the grad school interview…

just as a warning, this got kinda rambly and WAY longer than i thought it would be. and i know i already posted once today, but i’m feeling impatient and didn’t want to wait until tomorrow.

anyway, some of you may be SUPER curious about questions and how i answered. so, for those of you who care – enjoy!

as you may (or may not) know, i interviewed for my #1 school on Friday. here’s kinda how it went down.


wednesday: packing night, which also equates to trying on approximately 50 different outfits.
james: so what are you supposed to wear?
me: pretty sure the email said business casual.
james: pretty sure or definitely sure?
me: pretty sure, but i’ll double check. *fidget with blackberry only to get frustrated because i’m too dumb to use it* i don’t know, whatever. i’m pretty sure.
james: i’ll check. *finds email in 5.2 seconds* it says business professional.
me: what does THAT mean?
james: it means you have to go shopping tomorrow before you leave for a business suit.
me: by mySELF?!?!
james: i could probably go with you. it wouldn’t be a big deal.
me: you’re not going shopping with me, you have to work. besides, what would you say? hey *boss’s name*, i have to take an extra long lunch to help my wife go shopping?
james: well, when you put it that way…


thursday: the day i suffer through half a school day because i’m SO anxious about shopping. the only girl in the world who gets ANXIOUS about shopping. i decided to not go to my noon class because a) i wouldn’t have paid attention anyway and b) i REALLY needed to get that shopping done. it took me *3 hours* to find a suit. ridiculous! and i ended up buying the first one i found anyway! sometimes, i really hate shopping.

so i left for the cities right around the time i would have left had i had all 3 classes and no shopping to do. fine by me. i get to the cities area just for my friend to call me and tell me that i have to meet her somewhere else because of poor time management on her part. i hate driving in the cities anyway, but i sucked it up and did it anyway. of course, i’m pretty much exhausted because i’ve been anxious all day about shopping and then driving to the cities. not worried about the interview, but pretty much everything else.

we finally get to her house, she feeds me AND i find out that my entire suit is machine wash AND driable. WIN! which means i got to wear clean clothes to my interview. always a bonus.


friday: INTERVIEW DAY!!!

i made it to the school JUST fine, though i was praying for God to take away my anxiety about driving the whole time anyway. i was in my super sharp business suit, which i had spent an HOUR ironing because it had to be ironed on low heat. *sigh* whatever, it was fine. i looked good and i FELT good. i was among the most professionally dressed. a LOT of people showed up in business casual, so i felt really good about my choice of attire. close toed shoes, pant suit and button down shirt. oh yes, the WHOLE nine yards.

there were 31 interviewees there and 8-10 interviewers. we sat around in a huge circle to begin where we shared our name, something that locates us (which didn’t make sense to me, but i just copied what everyone else was doing – basically where they lived and what they were doing), 3 words that describe us and something we like to do in our spare time.

i shared my name, said i was a student in fargo and didn’t work. my three words were talkative, wife and messy. now, i’m NOT sure those were the best choices of words, but they are true and fine. i said that something i liked to do in my spare time was run. i had debated using ‘runner’ as my third word and saying that what i like to do in my spare time is fill every flat surface in our apartment with my belongings, but went with the first. i think the second option would have a) been funnier and b) not been as negatively connotated as ‘messy’ is. however, too late to change anything now. on the plus side, messy got quite a laugh from people anyway, so i hope that’s good.

after that, we broke up into 6 smaller groups for the interview speed dating part. basically, we as interviewees sat in our circle and the interviewers rotated between groups and asked us one or two questions. i would have to honestly admit that i think i was the strongest interviewee in my group. i didn’t give overly ‘Jesus’ answers and i really made sure to answer the questions that were asked. it seemed that others in my group were answering everything as it related to their faith and how much their faith is a part of their lives and so on. they seemed OVERLY faith-based answers, but people may assume that those are the kind of answers to give at a seminary. and who knows, they could be right. i could have been wrong in my answers that didn’t overtly mention faith where faith wasn’t even part of the question. that’s here nor there, i think, though. i answered true to myself and that’s all i can do.

