I had my first interview for a counselling placement last week and I didn’t get it.
I walked out of the interview thinking I had blown and I had. I just needed to wait for the email which said that while they were sure I would make a fine counsellor one day and had made some insightful comments, I wasn’t sufficiently advanced in training to be let loose on their clients. I was free to come back to them later. It was, quite frankly, the nicest rejection letter I’ve had.
I felt it was all going wrong when they asked me if I could list stages of grief process, which given that this placement was for bereavement was a reasonable question that I could have anticipated and revised for. I got as far as five or seven stages of grief, depending on which model, that Kubler-Ross was the main model and then totally blanked. No I hadn’t read her, just summaries and discussions. She wasn’t the only person I hadn’t read.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance (or DABDA for short) are the main five, just so we know.
There was waffling on my part.
I got stuck on another question of are deaths due to ill health, murder or whatever the same (or some such wording). Every death provokes a different response so they are all different but in that sense they are all the same. Some deaths requires autopsies and police investigations and that complicates and distracts from the grieving process. Sometimes there is time to tie up loose ends and say goodbye first. So every death is the same but they are all different. Does the counsellor handle them all the same? Yes and no. Is that a yes or a no? I said it was both and struggled to choose one.
There were questions about organisational process. If the bereavement is done but there are other issues to deal with would I want to continue. Yes, but the organisation is for bereavement so you signpost on. Funding is for bereavement. Fair enough I said. Was I supposed to anticipate that or not? There were other such questions where I gave my personal view and added that it would depend on the organisation’s policy
How would I deal with someone who cried? Let them, pass the tissues, and if it brought tears to my eyes then let them cry too, but to show empathy, not to lose control.
Many many questions, for an hour. Bowlby, diversity, taking money, … Some I was fine with, others baffled me. I wasn’t really prepared. Why not?
I am not comfortable with interviews and it took me halfway through to settle in and say the right thing. On the one hand it was an interview, on the other hand it was like discussing counselling skills.
How was I with silence? Fine. I need to be aware whether it’s a good silence to let be or an empty one to interrupt. What do I interrupt with? I had to be prompted with “it’s not that complicated” before answering “What are you feeling, how are you” and other such check ins.
Could I challenge? Yes. What did I need before challenging? Trust and sufficient depth. Yes.
I wasn’t in course mode; I was in interview mode and I struggled to bring the two together. Once I got that I was better but felt that I just started the whole thing off in neutral. I gave the right answers eventually but went round the houses to get there.
So I need to do better next time. I have one application in and another I need to write and probably now other organisations to look for.