Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

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ChrisMcC
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Interview Preparation

Post by ChrisMcC » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:53 pm

Hi,

I am a first time applicant this year. Whilst I am not expecting to be shortlisted, I am keen to start preparing so that if I am 'called up', I will be ready (as best I can be). I wondered if anyone had any tips as to what would be relevant to read/prepare?

Any advice would be welcomed.

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HedleyLamarr
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Re: Interview Preperation

Post by HedleyLamarr » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:08 pm

ChrisMcC wrote:Hi,

I am a first time applicant this year. Whilst I am not expecting to be shortlisted, I am keen to start preparing so that if I am 'called up', I will be ready (as best I can be). I wondered if anyone had any tips as to what would be relevant to read/prepare?

Any advice would be welcomed.
My advice would be to read the excellent wiki post on preparing for clinical interviews. It was a huge help when I was applying for training:
viewtopic.php?f=21&t=213
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Mikel Arteta
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Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by Mikel Arteta » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:28 pm

Preparation Prior to Interview

So if you are at this stage, congratulations! If you are not, you must be feeling pretty gutted; hang in there. Hopefully you’ll get there eventually. I look back and am glad I didn’t get on earlier; I got on at the right time, at the right place.
So you may be in a frenzied panic now! First advice, try to settle this a little; whatever works best for you (e.g. mindfulness, watching The Musketeers (my fave show :) ), or eating cake :) ). There will be a temptation to read everything that moves; huge policy documents, stats books, learning every therapeutic model that exists, etc. DON’T, this will not help you. Firstly because you do not need such a vast amount of knowledge for the interviews and secondly it tends to tire and stress people resulting in a worse performance in interview due to such high arousal levels.

These would be my recommendations:

- Make some annonymised notes about some clinical cases, for example:
* A case that went well; why, a model you used, etc.
* A case that did not go well; what were your reflections? How did you cope (e.g. use of supervision)? What would you do differently next time?
* A case where you had an ethical dilemma
-Think about examples of team working; situations where team working was beneficial, a situation where team working was complicated (e.g. disagreement between professionals perhaps due to different ways of working)
- Know the research process; idea, rationale, literature searching, design (and grapples with it!), ethics, recruitment, data collection, data analysis, supervision, write up, dissemination. Don’t worry about knowing lots of stats; it won’t come up (unless somewhere geeky!)
* Understand quantitative and qualitative methods, advantages and disadvantages, etc.
- Read a summary (not the whole thing!) of a recent policy type document and be aware of current struggles within the NHS and how this may impact upon clinical psychology
- Think about personal and professional experiences, how have they affected you? How has it impacted upon your career path? What have you learnt/any reflections?

On the Day

I have seen people cramming in the corner, reading every last bit of information, scared that they will not be ‘knowledgeable’ enough. My advice would be not to do this. Due to higher arousal levels, it probably will not be processed nor retained anyway and it will most probably increase arousal levels and subsequently impair performance in the interview room due to high anxiety levels. I would recommend:

- Do what works for you e.g. a 10 minute mindfulness exercise before you go in, or a short mindful walk. If you arrive the night before and it is not too far, take a walk down to the interview building. And talking of the night before; books away, eat, relax and sleep :)
- When in there, don’t get the books out! Mix in with the other candidates; chat, laugh – this may help to put you at ease and make you more relaxed in the interview room, ensuring you give your best
- During the interviews if you are unsure about a question do not be afraid to ask for clarification on a part of the question and do not be afraid either to have a think. At Cov, I took a huge pause (lasted ages!) as I could not think of an answer, but eventually answered with a good answer. People may get anxious thinking ‘oh no I can’t think of anything, I’ll look really bad’ you won’t; hang in there and just slowly think – that way you can give a better, more considered answer. I would even go as far to say they liked that I did that as it showed that I was willing to think carefully/reflect. After a few moments you can always say ‘I’m just going to take a moment to think about that’. Take a sip of water too...think while you drink!

Types of Interview Tasks

Okay so I am not going to discuss specific questions or give away any secrets (not that I could as they can change questions and tasks year to year), but I will give a general idea of what you may expect.

Clinical Interview
Most places do a clinical interview. In this you may be asked questions about clients you have worked with, reflections you have about this and various other assessment or therapeutic questions. You can do some preparation as I discussed above, but not that much. You don’t have a clue what they will ask, but all the knowledge you need is in your brain already, so the best thing is to relax (as I discussed earlier) and draw upon it when the questions come your way. You’ve been preparing for years, that’s enough! I am sure others will say the same, but the majority of what you revise does not come up. Just do the basics and if feeling fairly relaxed you will be able to retrieve your relevant experiences.

