Here are the top 10 most asked school counselor interview questions along with suggested answers that will help you prove you are the right person for the job.
1. Why have you chosen to become a school counselor?
The interviewer wants to know the reasons behind your career choice. Being a school counselor is about helping others. The interviewer wants to hear the desire to help students in your answer. Your answer should talk about your career goals and how you want to help students improve their chances of success in life. Tell the interviewer what difference you believe you can make in this role. As a school counselor, students will need to trust you. You will need to be approachable and likable. The interviewer will look for those qualities and the desire to help students throughout the interview. Make sure you smile when answering.
As a high school student, I went through a difficult period when my parents got divorced. Initially, I tried to handle it myself. I realized that I needed some help, and my high school counselor was there to provide help and listen to me. Having someone to talk to, without judgment, helped me through that difficult period. It made me realize how much benefit a counselor could bring to students. I want to give that benefit back to others and help students reach their full potential.
2. A student reports being neglected or abused. What would you do?
As a counselor, you recognize that reporting abuse or neglect will be difficult and traumatic for the student. The student may have an expectation of confidentiality, but the interviewer will expect you to weigh that against the legal requirement to report abuse. Your answer should show that you will follow school procedures while also showing that you will handle the situation carefully and confidentially. As a school counselor, they will expect you to know the signs of neglect or abuse.
One of the first things I would do in the role is to familiarize myself with the school procedures to follow in this situation. I understand that it takes a lot of strength for a student to report neglect or abuse. They must trust in me as their counselor. They must trust that I will help and support them. I would listen to the student and be empathetic. I would provide help within the limits of the law and school regulations. Although the student may expect confidentiality, and I will respect that desire to the extent I can, I also understand the legal requirements to report neglect or abuse. I would not neglect those requirements. I also realize that I must constantly be observant, looking for signs of neglect or abuse in the student population because students may not feel able to report it. As a counselor, I cannot ignore those signs and would work to help students in line with school procedures.
3. Tell me about a time you collaborated with teachers and/or other adults in a student’s life to resolve a student’s problem.
Being a counselor isn’t just about working with students. You will need to – and want to – work alongside teachers, parents, tutors and others in the student’s life. In your answer, you should show the interviewer how you approach problem-solving and working as a team to meet the needs of the student. Show your communication and teamwork skills. Your approach should also highlight your ability to be flexible in finding a solution. Students are not one-size-fits-all. The interviewer is looking for a specific example, but if you don’t have the experience, talk about how you would approach such a situation.
While I haven’t yet worked in such a way with teachers or others to solve a student’s problem, I would focus on good, clear communication to make sure I understand the needs of my student and that I can communicate those needs to others. I would also use my communication skills to make sure I understood the needs of others involved in the situation. Once I understood the needs of everyone involved, I could then assess the situation and work with the various people involved to find a solution.
4. A teacher reports that a student is consistently disruptive. How would you handle this?
As a counselor, it will be your job to handle many types of problems. The interviewer wants to know that you can handle children with different needs and issues. Your answer should show that you will follow school policies and be looking for permanent solutions, rather than a temporary fix. The interviewer wants to know that you will work to find out why the student is disruptive and that you will provide the student with coping skills or other techniques to deal with the behavior, and potentially get the student additional psychological help if needed. Make sure you show compassion and do not appear to be viewing the student as a problem. Children are a result of their circumstances.
Disruptive behavior has an underlying cause. I would work to find what that underlying cause was so I could then work with the student to resolve it and get their behavior back on track. It is possible that the underlying cause could be eliminated or mitigated. Getting the student back on track could involve a number of things, including practicing coping skills, communicating and working with parents and people at the school, and perhaps even additional psychological help if that was needed. I would follow any school procedures in place when dealing with this. I also recognize that efficiency is crucial in dealing with these types of issues. A disruptive student impacts everyone, and that is unfair to all involved.
