Common Counselling Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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.

Counsellors help people manage various mental and emotional health challenges to help them better navigate life. While counsellors have many responsibilities, they typically diagnose mental health problems and facilitate communication with their clients to help them discover a part of themselves to facilitate holistic treatment. If you want to become a counsellor, knowing about the essential counsellor interview questions that potential employers may ask you can help you prepare better. In this article, we discuss some commonly asked counselling interview questions along with sample answers to help guide your preparation process.

Common counselling interview questions with example answers

When appearing for a counselling interview, you can benefit from knowing about some commonly asked interview questions with sample answers to guide your answers in an empathetic and informed way. As an aspiring counsellor, you must practice speaking your answers with a colleague or trusted friend to refine your answer and communication skills. Following is a list of some typical counselling interview questions you can expect in your interview:

Why do you want to pursue a career as a counsellor?

The interviewer can ask you this question to assess your motivation for applying for the job and why you are a better fit than the other candidates. For a career as vast, diverse and complex as counselling, it becomes ever more important to find skilled and suitable candidates, which is why employers most frequently ask this question. When answering this question, consider mentioning your reasons for applying for the job role and any previous training, qualifications or experiences you may have that affected your decision.

Example: "I grew up in a tough family and found it difficult to cope with the contrasting emotions, negatively affecting the surrounding people, including my friends, who were worried about their lives and careers. I lost one of my friends to chronic depression, and that moment changed my life. I knew I wanted to use my empathetic abilities to help others in need so no one else goes through what my friend went through. While that incident strengthened my resolve to be a good listener and help people, it was only during a lecture on emotional empathy at college that motivated my decision."

Related: How To Become A Psychologist: A Complete Guide (With Steps)

What qualities, according to you, make you qualified to become a good counsellor?

Counselling is a demanding profession, and you require essential skills and qualities that support your decision to help others in need. Knowing about the qualities that make a good counsellor, such as empathy, active listening and awareness, can help you assess your personality better and give a well-rounded answer. Consider mentioning a list of qualities that make you suitable for the job while reflecting on personal experiences that helped develop these qualities.

Example: "I am a keen observer of people, situations and experiences around me, so from a young age, I noticed other people's emotions and feelings and tried to understand their perspective on the issue. This skill made me more empathetic, but I later realised I can benefit from setting boundaries and observing rather than absorbing. Empathy made me non-judgemental towards others' journeys and helped me respect their decisions without prejudice. I am a curious person and this quality translated into me asking the right questions that also helped me improve my listening skills."

Related: Different Types Of Psychologists And How To Become One

Tell us how you approach counselling treatment for various clients with a specific example?

Employers can ask you this question to assess your problem-solving skills and understanding of a situation. They want to know your counselling treatment approach and individual cases to provide the best possible client therapy. Since the question demands a specific answer, consider sharing a personal experience that describes your treatment method for the patients.

Example: "The best part about my job is that it brings me new situations and treatment opportunities with different clients. While my treatment approach varies with every client, it is also unique depending on its specific requirements. For example, I had a returning client dealing with anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that caused suicidal tendencies. So before prescribing medication or certain types of therapy, I engaged in extensive conversations with them.

Asking the right questions helped me trace their history back to their childhood, where they shared their parents abandoned them often, which left them seeking attention from outside sources. This realisation helped them identify how they became a people pleaser and why they had ADHD. Once we identified the cause, I suggested breathing, relaxation, and forgiveness exercises to help them overcome their childhood experiences."

Related: Counselling Skills: Definition And Examples

What factors do you consider while developing personalised treatment plans for each patient?

Employers can ask you this question to see your personalisation and decision-making abilities to determine how suitably you can develop unique treatment plans for each patient. Consider sharing a comprehensive approach to your treatment methods when answering this question. This strategy helps display that you are skilled at analysing each patient's situation before following a standard medication or therapeutic procedure. Adding an example to your answer can help make it more relevant to the question.

Example: "I am a dynamic counsellor, so with each patient, I can quickly identify and analyse their mental health or emotional issues that are affecting their overall well-being. To ensure that I offer the right treatment plan for every patient, I ask them a set of questions to better understand their perspective on their health condition. I consider how effectively my patients can communicate with me while sharing their situation and how empathetic and considerate they are of their struggles.

Usually, I treat clients who find it challenging to be kind to themselves, making it harder to heal and grow as an individual. In these cases, I ensure I make them comfortable and appreciative of their achievements and perseverance despite different hindrances. Invoking gratitude in patients often helps them communicate to me, following which I assess their behaviours and thought patterns to provide them with the best possible solution."

Related: What Does A Psychologist Do? A Comprehensive Guide

Share your most significant accomplishment as a counsellor so far.

This question provides an opportunity for you to share your greatest accomplishment as a counsellor so far and offers you a space to discuss how you have helped previous clients overcome challenging situations. Consider sharing personal stories and experiences to make your answer more valuable, but be sure not to be too specific in the details. Avoid breaking the client-counsellor confidentiality rules.

Example: "When I was interning at Higher Emotions, I counselled a client who had extreme self-love and self-worth issues. While I completely empathised with them and their experiences, I did not know of a way to make them feel heard and understood. I didn't know how to offer them the best advice or help them discover why they were feeling the way they were feeling. I discussed this with my mentor, who then suggested I engage in an informal conversation with them that helped them share their story with me.

We learned their emotions resulted from a lot of negative self-talk they practised because of how other people spoke to them, including their parents. After realising this, I knew what I had to do. I helped them with cognitive reframing exercises and actively practised these with them. It allowed them to practice more compassion towards themself and increase their self-acceptance. The client was so happy with the counselling expertise that they recommended me for the best counsellor award, which I won eventually."

How do you deal with a situation where you cannot provide clients with the help they require?

This question aims to assess your problem-solving abilities and how quickly you can adapt to challenging situations. Employers want to know how quickly you can think of alternative methods for clients to help them provide the help they need. Consider sharing the example of a challenging situation where you could not assist a client's needs and how you navigated the crisis smoothly to help them.

Example: "I learned early in my counselling career about challenges being unavoidable, and how it is beneficial for a counsellor to adapt to them as quickly as possible. As a counsellor at Emo Inc., I had a patient with suicidal tendencies and addictive behaviours. While I had the required knowledge to identify destructive patterns and offer a well-rounded perspective to help them accept healing and treatment, I found it challenging to understand their perspective on suicide.

I knew about a colleague who was more proficient in working with suicide and addictive behaviours, so I decided it can be ideal to recommend my client to my colleague. I ensured I made the client feel understood and heard and politely explained how my colleague can assist them better. In challenging situations like these, I put the client's needs first and ensure that they know there is a solution for their problem as well, even if it is out of my expertise."

Explore more articles