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Academic Advisor Interview Questions

POSITION SUMMARY

Academic advisors help students develop plans that will aid them in achieving their educational goals. This may include helping students examine school programs, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and select a major. They also work closely with administrators to stay up to date on any program changes. 

Academic advisors track the progress of students and provide resources to students who do not meet education requirements. In some schools, they may also provide assistance to at-risk students and recommend further counseling.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Academic advisor responsibilities may include:

  • Placing students in classes relevant to their desired field of study
  • Providing information on additional courses
  • Developing a plan for students to follow so they can achieve their academic goals
  • Providing additional resources outside of classroom help
  • Making class schedule changes as needed

 

SKILLS

It can be difficult for students to achieve their academic goals without guidance. In order to advise them properly, a skilled academic advisor will:

  • Utilize active listening in order to assess student needs
  • Stay organized to manage multiple student profiles
  • Stay on top of industry trends in order to provide sound career advice
  • Have a firm grasp of policy and curriculum changes
  • Network with other administrative staff to stay up to date on changes within the school

 

QUALIFICATIONS

To secure a position as an academic advisor, candidates will need a bachelor’s degree in education or counseling. However, many employers will give preference to candidates with a higher level of education such as a master’s degree. In addition, candidates will be expected to pass a background check.

If you’re getting ready to interview for a position as an academic advisor, you can prepare by researching the company as much as possible. Learn about the 9 things you should research before an interview.

 

SALARY

Salaries for academic advisors range between $40K and $61K with the median being $50K. 

Factors impacting the salary you receive as an academic advisor include:

  • Degrees (bachelor's, master's, PhD)
  • Years of experience
  • Location
  • Reporting structure (seniority of the department head or school administrator you report to, number of direct reports such as counselors, teacher aids and administrators)
  • Level of performance - exceeding expectations
 
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ACADEMIC ADVISOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Question: Why did you become an academic advisor?

Explanation: This is a general question that is normally asked early in the interview. It's a way to get you talking about the actual role. It also provides the interviewer with information they can follow up on based on your answer.

Example: “While I was in high school, I struggled quite a bit with my studies. I was fortunate to have a strong and capable academic advisor who brought me back on track and ensured that I not only completed the curriculum but also excelled in my studies. This made quite an impression on me, so when it came time to choose a profession, I naturally gravitated toward this one. I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and being an academic advisor provides me the opportunity to offer the same benefits to my students that my advisor gave me.”


Question: What do you do to motivate a student who is either distracted or unmotivated?

Explanation: This is an example of an operational question in which the interviewer is seeking to learn some of the techniques you will use in your job. Motivating students is a key skill an academic advisor needs to have. You should be able to provide several examples of ways you motivate your students.

Example: “Since every student is different, so are the things that motivate them. I use a variety of techniques to provide motivation. First, I find out why the student seems to be unmotivated or disinterested. Once I have a good idea about this, I try to find out what motivates him or her. Examples include achievement, recognition, or tangible rewards. I then work on removing the stimulus or distraction that has resulted in the student being unmotivated and replacing it with one of the motivators that will encourage them to study. I also work closely with the student’s teachers who are ultimately responsible for the student’s achievement.”


Question: Can you describe the planning process you use for students in your role as an academic advisor?

Explanation: This is another operational question which the interviewer will ask to determine your level of competency as an academic advisor and learn about some of the methodologies you use. Planning is a key element in this profession, so you should be able to easily answer this question based on your experience or education.

Example: “Early in the academic year, I meet with each student I’m assigned to in order to develop a plan for the year. I use a questionnaire to understand their goals as well as some of the challenges they anticipate during the school year. We then sit down together and fill out the planning template with details such as their class assignments, extracurricular activities, study plans, and other items that will impact their academic achievement. I meet with the students several times each semester to review the plan and adjust it as needed.”


Question: How do you manage your calendar and allocate your time to be able to meet each student's goals and handle your administrative duties as well?

Explanation: In the contemporary U.S. educational system, resources are scarce, and the school administration and staff are assigned more work than they can handle. This requires academic advisors to have exceptional time-management skills to accomplish everything they need to do. The key to answering this question is to prioritize the students’ needs since this is the main purpose of your job.

Example: “Allocating enough time for each student to meet their academic goals is challenging. This is why the planning process is so important. Once I have the plans completed, I understand which students will need additional time and which ones can handle things on their own with little supervision. I then schedule student appointments accordingly. I also maintain open office hours before, during, and after school to provide access to students who need my assistance. Most of my administrative work is done between appointments, in the evening, and even on the weekend sometimes.”


Question: What does a typical day for an academic advisor look like? 

Explanation: This is another operational question which the interviewer will use to make sure you understand the duties and responsibilities of an academic advisor. If you have experience in the field, this should be easy to answer. If you are new to academic advising, you can rely on your education and any student-teaching experience you have to respond to this question.

