How to interview for practicum


    It's nerve-racking applying to practicum sites... and then you get to add the dreaded interview. In your graduate therapy degree program, you will be required to work at a Practicum Site. Practicum is basically a time in which you implement the skills you've learned in your classes. Some students start a practicum their first year, others start their second or third year. 

    Regardless of when you start, you will have to interview for the site. My hope is that I can provide some support when you undergo this process. As someone who recently interviewed for practicum, I know I can provide some insight as to what "to do" and what "not to do". 

Here is how to interview for Practicum:

  • Bring the right paperwork
    • Nowadays, everything is done digitally, but you will look very prepared if you also bring printed copies of your resume, cover letter, and other supporting information. Anything you can do to look more prepared than your competition gives you a leg-up.
  • Talk about your experience
    • Interviewers may ask questions that feel unrelated to your job position. They may ask questions like "when was a time that you felt unprepared?". This is a great opportunity to talk about your experience in a helping profession. 
    • To be frank, most people who are graduate students do not have a lot of experience in the field they are applying for... they have been in school (duh). Brainstorm about "relevant" experience to becoming a therapist. That experience may look like being a behavior technician... that experience may also look like babysitting your younger siblings. Experience that you can relate to this "helping profession" will be beneficial when you answer your questions. 
  • Talk about your strengths
    • For almost every interview I've done, people have asked me about my strengths. With knowing this, I will prepare brainstorming my strengths ahead of time. I may also choose to talk about different strengths for different positions. 
    • For example, if I am applying for a position to be a therapist for children, I would want to highlight my ability to think on my feet and my creativity. If I am applying to work for the elderly population, I may want to highlight my ability to empathize and my ability to be hospitable. 
    • Regardless, think about your strengths and how you will prepare to talk about them! 
  • Prepare for questions about theories
    • In the interviews I've experienced, I was asked about my knowledge on certain theories (Motivational Interviewing, CBT, etc). This was pretty intimidating, especially since I'm not the greatest at remembering all of the theories. I recommend being knowledgeable of the general basics of different theories. I would also recommend learning more about the theories that you are interested in so that you can elaborate on these ones if necessary.
  • Prepare for a case study
    • The interviewer will likely give you a scenario in which you will have to respond. I suggest going over any cases conceptualizations or homework assignments that may prepare you for these. You will want to have basic knowledge of the most common disorders (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bi-polar, PTSD, etc.)
  • Prepare for questions about crisis situations
    • Don't be too scared about these questions. The more you study and research what you need to do in these situations, the more comfortable you will feel in your response. 
    • For example, the interviewer may ask you what you would do in a situation in which a client stated that they wanted to end their life. You would respond with saying that you would assess for more information (plan, means, intent, access, etc). 
  • Be confident, you can do this!
    • The process is overwhelming, but you can do it! It's over before you know it! Trust the education that you have endured, for this moment. You are more knowledgeable than you know! I know you are going to do great things!

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