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Student Admissions Counselor Interview Questions

POSITION SUMMARY

Student Admissions Counselors at the collegiate level recruit students by evaluating recruiting techniques, interviewing prospective students, developing alumni networks and conducting campaigns to attract students to attend colleges and universities. Student Admissions Counselors may also be required to tour high schools in order to incentivize students to apply to their university. This can include giving a public presentation and organizing outreach programs.

Student Admissions Counselors at the high school level typically help students apply to colleges or trade schools. This can include assisting them in signing up for the SAT or ACT, helping them fill out application forms, and referring scholarship opportunities.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Student Admissions Counselor responsibilities may include:

  • Organize recruitment events.
  • Provide financial aid information.
  • Inform potential students about their application status.
  • Provide guidance on what options students will have after graduation.
  • Inform potential students about the various organizations, benefits, and degrees at the school.


SKILLS

All of the options available to students post-graduation can be overwhelming. In order to provide relevant information, a skilled Student Admissions Counselor will:

  • Network with other academic staff.
  • Stay on top of current trends within the academic industry.
  • Practice active listening to best identify a student’s needs.
  • Utilize creative thinking to find fun new ways to attract students. 
  • Maintain a friendly and personable demeanor.


QUALIFICATIONS

To secure a position as a Student Admissions Counselor candidates will often need a Bachelor’s Degree in education or an interpersonal related field is preferred. Just as important, candidates will need experience in networking and sales. Candidates are advised to participate in internships while in school. 

 

SALARY 

Salaries for Student Admission Counselors range between $37K to $58K, with the median being $47K. 

Factors impacting the salary you receive as an Student Admission Counselor include:

  • Degrees (Associates, Bachelors, Masters)
  • Years of Experience
  • Location
  • Reporting Structure (Seniority of the Department Head or School Administrator you Report to, Number of Direct Reports, such as Admins and Other Counselors)
  • Level of Performance - Exceeding Expectations
 
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STUDENT ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Question: What is your experience working with college-aged students, and how do you think it will help you as an admissions counselor?

Explanation: This is a general or opening question.  An interviewer will ask this type of question in order to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and gather information they can use for subsequent questions.

Example: “As noted in my resume, the majority of my career has been as a high school counselor.  In this role, I worked with many students who are applying to college. This experience has provided me with a great deal of information about what college-aged students are looking for in a higher education program.  I believe this perspective will make me an excellent college admissions counselor.”


Question: Can you share with me a brief overview of this college and the programs available to incoming students?

Explanation: This is a general question the interviewer is asking to determine if you’ve done some research to prepare for this interview.  It seems intuitive that you would spend a great deal of time researching the college and its programs prior to applying for this job and in preparation for the interview.  However, some applicants don’t bother with this. Doing your research will better prepare you for any questions the interviewer may ask, including this obvious one.

Example: “I’d be happy to.  The college was started in 1889 and has grown dramatically over the years.  It currently enrolls over 3000 new students each year in graduates close to 2000.  While the college is best known for its STEM-related programs, it also excels in the arts, humanities, and business programs.  Especially notable is its ranking among the top 100 colleges in the United States by U.S. News.”


Question: What criteria do you use to evaluate a school’s student admission program? 

Explanation: This is an essential question because it will tell the interviewer two things.  The first is whether you’ve researched their current program and the criteria you have used to evaluate it and which convinced you to apply for this position.  It will also inform them about how you will manage the admissions program to make sure it meets the same criteria.

Example: “The most important criteria I use to evaluate a school's admission program is not the number of students accepted, but rather the number of students who fully matriculate through the college and earn a degree.  This indicates that we admitted that correct students. Other criteria include the number of applications received, the average GPA of the students applying, and how many students come from legacy families.”


Question: What is your approach to individual student evaluation, counseling, and academic planning?

Explanation: This is an operational question, in which the interviewer is trying to determine how you go about doing this job.  The best way to respond to operational questions is to describe the steps you take to accomplish the task about which they are asking.

Example: “When reviewing a student’s admission application, I go beyond their GPA and test scores and look at items such as extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and their essay.  When counseling students, I am very frank with them and will suggest whether our program is the correct one for them or whether they should apply to another institution better suited to their goals.  My approach to academic planning is to create a program for the student that is realistic, one that they can manage, and will enable them to graduate on time.”


Question: This job involves a great deal of paperwork.  How do you feel about administrative tasks in relation to working one on one with the students?

