Potential Interview Questions for Therapists & Social Workers

Sooo you have an interview coming up, and you’re dreading it…

nervous kristen wiig GIF by Saturday Night Live

But there is no need! Interviews aren’t as scary as they seem. They’re usually more like conversations than a “question-answer” format.

Your interviewer is really trying to see if you’d be a good fit for their agency/organization.

But if you are not familiar with the type of questions you may be asked and want to feel more prepared, check out the list of questions below.

General Questions
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why do you want to work with this population? What is your experience with this population?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • Tell me about a conflict you’ve had with a coworker and how you dealt with it.
  • What is the most challenging encounter you’ve had with a client and how did you deal with it?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • Do you like working with a team? *Talk about how you are a team-player!
  • Give an example of a time you were able to deescalate a situation.
  • How would you deal with an angry client?
  • Tell me about a time you dealt with a crisis (with a client).
  • Tell me about an ethical dilemma you’ve encountered and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to advocate for a client.
  • What are your strengths & weaknesses? *Tricky question! Turn your weakness into a strength or highlight your ability to adapt/willingness to learn
  • Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
  • What are 5 words that describe you?
  • What are some of your best skills? How do you apply them at work?
  • How do you keep organized?
  • Do you practice self-care?
Questions Specific to Interview at Hospital
  • Tell me your thoughts on/experience with working on an interdisciplinary team.
  • Tell me about your ability to work with families.
  • Tell me about a time you dealt with/how you feel dealing with an emotionally challenging situation? (i.e. a child that was abused)
  • How do you handle working under pressure?
  • You may get a HIPAA related question.
  • You may get a question about your experience with/knowledge of discharge planning. *You may want to have some knowledge on community resources, especially acute rehabs & mental health resources
  • How would you know what to prioritize (or how would you stay organized) when dealing with multiple high-stress cases?
  • You may get a question related to your documentation skills or experience with psychosocial assessments.
  • You may get a question related to risk assessment & CPS reporting.
  • You may get a question about the differences between Medicaid, Medicare, & private insurance.
  • You may get questions about your comfort level with blood, comfort level being on a locked unit, etc. (it depends on the position you interview for)
  • You may get a question concerning safeguarding.
  • You may get a question about a relevant act, i.e. the CARE Act. *If you are not familiar with an Act, don’t panic! Just say you are happy to learn more about it
Questions Specific to Interview at Mental Health Center
  • Tell me about your ability to handle a heavy workload (or your ability to be flexible/multi-task).
  • You will likely get questions related to your ability to handle crises & deescalate situations.
  • You may get a question related to your experience with progress notes.
  • You may get a question related to your experience with CBT or asked to explain your therapeutic approach/preference.
  • You may get a question related to dealing with a suicidal client.
  • You may get questions related to group work.
  • You may get a question related to diagnosis & treatment planning (may get a short case study to look through).
Questions Specific to Interview at Substance Abuse/Rehab Center
*See above questions, too (mental health center)
  • Tell me how you handle clients that are unmotivated/not here voluntarily.
  • You may get a question related to your experience with/ability to work with comorbidity.
  • You may get a question on your experience with/knowledge of motivational interviewing.
  • You may get a question on your knowledge of Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model.
  • You may get a question on how you build rapport with your clients.
  • How would you handle a client that comes in and appears to be under the influence?
Questions Specific to Interview at Correction Facility/Juvenile Facility
  • You will likely get questions related to your ability to handle crises & deescalate situations.
  • How do you maintain/enforce boundaries with clients?
  • Tell me about your experience with group work and ability to keep clients engaged.
  • Tell me how you handle difficult/resistant clients.
  • You will likely get questions related to safety and your comfort level with this population.
  • You may get a question related to working with antisocial behaviors or suicidal clients.
  • You may get a question related to treatment planning.
Questions Specific to Interview for School Counselor Position
  • What is the role of a school counselor?
  • How would you deal with/tell me about a time you dealt with an angry parent?
  • What are some reasons why you might contact a parent?
  • How do you keep parents engaged?
  • You may get a question related to your experience with/knowledge of working with a child who self-harms.
  • How would you deal with/tell me about a time you dealt with an unmotivated student?
  • What would you do if a student wants out of a class or if a teacher wants a student out of the class?
  • You may get a question concerning safeguarding. *Look at their website to become familiar with their policy
  • You may get a question regarding behavioral interventions.
  • How do you implement positive reinforcement in your work with students? (i.e. student rewards)
  • You may get a question regarding your experience with group work.
  • What are signs of abuse/neglect?
  • What is your counseling style/counseling philosophy/theoretical preference?
  • You may get a question about your familiarity with resources in the community. *You may want to brush up on your knowledge of local resources- mental health, housing, etc.
Tips!
  • Be ready with specific examples, i.e. a time you advocated for a client, a time you overcame a challenging situation… (it is okay if the example you give comes from an internship or volunteer experience!)
  • Look through the company’s/organization’s website. That way you can come prepared with your own questions and talk about why you think you’d be a good fit. Also- be familiar with their mission statement & purpose.
  • Look at the job description! This may give some hints as to what questions they may ask…
  • Ask questions… you are also interviewing them! Examples: What is a typical day like? What are some of the biggest challenges you deal with? Can you tell me about the work atmosphere/environment (specifically related to stress/burnout/support)? What is the next step in the hiring process? Do you offer (free) supervision? Do you offer paid time off, sick leave, benefits… ?
  • Be you! Be authentic. You don’t want to sound too “rehearsed”. Interviews are often conversations rather than just formal questions & answers.
  • If they ask you about something you have no experience with, emphasize your willingness to learn! 
  • Make eye contact (Funny little tip: if that feels too awkward, look at the interviewer’s ear!)
  • Bring at least 2 copies of your resume. Also bring contact references.
  • Get the interviewer’s business card so you can send a “thank you” email afterwards.

Good luck on your interview! You got this.

Jon Snow Yes GIF

Be sure to leave a comment below to let me know of the questions you’ve heard on interviews. Did any throw you off? Which ones are the most common?

 

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