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									                              Hiring Today’s School Counselor
                                    By Trish Hatch, PhD

As the ASCA National Model® has begun to be implemented throughout the country,
principals and superintendents are beginning to want to hire school counselors who have
been trained in and have experience implementing the Model. How will they know if
they are hiring the right candidate? What should they be looking for when they are
screening candidates? What questions should they ask? This article is intended to answer
these important questions.

What are the competencies of “Today’s” school counselor? What should school
counselors ”know and be able to do”? Without a clear understanding, administrators will
have a difficult time recruiting and selecting outstanding school counselors. Samples of
school counseling professional standards are available in the ASCA National Model®
and in the CACREP standards. As administrators seek to hire a well prepared school
counselor, they must have a clear understanding of the role of “today’s school counselor”
and what an interview team should look for and ask when they are interviewing.

Today’s school counselor knows there is a professionally endorsed framework for
creating, implementing, managing and evaluating a school counseling program. [S]he
knows the program is designed for every student and ensures that staff, students and
parents are knowledgeable of the program content, its benefits and its results.

        Optimal candidates are systems thinkers who understand the ASCA National
        Model®. They know that school counseling programs are an integral part of the
        total educational program. They know that the program is constantly improving,
        changing, evolving and responding to the data driven needs of students. They are
        able to effectively communicate their program to their stakeholders.

        Strategic question:
             You are a new school counselor. How will you create your school
                counseling program?

Today’s school counselor implements a comprehensive and developmentally appropriate
standards-based program for every student. [S]he ensures that all students receive
education, prevention and intervention in the areas of academic, career and
personal/social development. [S]he supports today’s students in becoming successful
learners and citizens.

        Optimal candidates possess knowledge of the American School Counseling
        Association (ASCA) National Standards located in the ASCA National Model®
        and the role of standards-based instruction in education.

        Strategic question:

Hatch, T (2006). 10/23/20123:24:18 PM
                Can you explain how you will determine which ASCA National
                 Standards are addressed in your school counseling program and how you
                 will ensure that students will attain these standards and competencies?

Today’s school counselor teaches core content guidance lessons in the classroom and
measures the impact of his/her lessons to ensure that all students receive the knowledge,
attitudes and skills necessary to become productive members of society. Topics include,
but are not limited to: high school graduation and college preparatory and entrance
requirements, financial aid, career interests and technical education options, decision
making and goal setting, violence prevention education, responsibility and making
healthy choices.

        Optimal candidates demonstrate effective teaching and student learning. They are
        able to develop or locate existing curriculum and deliver it effectively, utilizing
        varied instructional strategies to meet students’ needs.

        Strategic question:
             Please share your experience teaching guidance curriculum in the
                classroom, how you determined what you would teach and how you
                evaluated the effectiveness of your teaching.

Today’s school counselor reviews disaggregated data to identify achievement gaps and
determines what additional support a student might need. [S]he intervenes with students
who are struggling (not passing state standardized tests, for example) and provides
interventions to improve attendance, behavior, study skills, test-taking skills, etc.

        Optimal candidates possess knowledge of various student database systems and
        understand how to locate, interpret and analyze the data to determine students’
        needs and then design an intervention program designed to address those needs.

        Strategic question:
             What student data base systems have you utilized and how have these
               informed your practice?

Today’s school counselor recognizes that each individual student’s planning meeting can
impact the student’s future economic potential and takes into account the variety of
college and career technical opportunities and options available. [S]he ensures that
students are skilled in locating career/technical and vocational opportunities and in
transitioning to post secondary education and employment.

        Optimal candidates possess knowledge of how to develop an academic plan and
        are aware of the most recent academic and career/technical planning tools
        available to them. They have experience in utilizing technology to ensure that
        every student develops a comprehensive and personalized post secondary plan.

        Strategic questions:
Hatch, T (2006). 10/23/20123:24:18 PM
               What is your experience with state of the art career/technical education
               What is your plan to ensure that every student creates an academic plan to
                meet his/her academic needs, graduation requirements and college or
                career goals?

Today’s school counselor is skilled in providing a variety of prevention and intervention
programs and services and recognizes that a systemic approach may be necessary to
address the data driven needs. [S]he recognizes that violence prevention programs (for
instance) may include some or all of the following: a needs assessment, a bully
prevention guidance curriculum, a conflict resolution program, small groups for anger
management, administrator collaboration on an effective referral process, a new system
for monitoring student incidences of violence, parent education, staff development

        Optimal candidates possess knowledge of various personal/social data available
        to them within the school system [such as youth behavior surveys on drugs,
        alcohol, tobacco and violence]. They are proficient in collaborating to design and
        implement systemic prevention and intervention programs designed to address
        data driven needs.

        Strategic question:
             Your administrator would like to collaborate with you to address a
               personal/social need (such as bullying or violence prevention). What types
               of programs and services would you recommend?

