Working in higher education as a student affairs professional can be as rewarding as it is challenging. More than the planning of fun social activities, those working with college students must be prepared to deal with increasingly complex and serious life matters which could include suicide and violence prevention, veterans issues, mental health issues, gender and sexual identity, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, and relationship problems.
Candidates with an ability to connect with students and “meet them where they are” will have the most success in keeping participation rates and student engagement high. Crises management skills will be highly valued as college campuses strive to be a safe haven for students. Training and some knowledge of how to deal with serious mental health issues will not be limited only to those seeking positions in a personal counseling role. Candidates with a true understanding of the myriad of issues facing college students and the ability to collaborate with other campus departments to help all students persist and graduate will be highly valued.
Sampling of Possible Interview Questions for Student Affairs Professionals:
Have you been involved with the strategic planning of your department in past positions?
In what ways have you worked with the academic side of the house at institutions in the past?
What would you do if a student told you they had thought about killing himself/herself?
Discuss your involvement with campus committees in previous jobs.
What 3 factors are most important for student success?
Have you been involved with retention activities?
Do you have experience with academic advising?
What are some good ways to build a strong campus community?
Have you worked with students who are transitioning (gender)?
Do you subscribe to a particular student development approach?
How do you increase student participation at school events?
How do you maintain a professional boundary with students?
Talk about ways you have collaborated with other departments.
How do you stay current with the issues facing today’s college student?
Has there ever been a student with whom you refused to work? Why?
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in helping a student?
In instances of student discipline, do you share information with the parents of traditional-aged students? If so, at what point?
How would you define the difference between coaching, counseling, and advising?
What technology-based resources have you found most helpful when working with students?
What ideas do you have for reaching out to first-year students?
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