Preparing for interviews: reflections from trainee and qualified EPs
Applying for a place on an educational psychology doctorate programme (DEdPsy) can feel like a long process.
Once applications are submitted, it can be both exciting and nerve-wracking being invited for an interview!
We have asked trainee and qualified educational psychologists for their reflections on interviewing for the training course and, while this blog is far from a comprehensive guide to interviews, we hope the reflections will provide some reassurance and support over the coming weeks.
When we asked people to offer their reflections on preparing for DEdPsy training course interviews, perhaps the most frequent reflection brought up ideas of genuineness or authenticity.
Josie (TEP) encouraged people to “think about what has led you to this point and what about educational psychology really interests you.”
Sam (Senior EP) extended this idea and suggested that people might “talk passionately about the things that are important to you and you believe in… don’t give answers that you think [the panel] may want to hear but rather those that reflect you.” Raquel (Senior EP) agreed and offered these words “take it as an experience to show who you are and why you are passionate about psychology and SEND and Disability.”
With that in mind, frequent suggestions were to go into the interview with a smile, try to relax, and ask the interviewers to repeat questions if you don’t understand or need some more thinking time. Advice from Lex (TEP) is that “…you are your biggest resource – just be yourself.”
A key reflection that came up was the importance of self-care before and after the interview.
Lottie (TEP) reflected that “it can be tempting to just focus on practising questions at every spare moment you have, but keeping up with self-care things really helped it not take over my life.”
Self-care during the interview can be important too and Atika (TEP) highlighted that it is useful to “take your time during the interview, ask for questions to be repeated and ask for a moment to think about your answer”. People also suggested taking a sip of water before answering a question for invaluable thinking time.
Self-care can also look like good communication and boundaries. Many people might want to know how the interview went or whether you’ve been successful. EPs from the Southend EP service reflected that “the wait can be very difficult but I found it easier once I had told friends that I would let them know once I had heard… being asked kept raising my anxieties.”
The interview panel will often be a mixture of university course tutors and educational psychologists from local services. Some panels also have various stakeholders like educational staff, parents of children with SEND, or even children and young people.
Zoë (TEP) reflected on some good advice she had previously received, that “the interviewers weren’t trying to trick me and were interested in what I had to say. Really helped to…boost my confidence a bit.”
Cheryl (TEP) reflected on how important it is to remember “you have been shortlisted for a reason, so really think and reflect on what those reasons are and try to evidence this in the interview.”
Whether your interview is online or in person, remember that the interview is a two-way process where you can decide whether this is the right university for you. Giulia (TEP) reflected that the interview “helped me think that I could also make a decision based on the ‘vibe’ of the interview.”
Many people reflected on the key role of psychology in preparing for their interviews, particularly keeping in mind how they applied psychology in their work.
The main thing for Deborah (EP) “was prepping lots of examples of how I used psychological theory and research, in action”.
Lizzie (TEP) offered a reflection about being focused “on the two or three areas of psychology you really know and be confident that you can talk about these areas.”
The application of psychology to real world problems also offers plenty of opportunities for learning and Matt (EP) suggests avoiding “a ‘perfect textbook’ answer, but rather your unique experiences and learning from them.”
Throughout training there is a great deal of focus on developing your reflective practice skills. Naomi (TEP) described how it was important for her to “show that you can reflect on a situation… outlining what went well, what you learnt and could have done differently.”
The online educational psychology community
Abi (TEP) highlighted that there are great support networks on social media. Try using the hashtags #twitterEPs, #adayinthelifeofan_EP and #adayinthelifeofaTEP on Twitter for some great ideas, resources and debate. We also have a page that provides lots more information about the wider EP community.
You can explore our back catalogue of blogs to get a sense about what different EPs and services are focusing on right now. Some of the blogs that might be useful and supportive now include:
- Becoming an EP – #NoWrongPath
- Reflections on being working class in a middle class profession
- A day in the life of an EP: perspectives from Twitter
We also know that the people important to you may want to try to find out more about what it is that you’re actually applying to do, and so our ‘Educational Psychology’ page might be useful.
We’d like to thank all those trainee and qualified EPs who offered their reflections for this blog including:
Mel, Raquel, Andy, Natasha, Deborah, Lizzie, Abi, Lex, Lottie, Hannah, Zoë, Matt, Cheryl, Atika, Giulia, Josie, Naomi, Mary, Siobhán, Leanne, Minoushe, Samana, Sarah, Laura, Naomi, Clare, Sophia, Vivian, Cath, Mick, Louise, Keither, and EPs from Southend EPS.