Example: ”While there is no 'typical' day for an academic advisor, there are some common elements. I start each day by messaging the teachers and asking if there are any performance or behavioral issues I need to be aware of with my students. I’ll usually have a calendar of student meetings, so I spend some time before each meeting, reviewing the student’s file and preparing a brief meeting agenda. There are always administrative meetings I need to attend as well as special events that occur each week around the campus. After school, I conduct parent meetings for students who have issues parents need to be aware of. Finally, at the end of the day and usually at home, I’ll take care of any paperwork which hasn’t been completed.”


Question: How do you track students’ progress and ensure they achieve their goals? 

Explanation: This is another operational question, the purpose of which is to determine the process you use to perform your primary responsibility which is ensuring each student’s progress throughout the academic year. You can answer this by describing the process and any specific tools you use to accomplish this task.

Example: “Tracking each student’s process against the plan we created at the beginning of the year is my primary responsibility. I take this very seriously and spend a lot of time doing it. The tools I use include the school’s academic record system and an Excel spreadsheet which contains a summary of the student’s plan and the milestones we’ve established. By comparing the academic record and the student’s progress toward the milestones with the original plan we created, I can determine if a student is on track or needs additional assistance and advising.”


Question: If you noticed a student’s grades were slipping or they weren’t hitting their academic milestones, how would you approach resolving the problem? 

Explanation: You may be asked this as a follow-up question to the previous one. It is another operational question, seeking to understand what actions you take when a student is falling behind. This is another critical part of the job, so you should have a good answer to this question.

Example: “If I’m doing my job properly, it becomes apparent to me very quickly when a student is falling behind. The longer I wait to address it, the harder the solution becomes. The first thing I do is contact the student’s teachers and get their input as to what may be causing the lack of progress. If they identify an issue that can be resolved within the school environment, I then meet with the student and discuss what we can do to get them back on track. If the lack of achievement seems to be due to something outside of the academic setting, I schedule a meeting with the parents to see if we can come up with a solution together.”


Question: In addition to working directly with the students, what other resources do you use to handle student issues? 

Explanation: An interviewer will ask you this question to understand your creativity and problem-solving ability. What they’re trying to learn is how you address student issues by using resources other than direct counseling and/or school-related disciplinary actions. Experienced academic advisors should have a broad portfolio of tools and resources they use when traditional counseling and disciplinary actions aren’t effective.

Example: "Fortunately, most issues I encounter during the school year can be addressed and resolved through counseling or other traditional actions within the school environment. However, some cases demand a great deal of creativity and resourcefulness. Some of the techniques I employ include peer counseling, tangible rewards such as tickets to events or gift certificates that are donated to the school, access to tutoring, and motivational speakers from athletic teams or businesses in the area. All of these can be effective if used appropriately."


Question: What type of work environment do you prefer and is the most comfortable for you?

Explanation: This question is meant to determine if you're a good fit for the school with which you are interviewing. Employers screen candidates based on their skills and experience, but once they’ve narrowed the field, they are then looking for individuals who will be a good fit for the organization. You should be interested in the same criteria since you will be spending a great deal of your day in this environment. After answering the question, you may want to ask the interviewer if the environment you described matches the one at the school.

Example: "I’m glad you asked this question because I recognize that I need to be a good fit for the school and vice versa. The working environment I prefer is one that is open and transparent where everyone knows what the mission is. I like collaborative teamwork and the ability to reach out to other members of the staff for advice or assistance. I prefer working for an organization that respects individuality but is also inclusive and diverse. Finally, I enjoy working hard and playing hard, and I want to be part of an organization that feels the same way.”


Question: Can you provide an example of an ethical situation you encountered in your job and how you addressed it?

Explanation: This is a behavioral question that creates a scenario and then seeks to understand how you would react if you were faced with it. The best way to respond to a behavioral question is by using the STAR framework. This stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. You can either use a real situation that occurred in a previous job or describe what you would do if faced with the scenario. Make sure the outcome or result is a positive one or state the lessons learned if it was negative.

Example: "In one of my previous roles, I noticed a student was excelling in every one of his classes beyond what his teachers and I expected. Normally, I’d welcome and encourage this kind of performance, but my gut told me there was more to it. After conferring with the teachers and talking with the student, he admitted he had been cheating to attain the results. My official responsibility was to turn the student in to the administration. This would have resulted in a suspension or possible expulsion. However, this was the student’s first offense, and I knew that if given a chance, he would not repeat this behavior. I decided to err on behalf of the student. In exchange for not turning him in, I got him to commit to after-school tutoring to bring his grades up. Not only did this work out for the student, but because I had given him a break, he worked extra hard. I would not do this in every case, but it worked out perfectly in this situation."


ADDITIONAL ACADEMIC ADVISOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  • What actions would you take with a student who did not have the GPA he/she needed to remain in good academic standing?

  • In your opinion, what is the most important part of advising students?

  • How do you stay up to date on changes within the academic industry?

  • What type of advising model do you use?

  • Tell me about a time you helped a student who was struggling.

  • How do you balance meeting the needs of the students, administration, and even the parents occasionally?

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