Today’s school counselor knows the difference between counseling and therapy and
provides appropriate responsive services through the effective use of individual and small
group counseling, consultation and referral.

        Optimal candidates possess solution-focused short term counseling skills and
        know the boundaries of the counseling relationship. They are aware of therapeutic
        and crisis intervention services within the community and refer when appropriate.

        Strategic questions:
             When making the decision to counsel with a student in an individual
               setting, what criteria do you use to determine how many sessions you will
               have with that student?
             What criteria do you use to determine when it is appropriate to refer to an
               outside resource?

Today’s school counselor is culturally competent. [S]he has knowledge of and experience
with diverse populations, a passion for promoting social justice, and an ability to
advocate for students and systemic change.

Hatch, T (2006). 10/23/20123:24:18 PM
        Optimal candidates possess knowledge, and skills in serving diverse populations
        (e.g. ethnic, linguistic, religious preference, sexual orientation etc.)

        Strategic questions:
             What experience do you have working with diverse populations?
             Can you share an example of a time when you advocated for a social
               justice need of a student within the educational system?

Today's school counselor is a vital member of the education team ensuring equity and
access to rigorous educational opportunities for every student. [S]he advocates for open
access to challenging courses and to revising prerequisites to ensure opportunities for all
students. [S]he ensures that students recognize the importance of taking challenging
academic courses and knows that even when students struggle, they are more likely to do
better in life if they are academically challenged and supported.

        Optimal candidates are confident in and passionate about their role as vital
        contributors on the leadership team. They advocate for their involvement on
        various school and district teams designed to promote academic achievement
        and/or improve the school climate.

        Strategic questions:
             What is the school counselors’ role on various committees within the
             What is your experience with serving on leadership teams within the
             If you were aware of a policy or procedure that you believed was
               disenfranchising students, what would you do?

Today’s school counselor measures the results of his/her activities, shares these results
with staff and uses the results to drive program improvement. [S]he also recognizes that
if an education, prevention or intervention program or service is not working, that it must
be revised.

        Optimal candidates know how to monitor and evaluate their activities; can create
        effective marketing tools (i.e. RAMP documents, results reports or PowerPoint
        presentations) and are comfortable presenting their programs and results to their
        various stakeholders.

        Strategic questions:
             How will you share the results of your program?
             In what ways do you intend to promote and market your program?

Today’s school counselor is an educational professional who belongs to his/her
professional association, reads current research and literature, and attends professional
development trainings and conferences.

Hatch, T (2006). 10/23/20123:24:18 PM
        Optimal candidates are members of the state and national associations within the
        profession, know how they benefit them and seek additional growth opportunities.

        Strategic question:
             What professional associations do you belong to and what recent trainings
               have you presented at or attended?

More than Standards
It is possible that a candidate can demonstrate excellent answers to all of the questions
listed above and yet not be the best person for a school counselor position. The interview
team must also be evaluating the candidate’s personality and character.

Today’s school counselor possesses the core qualities of empathy, rapport and
genuineness. [S]he has the ability to build trust with students, parents and other

The following are characteristics of the type of “person” the interview team is seeking to

Today’s school counselor:
    Demonstrates flexibility (probably the most important characteristic) as the day is
      never predictable
    Demonstrates a desire for ongoing learning and personal growth
    Applies ethical standards and legal precedents in their actions and reactions to
      students, parents and staff
    Demonstrate poise and confidence in groups when important decisions are being
    Advocates for the rights and needs of all students
    Enlightens without pontificating
    Stays quiet at times so as not to dominate
    Understands the difference between advocacy and militancy and seeks to
      demonstrate the former
    Offers suggestions without being a “know it all”
    Is comfortable asking questions when unsure
    Possesses conflict resolution skills (needed for parents, student and staff)
    Is inclusionary (not isolating) in decision making
    Consults “with” not “to” parents and other educators
    Is a team player when necessary
    Is people friendly
    Views challenges as opportunities for positive change
    Asks questions and seeks solutions rather than complains

Some of the final questions an interview team might want to ask themselves are: “Do we
like the candidate? Do we see him/her as someone we would want our students to go to

Hatch, T (2006). 10/23/20123:24:18 PM
for counseling and guidance? Today, school counselors are more important than ever in
the lives of students. The conversations they have will impact the future economic
potential of every student they serve. Today, a school counselor’s conversation may even
save the life of a student. Therefore, if an interview team is not sure if a candidate is right
for their school, then the answer is definitely “no”. A rule of thumb is: “When it doubt –
out.” School counselors and savvy administrators have intuition and very good instincts
which need to be trusted. While knowledge of and skill in implementing the ASCA
National Model® is critical, the most important character traits can’t be taught – they are
inside each of Today’s school counselors.

Hatch, T (2006). 10/23/20123:24:18 PM

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