The following are common interview questions you can expect to get when interviewing for clinical psychology and related positions. Below each question you'll find tips for answering the question, along with a sample answer. Considering each question carefully, and then creating your own response, will help you prepare for your next job interview.
Why did you choose this career path?Even though psychologists pursue a somewhat similiar education path, they each enter the field of psychology for their own reasons. Some decide to pursue a career in psychology because they've seen first hand the positive effect that therapy and psychological intervention can have on the life of someone struggling with behavioral disorders or mental health conditions. Others are simply facinated with the inner workings of the mind or want to better understand human behavior. When answering this question, be honest and direct. Your answer will provide the interviewer insight into your background, personality, explain why you chose your particular specialty, and provide an idea of what your strengths are.
I had a very positive experience with a therapist during my youth. My father suffered from post- trammatic stress syndrome from the war and from being discharged from the army. He was unable to cope with civilian life. As a result, our entire family struggled-especially my mom. It wasn't until we received ongoing couseling from a caring and qualified psychologist, when I was about 10 years old, that things started to get better. Without that help, I don't think we would have made it. I owe a lot to this professional. More importantly, I've seen the powerful effect therapy and psychological interventions can have on individuals, families and society as a whole. I decided to specialize my studies in Child Psychology simply because I hate to see kids struggle. Additionally, I feel that helping our kids to lead healthing and productive childhoods is the first step to eliminating mental health issues in adulthood.
What are your weaknesses?This is a question any job-seeker should expect, but it's a particular common-and important question-if you're interviewing for a position as a therapist or psychologist. You need to provide a "balanced" answer to this question. You don't want raise any red flags by bringing up issues that could jeopardize your chances of getting the job, but you also don't want to provide an answer that is disingenuous or comes off as arrogant. When answering this question, The American Psychological Association recommends talking about a benign area where you feel you still have space to learn and grow. For example, if you're area of specialization is child psychology but you want to move toward a career in abnormal psychology, you might share that you're working to to improve your knowledge and understanding of abnormal psychology. You want to show the interviewer what you're doing to overcome your weakness and how it is becoming a strength.
For the past three years I've worked as a therapist at the St. Luke's Catholic School for Children. While I've found the work fulfilling, recently I've had a strong desire to transition into a clincial setting where I'm assisting clientele with serious emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. I'm finding that my knowledge and skill set are not where they need to be in order to be effective in this capacity of clinical psychology so I've been attending post-graduate courses in abnormal psychology at the University of Chicago in the evenings to become more versed in the treatments and therapies that are most effective for treating individuals with these conditions.
What is your greatest strength as a therapist?There are many areas of specialization within the field of psychology. Depending on your educational path and professional background, you may excel at assessment, group therapy, psychoanalysis, child development, cognitive psychology, etc. When answering this question you want to communicate to the interviewer that you're skilled in various areas of psychology and therapy, but they you also have some unique strengths and abilities. You also want to make sure you highlight strengths, skills and previous experience that are relevant to the position you're pursuing. This question is straightford and designed to see what you can do and if you're a good fit for the desired position.
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