Preparing for clinical psychology interviews: the truth

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Preparing for clinical psychology interviews: the truth

Post by joanner »

If you are feeling the annual mass panic of 'OMG, I've got an interview! Where do I start?', then start here.

Firstly we will clear up the biggest myth:

Myth: if you look at 1001 past interview questions and revise your answers to them then you will be on to a winner.


The more prepared your answers sound then the less genuine and original you will be. Interviewers can spot pre-prepared questions a mile off! Plus, you run the risk of answering the question you've prepared for rather than the one they're asking. Or you give the 'perfect' answer then get tongue-tied when they ask you to elaborate on it.

Well, once you know your core stuff (see below), no amount of reading or revising is going to help that much - unless of course you are very lucky and get the dream question, but that is rare. The course questions are designed to make you think on the spot not to regurgitate pre-learned answers. I have had some pretty tough questions that were designed to test me, and that's what the interviewing panel want to see - you considering something without having pre-prepared it. Every time I came out of an interview, I felt I'd totally overprepared and only used a small proportion of the amount I'd crammed into my brain beforehand.


Advice from someone who's been there and done it

There are some core topics that you can prepare. As you prepare, don't just learn facts but reflect on what you did, why you did it, what you learnt from the experience academically or clinically, and what you learnt personally. Show evidence of reflection that has enabled you to grow.


:arrow: Think about some research you have done yourself. It can be your dissertation or a research project you're involved in. Be prepared to talk about the background to it, your method, the statistics you used and your findings. Try to make some links between your findings and their clinical relevance to the modern day practice of psychology.

:arrow: Read one or two clinically relevant research papers and be prepared to critically discuss them if asked.

:arrow: If you know you are facing a research task at your interview then make sure you can remember the basics of research design from your undergraduate days.

Current NHS issues

:arrow: Swot up on the hot issues that are going on in the NHS and form an opinion on them. Reading your Psychologist magazine can be a good starting point, browse the BPS and DoH website, and ask your colleagues.

Clinical work

:arrow: Have one or two clinical cases that you can talk about. The buzz word here is reflection. Think:

'X happened. I felt...., I did...., Afterwards I thought....and felt....If I were to face this again, I would...., I learnt....about myself.'

:arrow: Think about a difficult situation, either with a client and/or at work in general, and be prepared to reflect on this.

Personal experiences

:arrow: Why do you want to become a psychologist? What has happened to you, or people you know, that may have influenced your decision? Have an idea of how much you are prepared to disclose and decide how you would present it to an interview panel if necessary.

Anxiety Management

One of the skills you need to master is keeping your cool, and not letting your thoughts run away with you. This is one of the harder things to develop, as the interviews by their nature are quite high pressure environments regardless of how nice everyone is.

The hard bit!

Now you have got this far, the hardest thing is to try to relax as much as possible so your personality shines through when you are facing the panel. If you have got as far as an interview then they think you are pretty competent. They would give many more of us places if they could!

Each course has their own ideas about who will make a good trainee so if they reject you, it's not personal. It will also depend on how confident you feel about the questions they ask (much of this will simply be drawn from your clinical, research and life experience so far) and how well you deal with interview nerves.

:) Good luck! :)

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Content checked by qualified Clinical Psychologist on 27/02/16
Last modified on 27/02/16
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