How to Prepare for the Group Interview

If you are interested in applying to Counseling@Northwestern, there are many important application items to complete, including your statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and supplemental essays. However, there is one aspect of the process that is sometimes forgotten: To be admitted into the program, applicants must participate in and complete a group interview. This unique aspect of the application process can cause confusion or even anxiety for some applicants. Here, we will go through why we conduct the group interview, what to expect, and tips for excelling during this important part of the admissions process.

Why does Counseling@Northwestern conduct the group interview?

The group interview is an integral part of the review process to determine if you are a fit for the program and whether the program is a good fit for your professional goals. Faculty members and selected supervisors will be able to evaluate your observable traits, such as your ability to cultivate relationships, while you are challenged to behave as if you were already enrolled in the program and participating in a live class session. CACREP—the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs—also requires that students demonstrate group interactions before receiving an admissions decision. Counseling@Northwestern’s group interview is central to its accreditation and admissions requirements.

What should I expect during the group interview?

The group interview consists of four sections:

  1. Questions for applicants: A faculty member or supervisor will ask each applicant five to six questions, which may be fill-in-the-blank, hypothetical, or open-ended. For example, a faculty member may ask, “What is the greatest adversity you have overcome in your life?” You will then be challenged to respond in a way that represents your unique characteristics that demonstrate your counselor candidacy.
  2. Case studies: All applicants in the group interview will be given a brief case study or two, depending on time, illustrating complex client problems or situations. You will then work with each other to discuss how to best handle the situation and come to a solution. Sometimes you will be asked to discuss your reaction to the case. There are many questions that can be asked during a case study.
  3. Final Reflections: During this portion of the interview, you will be asked to discuss something that had an impact on you during the interview. This could be something a fellow interviewee said or did, or something you realized about yourself. This will assess if you have the proper reflection skills needed to be an effective counselor.
  4. Questions for the interviewer: At the end of the process, you will have the opportunity to ask the interviewers questions about the interview, the Counseling@Northwestern program, or about counseling-related issues and ideas. This section gives faculty an idea of your analytical and introspective skills.

What can I do to excel during the group interview?

The interview will take place in the online classroom, so a stable internet connection is a necessity. Make sure to conduct the interview in a quiet environment, free of distractions and outside noise. It is important that you choose a location that is conducive to concentration and allows you to feel focused and comfortable. Faculty members are looking for candidates who have superior listening and communication skills. They will also be focused on looking at each candidate’s self-awareness, empathy, and appropriate self-reflection. Lastly, be you. Faculty interviewers value authenticity. All of these traits are essential to being a quality counselor.

Once the group interview is complete, you will receive a decision on your application within one to two weeks.  

The group interview can sometimes be a point of stress for applicants. However, the most important thing to remember is that the interview is a time for you to shine, not to hold back because of nerves. Faculty members are excited to get to know you. Take advantage of this opportunity to present yourself in the best light possible.

If you have questions about the group interview, please follow up with your admissions counselor.