5. You may be subjected to criticism from teachers, students, and parents. How do you handle criticism?
As a counselor, you need to handle criticism. Criticism can come from many areas, including students, teachers, and parents. Recognize that criticism comes with the job. Make it clear that your goal is to do what is best for students and help them reach their full potential. That means being able to accept negative feedback. Make it clear that you will handle being given negative feedback or criticism professionally and not taken personally. The interviewer wants to know that relationships will not be damaged by any negative feedback or constructive criticism. Show that your focus is on the students, not defending yourself, and that everyone can constantly improve.
Doing what is best for the students is at the heart of what I do. If a student, parent, or teacher criticized me, I would consider what they had to say and use any constructive criticism to help me improve. At no time would I hold a grudge against anyone who felt it necessary to give negative feedback. Taking such feedback personally would cause difficulties in my professional relationships and would make it harder to do what is best for the students. I want to hear all feedback because everyone should constantly be working to improve themselves.
6. If a student reveals they are having suicidal thoughts or plans or has been self-harming, what would you do?
Always take mental health issues seriously. Many tough issues can arise for students in high school. Never dismiss or trivialize self-harming or suicidal thoughts or plans. Being able to have open discussions about the subject is important. That will require good, open communication and being able to build trust with the student. Recognize your legal obligations in dealing with these reports. Tell the interviewer what actions you would take, such as calling the parents or helping the student tell their parents. Show the interviewer that helping the student is the goal in this situation.
Suicide and self-harm are difficult topics to discuss. Easy or not, they are important topics, and it is my job to be there for students, especially in situations like these. It is important that the student feels they can confide in me and be honest about their feelings. I recognize that I could not keep this disclosure confidential. Depending on the age of the student and their views, I would speak with the parents directly to let them know what was going on. Alternatively, I would support the student in telling their parents themselves. I would do my best to ensure that the student could access appropriate mental health care.
7. Tell me about a case you handled where you think you failed. How would you do things differently?
No one wants to admit to failing, but we all have times where we would have acted differently in retrospect. The interviewer wants you to recognize that not every case will be a success. They want to know that you can learn from past experiences. If you do not have experience as a counselor, your answer should make it clear you recognize the need to learn from past mistakes.
In my first role as a school counselor, I had a student who was having a tough time at home. As a result, they were acting out in class and being very disruptive, ending with an incident where they pushed another student. I knew I needed to discuss the issues with the parent, and that was best done face-to-face. I tried to arrange a meeting with the parent, but they were not prepared to come in due to other commitments. I pushed to set a date for the meeting, but my assertiveness put the parent off. They didn’t show up for the meeting. I rescheduled the meeting, and we resolved the issues with the student. I was wrong to be so assertive, and I am now much more patient when dealing with parents.
8. A conflict develops between a student and a teacher. Whose side would you take?
The interviewer wants to know that you will fully understand the problem before working to resolve it. Recognize that you have to be careful about taking sides. If you automatically side with a teacher as the person in authority, there is a risk that you will overlook the root of the problem and miss potential mistreatment. If you automatically side with the student, any maladaptive behaviors may be overlooked and not addressed. Your responsibility is to understand the problem and work with both the student and the teacher to resolve the issue.
I wouldn’t automatically take anyone’s side. I must understand what has caused the problem. If I don’t understand the cause of the conflict, I cannot help to resolve it. If I automatically take sides either with teachers or with students, I am likely to lose their trust. There is also the potential that I may miss other issues that are going on. That is not in the best interests of either the student or the teacher.
9. A student you are working with is resistant to counseling. How would you resolve this?
A counselor must recognize that some students who need the support of a counselor may initially resist help. Your answer should show the interviewer you recognize this and have different methods you would try. Show the interviewer that you would work to gain trust. Your answer should focus on how you would create a positive relationship with open communication. Let the interviewer know that you recognize that often those who are resistant to counseling are the ones who need it most.