Research/Academic Interview
A lot of places have this type of interview, though some places may combine this and the clinical one (I’m not a fan of one interview courses, I just don’t think it gives a fair reflection of a candidate’s skills, anyway I digress). In this interview you may be given a research vignette. If you do get one, don’t think you have to give an amazing design; this would take months to do (as you may find out if you get on!), you can only give something basic in a few minutes. Think about some of the aspects I discussed above (research process) and just give a basic design e.g. ‘I would use two groups (have a comparison group), recruiting people from local waiting lists and would use pre and post mood measures as well as session measures. I would be looking to see...etc’. Or if qualitative; ‘I would be looking to generate some rich data, so would conduct focus groups and analyse data using thematic analysis, which would help to see what key themes emerged from the data. This would hopefully lead to...etc.’

It can be useful to have read a recent paper and think about how it has influenced your practice.

The rest you will know, you all have knowledge you know!

Tasks
Some places may give you a research or clinical task. For example critically analysing a paper or watching a clip of a therapy session and commenting. Just go for the key/main areas and don’t try to do it all – you haven’t got the time. Just know one therapeutic model fairly well and a few others briefly, don’t try to learn new ones, you won’t have the time, plus it can’t be done via self-learning. Just know the basics principles.

Group Exercises
Some courses do a group exercise, often giving you a topic to discuss. Some places will give you a list of topics and you have to decide which one you will discuss. Like with all the other aspects of the day, BE YOURSELF. This can be a tricky one, but try to get some balance here. Contribute if you have a point (and don’t be afraid of saying something different, you don't need to toe the line), but respect other people and let them speak. Don’t be afraid to use humour if appropriate. Just go with it, it is what it is.

Try to enjoy the day and if you’re at a day interview they will provide lunch; get stuck into this! Ask questions to present trainees (they should be there), get a feel for the place. I know when I went to Coventry, I got such a good feeling for the place and this is why I choose this place over another. My good feeling was more than justified with a fantastic three years. If you get a good feeling, go with it. There will often be a course which is right for you and you are right for them, this was the case for me. The ethos at my course is amazing, I love it (I should change my tense here, but am still hanging on :) !)

All the best everyone, stay cool ;)
Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly, all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to arise
:)

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Spatch
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by Spatch » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:10 am

I have seen people cramming in the corner, reading every last bit of information, scared that they will not be ‘knowledgeable’ enough. My advice would be not to do this. Due to higher arousal levels, it probably will not be processed nor retained anyway and it will most probably increase arousal levels and subsequently impair performance in the interview room due to high anxiety levels
This.

Probably the best thing you can (not) do.
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miriam
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by miriam » Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:28 pm

IMO reflective preparation is good (thinking about cases that have gone well or been difficult, jobs or supervision that you've enjoyed or found you got a lot from or didn't, your own motivations and hopes for training etc) whilst cramming (trying to learn or remember information) is not. I always worry about people who claim to be doing loads of prep as it sounds counter-productive.
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AnsweringBell
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by AnsweringBell » Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:53 pm

The best piece of advice I got was: prep smart, not hard.

The only thing I'd say about Mikel's advice, and generally I agree with it... pay attention to what the course centres emphasise (just through reading their website really), and look at what the interview process involves from the Alternative Handbook. I've been caught out before with an interview being far more specific on stats/methods than I was prepared for.

There are courses that don't put a lot into research/stats at interview (and some dont have a research interview at all)... but there are some out there where specific knowledge is needed.

So, know the specific course a bit more before deciding what you want to focus your prep on. And then stick to the rest of Mikel's advice. Especially about prep on the day - being as calm and rested as you can be is going to do you so many more favours than 'cramming'. Give yourself a chance to really be yourself and not the anxious and exhausted pile of nerves version of you :)

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ClaireEmma
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by ClaireEmma » Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:35 pm

Some issues of Aspire also have interviews with selectors in them, I found those quite useful to read.

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BlueCat
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Re: Interview Preperation

Post by BlueCat » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:58 pm

Yay for the wiki!
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Dorothy
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by Dorothy » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:54 pm

This is such a helpful thread, thankyou. Besides practical tips (real things to do and to avoid) it really helps to 'decode'/'demystify' the process by breaking it down how you have here and keeping it grounded.

