So you’ve finished your first psychology degree and are applying for jobs that you’re interested in. It’s all coming together, but one last thing still remains to be done – to clear the final interview. And naturally, because this is your first time, you’re a bit nervous, so you decide to do a quick Google search to find out the possible psychology interview questions that you may get asked.
And here you are, reading an article that is a definitive guide to the most common psychology interview questions! It’s sure to put you in good stead amongst your competitors, and if you read this article thoroughly, you may even have an edge over them too! How? Well, read on to find out!
There are some essential things to cover before we get started, though.
The Most Important thing to Keep in Mind During an Interview
The purpose of an interview is not just to attest to someone’s technical knowledge, but rather to see whether a candidate will be the right fight for a particular organisation. This is usually done on the basis of understanding what a candidate’s internal disposition is – how they process the world, what they are good at and what they are bad at doing, what inspires and what motivates them are all factors to be considered.
Depending upon particular contexts, these factors maybe even more important than technical knowledge! After all, if a person’s job role is that of a psychologist in a hospital, they also have to understand the structures of a hospital and how to work through them. If they’re always rebelling against institutions themselves, then that won’t be an ideal fit for a hospital, no matter how technically sound a particular candidate is.
Similarly, if a person is applying for a position at a recovery centre, and they are able to build a rapport with all the clients there such that they can trust the candidate, they will be a better selection than somebody else who may have a great amount of theoretical knowledge but cannot create a relationship with the clients, since that’s the most important of their work. Basically, contextual relevance is appreciated over theoretical accuracy in the absence of a context.
What kind of jobs are these questions for? Are they for a specific profile only?
Well, the answer to the question posed above is both a yes and a no. The specificity of the profile goes only so far as a psychological role is concerned – it can range anywhere between a school counsellor position or one for a forensic psychologist. But ultimately, it’s the disposition of the interviewee that matters more than anything else.
Also, we won’t be covering questions that are specifically technically linked to a certain job role, since it won’t be simply possible to cover all of the – psychology is a vast field, and including questions from all the sub-fields and disciplines will not be a practical undertaking. The majority of our questions will deal with projecting the right kind of attitude that will get a candidate selected and provide them insight into the selection criteria.
Common Psychology Interview Questions & Answers
Following are some of the common psychological questions for students:
1. “Tell us Something About Yourself”
With this question, which is really more of an introductory statement, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to be succinct with your response. Of course, you can use this question as a springboard to go into your hobbies or your early childhood, but a smart interviewee would take this opportunity to introduce their professional interests and then dovetail into an explanation of why they are where they are.
For example, a good answer is: “I used to read a lot of books as a child, and always wondered why people would behave the way they did. And that’s why I decided to study psychology and apply for a job here!”
2. “What Sort of Impact are you Looking to Make Here and How Will you Make it?”
This is one of the most common questions that interviewers like to spring on potential candidates. This assesses a person’s context-readiness as well as their proactiveness. Impact-driven people are often associated with leading and furthering great progress and change. This is a great opportunity for you to layout exactly what constitutes impact for you.
Here you must do your best to convey to the potential employers that you want what’s best for the organization. In fact, you can even ask them what their ideas are in terms of creating impact, and that you would love to join them in their mission through your ideas as well!
A good answer to this question is: “I think the impact can only be achieved through scale, but the scale is completely pointless if there is no quality. Therefore, I want to tow the thin line between scale and quality, and make sure that we can achieve both! Having said this, I was wondering what your thoughts on impact are – perhaps I can learn something from your many years of experience in the field.”
3. “Why did you Study Psychology – and What Was your Area of Focus?”
This question gives you the space to share your thoughts about the field itself as a whole. Here, it is best to be honest, considering that you’ll probably have a strong motivation; after all, psychology is usually one of the fields that attract people with conviction. That being said, as you elaborate on your area of focus, it’ll be very revealing of your nature if you can tie it in with what convinced you to study psychology in the first place.
If there’s no tenable link between the two, and if you discovered your passion as you started studying psychology, then it’s a separate matter. But you must pay attention to the links as they do exist – that part is definitely important.
A sample answer that is effective is: “I started studying psychology because I often wondered why I remembered some things so vividly while I forgot other things completely. This is also why I studied human memory closely because I wanted to examine what makes memories, and how our memories, in turn, create us.”
4. “What are your Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses?”
All questions about strengths and weaknesses are really less about a person’s actual strengths and weaknesses than they care about that person’s ability to recognize them. If you are successfully able to articulate your thoughts regarding the things you are good (or bad) at doing, then you will already have gained standing with your potential employers, because nobody wants to work with people who don’t understand themselves and the effect they have on others.
Here, the best strategy will be to tie in some possible outcomes based on your strengths and weaknesses, further displaying your ability to think through and work in various contexts.
A good answer would be: “I’m very effective at communication, so I can handle sensitive information and announce that to people very well. However, I’m very bad at giving direct instructions, because I like giving people the freedom to do work as they want to approach it. So, I will be great at managing people, but not micro-managing them.”
5. “Would you describe yourself as an Effective Communicator?”
