Guidance counselors are responsible for ensuring students are well rounded academically and socially, as well as being a source and confidant for a student who is struggling. Interviewers will want to know how well you understand the demands of the job, how you will relate to students and if you’re able to problem solve and make appropriate judgment calls. Be prepared to answer a variety of questions about your work experience and your own academic history. Above all, be professional and show you would be a good role model for your students.
What in Your Job or Life Experience Makes You More Qualified for This Job than Your Peers?
The truth is that the single most important qualification for a guidance counselor is a degree and certification. School boards have requirements that must be met in order to qualify for the position. As a result, you can expect that everyone else who will be interviewed for the role will have the same kind of educational background that you have. Most interviewers will want to know what makes you a better choice. A great guidance counselor will have experience working with students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Experience in the working world outside of the bubble of education can make you better at helping students recognize their own interests, and should be a focus in your answer. Experience in extracurricular activities while you were a student including working part time, participating in sports and clubs and activities outside of school all make you more well-rounded, and a better role model for your students.
What Made You Want to Become a Guidance Counselor?
In the education field, motivation is an important factor for interviewers. They will want to understand what is attractive for you about this job. Steer clear of focusing on summer vacations and other perks of working at a school. Be prepared to talk about what you hope to get out of the job, in terms of helping students to be successful and happy. This question really lends itself well to examples from your own life. Whether you had a guidance counselor who really excelled or one who failed you, undoubtedly your experience working with them will have led in some way to your choice to enter this field. You may want to explain why you want to work in education, and then expand into why you chose counseling over teaching or a similar area.
How Would You Handle a Student Reporting Abuse by a Parent?
No one said being a guidance counselor would be easy. You are required to maintain certain confidentialities for your students, but allegations of abuse must be taken seriously. Although you are bound by law to report abuse to the appropriate authorities, remember that every school is different, and there may be protocols to follow. If you are asked any questions of this nature, first explain that you would go to your direct supervisor and review school policy to ensure you are balancing your legal obligations with school rules. Don’t forget to address how you would console and help the student immediately while they’re in your care, in addition to the actions you would take once they leave your office. Perhaps you will keep tissues and doodads on your desk to help the student feel more comfortable while they’re speaking with you. Think about the question before answering and keep your focus on what is best for the student.
A well-prepared guidance counselor will care about their students’ health, happiness and safety. Be sure to convey to your interviewer that every decision you will make while a student is in your caseload will be to benefit that student, and give examples of choices you would make. Most of all, show your interviewer that you are a hard worker who will work diligently in support of your students.