I just wanted to add a couple of references that I've found useful in my prep (hope this is allowed?) in case they are helpful to others:

Mary O’Reilly and Helen Baron (2012) Shortlisting for clinical training: an evidence-based, consensus-building approach. Clinical Psychology Forum, 232, 47-52
Helen Baron and Mary O’Reilly (2012) Selection of Clinical Psychology Trainees: A Job Analysis and Competence Model. Clinical Psychology Forum, 232, 41-46
Derek Milne, Christina Blackwell and Ian James (2012) It’s a crying shame: Suggestions on coping with the Doctorate interview. Clinical Psychology Forum, 237, 41-45

:)

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Geishawife
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by Geishawife » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:04 pm

lauracoote wrote:I was asked a question asking about the application of any undergraduate psychological theory, I had not been expecting this and it really threw me. None of the theories I did at undergraduate level were applicable to clinical work
I have to say, I find this very hard to believe! Practically EVERYTHING I studied at undergrad was applicable!! What I learnt as an undergrad was, and remains, the basic building blocks of everything! I wonder if you are misunderstanding what was being asked. I think it is highly unlikely they were asking you which specific undergrad theory you used in a specific clinical case, and were, perhaps, looking for how you could apply your broader undergrad knowledge in a more clinical setting. For example, what about theories around child development? How could they be applied or inform your thinking when you are assessing a child, adult or older adult and making a formulation and planning intervention? Or how about theories and models around memory? Could that knowledge not be used when, for example, assessing someone who has had a stroke and needs rehabilitation or if someone presents because they are worried they have dementia? Or how about attachment theory? That has informed work done with war veterans with late-onset PTSD.

Try to think a bit more laterally and be a little less narrow in focus and I'm sure many more examples will come to you. You're absolutely right not to over-prepare and just be yourself. Good luck.

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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by astra » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:18 pm

i find it hard to believe that none of your undergrad degree was relevant to clinical practice.
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

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BlueCat
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by BlueCat » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:47 pm

Eleven years post qualification, I still use things I learnt at undergrad. Cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, history of psychology, organisational psychology, all the research theory and methodology, social psychology, personality, evolutionary psychology, neuropsychology...the lot! I bet you draw on your knowledges base all the time, probably without even realising it!

When you understand group processes, or the impact of childhood opportunities, or the cognitive impact of various psychological difficulties....you're using your undergrad knowledge (unless you did a very different degree to the one I did :) )
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

calliope
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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by calliope » Wed May 11, 2016 8:04 am

Hi All

Just a heads up for those who still have interviews to come, please take a few moments to think about what you wear on the day. Many people turned up to interviews for the course I am currently on quite casually dressed. A number of interviewers and trainees noticed it and commented on it. While I'm sure interviewers would make an effort to ignore dress as a factor in deciding who to offer places to, given how narrow the margins between candidates can be, it may well play a part. It may sound superficial but what you wear can communicate quite a lot about you but possibly most relevant in this instance is professionalism. Certainly the comments made by tutors to our cohort afterwards made it clear that turning up to effectively a job interview casually dressed made them question how professional candidates may be on future placements.

If in doubt, I would promote applying the golden rule for any job interview and err on the side of being too smartly dressed than too casually dressed! Smart doesn't have to be expensive - personally my whole interview outfit cost about £10 including shoes with some savvy eBay shopping.

Best of luck to those with interviews still to go!

P.S. I am deliberately not naming the course in an effort to try to avoid people who interviewed there self-flagellating over their choice of clothing on the day! Whatever you wore will probably be of least concern to the interviewers (unless it was really inappropriate) and only likely comes into play when trying to choose between candidates that are otherwise equally good.

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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by Sessycfc » Wed May 11, 2016 9:57 am

Calliope,

I totally agree I have also noticed this at an interview. I don't think the whole 'they make up their mind in the first 30 seconds' applies to clinical in the same way it may to other interviews, but equally you don't want to be remembered for the wrong reason! I actually tried my outfit on the night before and realised it wasn't fitting great, so had a mad rush the next morning to buy a new dress :? not a settling experience but I'm glad I did as I felt more confident in the dress I wore. Which I think is something to keep in mind too...if you feel confident about how you look, this can reflect in how you come across, so maybe it's good for yourself too, not just about the panel's opinions?

Just my penny's worth! :)

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Re: Clinical Psychology Doctorate Interview Advice

Post by ChipChip » Wed May 11, 2016 11:26 am

This is really interesting I always tend to go overdressed rather than underdressed to any interview. I am quite an anxious person so even for the clinical interview I took two of everything in case something went wrong. Although I drive my husband mad as I wear clothes depending on how I feel on the day haha!

I didn't notice anyone at the interview I attended that was particularly casual but recently attended a PWP interview where I was really confused about how casual/revealing people's interview outfits were and in some cases that it seemed that they had worn clothes that deliberately showed off their tattoos (nothing against tattoos myself just aware of tattoo policies where I have worked previously).

On that occasion I'd actually worn something more casual to that interview for the first time ever (but that would be appropriate for a meeting at my current work) and regretted it because I didn't feel like I was in the interview frame of mind (if you know what I mean?).

Also what are people's positions on bare legs + short dresses. I was once told by the chief executive of the marketing company I used to work for that bare legs can be considered inappropriate for an interview and that women should wear tights (even if nude). He was old fashioned and sexist though :roll:

I also don't get the smart trousers that are basically cropped and flash your ankles paired with massive man brogues on girls... but maybe I'm getting old???

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