I understand that some students may not be open to counseling. They may resist my attempts to talk with them, to help them. Those students are often the ones who need help the most because they are keeping things locked inside. Patience is a key skill in this situation. I would have to work to build trust with the student. That takes time. I would have to reach the student and build a positive relationship. That might involve finding out more about the student, so I could figure out the best way to build common ground. Aside from patience, it is key that I am open, honest, and transparent with them to help build that trust.
10. Tell me what the most important quality for a school counselor is.
There are a variety of answers you could give to this question. It is crucial that the answer you give is genuine and that you explain your answer. While patience may be one of the most important qualities a school counselor can have, the interviewer wants to know why you think that is the most important quality. Other important qualities are open communication, empathy, love for children, and a desire to help children. These are all important, but the reasons you give are just as important.
There are lots of qualities that are important, but for me, the most important quality is open communication. Being a counselor relies on good communication. If I cannot communicate with the students, then I will struggle to build rapport and gain their trust. To succeed with the students, I need to connect through open communication. Without that quality, I think I would struggle to make positive changes in the students’ lives.
Next 40 Most Asked School Counselor Interview Questions
- A student tells you that she is pregnant. What do you do?
- What are your goals in this role?
- Tell me more about your experience as a school counselor.
- What role do you think you have to play in promoting equality for all students?
- Which counseling approach do you follow?
- What would you hope to accomplish in the first 90 days?
- How important do you consider notetaking?
- Why do you want to work at this school?
- Why have you chosen to counsel students in this age group?
- What experience do you have with parenting programs?
- What do you think is your main strength?
- What career goals do you have?
- What methods will you use to assess the school counseling program?
- Tell me about your experiences working with LGBTQIA students.
- If there was a conflict between ethical standards in counseling and the school policies, how would you handle that?
- What techniques do you use to cope with stress?
- How do you organize, prioritize, and plan your work?
- A student wants to drop out of school. How would you approach this?
- How would you develop the school counseling program to address an attainment gap?
- What experience have you had writing letters of recommendation?
- Tell me about a time when you showed excellent listening skills.
- What are your professional development needs? How do you determine those needs?
- What was a typical day in your last role?
- As a school counselor, what do you consider to be the most effective use of your time?
- Tell me how you think the ASCA National Model supports all students.
- What role does data have in helping to improve a school counseling program?
- What do you think is the difference between a therapist and a school counselor?
- What would your ideal school counseling program include?
- What experience do you have working with special education students?
- What was the most satisfying case you have handled?
- What do you think the most recent standardized test results say about our school?
- What steps would you take to address cultural differences?
- In small group counseling, how do you develop positive relationships with the students?
- How do you make sure you include special education students in a counseling program?
- What objectives did you set in your last role, and how did you achieve them?
- How can a school counseling program support a school’s mission?
- What approach do you take to individual student planning?
- Do you consider leadership as part of a school counselor’s role? Please explain.
- What steps would you take to address student attendance levels?
- Tell me how you would handle an angry or aggressive parent?
10 Best Questions to Ask in School Counselor Interview
In an interview, the interviewer wants to get to know you and find out if you are the best person for the role. After they have finished asking their questions, you can ask some questions of your own. Take that opportunity. If the interviewer forgets to ask you if you have any questions, speak up and ask if there is time for you to ask some questions. The questions you ask will show the interviewer you have a genuine interest in the specific role. They can also help you decide whether this role is a good fit for you. An interview is a two-way process.
- What do you think I should achieve in the first 90 days?
- Can you tell me about the school population, beyond the published statistics?
- What do you think is the most important characteristic of a school counselor?
- Can you tell me what a typical day would look like in this role?
- How would you describe the culture in this school?
- What goals do you have for the school this year?
- Do you have a mentor program for new staff members?
- What challenges do you think the school will face this year?
- How will you review my performance?
- Could you describe the collaboration between teachers and the school counselors?
When interviewing for a role as a school counselor, show that you have a genuine desire to help students. Let the interviewer see that you will advocate for students and that you have the right skills to help the students and the school succeed. Don’t forget to smile and let your likability shine through as you answer the questions.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.