Seminar Discussion 3

| March 15, 2018

Forum Assignment for the Week: 300 Words minimum For this week’s Forum, respond to the following:   

· In preparation for your professional interview assignment, we have a chance to engage in a little back and forth brainstorming as a group!

· Post the questions you would like to ask the professional you plan to interview for the Interview a Professional in the Field assignment. Your questions don’t have to be finalized.  Part of the purpose of this Forum is so classmates can help each other refine them.

General Instructions Applicable to All Forums:

enlightened Forum post source citation is not required for forum posting in our class.  This is because we are engaging in conversation that happens to be in writing form, not composing essays or research papers. You will, however, need to paraphrase (restate in your own words) any words of published authors in parts of your posts that are based on their work.  Copying of published material, which is plagiarism, is prohibited and any instances of it, including forum posts, will result in a zero score without an option for re-submission to recoup lost points and a report sent to the Registrar’s Office per University policy.

 

Discussion forum posts will be graded on verbal expression, critical thinking, making an effort to not just participate in but contribute to the dialog with initial and reply posts of a substantive nature commensurate with graduate level studies. Posts must have correct grammatical construction, spelling, and punctuation with no texting or other casual style language.

WEEK 3 LESSON

Welcome to Week 3, Everyone! Many professionals in the field of psychology are active in and really value professional organizations which provide resources, mentorship, discounts on goods and services, advocacy at the state and federal levels, continuing education programs, training and research conferences for members and students. Most students pursuing studies in a particular discipline are aware of some of these organizations prior to graduating, but not all of them, and many students do not take advantage of the student memberships offered by these organizations. Some professionals don’t belong to them either, because membership fees can be high. Here’s one of the best kept secrets about professional orgs–students can join them for bargain basement rates compared to the cost incurred by professionals and enjoy very close to all of the same benefits of the latter group. The organizations do this because they figure the drastically reduced fees will be well worth their weight in prospective recruitment gold! You join cheap as a student, you like what you experience and you join as a full-grown professional later! You may experience a bit of “sticker shock” once you no longer qualify for the student rates, but don’t despair about the cost bump. Organizations like the APA have oodles of free online resources available to everyone at APA.org, and other organizations such as the American Counseling Association have far less expensive annual membership fees.

The Interview

This week you will also be submitting proposed interview questions for approval in the week 3 forum. The interview is often the assignment that causes the most angst of the semester, but inevitably it always seems to be the one students’ rate as the most valuable in their “take aways” for the course.

You will be asking a professional to share their time, wisdom and experience without remuneration, so you need to show up on time and prepared to ask relevant, thoughtful and insightful questions. This shows respect and appreciation for your interviewee’s time. If you do these things, you will not have to worry that you are being a nuisance or a bother, which is far from true. If an interviewee agreed to do the interview, they are willing and interested in being a source of information for you. Your questions will have been vetted and approved by the instructor prior to you asking them as well.

Please review lesson one to get an idea of the type of professionals you may interview for this assignment.

Developing Good Interview Questions

Students sometimes worry about whether their questions are worthy of the interviewee’s time. By the time they are approved, they will be if they are not already. This is why it is important to ask the approved questions once they have been vetted. It’s the instructor’s job to make sure you ask professional, non-invasive questions, avoiding questions such as “How much do you make a year?” Yikes! Again, the average yearly salary of a person in any discipline is knowable with a little research. So instead of asking, “How much”, you can say “My research of Forensic Psychology has turned up starting salaries of about $55K and topping out in the $70K range on average. What would be a realistic range for me to expect on my first job if I decide to pursue Forensic Psychology?” The goal is for you to understand how much you can expect to make. How much your interviewee makes is not relevant since they are likely to have years of experience in the field that you do not have yet. If you decide to send the questions in advance, sending them at least a week before the interview is prudent.

You are expected to have at least 20 questions. This should be sufficient for an interview, especially if some answers from your interviewee prompts follow up questions. Suggested questions include topics such as:

What is required in setting up and maintaining a private practice?

How or why to consider combining clinical practice with teaching, writing and research?

It would be interesting to ask about what professional organizations they belong to, whether they joined as students and whether they found membership valuable/useful and in what ways.

Questions about how to avoid burnout and dual relationships are always good.

Inquiring about which graduate courses they recommend and use most can be useful.

Asking why they chose a particular format for their graduate education (e.g., traditional brick and mortar campus vs an online environment), and what specific academic criteria they used in picking a program.

Many of you worry about how an employer views an online degree as compared to a traditional degree and whether one affords more job opportunities than the other.

Given the large number of sub-specialties consider asking how they decided on a sub-specialty.

Ask where they see the future of graduate training or even psychology heading.

Ask about what challenges they face in maintaining work-home life balance or what a typical work day involves.

You might even ask about what types of personality traits they feel makes for the best “helper”.

If you are concerned about the low salaries in psychology when compared to the cost of the graduate education, ask how they reconciled putting out this type of money for a relatively low financial return.

What about asking how they financed their education. Or even about the costs of licensure and continuing education to maintain the license.

It is not too soon to ask about how they prepared for the licensing exam or whether or not they invested in purchasing the expensive study materials or the study course that are about $1,000 each.

Ask about how easy it is to become licensed in other states should you relocate.

If you are concerned about getting an internship, or the first job, ask about their strategy for doing so.

