Updated on August 30th, 2018
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
What excites you the most about a career as an alcohol and drug counselor?
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How to Answer
The interviewer would like to know what aspect of working as a counselor is of the most significant interest to you. Before your interview, having completed some research on the interviewing company is essential. Be sure to envision where you can see yourself fitting, and growing with the organization. Do some research on what a career path could look like with this particular company. Show your passion as an alcohol and drug counselor. Tell the interviewer about some exciting milestones you've been a part of over the last few years if that information is applicable.
"The thing that excites me most about work as an addictions counselor is knowing that a new challenge, and opportunity to help, will come through the door each day to challenge me and make me a stronger therapist. When it comes to this particular job, one thing that excites me is to be able to give back as an LADC supervisor."
The interviewer wants to know more about your professional relationships. No matter how difficult, unfair or terrible your previous boss was, use this question as an opportunity to share what you learned from them and what you learned from your last role. The world of counseling can be small so avoid speaking poorly of anyone for whom you have worked!
"My former boss taught me the importance of precision. He was particular about every little detail, from preparing for client appointments to filling out reports. I learned how to tune my skills and identify the slightest details that could make all the difference in a life or death situation."
In this particular situation, your interviewer is looking to see if you have a mentor in the same career field. If your crazy best friend is your life mentor, you may want to censor and save those stories for another time. The interviewer wants to know from whom you get your professional direction and advice. Perhaps a professor has taken you under their wing. Share your story but make it brief.
"I've had several great mentors, but my most influential was Ms. Smith, my supervisor while I was working towards supervision hours in my first position. I truly learned a lot from her and felt I am the therapist I am today because of her."
Now is not the time to be clever and tell the interviewer that you plan on being in his position in 5 years. Too soon my friend! What you will want to say to the interviewer is that you would like to move up the ladder, but earn your way there.
Some options for 5-years growth are:
- Entering another department that interests you but you do not yet have the experience required.
- Teaching and mentoring others who are junior to you.
- Finishing or elevating your post-secondary education.
Whatever direction you want to go in the next five years, ensure that your answer shows growth and excitement for what this particular organization is doing.
You have likely become a fantastic multi-tasker through your counseling career. Tell the interviewer how you prioritize your workload to avoid getting overworked and behind. When your workload is unmanageable are you able to ask your co-workers for help? Asking for help and offering assistance, when able, will show the interviewer that you are a real team player.
"I arrive 20 minutes early to work each day. This punctual behavior gives me time to grab a cup of coffee, review my patient's charts, prioritize my to-do list and get started as soon as the workday begins."
6. Describe your counseling style. As an alcohol and drug counselor, you instruct, provide information resources, guide and encourage the person to find his or her own goals and achieve them, and listen to their experiences and feelings. How you describe your counseling style will make or break this interview question. Too lax and it will seem as if you don't care about the patient. Too firm and you might intimidate. Do you bring visuals to the session, or pay a game? Whatever style you choose during your counseling session let the interviewer know that you give it 110%. Here is an answer example: "I have more of a question and answer counseling style rather than me lecturing them or telling them what to do. I encourage my patients to ask questions so that I can be sure that they fully understand what I'm asking of them and that they know the importance of living a clean life."7. How do you incorporate behavior therapy in your treatment? As an alcohol and drug counselor, you may choose to incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy to help addicts identify the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors which may often drive addiction. Tell the interviewer about a group that you lead that focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy. Tell a story about a patient that is improving by using this style of treatment, but ensure confidentiality is respected. Here is an answer example: "I use acceptance and commitment therapy in my treatment because of its flexibility in the therapeutic process. Encouraging commitment and participation in treatment makes the patient own their addiction, set and achieve their own goals and work towards sobriety."8. How do you handle a patient that has relapsed? Have you ever been frustrated by patients repeated attempts to quit? Have they told you, time and time again, that they want to stop, yet you discover they have abused drugs in secret? Because you love your job, you get up and do it all over again. Show the interviewer that you are a great counselor who will continue to believe in their patients, even if they relapse. Here is an answer example: "People relapse every day, but I can't get upset about it. I brush myself off and work harder to help someone else the next day. When that person is ready to help themselves, they will come back for my help."9. How do you monitor the treatment of your patients? The interviewer would like to know more about your administrative skills. You may be a fantastic counselor but do you keep up to date notes on your charts? Do you file your records in a timely fashion? Do you call and follow up with your patients? Discuss with the interviewer how you assure that your patients are following their treatment plan. Here is an answer example: "I monitor my patient treatments by reviewing their charts on a weekly basis. This process helps refresh my memory for each patient and reminds me if I need to meet with them or simply provide a follow-up phone call."10. How would your boss describe you? Think of a time when a compliment from your boss made you feel great. What was the situation? Were you punctual, never called in sick and were dependable? Think of the traits that make an ideal employee in the eyes of a boss. Bonus if your boss will write a letter of recommendation for you! You can also refer to former employee reviews if you have some written reports to bring to your interview. Here is an answer example: "My boss would describe me as being dependable, knowledgeable and a hard worker. I like to train those around me, and challenge typical thinking patterns to include outside-of-the-box solutions."11. How would your co-workers describe you? When answering this question, you will want to consider qualities that are relevant to this position. Excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and a positive mindset are all essential characteristics for any counselor. Show off your strengths, like having a right attitude when faced with difficulty or being willing to go above and beyond expectations to help someone out. Don't be afraid to brag a little, but keep