Psychologist Interview Questions and Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 23, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated October 23, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're looking for a job as a psychologist, you need to be able to speak about your background in psychology and how you approach your profession in an interview with a prospective employer. Anticipating the questions you could be asked is essential to increase your chances of impressing the interviewer. Psychologists study how people think, feel, and behave and apply this knowledge to help their clients change their behaviour or address certain issues. In this article, we explain what a psychologist is, discuss some common questions you might expect in a psychologist's job interview, and give sample answers to these questions.

What is a psychologist?

A psychologist refers to a trained professional who studies mental processes and human behaviour through observation and interpretation of how people relate to one another and their environment. Psychologists may work in a clinical setting with individuals, families, or groups to help them overcome challenging life circumstances. Some psychologists also research to advance knowledge in a particular field of the profession. Here are a few areas that psychologists may specialize in:

  • mental health disorders

  • criminal behaviour and crime prevention

  • drug and substance abuse

  • cognitive functions

  • psychological determinants of health

  • rehabilitation

  • family relationships

  • culture and behaviour

  • workplace psychology

Psychologists work in various settings, such as:

  • government agencies

  • non-governmental organizations

  • hospitals and clinics

  • correctional facilities, such as prisons

  • educational institutions, such as schools and colleges

  • consultancy firms

  • nursing homes

  • rehabilitation centres

  • sport teams

Related: How To Become a Psychologist in Canada

Psychologist interview questions and answers

Here are some questions you can expect in a job interview for a psychologist, along with sample answers:

1. Why did you choose to be a psychologist?

People pursue a career in psychology for different reasons. While some want to understand human behaviour, others become psychologists to help people transform their lives. Interviewers ask this question to gauge your passion for the profession. To answer this question, state why a career as a psychologist is your first choice. Show enthusiasm and genuine interest in the open position.

Example: “I knew I wanted to be a psychologist from a very early age. My family was dysfunctional, but thanks to a family therapist, things got better, and I could continue with my education. Since then, I have always wanted to help people in difficult situations and see their lives change for the better.”

Read more: How to Answer “Why are You Interested in This Role?” Step by Step

2. What are your greatest strengths that make you suitable for this position?

Psychology has diverse fields of specialization such as case assessment, family therapy, and child development, among others. Interviewers ask this question to establish what areas you're most qualified in or feel most comfortable handling. To answer this question, mention the areas of psychology you're skilled in and list your key strengths and relevant work experience.

Example: "At university, I majored in child psychology and child development. This prepared me to handle diverse child issues, such as deviance and child counselling. In the first two years after college, I volunteered in a non-profit organization specializing in helping the children of immigrants deal with the trauma of dislocation. For the last three years, XYZ School has employed me as a counsellor. My key strengths are holistic child therapy and group therapy."

3. Do you have any weaknesses? If so, what have you done to address them?

To help others effectively, psychologists need to be aware of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This question tests your knowledge of yourself and the steps you're taking to improve. To answer this question effectively, identify a benign area where you feel you need some improvement. Avoid disingenuous answers such as saying you don't have any weaknesses, which may affect your chance of getting the job.

Example: "In most of my previous experience, I've mostly worked with children. To become a better child therapist, I feel I need to improve my skills in group and family therapy. This would equip me with the knowledge to deal with underlying issues such as family conflict that eventually unsettle kids. I have enrolled in an online course in family therapy to get more familiar with the approaches and theoretical foundations of family psychology."

Related: Common Behavioural Interview Questions With Example Answers

4. What are your career goals?

Employers prefer hiring employees whose career goals align with the organization's goals. Interviewers ask this question to ensure you're a good fit. The question also tests your professional commitment to psychology and your development plans. When answering this question, share your short- and long-term goals, depending on whether they fit into the organization's plans. Your answer ought to focus more on the employer's needs than your personal goals.

Example: "In the short term, I intend to deepen my knowledge of group therapy and the effects of technology on human behaviour. My long-term career goal is to pursue a master's degree in social psychology and possibly a doctorate."

5. What challenges do you encounter as a therapist?

Psychologists face some challenges in their work, which may affect their interventions and motivations. This question tests your knowledge of the psychologist's work environment. To answer this question, mention some common challenges faced by therapists and how you can overcome them. You can also describe how you navigated a challenging situation in your previous experience. Also, be positive in your answer.

Example: "As in every profession, psychologists also face challenges in their work, such as clients who are unwilling to implement an action plan or a client who always apportions blame to others. In my previous experience, one of the most severe challenges I dealt with was communicating with a family who was reluctant to take an active role in addressing their child's issues. I held several family meetings to encourage the family to take a more active role in their child's rehabilitation, and they eventually listened."

6. What is your favourite theoretical approach to therapy?

There are various theoretical approaches that psychologists use to assess and treat their clients. This question tests your knowledge of these approaches. In answering this question, mention the common theoretical approaches in psychology and briefly describe what they represent. You might state your favourite approach and emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to understanding human behaviour, for example.

Example: "I have interacted with the most prominent approaches in psychology, such as the cognitive, biological, behaviourist, humanistic, and psychodynamic approaches. I don't have a favourite approach as every case is different in psychology, though I do find a holistic approach is useful in understanding human behaviour."

Read more: Best Career Matches for INTJ Personalities

7. What experience do you have in working with multicultural populations?

Psychologists may be required to handle clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. To do this, they need to be conversant and objective when communicating with people from a different culture than their own. This question tests your understanding of the cultural dynamics of behaviour and how to stay professional when communicating with people from different cultures. In your answer, you can describe your work experience in a multicultural situation.

Example: "I've been lucky to work with people from different nationalities and cultures. During my time as a refugee rapporteur with the United Nations, I worked with people from 16 different countries and I learned a great deal about their culture and how it influenced their behaviour and circumstances. Working in a multicultural setting is an exciting prospect, and I would welcome an opportunity to do it again with your organization."

8. What is your preferred self-care routine?

To be effective in helping their clients, psychologists need to take care of their mental and physical well-being. This question seeks to establish what you think of psychologists' self-care and the specific method you apply to get motivated, avoid burnout, and achieve a work-life balance.

Example: "I believe self-care is an important aspect of a psychologist's professional life as it helps them exercise their duties effectively. My self-care routine involves regular debriefing with colleagues, taking a brief break from work, taking a vacation, and listening to music. I also finish all my assignments at work to avoid taking work home."

9. What are the most important qualities of a psychologist?

To excel in their work, psychologists need to possess some qualities such as empathy and patience. This question gauges your knowledge of the qualities of a good psychologist. In your answer, reference the attributes mentioned in the job posting. Also, highlight the qualities that are relevant to the job.

Example: "Psychologists need to be trustworthy, empathetic, and passionate. Clients would find a psychologist helpful if they can trust them and understand their situation. Passion is also an important quality as it motivates the psychologist, even when things seem not to be going in the preferred direction."

Read more: How To Ace Your Next Job Interview

10. What are the ethical issues that psychologists need to consider in their work?

Psychologists need to adhere to a certain code of ethics. This question tests your knowledge of a psychologist's ethical considerations. In answering this question, outline what they are and why they're important for your profession and the job you're interviewing for.

Example: "Ethics is critical to what we do as psychologists. Our clients come to us because our ethical conduct makes us more approachable. For example, we respect their confidentiality, anonymity, and voluntary participation in therapy, we seek their informed consent, and we follow the do-no-harm approach. I always strive to adhere to these principles and address any ethical dilemmas in a prescribed way."

Explore more articles