Those of you in the military might want to know about what it’s like being a military psychologist.

These are just a few of the topics that you might explore in the interview. I hope something stated here helps you to generate some unique questions of your own. Feel free to borrow some of these. Notice questions are asked in an open-ended format, the importance of which will be discussed later. If you are not planning to pursue graduate education, licensing, or a career in psychology, use the aforementioned questions to craft questions that are relevant to your chosen profession.

Tips for the Perfect Interview

Do your research first. It is important that the interviewee see that you have some basic understanding of what they do and the credentials required to do it. For instance, you need to know that a School Psychologist works in academic settings and has a Master’s in Education and a Specialist Degree in Psychology and that they take the National Exam for School Psychology and not the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology exam. No worries, if you did not know this already, we will be researching this type of information about each of the 12 sub-specialties of psychologists. The point is, asking the School Psychologist what credentials they need is something that you should have and could have researched yourself. So instead of asking them what credentials they need, you can share what you know about the credentials required and then ask them to tell you about how they prepared for the National Exam in School Psychology or what criteria they used to select the type of school setting to seek for employment.

Arrive 10-15 minutes early for the interview or send the interviewee a text reminder. Arriving early gives you time to get set up and to become comfortable with the setting as you calm your nerves. Yes, being nervous is normal but once the interview gets underway, nervousness usually dissipates. If the interview is to be conducted by telephone, sending a text based reminder 24 hours before and another one 15 minutes before allow the interviewee to be ready as well.

Prepare your questions in advance and consider sending them to interviewee, after they are approved. You will be submitting your questions for approval at the week 3 forum, so your classmates will also weigh in on your proposed questions. You will have an opportunity to see their proposed questions and to tweak yours prior to your interview.

Phrase questions in an open-ended manner. Ask “What would be a realistic range for me to expect on my first job if I decide to pursue Forensic Psychology?” rather than “Do you make about 70K?” Students often ask yes/no questions and find themselves running out of questions before the 30 minute time period has elapsed.

Ask in advance if you can tape the interview and if so, bring recording equipment. You will likely be a bit nervous when you start the interview. Being hyper-focused on getting down everything the interviewee says can lead to more anxiety. Please ask the interviewee for permission to directly quote them if you plan to do so. Paraphrasing does not require their approval.

Monitor the Time. Remember to combine questions on same/similar topics to allow interviewees time to respond to the questions you have, but also some time left over to share information with you spontaneously. You don’t want the interview to exceed an hour, and the requirement is only thirty minutes. Remember time with you is usually time away from paying patients! So monitor the time closely.

Send a Thank You Note. You want your interviewee to know how much you appreciate them giving so freely of their time. A quick email to this effect or a “Thank You” card mailed goes a long way in conveying your appreciation. This also provides an opportunity for you to remind the interviewee to send your instructor an email confirming that the interview took place.

The interview is the assignment that students consistently report as creating the most angst. They also report it as having been the most rewarding assignment of the semester. A few additional resources are provided at the end of this lesson to assist you in preparing for an informative interview.

Suggestions for Finding an Interviewee

Finding an interviewee does not need to produce stress. The biggest mistake students make is in not starting to look for an interviewee in week one! It may take you three weeks to find someone. If your interviewee has to withdraw their participation, you will need time to find another. So try to get an interviewee in advance of week 6 or 7 and schedule the interview a week or two before the due date. This allows you a cushion in case the interviewee needs to drop out.

You may not even realize the numbers of contacts you have access to that can help you find an interviewee. All of us have friends or family members who either know, or are currently being treated by, a psychologist or psychiatrist. Ask them to intercede for you with a psychologist they know.

Then of course there are our professional contacts that we all have and some of them know psychologists. Ask them if they can recommend someone for you to ask. They will often offer to ask for you.

Middle and High Schools usually have a School Psychologist on hand and every state licensing board maintains a listing of licensed psychologists by city. So schools and licensing boards can help you find leads.

APA website has a list of speakers for psychological topics. See if you can email any of these folks to do at least a phone interview if they do not live in your town.

If you are deployed, every military installation still provides access to a psychologist even if only by phone. Have you thought about contacting one of them? Phone interviews are allowed. Technology today even allows you to conduct an interview via Facetime or on a similar platform.

Contact universities or colleges and psychiatric hospitals in the area that have graduate training programs in your area of interest. They too can link you with someone in the area of interest. You should also consider “mega churches” which usually have counseling ministries. If all else fails, check the yellow pages. One of these approaches will get you someone for free. Only ask for 30 minutes of time, though most interviewees end up giving at least an hour of their time. Remember time with you is time away from paying clients.

Given all of these options available to you, there should be no need to pay for an interview. You have access to psychologists that will do the interview free of charge. You just need to utilize your resources and contacts until you find a psychologist willing to give back to students.

Please do not forget interviewees cannot be personal friends, your personal doctor, you kids or spouse’s doctors, co-workers, your college professors or family members. The goal is to interview someone you do not know. Interviewees must have a Masters, a Doctorate or a medical degree in a subspecialty area of psychology.

References

Goswami, D. (2016). Big 10: Blunders made during interviews by people on either side of the table.

      Notion Press.

Gupta,  V. (2014). Conducting a telephone interview. Impackt Publishing. Ebook

King, L. (1995 ). How to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere: The secrets of good communication. Three

      Rivers Press.

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