There are plenty of websites that focus on general interviewing skills and questions you may encounter in an interview, but here are a few questions specific to the mental health and social work field.
Despite the importance of interviewing, very few people practice their interview skills. Most people do three things to prepare for an interview. They start by developing a list of questions they think they will be asked. They then prepare answers to those questions. Finally, they research the company where they will interview. – The Importance of Interview Practice
1. What is your theoretical orientation?
With this question, you want to not only impress your potential employer with your knowledge, but also demonstrate how you will apply it to the specific position for which you are applying. You may have a background in several theoretical orientations that are excellent and evidence-based, but not evidence-based for the population for which you will work if given the position. Use your knowledge of theory and how you will apply it to this position to this specific population.
2. How do you stay organized and stay on top of documentation?
This question is very common for both bachelors and masters level positions. This question is asked because it is so easy to get disorganized and get behind on documentation requirements. You will need to give your potential employers examples of how you stay organized and stress your commitment to keeping on top of your documentation requirements.
3. What experience have you had with inappropriate boundaries and HIPAA violations and how have you corrected them?
Your potential employer wants to know that you are committed to following the regulations for PHI and that you are knowledgeable about these requirements. This might be the time to mention how you avoid dual relationships, deal overly friendly clients, or how you dealt with an ethical dilemma in the past.
4. How do you maintain the confidentiality of clients?
Your potential employer wants to know if you understand confidentiality laws and that you are committed to following these rules to protect your clients. Remember that in order to maintain confidentiality, it is never appropriate to speak with a client in public, speak with them on the phone in a public place, not keep confidential materials locked, carry confidential material on a thumb drive that does not meet HIPAA requirements, text or email clients or about clients without using encrypted email or initials, keep files in your car especially if they are not locked or if they are out in the open where they can be seen, etc. Let your potential employer know you are careful and mindful of the potential for breach of confidentiality.
5. How do you utilize your supervision time?
Supervisors want to know that you are willing to learn from your supervisor, who is your mentor while you are working toward your unrestricted license.
6. What experience have you had with crisis situations and how did you handle it?
When working in positions in which there is a high likelihood of clients with suicidality, suicidal ideation, self-injury, delusions, command hallucinations, etc, it is important for you to be able to keep a level head and be able to handle the situation calmly and in an organized manner. It is also important that you maintain the dignity and self-determination (as long as they aren’t in danger of hurting themselves or others) of the client in this situation.
7. What experience do you have with cultural competency and trauma-informed care?
Your potential employer wants to know if you are current with the research and that you will be able to treat your clients who come from a diverse background and who may have a history of trauma. Remember that bilingual does not mean bicultural. Let your employer know what populations you have worked with that have given you experience for the job for which you are interviewing.
8. What do you do for self care?
This seems like a really personal question and an odd question to ask in a job interview, but really for the mental health field it makes a lot of sense. Your potential employer wants to know what you do for yourself so that you don’t burn out in your career helping others. This would be a good opportunity to let them know about some appropriate hobbies you have or maybe throw in that you are into mindfulness or yoga, as these are things that are very supported by the mental health industry. Your potential employer wants you to work hard, but they don’t want you to work so hard that you are not taking care of yourself.