Once you land a job as a school counselor, you will be the one who gets to ask the questions to find out about students' issues and needs. When you are still seeking a job, however, you are the one who has to field the questions. To better your chances of getting the right job, consider the questions you might be asked and the answers that can help you stand out from the crowd.
Reason for Career Selection
School counselors often face stressful situations. Because of this, the job is not for the faint of heart or those who lack dedication. The hiring committee will likely open the interview by asking you to explain why you selected counseling. Prior to the interview, take time to think about how you chose this profession so you can provide an answer that is well-structured and detailed. Avoid saying something broad and obvious like, “I like helping people.” Instead, find a specific experience that steered you toward the career. For instance, if you started thinking about counseling when you had a friend who struggled at school and benefited from the assistance of the counselor, share this experience with the committee.
Evidence of Initiative
Because schools don’t want employees who only do the minimum, the hiring committee might ask you to give an example of a time when you displayed initiative. When they pose a question like this, they are looking for a specific answer, not a broad generalization. Highlight any programs you helped develop, if applicable. If you suggested modifications to the existing counselor program at your field placement location during your practicum experience, highlight these as proof of the fact that you are always looking to innovate and improve.
To be effective, school counselors must develop strong relationships with other school staff. In the absence of a strong relationship with the counselor, teachers might be reluctant to refer students for counseling, and the students' issues might not be addressed. The hiring committee will likely ask you to explain how you will develop relationships with the staff. Provide specific examples of how you will work to earn the trust and respect of the staff, such as encouraging informal meetings and leading training sessions on potential trouble signs for students.
As your counseling interview draws to a close, the hiring committee will likely attempt to get a feel for how you would handle some of the difficult situations a counselor might face. To do this effectively, they might ask you situational questions, such as how you might handle a student who told you she was pregnant. Prepare to explain what you would say, and why. Be specific. Providing step-by-step details of your words and actions.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.