one of the questions they asked had to do with integration. i don’t remember off the top of my head anymore exactly, but it was a very simple question. i started to answer ‘integration is…’ but realized that i had no idea how to put into words what integration IS. i KNOW the concept, but it’s hard to explain. so i had to change it to ‘integration is demonstrated when you know enough about a subject to be able to apply beyond a textbook situation. it’s the transference from head knowledge to hand knowledge.’ i made up the phrase hand knowledge (i think) but the analogy worked. they understood what i meant.

two people in our group gave LOTS of ‘Jesus’ answers. i don’t know if that’s how they truly live their lives, and if so, good on them! however, i felt that their answers sometimes came off as inauthentic. that they came off as ‘i’m interviewing at a seminary and so i must incorporate the name of Jesus into EVERY answer. i could be totally wrong though.

another was ‘do people change?’ or ‘how do people change?’. something to that effect. my answer was ‘only when forced.’ and i had kinda left it at that because i hadn’t completely thought out my answer. the interviewer, of course, prompted me to continue and explain. so i thought REALLY fast and explained. i have a professor who has told us many times that every person is living their best deal. how they live their life is the best way that they can think of it. if it wasn’t, they would change. so i shared that tidbit and expounded a little more.

the follow-up question to that one was then ‘share a time when you have changed your mind about something that you thought was really important.’ i thought about it through a few other answers and finally i realized that i rarely change my mind. God changes my mind FOR me. of course, i’m open to Him doing so, but that’s more the truth than anything. i also shared that i don’t always have to LIKE it, but as a Christian, it’s my ‘job’ to be obedient to it. otherwise, what am i doing claiming to be a Christian? the interviewer then asked how people respond to that. i said they think i’m crazy. that i’ve lost my mind and then i shared a few specific examples like going back to school when i was totally broke, moving in with my fiance’s grandpa before we got married, and marrying some guy i’ve known for 9 months. people really think you’re crazy when you take the path that God chooses for you because it’s not always a logical path. it’s a faith path. you have to simply step out in faith.

another was ‘how do you deal with criticism?’. i knew this was going to be a hard one because i can get REALLY defensive. i thought about school and how i deal with it there and with james and my friends. i finally settled on it depends on the situation and the activity. if i THINK i’m really good at it or it’s just a leisure activity that i’m not necessarily trying to be REALLY good at, i get defensive. however, in school, where one of the main things is criticism or feedback, i’m much more open to it. professors can criticize me til the cows come home and i’ll probably take it better than james telling me how to play my wow character better and more efficiently.

the follow-up to that was ‘how do you know that the person criticizing cares about you?’ and i answered that with you know by how it’s delivered. obviously, those around you care enough to say something, but in a school situation where you’re just starting to build relationships with professors, you simply have to trust and believe that they have your best interests at heart. otherwise, you’ll never move on and forward in your education. of course, the sensitive person is more likely to know when it’s appropriate to criticize in public and when it needs to be private. in this situation, though, you just have to believe them. you have to trust them.

another was ‘how do you deal with your own anxiety’ and ‘how do you deal with the anxiety of others?’ another one i really liked was ‘how do you deal with stress: like an ostrich, a pack rat, a kangaroo, a whale, or a porcupine?’ the answer to these three questions for me is ‘it depends on the situation’. by process of elimination, i chose a whale because i don’t really employ the other tactics a WHOLE lot, but sometimes i do. and as far as anxiety, i’m really trying to learn how to pray through it, to let it go to God and move on. if you’re always anxious, you have a much harder time moving forward. and dealing with the anxiety of others, it really depends on the person, the relationship, their personality – all sorts of things. you do what you have to that WORKS to help them.

