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Psychologist Interview Questions

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  1. What is your greatest strength as a psychologist? See answer
  2. What was your role and responsibilities in a past position as a school psychologist? See answer
  3. What do you see as the fundamental skills of a psychologist? See answer
  4. Why did you choose to become a clinical psychologist? See answer
  5. What training model did you pursue in your graduate studies? See answer
  6. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a client who refused to express their feelings or emotions. What did you do to make them feel comfortable around you? See answer
  7. Are there any measures you take to ensure your patients’ information remains confidential?
  8. Do you partake in any activities outside of work that allows you to maintain positive mental health?
  9. Have you ever had to report any abuse or negligent instances?
  10. Do you prefer working with children or adults? Why do you prefer this?
  11. Describe your process for keeping track of different clients, appointments and notes from sessions.
  12. What’s your strategy for tracking and research mental health data and statistics?
  13. What would you do if a patient refused to take a medication you prescribed them?
  14. How do you use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders when working with patients?
  15. Tell me about the latest research project you’ve conducted and your takeaway from it.
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6 Psychologist Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What is your greatest strength as a psychologist?

A:

The applicant’s answer should relate their expertise and specialization areas. Potential specializations within the field of psychology include assessment, child development, cognitive psychology, group therapy and psychoanalysis. While the applicant should exhibit skill and experience in all areas of psychology and therapy, they should convey their specific strengths and specialty in this response. They should enumerate relevant prior experience.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Enumeration of strengths relevant to the position
  • Description of special skills or interests in the field
  • Evidence of a motivation that is in line with the kind of psychology

Example:

“My focus within my clinical psychology studies was early childhood behavioral development and cognition. In my prior position as a school psychologist, I applied my studies to help children improve their abilities to socially interact appropriately and improve their academic progress by addressing behavioral emotional issues.”

Q:

What was your role and responsibilities in a past position as a school psychologist?

A:

The applicant should exhibit an experience-based knowledge of the specific duties a school psychologist performs. Their response should include psychological analysis, developing and implementing programs to help students meet educational needs and achieve their educational and personal goals, including making vocational program referrals. They should also exhibit an understanding of the paperwork required and confidentiality needs.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understanding of psychological analysis
  • Knowledge of program planning and management
  • Experience with records keeping and report writing per district requirements

Example:

“A school psychologist analyzes the educational and the psychological needs of students and consults with other professionals regarding overcoming behavioral and emotional issues that impede their academic progress and personal development.”

Q:

What do you see as the fundamental skills of a psychologist?

A:

The applicant’s answer to this should reveal an inherent understanding of the skills used by psychologists on a daily basis and why they are important. The appropriate answer reflects both hard and soft skills. It includes decision making, collaboration, learning, instruction, research, crisis intervention, mental health counseling, policy development, technology standards and developing student diversity.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Data analysis and decision making skills
  • Crisis prevention and intervention experience
  • Psychology practicing skills

Example:

“My duties are to provide counseling to students and personnel that helps them maintain their mental health and perform crisis prevention and intervention. I’d make decisions based on data and consult with other psychologists or with a psychiatrist as needed to help a student.”

Q:

Why did you choose to become a clinical psychologist?

A:

This question provides you insight into the applicant’s personal experiences and motivations. Some people enter the field of clinical psychology due to their own experience with a psychologist or other mental health professional as a child or youth. Some have an inherent yearn to help to others. Some exhibit a curiosity about how the mind works and wish to better understand human behavior. Their response give you a window into their background, personality and work ethic.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Personal experience with psychology
  • Motivation and passion for the field
  • Communication of work ethic and habits

Example:

“My parents divorced during my sixth grade year, and my junior high school counselor helped me deal with the problem. I learned firsthand what a valuable tool psychotherapy is.”

Q:

What training model did you pursue in your graduate studies?

A:

The applicant should mention both the scientist model and the scientist-practitioner model although they will have to have chosen only one while in graduate school. Their answer determines whether their training was in a program that emphasized research or clinical practice. A Ph.D. from a scientist model program prepares them for a career in research. They aren’t trained in the practice of psychology and cannot obtain employment as therapists. Those trained in the scientist-practitioner model, aka the Boulder Model, trains the graduate student in both clinical practice and research methods. These Ph.D.s may forge a career in academia, teaching and researching or in clinical practice or both.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Graduate studies training model knowledge
  • Educational specifics
  • Application of graduate studies to career development

Example:

“My university offered both the scientist model and the scientist-practitioner model. I chose the latter because I knew that I wanted to treat patients but also analyze the data obtained from private practice to conduct research that, when shared, could help people.”

Q:

Tell me about a time when you had to work with a client who refused to express their feelings or emotions. What did you do to make them feel comfortable around you?

A:

Psychologists may work with patients who have undergone significant amounts of trauma in their past that make them hesitant to express themselves. A great psychologist should have a set plan for how to encourage a patient to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts. Look for a candidate who displays compassion, patience and understanding when working with individuals during sessions and who has experience getting patients to trust them.

The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Patience, compassion and understanding
  • Interpersonal and listening skills
  • Strategy for making patients feel comfortable to express emotions

Example:

"I once had an adult patient who was nervous to talk about their childhood trauma for fear that I would judge them. As a different approach, I decided to discuss moments in their adulthood that they were most proud or excited about. This way, we would discuss positive and happy experiences that put them in a good mood, while building their trust in me. I'd slowly direct the conversation to more serious events in their life throughout various sessions. This showed them I was there to listen without expressing any judgments or negative comments regarding their past."

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