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The Third Degree: Interview tips for psychology graduates

A job interview can be a daunting prospect, especially if it’s for an opportunity you’ve been working towards for some time. Whether you’re interviewing for the next step of your psychology career, work experience, or continuing your education, our interview tips will help you prepare for the third degree.

Before the interview

Revisit your application. This might sound self-explanatory, but your CV may have changed and evolved over time as you’ve amended the content to suit each position you’ve applied for. You could be asked a question on anything you’ve submitted, so reading through your application, CV and covering letter before the interview will help you prepare. It’s also a good opportunity to make a note of anything you didn’t include but might want to bring up at the interview.

You should also carry out some research into the organisation itself. Try to go a little deeper than simply using the company website. For example, find out if they’ve been mentioned in the news recently. Following their social media accounts and checking for recent press releases can be a good way to see what work they’ve been doing.

Additionally, if you know who is carrying out the interview, you could research the interviewers themselves. Have they been involved with any projects or contributed to any research? Does it have an impact on the position you’re applying for? Can you draw on this to help you prepare? If your interviewers are on LinkedIn, or a social media platform, read any articles or papers they’ve recently shared to gain a better insight into who is going to be asking the questions.

It might also help to visit the websites of professional bodies of the industry. Besides reading about the latest news and developments in the field, it will also provide an insight into the wider discipline of psychology. The British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) are good places to start.

General tips for a psychology job interview

Many psychology roles require a great deal of empathy and understanding. Be prepared to answer questions on why you’re interested in this sector. These questions will provide an opportunity for you to share your passion and the experiences which brought you to the subject.

Furthermore, understand the role you’re applying for and what the job involves. There will be questions about the role, so make sure you know the key requirements of the position and match your skillset to them. Similarly, identify gaps in your skillset, and be ready for questions on these and prepare a strategy for how you intend to fill any knowledge gaps.

When you’re answering questions be sure to use industry language and terminology to help communicate your own knowledge and understanding. However, only use this when necessary. You don’t want your answers to lose their impact.

What should you prepare for a psychology job interview?

As well as preparing potential answers for your interview it’s important to think about questions. Again, this is where your preparation can prove useful. Try to avoid general questions, and instead prepare two or three which show the breath of your knowledge and research. Is there something you would like to ask about the work carried out by the organisation? Is there a particular piece of research you want to discuss or an interviewer you have a specific question for? The interview is a great place to ask it.

Also check before you attend the interview if you were required to bring any supporting materials, such as a research paper, qualifications, or references. It also does no harm to bring an extra copy of your application in case a panellist doesn’t have their copy to hand. 

What should you wear?

First impressions are important so you should dress as smartly as possible. Try on your planned outfit a couple of days before the interview and ensure you feel as comfortable as possible. This avoids awkwardly adjusting your clothing during the interview, which could be distracting to both yourself and the panel.

Interview Checklist

  • Review your application and the role you’ve applied for.
  • Research the organisation and interviewers.
  • Understand and draw upon current news and trends in the field.
  • Use your answers to communicate your skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm.
  • Prepare considered questions.
  • Dress smartly and comfortably.
  • Plan ahead. Know your travel arrangements and arrive promptly.

Ultimately the key to a successful interview is preparation. Unfortunately, even with hard work and preparation it may not be the outcome you want. However, the important thing is to see each interview as a chance to develop. Reflect on what went well and what you could improve for your next one, and that dream job will be yours in no time.

 

If you’re looking to begin a career in psychology, our MSc Psychology (Conversion) is a great place to start your journey.