The essence of communication comes down to understanding not just what to say, but how to say it in the way that it reaches the person to whom it is being said. If you can do this, you can call yourself an effective communicator. But when it comes to expressing this sentiment in an answer, the best way to lead is to mention that you won’t exactly know this answer, because it will be determined by the persons to whom you will be communicating.
An effective answer is: “Yes, I’m an effective communicator because I can convey my expectations from another person to them in a way that they understand. Beyond this, however, only the people I talk to will be able to determine whether I’m an effective communicator.”
Checkout: Top Skills Needed to be Psychologist
6. “What are your Long-Term Plans?”
While this has long been a staple question for most interviews, things have recently changed significantly, owing to the post-pandemic work scenario. No longer can people answer what their long term plans are – especially at a time when the whole concept of plans seems to be so alien.
So the best approach to take here is, to be honest about your future: you will know your plans best, and nobody else can determine them for you. As long as you can express yourself clearly to your future employer, you can make sure that they will consider you to be a viable candidate.
An example answer is: “I don’t have any long term plans at the moment. I want to grow in this particular role, and if I like the direction I’m going in, I will continue to pursue it!”
7. “Are you good at Conflict-Resolution?”
A lot of potential employers look at your ability to resolve conflicts because it allows them to assess how good you are juggling multiple stakeholders. Generally speaking, this is a role that pays its dividends the higher your move in life. There are no specific ways to approach answering this question – if you’ve done this before, clearly state out the conditions in which this happened. If you haven’t, articulate that you will be able to do this in the future if required.
A good answer is: “Yes, I’ve done this before at [insert historical instance]” or “Although I haven’t done this explicitly before, I’m sure I’ll be able to manage this in case it’s required of me.”
8. “What Made you Apply for this Position?”
Here too, the question assesses how you’ve approached the organization and will continue to work with them in the long run. It’s generally a good rule of thumb not to say that you’re not interested just for the money, even though the money is an important part of the equation – this is usually the case for most people.
But beyond this, you also need to stress that you’re a driven and motivated individual who wants to do the job because they resonate with its mission, or because you believe in the work and think that it’s important. It’s better to come clear with this right at the start since there will be moments when things become tough – and at that point, internal motivation will become really important.
A great answer for this question would be: “I think this role contributes greatly to society, and personally, I find this job role to be an exciting and promising one, not just in terms of work but also in terms of future growth.”
9. “Why should we select you over any other qualified candidate?”
This is a question that can go both ways: if you’ve given a decent answer, then you’ll be selected. However, if you say something untoward or unprofessional, then there’s a chance this question can break the whole job interview for you. The wisest thing to do here would be to play to your strengths and to draw from past experiences that highlight unique skills that others will most likely not have.
A good answer will be: “Because I played sports at a regional level, I know all about handling pressure and performing consistently at all times. Others, no matter from which field, are unlikely to have experience of this nature.”
10. Why did you choose this career path?
Psychologists may have the same curriculum, but their individual motivations for entering the field are far more varied. Some people choose to study psychology because they have witnessed firsthand the improvement in a person’s quality of life that can result from therapy or psychological intervention for a variety of behavioral problems and mental health concerns. Some people are interested in psychology because they are curious about the human mind or wish to gain insight into human nature. Be forthright and sincere in your response to this inquiry. The interviewer will learn more about you as a person and about why you choose your area of specialization if you take the time to answer this question thoughtfully.
11. Do you know about the ethics of privacy protection in this field?
One of the most important things a psychologist can do for their patients is to provide a secure environment for them to talk. There are rules in place to ensure the privacy of all patients. Under some circumstances, a psychologist may disclose client information without their permission. The main reason is to ensure the patient’s safety and to prevent widespread harm. I am able to alert appropriate authorities if, for instance, a patient discloses suicidal thoughts or plans during treatment. I have the responsibility to report instances of possible abuse or violence.
12. When comparing clinical and counseling psychologists, what are the key differences?
The kind of challenges you’ll face greatly vary across the two disciplines. A clinical psychologist’s expertise is called for when dealing with “clinical,” or severe, cases. People with mental illnesses, such as personality disorders, will be properly diagnosed and treated by these professionals. A counseling psychologist, on the other hand, is more likely to engage in the behavioral branch of psychology, where the focus is on influencing patients’ behavior for the better. Therefore, you can be assisting an individual in kicking a habit or a couple in fixing their communication issues.
13. Describe some of the research projects you’ve been involved with.
Here’s your time to wow the interviewer by discussing some of the cool things you’ve done in the past. If you are a recent graduate, this is a terrific time to talk about the research you did in school. Inform the interviewer of the nature of the project, your part in it, the data you acquired, and the results you obtained.
14. “Do you have any questions for us?”
Here is a question where you can really let go and ask away to your heart’s content! This may be one of the most important questions since it asks you to engage with your potential employers, and the more engaged you are, the better you will be in their evaluation sheets! Engaged people are always on top of their game, no matter which field they’re in – and they’re also the most successful, so make sure to highlight your eagerness in working with them in your questions to them.
There is no correct way to approach this – all questions are good questions!
