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Clinical Psychology Internship Interview Questions

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Internships for clinical psychology students can be few and far between and very competitive to obtain. While an internship is a requirement for earning a doctorate in clinical psychology, only 75 percent of counseling and clinical psychology students manage to find the internship placements they need to graduate, says the American Psychological Association's gradPSYCH Magazine. Preparing for your interview could help you land the internship you really want -- and need.

What Appeals to You about this Internship?

During your interview, articulate the reasons that you want a particular internship. It's not enough to say you want more clinical experience or that you're required to participate in an internship in order to graduate. Think carefully about the specific clinical experiences you're seeking. Perhaps you want more experience with children or adolescents, or you want to improve your diagnostic skills. Make sure the internship you choose meets your personal and professional requirements. If you ultimately want to specialize in geriatrics, an internship in a school setting might not be the best fit.

Describe a Difficult Case.

You're almost guaranteed to be asked to describe a difficult or challenging case you've handled in the past. But you shouldn't be afraid to share details about a case that involved areas you need to improve on, Pamela J. Epps, the associate director for training at Emory University Student Counseling Center, said in an interview with the American Psychological Association's "Monitor." Interviewers want to hear about the cases you handled well, but they also like to work with students who are willing to learn and know the areas where they need more experience. Your answer to this question shows the interviewer what kind of supervisee you'll be and whether they want to work with you.

What is Your Dissertation Topic?

Almost every clinical psychology doctoral student is in the process of working on his dissertation when he participates in an internship interview. You should be able to discuss your dissertation topic in depth, share the progress you've made with your research or writing to date, and explain why you first became interested in your dissertation idea. If you're in the beginning phases of your dissertation, it could send the message that it might be difficult for you to juggle an internship and your dissertation research at the same time, Epps says.

Do You Have Any Questions?

You should always have your own set of questions to ask during an internship interview, psychologist David Jacobs said in an interview with gradPSYCH Magazine. Don't come to the interview unprepared. If you don't have any questions, it can convey the impression that you aren't really interested in the internship. Psychology professors Donna B. Pincus and John D. Otis write in "The Clinical Psychology Internship Guide" that some of the questions you might consider asking include, "What are you looking for in an intern?"; "Will there be opportunities to get certain types of experiences?"; and "What do you feel are this internship's biggest strengths?"


Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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