Interview tips for psychologists
The career path you might wish to pursue as a psychologist will likely be influenced by several factors. It’s fair to say then, at interview, you could be asked a wide range of questions designed to tease out your specific knowledge, experience and career aspirations.
Below, we’ve drawn together some of the more frequently asked interview questions you could be asked at interview from a clinical psychologist or related role. Our Sanctuary Health consultants have provided some top tips on how to answer the questions too.
Why did you settle on this specific area of psychology?
Everyone will have their own reasons for specialising in a certain area of medicine. Psychology is no different. Try to keep your answer concise and explain a bit more about your specific career roadmap. Talk about what continues to fascinate you and keep you motivated in your chosen area. You could even expand on your answer to talk about how other, more senior members of staff, have played a role in inspiring you.
What are your weaknesses?
Now, this question won’t be a surprise. It features in almost all job interviews, but it is an important one to get right as a psychologist. You need to show you can be reflective and offer a reasoned well-balanced answer. You could talk about the constant need to push forward in your career and learn more is a frustration, but you use this to keep you focused and ambitious.
What experience do you have working in an MDT?
You’ll need to be explicit here about the type of multi-disciplinary team settings you have worked in. Talk about the benefits of working with other colleagues as well as acknowledging the challenges. If you talk about any challenges though, mention how you proactively address these. The interviewer will appreciate a realistic and honest answer.
What are your strengths as a therapist?
This largely depends on the area of psychology you specialise in. It could be that you are great at leading group therapy sessions, or perhaps you’re able to demonstrate clinical success with independent cognitive behavioural therapy? Or maybe you are constantly praised for the level of detail and direction within your assessments. If you find self-praise a little tricky, look back at any appraisal notes from your previous line managers. What positives do they consistently mention?
What has been your greatest achievement with a patient?
You’ll want to draw from a real-life example, although try and choose a patient where the backstory is not too complicated to explain. You’ll need to describe how you identified a specific problem, how you supported the patient, and what the outcome was. Try and use the STAR formula; situation, task, action and result
Explain a time when you resolved a challenging case
The interviewer is looking for you to acknowledge that you might not be able to treat a patient. That perhaps they are better placed under the care of another specialist. It is important that you walk the interviewer through a step-by-step account of how you would handle such a situation. Emphasise the care you would take to ensure you were not creating the impression that the patient’s problem is unsolvable. How would you manage their expectations and handle concerns from their family, if relevant?
Additional clinical psychologist interview questions
Below we’ve detailed a few more interview questions for psychology and therapist positions. Prepare for your next psychology job interview by scoping out your answer to each question. Remember, always apply the ‘so what?’ test. If your answer does not add anything over and above what you’ve already said in the interview, it’s not a strong enough answer.
For ease of reference, we’ve grouped the questions into categories.
Your professional self
Can you tell me a little bit about your professional strengths? When did you first become interested in a career in psychology? What was your motivation? What are your 3 to 5-year career goals. How will your aspirations benefit our organisation?
Therapy and clinical interests
Which elements of clinical work do you least/most enjoy? What would your colleagues say about you as a therapist? Can you detail your experience in inpatient/group/family/individual/etc… treatment?
Which assessment tools/methods do you have experience with? What additional assessment training have you undergone? How would you improve your assessments? What theories or models resonate with you? What are your research interests? How do you apply this knowledge within your assessments?
Can you give any examples of where you have supported patients from diverse or multicultural communities. What are your strengths and weakness in working with diverse communities? Do you have any specific concerns about working with a demographic?
Our interview guide will tell you everything you need to know...
If you are looking for your next psychology job or simply want to explore your career prospects, register with Sanctuary Health today.