Don’t present your best self – present your most inquisitive and dedicated self
Interviews are always tough to crack, but don’t lose heart! No matter what happens, always present your most inquisitive and dedicated self, because regardless of the exact position you’ve applied for, these qualities often do very well in any sphere of work, and at any level.
Besides, the more experienced you get, the easier interviews become, because you have an understanding of what your potential employer is looking for in a candidate – and then the conversation can be very simple. With that said, all the best for the future ahead! With these psychology interview questions and answers, there’s no doubt that you’ll do really well.
15. What kind of job roles are you looking for?
The primary role of a psychologist is studying cognitive behaviours and emotional responses to help make comfortable and progressive environments. Now, although the job role is defined, you may have some preferences which your interviewer wants to know. You may tend to work with kids or professionals. However, it is significant to answer this question smartly. Ensure you do not list preferences in types of jobs that are entirely different from the one you are interviewing for.
16. Tell us about your routine.
This question is to know more about you. Many people may find it irrelevant as to why the employer wants to enquire about your day-to-day routine. However, what your day looks like tells a lot about your behaviour and gives an idea of whether you will work with commitment or have distractions affecting your work. Your answer can be something like this,
“I spend my day counselling clients and listening to their issues. A typical day is all about appointments and being available for all my patients. In my free time, I like to communicate with my clients, learning how they are doing.”
17. Tell us about your biggest achievement.
This answer will tell your employer about your capability and the worst situation that you have handled. Moreover, it also shows your psychology, considering what you consider an achievement. Your answer can be,
“I have had various notable experiences throughout my professional journey, and I feel what I would really consider an achievement is every client I help heal. However, there was one client …. (continue the treatment story that touched your heart). You should ensure that in all the psychology interview questions answers, you focus on honesty.
18. What is the reason for the job change?
Out of all the psychology job interview questions and answers, this one is for professionals who are interviewing for a job change. Understand that saying bad things about your previous employer will not help. It will rather give a poor impression of yours, and your chances of getting hired decline. So, your answer should be fair and focused on why the new employer, rather than why not the current one. A sample answer can be,
“I am looking for a job change because I want to explore the industry in-depth and work with different employers to expand the different kinds of experiences in this field. Moreover, your organization offer diverse opportunities, and I would like to challenge myself to learn more.”
19. Share one experience with a patient that you will always remember.
It is a totally personal question that will vary for every professional. The employer wants to know more about you and the kind of work experiences you gained as it showcases your abilities in a sorted manner. Your answer should be straight and simple. Just share the session that was most challenging, but you handled it very well.
20. What Psychology models do you prefer using?
There are multiple psychology models that professionals working in this domain use to study human behaviours and provide relevant treatment to patients. Some popular options include behavioural neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, environment psychology, and the list goes on. If you have significant experience in the industry, you might already know about these models and would have your own preferences. So, when you face these psychological interview questions and answers from the interviewer, talk about your personal way of treating your patients. Make sure to answer this honestly, as everything will be evident if you get hired.
21. How do you handle patients who refuse to take treatment?
A psychologist often faces situations when the patient is in denial mode and refuses to take any treatment. Your employer includes this in interview questions and answers for psychologists because they want to know your response in adverse situations. Your answer can be something like this,
“I usually start by asking the reason behind refusing the treatment. If I find that it is because of a medical condition, I refer to a doctor. However, if it is just because of the acceptance issue, I try to talk to the patient and counsel them about how treatment can help them.”
22. How do you use non-verbal cues during a counselling session?
Non-verbal cues are a significant part of psychological treatments as they help find behavioural patterns the patient does not even share. Your interviewer asks this question to understand how observant you are and how you manage to identify these cues. Your answer can be something like this,
“When I talk to a patient during a counselling session, my ears are on their words, and my vision is on the nonverbal cues they are throwing. I take notes of all these cues that I noticed during a session and use them to understand the situation better and provide a relevant solution.” if you can add some of the cues here in this answer as an example, it will strengthen your answer.
23. What do you do to cope with stress?
Just because you understand psychology better doesn’t mean you won’t get stressed ever! Many psychologists report getting depressed after a long day with patients. So, when your employer asks this in psychological questions and answers for an interview, he wants to know about your copeup mechanism. You are free to answer this question from your personal experience, but do not mention things that might sound like a distraction or showcase your disruptive behaviour. You can mention listening to music, going for a run or cooking!
24. How crucial is confidentiality for you?
Confidentiality is always a concern when we talk about psychology-related treatments or counselling sessions. People are still a little scared to let the world know about their psychological fights, and it is the responsibility of a psychologist to maintain confidentiality. So, your answer can be,
“Though I don’t feel like psychological battles are anything that people should hide, but I understand the concerns of my clients and the space they come from. So, I do everything possible to maintain their confidentiality by keeping all the patient data secured and making my staff sign the non-disclosure agreement.”
25. How soon can you start?
It is generally the last question of your interview session, and most candidates answer this in a hurry out of the urge to get hired. Keep the answer ready with you before so that you do not give any random answer that would put you in a challenging situation. For example, if you have any notice period to serve, keep this time period in mind and give a correct timeline for joining.