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Interviewing

Top Questions for Interns

Johanna Tiemann and Barbara Nusbaum of the New York State Psychological Association’s Graduate student chapter have pulled together this list of the questions Internship sites are most likely to ask prospective interns.

  1. How did you decide on a career in psychology? If you’ve changed careers, be prepared to explain why.
  2. What are you looking for in a psychology internship? (i.e., why do you want to come here?)
  3. What are your goals for your internship year?
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a clinician/tester/supervisee/ diagnostician?
  5. What do you plan to do once you have finished your training? (Sometimes: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?)
  6. Case Presentation:
    1. Be prepared to answer questions on the intake and testing reports you’ve submitted with your application.
    2. Aside from the cases discussed in the intake and testing reports submitted with your application, have two cases ready to present in a somewhat structured format.
    3. Prepare cases that are revelant to the work you would be doing at the internship (e.g., child, adult, family).
    4. Try to choose cases that will allow you to give answers comfortably to the following questions:
      1. What would you have done differently in your work with this case?
      2. What do you think went well with this case?
      3. What diagnosis did you give the patent (and why)?
  7. Where are you on your dissertation, and what’s your topic? Be prepared to discuss how you came to be interested in your topic.
  8. What do you look for in supervision? ... and be ready to describe past supervision experiences.
  9. What do you think it would be like working in a ... (fill in whatever is relevant to the site, such as inpatient unit, emergency room)? What’s your worst fear about working on a locked, inpatient ward?
  10. Which of our electives/rotations appeals to you?
  11. Scheduling issues, such as can you work evening hours?
  12. What is your theoretical orientation?
  13. What are your specific clinical interests?
  14. Do you have any questions? Always try to formulate at least one question that is specific to the site.

Adapted from APA Monitor, January 1998

Questions to Ask Interviewers

  1. If not clearly stated, Is there a preferred orientation at the site?
  2. How are cases and groups assigned?
  3. What is the relationship between psychology and other mental health disciplines in the agency?
  4. Clarify starting and ending dates, any requirements (re: evening or weekends)
  5. What is the ratio of individual to group supervision?
  6. What types of seminars and other didactic experiences are available?
  7. Does this program encourage specialization or diversification in training?
  8. Do you anticipate any staff or program changes for next year?
  9. How are rotations determined?
  10. How are cases and groups assigned?

*Adapted from Levinger, C and Schfres, I. (1995) Everything you need to get an internship. Los Angeles: Internship Publishers.

Interviewing/Follow-up

Interviewing:

  1. Try to schedule locations together. Reserve airline tickets and rental cars. APPIC often negotiates special rates with some airlines. Consult the APPIC web site for details.
  2. Consider the weather where you are interviewing and pack accordingly. Take a change of clothing in your carry-on in case your luggage (and interview clothes) are lost.
  3. Take the following: copy of APPI, vitae, notes regarding the site, notes on the staff (i.e. look up the research that they've done in previous years, even just read the abstract).
  4. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer and prepare for questions asked of you. (See examples from the above section).
  5. Make a trial run to the site the day before the interview so you do not get lost the day of the interview.
  6. Be yourself. The program will make any matches based on how you present yourself. If this is not an accurate picture, you may not expereince a match later during the internship year.
  7. Attempt to find out where others are interviewing and see if you can share expenses (i.e. hotel, rental car).
  8. Talk to interns at the site, especially SOPP alumni-- ask what they did specifically to get their site and what role the interns play in the selection procedure.
  9. Make notes immediately regarding your impressions of the site and staff.
  10. Write personal thank you letters (even if you're not interested in the site, a future SOPP student might be). Consider whether to write one or multiple letters if you had multiple interviews at a site. Follow any site's specific instructions for thank you letters.