Academic Advisor Interview Questions & Answers

Young people have so many options nowadays. Sometimes actually too many, regardless of whether they excel in their college studies, or struggle to pass the exams. Ivy League universities, regular degrees, distance learning degrees, and countless fields of study to choose from. Logically they struggle, especially when they are not sure what they want to do with their future, what career to pursue, and how to pursue it. That’s where Academic Advisors enter the picture.

Skilled in educational counseling, they help students recognize and achieve their educational goals, by helping them understand their strengths and preferences, and match them with a fitting major, one they can realistically pursue. Let’s have a look at questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting role, and what you should focus on in your answer while trying to make the right impression on the interviewing panel.


Why do you want to work as an Academic Advisor?

First thing first: avoid referring to your past. Saying that you want to work as an advisor because you’ve earned your master’s in educational counseling would indicate a must. But you want to show a desire, a desire to do a great job and help their students reach their educational goals. Talk about the meaningful purpose of the job. Students have many options, and many struggle to choose, often following the dreams of their parents or expectations of their peers, instead of carefully considering all options, and doing what they really want to do with their life. You want to help them make informed decisions, and find their calling, bearing their strengths and academic results.

What’s more, you excel in communication and listening, have good understanding of the young generation and the challenges they face. You have the degree in the field and theoretical knowledge, and you continue learning about all sorts of options young people have when it comes to their post-secondary education. Everything combined, considering your motivation, skills, personality, and education, you find a job of an Academic Advisor a perfect choice for you.

Why do you want to work for our high school (college)? Why not some other place?

A simple rule to remember is to praise the school for something. Maybe they have many counselors on board, and pay special attention to educational counseling, because they understand the importance it has in the life of their students. It attracted you to their offer. Or the school has an excellent reputation, or you know someone from the teachers and they told you great things about the working environment.

Of course, it may happen that you apply for a job of an Academic Advisor at a school which faces many challenges, and perhaps you will be the only counselor they have. In such a case you can talk about the impact you can have in such a place. It will be challenging, without a doubt, but it motivates you to have an opportunity to implement new concepts for the students, and to finally introduce educational counseling to the place.

If you cannot come up with anything better, you can always focus on the location of the school, or the working schedule. Perhaps it is close to your living place–which is an advantage for both you and your employer. Or you’ve been living in the place for a long time, know many people from the local community, including students and teachers, and such an insider’s knowledge will only help you in your work. What’s more, you prefer to pay back something to your community, instead of working for someone “foreign” to you. One way or another, they should get an impression that they are your first choice.


How do you imagine a typical day while working as an Academic Advisor here?

The key is to show proactive approach to your work with the students. Ensure the interviewers that you do not plan to sit in your comfy office, waiting for a phone call, or from a knock on the door from one of the students.

On the contrary, you will actively reach out to the students, especially in the penultimate and ultimate grade. Presenting options they have, and introducing your office, you will make sure they are aware of your presence, and of the ways in which you can help them.

What exactly you will do depends on the place of work, and how many counselors/advisors work there, but you can mention some specific duties, such as:

  • Auditing and monitoring individual student academic progress.
  • Informing students about alternatives, limitations and possible consequences of academic decisions they consider (or may consider) making.
  • Making appropriate referrals to students perceived as at-risk.
  • Developing and promoting internal communication and resource sharing in order to make sure students have access to all information they need to make right decisions.
  • ….


If we hire you as our new Academic Advisor, what goals will you set for the first year of work?

This one depends on the situation at the school, and the challenges they face. Try to dig deeper while doing your research. What is the dropout rate in the last grade? How many students pursue post-secondary education, when compared to regional and national average? How easy it is for the students to find information relevant to their academic progress, and the options they have? Think about these questions (and other), identify areas for improvement, and try to set some realistic tangible goals for your first year in the office.

And if you cannot figure it out, you can always suggest starting with an extensive audit, trying to understand their current programs and educational counseling they have in place. Talking to students, teachers, administrators, and counselors, you will identify the strengths and weaknesses, and choose your priorities accordingly. This may take you several weeks or even a few months, but once done, you will set your goals, and progress accordingly during the rest of the academic year.


How do you plan to track the progress of each student you work with?

You can start with emphasizing the importance of reporting and monitoring of your work with the students. Of course, administrative duties should not form the core of your job. But you will hardly do without them, especially if you work with dozens of students over the year. Hence you can say that you will have file for each student, with all important information, such as goals, milestones, challenges, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Simply a quality reporting on each case.

Goals deserve a special attention, not only in your interview answer. Unless you know where you want to go, unless you set clear goals with each and every student, you can hardly set any milestones and steps how to achieve each milestone, and monitor your progress accordingly. Say that you plan to set clear goals with the student at the beginning of your “cooperation”, and monitor your progress accordingly. You can elaborate on your methodology even further, talking about various career tests and assessment tools, as well as regular one on one meetings, which will help both with setting the goals and with monitoring the progress of the students.


Other questions you may face while interviewing for a job of an academic advisor

  • Many young people lack motivation to pursue further education, even though they have the abilities and potential to pursue it. How do you plan to help address this issue?
  • In your opinion, what role does administrative work play in the job of an Academic Advisor?
  • Tell us about your most successful and least successful counseling experience.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to teaching and counseling?
  • What are your expectations on the teachers, administrators, and other counselors working at this school?
  • In your opinion, should academic advisor participate in any events outside of the school, and why?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
  • In your opinion, what are the main challenges you will face while working as an academic advisor?


Final thoughts

Academic Advisor is a specific position, and it is not easy to say what exactly will happen in your interview. You may face some tricky situational and behavioral questions, just like I described in the article.

But it may also happen that you face just basic questions, simply because nobody from the interviewing panel understands your role properly. In order to avoid embarrassing themselves asking questions that make no sense, or questions answers to which they won’t be able to interpret and evaluate, they will opt only for basic interview questions about your motivation, goals, experience, and strengths & weaknesses.

In any case, you never know what will happen, and hence it is a good idea to prepare also for the tricky questions. I hope this article helped you to do so, and wish you best of luck in your interview!


May also interest you:

Glen Hughins
Latest posts by Glen Hughins (see all)