Rocking your School Counseling Interview: A 5 Step Process 

You've finished your internship, graduated from your master's program, and now it's time to start applying for jobs! This is the fun part, right? With the right preparation it definitely can be. Applying and interviewing doesn't have to be daunting. Follow these 5 steps so you can feel totally prepared to rock the interview process.

A little about me…

The application process was crazy! I was so excited and eager to get a counseling job I was applying everywhere; public, private, charter schools, military schools, Christian schools, and even schools located over an hour from my house! I literally fell to my knees with excitement and gratitude when I landed my first interview.

My interviews were wild too. I saw everything. I had to present to a student panel, interpret Tupac lyrics, was mistaken for another Rachel, and even got jalapeño juice in my contact the morning of an interview! Needless to say, I learned a lot. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and experiences to have a stress free and enjoyable interview process.

Rocking the Interview: A 5 Step Process

Step 1: Find jobs to apply for

Find your local database

Most states have a database filled with available job listings. I used EdJoin to find my public school job in California. I also had interviews from jobs I found on Indeed and even Craigslist! And for my most recent position at the international school, I got it from word of mouth! Read more about that crazy story here. Ask your internship supervisor or professors where they suggest applying.

Think outside of the box

Apply to public, private, international, etc! As I mentioned earlier, I applied to every school I could think of. You may have a stricter criteria (aka not be as desperate as I was!) but be flexible and willing to get out of your comfort zone. These could be some of your best experiences.

Put yourself out there

I would drop off resumes at places that weren't even hiring! You never know, maybe they haven't posted the listing yet. I've even seen schools create a position for someone because they liked them so much! It doesn't hurt to network with as many educators as possible. You want to be top of mind when something opens up.

Step 2: Include these resumé must-haves

Education and Experience

Divide your resumé into the following sections

  • education

  • counseling experience

  • work experience

  • technology skills

  • activities / honors

  • references

Education: In most industries you list your work experience first on your resumé, but in the education field list your education experience first. Here you'll want to mention where you went to grad school and undergrad, your majors and minors, and GPA (if you’re proud of it!). I even include the university I studied abroad at.

Counseling Experience: You may be thinking, 'But I don't have any experience yet, I'm applying for my first job!'. You do have experience! Remember your practicum and fieldwork assignments? This is where you will communicate your internship experiences. This part is super important because it shows what you did at the school sites which gives your potential employer an idea of what you’ll do at their school.

Work experience: Here you will list any previous jobs you have had. Select the most recent and relevant ones. Even if they are in an unrelated field it shows work ethic, responsibility, and adaptability.

Technology Skills: In this space you will mention technology you are proficient in. This is especially important in today's digital learning age.

Activities / Honors: Here you can mention any scholarships, awards, volunteer experience, or professional development. Include things like your ASCA membership as well.

References: Finally you'll wrap it up with a list of references that can be contacted to vouch for you. Choose a diverse list across different jobs and experiences.

school counselor resume

Letters of Recommendation

Usually they'll be required but even if they're not submitting a letter of recommendation is a good idea. This is in addition to the references you provided on your resumé. Who should you get one from? I recommend asking a professor, an internship supervisor, and a previous boss.

Resumé tips:

  • Use power words to show what you did (example: 'developed curriculum and facilitated small groups' vs. 'led small groups')

  • Keep it at 1-2 pages

Step 3: Dress for success

They say dress for the job you want… well in this case, don't! Educators dress pretty casual compared to other professions, but in an interview you'll want to look like a business professional. My go-to outfit was dress pants, a colorful blouse, a black blazer, and heels. You can wear a watch to show your punctual or a statement piece to boost your confidence. Don't overthink it, just be sure you look polished and professional.

school counseling interview

Step 4: Show time!

You have a polished look and perfect resumé, now it's time to shine! Think of your interview as the part where you bring the experiences you wrote about on your resumé to real life. Tell stories of how you taught class lessons, assisted in a school wide activity, or led a small group. Share authentic experiences and let your personality shine through. If you don't have a lot of counseling experience, talk about how the skills you learned at your previous jobs or in school can translate to this field.

What about a portfolio? I have back and forth thoughts on whether or not a portfolio is a good idea. I created a binder of work samples from students to show what I did in my internships. I showed it at every interview…except for the one where I actually got the job! It may have been coincidence (I accidentally left it in the car!), but it makes me feel that my portfolio was dinky and illustrated how little experience I actually had, while it's intended to do the opposite!

It's a personal decision if you decide to use one. I think it can allow for a memorable touch given that schools are likely interviewing a lot of candidates. If you're going to use one be sure that it is comprehensive and professional.

Step 5: Send a thank you card

It's old school, but a handwritten thank you card goes a long way. Rather than get lost in a sea of thank you emails, a handwritten note is the perfect personal touch to be remembered by. It shows gratitude, effort, and attention to detail. All qualities a potential employer is likely looking for.

after interview thank you card

Back to my story…

Guess what? I didn't land one the first year out of grad school. I was super disappointed but knew I needed a job to start paying my bills (student loans, do you feel me?). So I accepted a counseling-adjace job at an educational consulting company. It was probably my least favorite job ever, but it did get me direct experience working with students. After working there for a year I reapplied to school counseling jobs and landed my dream job as an elementary school counselor! Timing is everything. Had I not had the experiences at the previous job I may not have been qualified or prepared to get my dream job.

If you don't get a counseling job offer right out of the gate, don't get discouraged. Find something in the same field so you can meet people, gain experiences, and learn! Remember as Nelson Mandela said, 'I never lose. I either win or learn.'.

Use these 5 strategies as you start the interview process and you can go from overwhelmed and unsure to confident and stress free! Click here to sign up for my free School Counselor Bootcamp so you can feel 100% prepared going into your first year!

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