Many of you have read from earlier posts that part of my job entails interviewing school counselor candidates. I have had the opportunity to interview for school based positions when I was a department chair, at division job fairs, for grant positions and I have also assisted principals when trying to fill their building positions. The questions are all the same for all interviewees (they have to be per HR regulations). Usually there are 2 or more school system employees conducting the interviews. Some principals like to conduct a final interview if they were not part of the initial interview. A lot of times SC interviewees ask questions based on school report cards and that is fine, sometimes they ask the generic question, what do you expect of the school counselor?..and you get answers like...report to work on time, see students, assist parents, etc. All the things you already know. Sometimes they don't ask questions at all. However, here are some questions you NEED TO ASK, in order for you to understand the building culture and the expectations that the principal may have for their school counselors.
- What professional development opportunities are available for school counselors? Better yet...are there funds for school counselor professional development? Some school divisions have a built in program, some do not. Some schools have monies to send you to a conference. Some do not and everything is on you. You need to ask.
- Who supervises school counselors in the building? Sometimes it is an assistant principal or the principal in the building, perhaps it is a department chair. Someone does...you need to find out who it is.
- Is there a school counseling district coordinator? Some school divisions have them. Some do not. Some school counselors are supervised by coordinators in other disciplines. Again...you need to find out.
- What responsibilities are given to school counselors when it comes to testing? This is HUGE! Some school counselors are the End of Grade testing coordinators, some are proctors, some are testing administrators. Some school counselors give IQ tests, some are responsible for the PSAT or AP program. You need to find out because you may be the same one complaining that you did not know the job required these specific duties.
- Are school counselors allowed to sponsor clubs or coach sports? Again, if this is something that is important to you, then you need to ask.
- Does the school counselor create their own classroom guidance schedule or is it created for them? I am seeing more and more elementary school counselors being built into the master schedule as a resource period. This format limits your availability for responsive services. You need to be prepared for this.
- Are school counselors allowed to provide classroom guidance? Groups? This is more of a secondary question. Some administrators do not wish for instruction to be interrupted, but they want college and career readiness or social skills or bullying prevention. Crazy, huh?
- What secondary or school based roles is the school counselor responsible for? 504 chair, special ed chair, volunteer coordinator, partners in education lead, hospitality chair, leadership team member, etc? You should want to know this because this is going to alter the time you can dedicate to your comprehensive school counseling program and may give you additional duties.
Now this is not to say that you should not take the job if offered, for I know SC interviews are far and few between and actual offers are less than that in some areas of the country. However, you need to go into a position knowing as much as you can so you can properly plan before the new school year starts and begin to advocate for yourself.
Hope these helped!