This page contains questions you will likely be asked on interviews. Practice answering the question by talking with fellow applicants, performing mock interviews, rehearsing your answers aloud in front of a mirror, and writing down what you believe is the best answer. Return to this page later to read our suggestions on how to approach each question. Questions posted will change periodically.

Current Interview Question:

Describe a particularly challenging therapy case. How did you conceptualize the patient's problem? How did you treat the patient? What happened?

Don't get nervous when answering this question. Instead, think about a case that presented an interesting clinical issue. Can you think of a case in which an ethical dilemma arose? Can you think of a patient who was particularly resistant to treatment? Have you seen a couple, individual, or family that caused you to learn or utilize new clinical skills? Have you seen a patient that was from a different cultural background than yourself? Each of these suggestions are provided to help you generate ideas and to help you think broadly about the many different ways that this question could be interpreted or answered. Also consider that interviewers want to see how you communicate clinical information, that were thoughtful in your conceptaulization of the case, and that you did not neglect important issues.

Previous Questions:

Tell me about your dissertation?

You are guaranteed to be asked this question on interviews so prepare for it now. Begin by writing down the key points of your dissertation (e.g., purpose, hypotheses, design, statistics, and results if you have them). Now, practice with your friends giving a 5-minute description. Once you can do that smoothly practice giving a 2-minute description. This exercise will force you to choose your words carefully, and will help you to develop a polished presentation. Having practiced this answer, your anxiety will be much lower when the question is eventually asked.

The interviewer will ask you a few questions after your description of your dissertation, particularly if you are interviewing with someone with research interests similar to yours. The interviewer's goal is to see if you can think on your feet, and have a thoughtful conversation. Again, rehearsal with friends is the best way to prepare for this. If you are up for the challenge, have your mentor or another professor perform a mock interview with you. This is typically a great experience and may help you to realize that you actually know more than you think.


 

Advice for Applicants from Internship Faculty
and Training Directors

Dr. Robert Kerns, Chief of Psychology Service
VACT Healthcare System: West Haven Campus

Let me begin by acknowledging the intensity and stressfulness of the process of selecting a predoctoral psychology internship program. Please know that the faculty making the decisions appreciate the efforts that students put forth and their thoughtfulness in arriving at a decision about where to train.

Ultimately, the decision about where to obtain internship training comes down to finding the optimal "match". Throughout the entire process, and especially during interviews, "to thine self be true", that is, be yourself! No good is served by trying to misrepresent yourself in a way that you think those making the selections would find attractive. Know what you want in an internship experience, and be active in a process that is designed to find the right program for you.

From my perspective, the key to success in this process is to be as clear as possible about a few primary factors. Clarity about personal goals for training in the context of early career aspirations and expectations should be a top priority. Ongoing and focused consultation with academic advisors is critical in the process of contemplating these decisions. As examples, it is important to decide how strong one's academic and research interests are (i.e., are you interested in an academic career), how important a specialty focus is (e.g., clinical health psychology, clinical neuropsychology), what kinds of special populations one is interested in working with (e.g., children, women, elderly), what theoretical and clinical orientations is one interested in (i.e., sole interest and commitment to a specific orientation versus an interest in exploring new approaches or a diversity of approaches), and what kind of setting is one interested in working in (e.g., medical setting, community mental health setting). Answers to these questions go a long way in narrowing the playing field and in helping to focus the search.

Geography is a second major consideration. In this context, ongoing negotiations with a spouse, partner, or important others is critical to ensuring confidence and satisfaction with the choice of an internship site. Don't apply to sites that are located in places where you wouldn't want to live, even for a year. It is important to appreciate that, although the predoctoral internship is only one year long, many graduates decide to stay in the same geographic location, or even specific training setting, for postdoctoral training and first professional positions.

Key to this outcome often relates to the answers to several additional questions. Are you someone who prefers to focus on one challenge at a time or are you a "juggler" who enjoys multiple ongoing challenges? How confident are you in your time-management and organizational skills? Do you feel you are ready to function relatively autonomously in a diversity of clinical settings, or do you believe that your training needs would be better served by a program that offers training in more closely supervised settings? Answers to these questions may help you decide on a training program that is organized into multiple, single training rotations, versus a program that demands an ability to manage multiple ongoing clinical responsibilities across a range of settings. Programs vary in terms of the availability of formal seminars and courses. How important is this to you? Frequency, type and availability of clinical supervision are other key concerns. What kind of supervisory relationship is important to you? All in all, the process of selecting an internship is as exciting as it is challenging. Clarity about goals for training and the answers to some of the questions noted above, among others, should go a long way toward maintaining confidence in yourself, the process, and the outcome.

Best wishes for a successful match!!

 


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