Interview Process

If a student meets the criteria of a particular year, they might be invited to interview with their university. Once again, every university is different in the way they interview but roughly 20 to 80 applicants can be invited to interview. If a student is invited, they will need to confirm their attendance. There are many aspects to the interview process and the way in which students will interact during the process.

Individual Interview

Typically there will be an individual interview where an applicant will be interviewed by a member, or members of the faculty and selection panel. The aim of these individual interviews is to gain a better understanding of the applicant and ask questions relating to application, essays and other relevant documentation.

This can be a very personal and nerve-wracking section of the interview process. The interviewers will have read the students application and may want to find out more about certain aspects of it. Their role in this regard is to determine the students suitability for the programme they are applying for and allow the student to explain any aspect that was not made clear in the application.

It is important to be yourself when answering these questions. The interviewers not are there to test students or catch them out, they merely want to learn more about the student and what makes them who they are.

Group Interview

Some universities may interview applicants in a group environment in order to develop an understanding of social abilities and potential group fit. Once again, this can be an anxiety provoking exercise but it’s important to be stay calm and collected throughout the process.

Typically, the group will be give a topic to discuss in a certain amount of time. Topics can range from current events and news to formulating interventions.

Students should be mindful of the group environment. Be respectful to those speaking and conduct yourself in a professional manner when it is your turn to speak or you want to interject.

The aim of this exercise is not to answer the selection panels’ question perfectly but to see how students interact in a group setting. Students should contribute towards to discussion, keeping in mind that dominating the proceedings or being too reserved or quiet can be seen as a negative in terms of group fit.

Again, the most important advice we can give is to be yourself; share what you feel comfortable sharing but make sure you are contributing towards the topic and discussion.

Written Tasks

Depending on the university, students may be asked to complete a written task or assignment during selection week. These tasks may include a multitude of different assignments including psychometric testing, research, proposal development, literature reviews, case studies, etc.

It is impossible to prepare for some of these assignments but keep in mind that students would have covered these concepts in their undergraduate and honours degrees.

Be confident in your abilities and do what you can when asked to complete a written task. Students may be asked to present their findings of their case study, literature review, proposal development, etc. Do your best to do this in an articulate and professional manner, and always consider the allotted time allocation for the presentation.

Case Study

It is well known that the universities like to test a students academic knowledge against real-world situations; one way in which they can do this at selection interviews is by giving the applicant a case study to complete.

A case study is an exercise whereby the student will be given information relating to a specific patient and will then need to conceptualize the case before reporting their findings. As case conceptualization is not covered in detail during undergrad or honours, the case study will usually come with some instructions.

The goal is to identify and understand the psychological issue(s) plaguing the patient, while considering a suitable intervention based on empirical evidence and research. Students will need to provide a diagnosis, as well as consider possible differential diagnoses, while considering the best course of action regarding treatment.

Case studies may be presented orally, in which the student would need to prepare a presentation, or it might be done as a written exercise.

Role Play

In a role play exercise, students will typically be asked to play a counsellor in a therapeutic environment with a client, played by a selection panelist. This interaction will typically be observed by the selection panel or members of the selection panel.

This is an exercise that again can be very anxiety provoking due to the nature of the role play and those observing it. It is important that students do their best to ignore the fact that they are being observed and focus on the person playing the client.

A students’ role in this exercise is to do their best to connect with their client and demonstrate their ability to create a warm, facilitative counselling environment.

Once the role play exercise is complete, the selection panel may ask the student to reflect on what happened in the role play and how the student feels it went. There are no perfect answers in this reflection, only truthful ones. Students must show the ability to critically reflect on their own abilities, both positive and negative.

All of the above methods help the selection panel make an informed decision as to who they feel will be best suited to succeed in the program and make offers to those students.

Unfortunately not all the students will receive offers; some will be rejected, while others might be waitlisted. Wait listing is a process whereby students are kept on a shortlist in the event another student is unable to accept their offer for whatever reason.

The most important piece of advice that Cognition & Co can share with potential masters students is to be yourself. The selection panel are looking for individuals that know themselves and who are capable of critical reflection into their own abilities.

Cognition & Co has a number of events and workshops aimed to address many of the abovementioned aspects of interviews. While we are not able to prepare you for a specific question, panel, or university; we can give you the tools you need to prepare yourself for how you will react to these questions or exercises. Visit our EVENTS page for more information on how to join us for our workshops.

Finally, know that you are not alone in this process. You will be surrounded by other students going through the exact same process, just as nervous as you might be. Use this opportunity to network and connect with students that could potentially be your peers over the next few years of study.

We would like to wish everybody going through this process the best of luck, and regardless of the outcome know that you are doing something incredible and we will continue to support you through it all!