a really good one was ‘how do you deal with a couple where the wife is a Christian and the husband is a Buddhist?’ so my first thought was ‘so what are they there for?’ they may have figured out a way to work out the different faith thing and are in there for something else. so again, my answer was ‘it depends on why they’re in therapy’. my job as a therapist is not to push my ideas and my ideals onto a single client/patient of mine. my job is to help them work through their issues in a way that helps them to live a better, more fulfilling life.

there were two other clinically oriented questions: ‘what population do you want to work with’ and ‘what population would you be most likely to refer to someone else?’ i want to work with couples who have communication difficulties. i want to teach them how to effectively communicate with each other, with other members of their family and work community and everything. it’s too easy to send or hear the wrong message. i’d also like to work with couples who have sexual issues. it’s such a touchy topic and can be a topic with SO much shame associated. i would LOVE to be able to help couples overcome these kinds of issues and be FREE of them. also, think porn. there is SO much in our culture and i wonder how damaging that is to relationships and how much THAT could be contributing to a number of sexual problems. it’s SO hard being in a relationship when you KNOW he’s looking at porn when you’re not around. it creates a LOT of self-esteem and self-worth issues. trust issues. all kinds of things. my heart is so there.

as to the referral question, i HONESTLY couldn’t think of a specific population i would refer. the question was phrased in a way that implied referral because of discomfort with the population. as a therapist, it’s part of my job to be ready to hear anything and to do with anything within my realm of expertise. my ‘best deal’ professor has always stressed this point too: don’t treat someone that you don’t know how to treat. otherwise, be prepared for anything. i know that there MUST be a population out there that i would NOT want to work with, but even now, i can’t think of it. all i could say to answer that was ‘i’d refer anyone i didn’t know how to treat. it was the best i could come up with. i explained the thought my professor had shared as to why i think that way, but admitted that there most likely is a population i don’t want to work with.

the last question i’ll share (as i keep remembering them now) is this one: ‘what role do you think your faith will play in your own therapy, will you explicitly share it and is it important for your clients to know that you are a Christian?’ my first thought? GREAT question! for me, as i mature, i don’t think it’s important that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that i’m a Christian. at my job that i want, it’s not always appropriate. people can be really put off by Christianity and it can make them VERY uncomfortable. so, in a job where it’s important to have rapport and have the client feel comfortable, why would i choose to potentially alienate them right off the bat? i have no doubt that over the course of  therapy it would come out, but i just don’t think that’s always the appropriate thing to do. it’s not my job to push my values and my ideals onto my clients. ethically, that is SO wrong! of course, the Christian side of me thinks ‘what? are you ashamed?’ i don’t think that’s it either. i think that part of ANYONE’S job is knowing what is appropriate on the job and what isn’t. a reputation as a therapist is EXTREMELY important. you ruin that and your practicing days are OVER. however, i think that my faith will absolutely influence how i treat people who come in, how i view them and how i practice. there is no separating my faith from myself – it’s inherently so much a part of who i am. however, i need to know how to best integrate into my life and my practice. some people i see will inevitably be Christians and we can talk faith and incorporate that into the therapy. i think the important thing is remembering what my job is and what is appropriate in that setting. anywhere else, i can live my faith as loudly as i want to. in the helping profession though, it’s about the client, NOT about me.

overall, i think i did really well and i think i was probably the strongest interviewee in our group. as i mentioned WAY at the beginning, i did my best to answer the question they asked and not try to add in things they didn’t ask. i feel really good about it and i’m trying not to expect TOO much to hear good news, but i’m definitely pretty darn confident about it.

and i will DEFINITELY keep you posted. 🙂

3 thoughts on “the grad school interview…

  1. Jeney says:

    I’m so excited for you 🙂 Can’t wait to hear the updates!!

  2. Tabitha says:

    Wow, it sounds like you did a GREAT job!! Can’t wait to hear how it all turns out. 🙂

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