Explanation: By asking this question, the interviewer is making sure that you fully understand the duties for this role and that you have the skills needed to accomplish all the required tasks.  It’s OK if you admit to having a preference for one or the other of these, as long as you can demonstrate your ability to perform everything required by the job.

Example: “While I prefer spending face time with the students, getting to know them, and helping them with their college choices, I don’t mind the paperwork required by this job.  I gain some insight while filling out the necessary forms and writing reports about the individual applicants and my related activities. I’ve found ways to automate the administrative tasks, and this provides me more time to interact with the students, faculty, and other administrators.”


Question: Can you describe for me a typical day in your work as a student admissions counselor?

Explanation: This is another operational question which the interviewer is using to determine your qualifications for the job.  By describing a typical day in the life of a college admissions counselor, you will be providing them information about your understanding of the role, the tasks you feel are essential, and how you manage your time.

Example: “I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical day in the job of a college admissions counselor.  However, some of the common tasks include reviewing student applications, meeting with individual applicants, working with department heads and other administrators to understand any changes or updates in the college’s programs, planning student recruitment events, and contacting high schools across the nation to provide them with information about our programs.”


Question: What is the role of the college admissions counselor in relation to students, parents, educators, administrators, and other counselors?

Explanation: Yet another operational question meant to uncover your understanding of a college admission counselor’s role and how they interact with other stakeholders in this process.  If you have experience in this area, you can quickly answer this. If you’re a newer applicant, your training and research should prepare you to respond to this question.

Example: “in my opinion, the college admissions counselor is the hub of the wheel in which all the other stakeholders are the spokes.  This role brings together all the interests of the people involved in this process. We connect the students and parents to the educators, administrators, and other counselors at the college.  We also coordinate the activity of everyone here at the college, assuring that we’re offering the correct programs, admitting the right students, and are creating an environment that is diverse, inclusive, and produces well-educated individuals ready to join the workforce.”


Question: What is your opinion about the effectiveness of group counseling?  Do you believe this creates any confidentiality issues?

Explanation: By asking this question, the interviewer is exploring some different ways you may perform this job.  As the interview progresses, the questions will become more specific in nature and sometimes more challenging. This indicates that the interviewer is gaining confidence in your ability to do the work and is willing to explore particular topics in more depth.

Example: “I believe group counseling is effective for certain activities.  These include informing large numbers of students about the university’s programs and the opportunities available to them and meeting with students who tour the university as a group from a single high school.  Individual students may also benefit from hearing other applicants’ questions and the information I share with them that the student may not think to ask.”


Question: Can you share with me one of your more rewarding experiences while working with students helping them to choose a college?

Explanation: This is a behavioral question which the interviewer is using to understand why you enjoy working in this field and a successful outcome you have achieved. Behavioral questions are meant to demonstrate how you perform in specific situations.  Sharing a successful outcome is one of these.

Example: “Probably the most rewarding experience I’ve had as a college admissions counselor is when I worked with the student who was reluctant about applying to college and didn’t have a clear idea of what benefits a higher education would provide them.  After working with them to determine their career objectives and exposing them to the opportunities the college offered, they decided to enroll. I tracked their progress while at our college, and not only did they excel, but they graduated on time and went on to become successful in their field.  This is the reason I do this job.”


Question: How do you deal with a parent who is either angry or disappointed that their student was not admitted to the college? 

Explanation: This is another behavioral question that describes a specific situation you’re likely to encounter in this role.  Behavioral questions like this are best responded to using the STAR format. You specify the Situation, talk about the Task you need to accomplish, discuss the Actions you took, and relate the Results you achieved.

Example: “Disappointed or angry parents are part of this role.  I hate turning down students and only do so if our program isn’t the right one for them.  In doing this, I have to convince both the student and the parents that my decision is the correct one.  I work with them explaining the basis for my decision and offering them alternatives such as attending a junior college or applying after they’ve gotten more experience or boosted their grades.  This usually results in both the student and the parent agreeing with my decision. They often reapply when they are better prepared and more qualified for the program.”


ADDITIONAL STUDENT ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  • How would you assist a student who needs financial aid?

  • Can you describe how you would start a conversation with a potential student?

  • Would you be able to sell the school to a room full of high school seniors? If so, how?

  • What networking activities do you participate in?

  • Can you work well under pressure and meet deadlines and quotas?

  • If I asked you to speak with students from underprivileged backgrounds about coming to our school, how would you go about doing it?

  • Why is diversity important to a college campus?

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