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Jan 23, 2014

Two Job Interview Tips for Counselors

You are a Counselor.  Use this to your advantage at your next job interview.

Employers are often looking for “mental health professionals”.  What does this really mean? Are they looking for counselors, social workers, or psychologists?  Would they also hire a candidate without a master’s degree who has experience in the field?

How can you use your training in counseling to stand out among the other candidates?

Strategy One

All mental health professionals share a core understanding of mental health and mental illness. However, as counselors, we have some unique advantages because of our therapeutic focus.  We are taught to EMPOWER individuals, recognize DEVELOPMENTAL concerns, nurture STRENGTHS, and celebrate DIVERSITY. 

1. Familiarize yourself with the MISSION and VISION of your potential employer.

2. Compare their philosophy with the 20/20 definition of counseling:

Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

(Source: http:// - counseling/consensus-definition-of-counseling#sthash.OQcfhxdA.dpuf)

3. POINT OUT the similarities during the interview.

For example:

Interviewer: “What attracted you to our agency?”

Counselor: “The vision of the agency. It is very much in line with my training.” Provide examples.

Strategy Two

Think of the coursework and other training you have completed. Highlight any classes that pertain to the job description. Talk about your training, especially if you do not have much experience.

During the course of our graduate studies we practice CLINICAL SKILLS in relation to individual, group, and family therapy. We have a solid understanding of ETHICS and we integrate the MULTICULTURAL perspective in everything we do. We study CAREER counseling, FAMILY counseling, CRISIS intervention, and NEUROPSYCHOLOGY.

Please NOTE: There are some variations in degree requirements for programs NOT accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

For example:

Interviewer: “What makes you the best candidate for the Crisis Counselor position?”

Counselor: “I have completed training in Grief and Loss and Crisis Intervention. I have demonstrated skillful application of counseling techniques related to bereavement and trauma.”

Do NOT assume that your interviewer is aware of your training.

The counseling profession is younger than social work and psychology. There is still some confusion in the mental health about what counselors know and do.

Use your job interview as an opportunity to market our profession.

Remain respectful and remember that we are not better - we are UNIQUELY trained professionals.

Good luck! 
Maya Georgieva is a counselor with a keen interest in child maltreatment prevention. She is a doctoral student in Counselor Education and Supervision at Marymount University and a volunteer crisis worker.  


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  1. 2 Dawn 02 May
    I like that you used key words in this presentation.  and if you match their mission and vision to what you have to offer it makes a better impression, and also if you believe in with their Vision or mission statement is it helps to be congruent on the job
  2. 1 David McGrath 10 Sep
    I am an Australian citizen living in Melbourne Australia and I have just completed a course in counselling and community service and your tips will come in handy as I look for employment. Thankyou


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