Employer-ready candidates understand how to speak confidently about their technical and transferable skills in ways that sell their professional value to employers. View a more detailed interview prep guide in the Behavioral Interview Prep Guide.
Tell me about yourself.
Think about your past (previous experience and education), present (what you’re now doing professionally and how it’s preparing you for this role), and future (why you want the job you’re interviewing for).
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a counselor?
For your strengths, consider the job description and the required skills in the posting and align them with skills you’ve mastered. For weaknesses, honestly explain an area in need of improvement, but also how you’re working on it.
Why do you want this job? Why did you pursue a career in counseling?
Demonstrate your research into the organization, what you like about it, and why your skills would be a good fit for the role. Explaining your motivation for becoming a counselor can help answer why the counseling field appeals to you.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question is designed to investigate your career goals – make sure they’re aligned to the job you’re interviewing for. If you’re applying for a job that provides supervision, do not say that you hope to leave immediately after you’ve obtained your full license to pursue private practice.
How do you build rapport when you notice a client’s resistance to therapy?
Talk about your general approach to building rapport with clients. If you have a specific example, explain the situation and how you broached the issue with that individual.
What counseling techniques do you use most often when working with clients? Can you tell me about a specific time when you used one of those techniques and how that went?
If the organization you are interviewing with uses specific counseling techniques and that information is available on their website, incorporate those techniques into your answer. Otherwise, answer honestly and always use a specific example using the STAR method.
Tell me about a time when you were in conflict with a colleague about a client’s treatment plan. What did you do and how did it resolve?
“Tell me about a time…” indicates a behavioral interview question, so use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method to tell a story. This question focuses on how you manage conflict and how you advocate for your clients’ best interests.
What diversity, inclusion, and/or cultural competence training or coursework have you received and how have you applied what you learned during therapy sessions?
Zoom in on a few key takeaways from training or coursework you’ve completed. Pick a specific time when you incorporated one of those takeaways into your work.
How do you like to receive feedback and supervision?
This question is designed to learn about the approach you’d like a supervisor to take. For example, do you thrive with a hands-on coach or do you prefer a more observational approach with occasional guidance? Supervision is required for associate counselors, so being able to articulate how you best receive feedback is helpful.
How do you manage stress? How do you practice self-care outside of work?
Showcasing that you can manage the demands of a stressful job is essential. Therapists need to practice self-care for their own well-being. There is no right answer to this question. The only wrong answer is that you don’t practice any self-care or you mention an extremely unhealthy habit or coping mechanism. The interviewers want to see that you put thought into your well-being.
Pro Tip: Always keep your answers positive, demonstrate what you’ve learned, and tell a story using the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) for behavioral questions so you can provide details about your accomplishments.