So, you have done it: you have completed your certification and you are now ready to interview for jobs. Interviewing for any position can be stressful, but you can prepare ahead of time by considering likely interview questions and how you may best answer them. We have put together a list of questions to consider and advice on how to make the best impression.
Preparing for an Interview
First and foremost, if you are going to interview for a counseling job, you will need to be Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. If you are not already, learn more about how to become certified.
Interview questions for a Substance Use Counselor role may explore your own experiences as well as your understanding of the role of a counselor and concepts surrounding substance abuse treatment. Questions may include:
- Why do you want this job? Being able to communicate what makes you passionate about substance abuse counseling is critical. You will spend a great deal of time with a variety of people experiencing many ups and downs throughout the process. Conveying examples of traits that would make you a great fit for the position in addition to connections you feel you have to the establishment itself can make you stand out.
Answer Tip: A good way to answer this question is to talk about your career goals and how the position you are applying for aligns with it. Spend time researching the place you want to work and explaining what appeals to you about them.
- What have you learned from mistakes in the field? Everyone makes mistakes, but the ability to learn and grow from them is important. Having specific examples is critical in interviews; vague responses without details can make you seem less credible.
Answer Tip: You should come prepared with a concrete example to discuss but be sure the mistakes you share are largely inconsequential and provided you with a valuable learning opportunity.
- What challenges are you looking for? Discussing challenges or goals can help your employer get a better idea about how you work and if you are a good fit. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss your strengths and how you would apply them to challenges. You may also describe examples of challenges you have faced and overcome in the past.
Answer Tip: It is good to share that you are motivated by challenge and are willing to be flexible to rise to the occasion. Companies are looking for highly motivated, self-starting employees.
- What is your biggest weakness? This is a difficult question to answer because there has to be balance. On one hand, you cannot say you have no weaknesses, but on the other hand, you want to make sure you do not talk yourself out of the running. Being aware of your weaknesses and how you may work on addressing them is a positive quality.
Answer Tip: Be honest but do not throw yourself under the bus at the same time. Many opt to try to twist the answer into revealing a strength, but sharing a small flaw allows people to see you are aware of your growing edge and actively working to improve it.
- Why should we hire you for this position? This question is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself on all fronts. Your skills, experience, education, and personality traits can all be selling points for the interview, but be sure to have relevant concrete examples. If you do not have experience, you can also make up for it by sharing passion and enthusiasm. Loving the work you do and being invested in it is just as desirable of a quality.
- What do you know about us? A candidate that does their homework and researches the place they are applying to stands out. Knowing about their services, how long they have been established, and other key information can improve your interview. Sharing information you connected with or having questions prepared about what you found is also a bonus.
Answer Tip: Visit the company’s website and read the “About Us” pages to learn more about them. You can also search for press releases related to the company to find out about recent activities and accomplishments they have experienced. The more research you do, the better, but that does not meet you must share it all during the interview. Having a strong baseline of information can convey you are incredibly interested in the job and willing to go the extra mile to show that.
- Tell us about your credentials. Licenses and certifications can make you really stand apart from the competition. Many positions in the substance abuse treatment field have specific requirements for potential employees and you can expect that this question will surface in some way during the interview.
Answer Tip: Depending on the position you are applying for, you may be required to have a specific number of hours of supervised experience, certifications, or pass board exams to practice. Be sure to review the requirements in your state and thoroughly research what type of program you would be working in to determine if it is the right fit. You can then use your experiences and credentials to outline why you are a good fit for the position.
In addition to these interview questions, they may ask you situational questions to assess how you would handle specific situations. Some examples of questions like this include:
- How would you handle a client who is aggressive?
- How do you monitor progress in treatment?
- What do you do in cases where a client experiences relapse?
- How do you deal with a crisis or emergency?
The interview will more than likely wrap up with “do you have any questions for us?” Always be prepared to ask a couple of questions in the interview such as what their experiences are working in the field, if they have any advice for someone coming into the position, or what do they look for in a co-worker. This shows you are genuinely interested in getting to know your potential employer and determining if you are a match. Respond to them with enthusiasm and express how their answers align with what makes you the right person for the job.
Above all else, be genuine and share your passion in the interview. Your personality, energy, and ability to connect with others is crucial to success in addiction treatment.
Have questions about becoming a certified counselor?
Call 800.465.0142 to speak with an admissions representative.