Everyone who graduates from a School Counseling degree program can’t wait for the day when they land their first job. Check out this Linky Party to get some helpful hints about what you can do to help prepare for your interview.
Although I haven’t actually went on an interview in quite some time, I have been on many interviewing committees and have helped to select several school counselors that I have had the pleasure to work with over the years.
First and foremost, do wear a suite and bring some type of briefcase or portfolio. It is also a good idea to bring with you a pad of paper and pen, that way you can write down questions to make us you understand them and answer them correctly. It may be 100 degrees when you are interviewing, but that does not give you license to wear that cute sundress in the back of your closet. Our school has a dress code that prohibits thin straps, so if you are too modest, we’re not going to want you on our team.
Bring along a portfolio of projects you have put together. Photos of bulletin boards, sample newsletters, handouts for a Parent Program, and a summary sheet of the types of groups you have run and a breakdown of the sessions in each are a few examples of items to bring with you. These items let potential employers and colleagues know about your personal style, the strength of your writing skills, your organizational skills, and your technology skills. In addition, bring several additional copies of your résumé. Lastly, bring along your sense of humor. Interviewing can be intimidating and nerve wrenching. Being able to smile and to remain calm is essential.
You should expect your interviewing committee to work as a team. Each member asking questions relevant to their specialties. Our interview team consists of the Principal, several teachers, other school counseling personnel (psychologist, counselor), and counseling office staff. The counseling office needs to be a place of calmness even in the roughest seas–so it is important that everyone will mesh with each other. You can expect questions about how you would schedule meetings and counseling sessions, how you would handle issues of confidentiality, graduation requirements (if applying for a middle school or high school position), a counseling situation that happened that you were not proud of, as well as one in which you were proud. Situational questions, ie what would you do if. . ., are also standard, as well as, basic questions like “Tell me about yourself”, “What would a former colleague say about you?”, “What made you decide to go into school counseling?” One last thing to expect, however, is a chance to ask questions, so be prepared. Don’t be afraid to ask how a typical day is structured, or if there are any particular projects the school is hoping that you would work on.
No one expects you to have all the answers to every question, but they do want honesty. Saying, “I’m not sure what the procedures of the school are, so I would first check with another counselor and my principal” is a great answer. Likewise, reciting graduation requirements that are incorrect can be the kiss of death for getting a call back. State, instead, “I don’t have them memorized, but I know that they can be found. . .” or “I have a printout with all the requirements in my. . .”is a much better answer.
You should also highlight your ability to be able to work with other adults, your ability to think fast on your feet, your ability to work with others, your ability to work with grouchy and irritated people, and your eagerness to learn new things. One last thing to highlight is something you found out about that school. . .”I see from your website that. . .”
If you can do all these things, and you are likely to get a call back, and that is a great first step. For our last counseling position that was advertised we interviewed 11 counselors and had over 200 apply. So make sure you are prepared.
Email any questions and start using all your resources to get the connections you need for available positions!