The Advising interview

Greet students by name. Be relaxed, warm.
Start with an open-ended question using "how" or "what".

  • How can I help you?
  • What do we need to discuss today?
  • What will we be working on in our 30 minutes together?

Phrasing questions
Use closed questions which require a "yes" or "no" response to gather specific information.

  • Did you receive your early registration materials?
  • Are you planning to enroll in classes this term?

Use open-ended questions to elicit broader responses for purposes of clarification and problem-solving.

  • What are some things that interest you about business as a career?
  • What have you thought about taking next term?
  • What prevented you from earning the GPA you desired?

Effective listening
Listen for shades of meaning in what the student is saying.

  • What do you think the student is trying to say?
  • What do you think the student is feeling when he/she says that?
  • What was running through your mind when he/she said that?

Maintain an open posture and use non-verbal cues to let students know they have your full attention.
Use such prompters as "I see", "okay", "u-hum", "go on."
Eliminate physical barriers between you and the student (e.g., move your chair from behind your desk and sit next to the student or across one corner of the desk).
Accept the student's attitudes and feelings.
Positive regard for advisees is key to successful advising. Separate negative behavior from the person; focus on behaviors not the character of the person.
Convey acceptance of a student's feelings in a non-judgmental way. If the student thinks there is a problem, the advisor does too.

Admitting your ignorance
If a student asks a question for which you don't know the answer, admit it. Check your resources for the information immediately or call the student back, or make a referral if appropriate.

Setting limits on the interview
The advisor should let the student know from the beginning that the interview will last for a fixed length of time.

  • You have my undivided attention for the next 30 minutes; will that be enough time to discuss your concern?
  • What is the most important concern to cover in the next 30 minutes?

Ending the interview
End the advising interview at the agreed upon time. If the stated concerns have not been addressed to the student's satisfaction plan to make another appointment to complete the process.

  • Can you summarize for me your understanding of what we covered today?
  • What do you need to do next or before our next meeting?

Adapted from Advising Skills, Techniques, and Resources, ACT.

University Advising Center