Camp counselors provide guidance, oversee activities for campers, and perform many other valuable functions on the job.
You'll want to highlight your credentials in your resume and cover letter, as well as during job interviews.
While some summer camps offer part-time positions, employment opportunities exist for full-time counselors as well. There are also other positions to consider if you're interested in spending the summer working at a camp.
Here's what to keep in mind as you get ready to interview for a camp counselor position.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
Interviewers will want to make sure you're a good fit for both the job and camp culture. You can expect to get many types of interview questions, including the following:
- Questions about yourself: Your answers to these questions will help the interviewer have a sense of your personality and work style. Interviewers will be looking for candidates who are highly responsible and organized, since the job involves working with children.
- Behavioral interview questions: Interviewers will ask about how you've handled conflicts or issues in the past. They may specifically ask about scenarios where you were in charge of children. Interviewers' goals here will be to understand how you'd relate to the campers and your fellow counselors.
- Situational interview questions: These types of questions concern how you'd handle a future scenario related to your job as a counselor. For example, an interviewer might ask how you'd handle a difficult situation with a camper.
No matter how interviewers frame their questions, the goal remains the same: Interviewers want to know how you'll relate to children and how you'll interact with fellow counselors. They'll be looking for high-energy candidates, who are adept at solving problems and easing (not causing) conflicts.
How to Prepare for Your Camp Counselor Interview
Get ready for your interview by reviewing the job posting and other information you can find that lists the job requirements. Reread your resume and be prepared to discuss and highlight any experiences you've had that will demonstrate your ability to meet those requirements. This especially helps with behavioral and situational interview questions.
Many people interviewing for camp counselor jobs are high school and college students with limited work experience. It's perfectly acceptable to include relevant experiences from school or other activities in your interview answers.
Before the interview, research the camp for which you're applying.
Carefully review the camp's website and other information written elsewhere online. Get a feel for the camp’s mission, the structure of the camp, the population of campers you'd be working with, and the camp culture. This will help you give answers that are geared toward the specific camp's values and needs.
Examples of Personal Interview Questions
The following questions are designed to determine whether you're a good fit for a summer job as a counselor:
- What qualifications do you have that make you suitable for this position?
- Are you a team player?
- Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
- How do you handle stressful situations?
- What do you do when you don't know the answer to a question?
- What made you want to be a camp counselor?
- Did you attend camp as a child? What did you like about it? What did you dislike?
Questions About Working With Children
Employers will want to know about your experience working with children. If you don't have formal work experience, mention babysitting, volunteering, or any other relevant experience with children. Interview questions may include these topics:
- What age groups do you have experience working with?
- What do you like about working with children?
- What are the top three qualities everyone who works with children must have to succeed?
- What sorts of activities would you do with a group of children ages 5-6?
- Do you hope to have a career working with children?
Behavioral Interview Questions
Hiring managers ask behavioral interview questions as a way to discover how you'd act in a particular situation. These questions could include the following:
- Explain a time when you had a conflict with a friend, coworker, or employer. Who was involved? What was the conflict? What was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time that you helped resolve a particularly difficult issue with a child.
- Give an example of a time that you changed a child’s emotions from frustration or sadness to happiness.
- Tell me about a time (at work or school) when you acted as a leader for a group of people. Name an activity you'd do with children of this age group.
- Tell me about a time when you put the needs of another (or others) ahead of your own. Who was the person? What was the situation and how did it go?
Situational Interview Questions
The interviewer asks these types of questions to determine how you'd handle situations that may arise in your job as a counselor. Be prepared for questions similar to these:
- What would you do if one of your campers refused to do an activity with the rest of the group?
- What would you do if it was raining and you had a group of twenty campers to entertain?
- How would you handle a child who was misbehaving and not following instructions?
- What would you do if a parent was angry with you for the way you handled a situation with their child?
- Imagine one of your campers is homesick and wants to go home. What would you do?
Questions About Camp
Take the time to learn as much as you can about the camp before you go to the interview, so you're comfortable responding to questions about why you're a match for the job. It's best to be prepared for the following questions:
- Why would you be a good fit for our camp?
- What made you decide to interview for our camp rather than another?
Tips for Giving the Best Answers
As you respond to interview questions during a camp counselor interview, keep the following tips in mind:
- Be honest: No matter what, don't fudge the truth since lies tend to get caught out.
- Be strategic: While it's important to be honest, you do want to always present yourself in an appealing light. For instance, you wouldn't want to say, "I'm not really a fan of children" if you're applying for a job that involves one-on-one time with children. Emphasize your experience with children, along with other in-demand qualities for camp counselors.
- Share examples: Work in any applicable personal storiesand relevant accomplishments of which you're proud, and which can help you come across as a confident, capable, and experienced candidate for hire.
- Be energetic: Camp counselors work long hours often in high temperatures. Interviewers will be looking for candidates who won't flag under these conditions. With both body language and your tone of voice, show that you're enthusiastic, upbeat, and energetic.
What Not to Say
Avoid these no-nos when responding to questions during your camp counselor interview:
- Don't ramble: Keep your answers clear and to the point. Use examples whenever you can to support what you're saying.
- Don't respond in haste: It's better to take a moment and say, "Let me think about that for a second" or ask a clarifying question than to make something up on the spot. If you're unclear about what the interviewer want to know, ask a follow-up question.
- Don't be negative: Sometimes interviewers will ask questions that have a negative cast. For example, you might be asked "What didn't you like about camp when you attended as a child?" It's important to keep your answer positive. With that question, you might say, "When I attended camp, there was one camper who was a bit of a bully. As a counselor, I plan to be really attuned to how kids are interacting, and watch for any signs of bullying or other negative behavior."
DO YOUR RESEARCH: The more you know about the specific camp, the more you can target your responses to match the camp's values and priorities.
KNOW HOW YOU'LL HANDLE TRICKY SITUATIONS: Expect to get a lot of questions on how you've previously handled tricky situations, as well as how you'd handle them in the future. In your response, consider sharing examples.
BE HONEST, BUT STRATEGIC: It's OK if you do not have a lot of experience, but do not lie during the interview. Look for ways to present yourself in the best light, while still being honest.