13.

How would you divide your time between meeting the immediate needs of the students and keeping up with the paperwork?

Time Management is important in almost every job out there. Answer this question by simulating how you would go about a regular day at the office. That way, the interviewer will see how you prioritize your tasks. This manner of answering an interviewer's question also shows that you have the ability to plan.

Rachelle's Answer

"It all boils down to knowing your priorities. As a school counselor, the children's welfare are of utmost priority but I would definitely allot a significant amount of time to also fulfill my other obligations such as paper work. I could start the day by doing my rounds in school right before classes start. I believe it is important for me to be visible during the times of the day that the children are out (including break and dismissal time) so I can observe them and also mingle with them. When classes start, I can begin going through paper work and emails before attending to meetings I have scheduled with parents or with students. By doing my paper work in the morning, my schedule can be more flexible in the afternoon in case there are concerns with students that I need to immediately call to my office."

Anonymous Answer

"My first priority as a school counselor is to meet the immediate needs of the students and I would, therefore, make their welfare at school my priority above any paperwork I may need to complete. I would complete any paperwork necessary in between times that I meet with students, teachers, or parents. I would also utilize after school time to complete my paperwork obligations if necessary."

Rachelle's Answer

Very good answer. Straightforward and shows off your great time-management capabilities.

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14.

Why did you choose to apply in our school?

You don't have to memorize the history of the school to ace this part. You can mention what the school is known for (e.g. 'It is among the top private schools in the district', 'It is known for its stellar program for research') or focus on what they stand for (e.g. vision, mission, and core values). You can use this opportunity to mention your personal values that are aligned with theirs.

Rachelle's Answer

"The school has received numerous recognitions when it comes to both academics and sports, thanks to the holistic curriculum that you offer to your students. Personally, I believe that a person has to be well-rounded so your school's dedication to holistic development resonates with my own values."

Anonymous Answer

"The school has made improvements in relation to academic standards and progress. I believe the school is implementing programs to help students achieve even more academically while providing support for the emotional and physical needs of students via athletics. I am familiar with the demographics of the student population at the school and have worked with similar students in the past."

Rachelle's Answer

Excellent response! You have done your homework on the school and its initiatives, which is exactly what the interviewer would like to see.

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15.

Why did you choose a career as a counselor?

Interviewers want to know a candidate's propensity to stay in a job for a long time. By asking this, they are able to gauge if this is a career that the candidate sees himself or herself doing for a long time or if it is a fleeting interest. Be genuine when answering this question since interviewers can easily tell if you are simply saying nice things to get the job. It helps to add a personal story that could solidify your answer.

Rachelle's Answer

"I have always been a people person and I have this inclination to help others when they need it. Help comes in different shapes and forms, but for me, I want to help others in addressing their problems and improving their situations. So when I was choosing a degree for college, I decided to pick something that would allow me to do that and that's how I ended up in counseling."

Anonymous Answer

"I began my educational career as a secondary teacher teaching English Language Arts and then moved on to working with middle school students. As a teacher, I was interested in not only teaching my students but getting to know them as people. Unfortunately, as a teacher, I did not get as much of an opportunity to get to know all of my students well. As a counselor, I am able to form lasting relationships with students and see them as more than just students, but people with problems and issues that contribute to their struggles and successes in the school setting that encompass their lives outside of a school setting. I am able to better understand my students as a counselor because I have more time to know every aspect of their lives."

Rachelle's Answer

You have painted a great picture here, walking the interviewer through your career and what has landed you where you are today. Great response.

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