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Interview Questions for Clinical Psychologists

by Ashley Miller

All clinical psychologists have doctoral degrees in clinical psychology and are specialists in the field of mental health. Despite their education and training, some clinical psychologists are better suited to certain positions than others. This often depends on a variety of factors, such as personality type or preferred area of practice. Clinical psychologists should be well-prepared for a wide range of interview questions and be ready to highlight their specific strengths and areas of expertise.

Why Did You Choose This Career Path?

Clinical psychologists enter the field for different reasons. Some have had positive personal experiences in therapy with psychologists or other mental health professionals during their youth and decided that they wanted to offer the same help to others. Others have a keen interest in learning more about the inner workings of the mind or wanted to understand human behavior. Your answer to this question can provide insight and information to the interviewer about important factors, such as your background, personality and work habits.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

It's never easy to list your weaknesses during a job interview. You don't want to bring up any particular issues that might compromise your chances of landing a job, but you also don't want to answer in an arrogant or overly cautious manner. The American Psychological Association's Practice Central advises choosing a somewhat benign area in which you feel like you can grow or learn. For example, if you're a clinical psychologist who wants to transition to working with children, you might explain that you want to work on your play therapy skills. If you can, try to provide examples of ways you're working to improve your weaknesses, such as by attending psychoanalytic training or receiving private supervision.

What Is Your Greatest Strength as a Therapist?

Some clinical psychologists are particularly skilled in specific areas, such as assessment or certain types of psychotherapy. While all clinical psychologists should be proficient in a variety of clinical skills and therapeutic techniques, providing case examples might help highlight your unique strengths. You might discuss a case in which you intervened with a suicidal client to highlight your crisis intervention skills. Or you might offer previous examples of working with specific groups to showcase your strengths as a group therapist. Your examples should reflect the needs of the organization. For example, if you're interviewing for a school psychologist position, highlight your strengths and previous experience working with children and adolescents.

Do You Have Any Questions?

Many people freeze up when they're asked if they have questions at the end of a job interview, but you're also interviewing the agency to see whether it is the right fit for your professional needs. Asking your interviewer specific questions about the agency, such as the organizational structure, the main types of populations they work with or the services they offer, is an important part of a successful clinical psychology job interview. You should try not to answer this question in the negative, as it could indicate a lack of preparation or interest.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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