it relevant. Here is an answer example: "My co-workers would describe me as being reliable, knowledgeable and empathetic to my patients."12. How do you manage confrontations with patients? As an alcohol and drug counselor, you may encounter confrontations daily from your clients. Clients can get angry about diagnosis, what is discussed during sessions or even by way of out of the blue mood swings as they are trying to recover. How do you manage and deal with these types of confrontations? Perhaps you enlist the help of a co-worker. Maybe you have a step by step list of instructions you follow. Whatever it is, give a brief overview, with an example if possible. Here is an answer example: "When dealing with a patient-driven confrontation I make sure I never raise my voice or talk down to a patient. I take the time to listen to their concerns and let them get everything out before we start over and work on a plan together."13. What is your greatest strength? This question is a common interview question. Tell the interviewer that you are the best person for the job and that you have qualities, skills, and the experience that set you apart from the competition. If leading a team is your strength, let the interviewer know and that you are someone who will make an excellent addition to the team. Here is an answer example: "My greatest strength is my ability to bring everyone together. Not only for projects or during work but I have a knack for bringing people together outside of work as well."14. What is your biggest weakness? When answering this question, remember that the interviewer is not looking for someone that is perfect. They want someone who is insightful when it comes to their shortcomings. Pick weaknesses that are not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Here is an answer example: "Public speaking has always been a weakness of mine. I've asked my current supervisor to keep me in mind whenever there is an opportunity to address a group of people so I can work on making this one of my strengths."15. What is the most difficult decision you've made. The interviewer wants to know how you handle challenging and stressful situations and how strong your critical thinking skills are. Tell the interviewer how you effectively approached the challenge, how you weighed the options and how you reached your decision. This question is your chance to show that you’re up to the task of making right decisions in challenging situations. Here is an answer example: "In my previous position, I was in charge of hiring administrative staff for our Substance Abuse Clinic. We had an employee that was consistently coming in to work late despite many chances, so I had to sit down with him and let him go. It is always challenging to fire those that you have worked with so closely; however, everyone should be responsible when it comes to their work efforts."16. Why do you want a career as an alcohol and drug counselor? This question is similar to the pervasive ‘Tell me about yourself’ question. Take this time to explain to the interviewer what events, school and experiences you’ve had that made you want to pursue this career. Besides the fact that you have the experience and the education to support this career, what made you want to choose this line of work? Perhaps you have always wanted to help people overcome and conquer dependencies. Feel free to tell a story about why you chose this line of work but be sure to keep it short and not too detailed. Here is an answer example: "17. What is your philosophy towards work? There is no right or lousy answer, but your reply should be well thought out. Whatever you say, the most important thing is to make it clear that you take pride in your work. Avoid the catchy phrases like 'work hard, live hard.' While it may be true, give it your spin rather than sounding like a cliche. Here is an answer example: "My philosophy towards work is that it's important to take on new challenges, and activities that make you grown and learn on a regular basis. Also, it's important to give back, in and outside of the workplace."18. How do you handle your emotions at work? This question is being asked because the interviewer wants to know that you aren't going to be a loose cannon at work, with your colleagues or patients. Do you practice yoga? Take walks to clear your mind? Do you count to 10 while you walk away from the situation? Whatever your trick is, tell the interviewer about it, and be sure to emulate positivity and consistency in the mood! Here is an answer example: "I deal with my emotions the same way that I encourage my patients to deal with theirs. First I control my breathing, walk away from the situation if possible and talk about how the situation is making me feel."19. What decisions are easiest for you to make? The interviewer is asking this question to determine your work habits and strategies. Tell the interviewer how you prioritize your work and decisions. Do you tackle the easiest ones first and the most intense ones last? Discuss what you find most comfortable when it comes to decision making, as that is likely where your expertise is. Here is an answer example: "I feel confident in my work when it comes to building therapy programs for my clients. The decisions that are easiest to make are the ones that benefit my patients."20. By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments. As an alcohol and drug counselor, you will have a wide variety of patients as well as the opportunity to assess their situations in different environments. There isn't a one-size-fits-all when it comes to being a counselor so make sure to tell the interviewer that.
Use specific examples, to exclude names, that show you are a well-rounded therapist and you can take on any challenge that comes your way. Here is an answer example: "I had the opportunity, right after graduating, to work overseas with a diverse population. My co-workers and I led a very successful therapy group despite the language barriers and environment. I have also spent time teaching myself Spanish so that I can better communicate with the large Hispanic community in my center's region."21. Are you able to cope with stressful situations? This question is a common interview question for jobs involving multitasking, service, or decision making. As an alcohol and drug counselor, you'll experience stressful situations on a daily basis. You may encounter work tension, stressful client situations or even pressure situations out of your control. Remain calm and professional in your answer. The interviewer will notice the way you answer this question and relate it to the method that you handle stressful situations. Here is an answer example: "22. Do you consider yourself a leader? If the counseling position you are applying to is a leadership position, then the obvious answer is yes, followed by several convincing reasons why this is so. Tell the interviewer about a time where you were a successful leader and what the outcome was. Here is an answer example: "I'm regularly requested by my supervisor to be the lead on many new client intakes. My most recent lead role I had was forming an Alcohol and Drug support group for our community. It has been going strong now for six months. I consider myself as someone with leadership capabilities and characteristics. I've learned a lot from my predecessors and supervisors along the way."23. How well do you work with people? Regardless of the job, employers don't want to hire people who are trying to get along with because that will cause workplace issues and conflicts. The interviewer asks this question to screen out applicants who don't have strong people skills, even when they look good on paper. Take a moment to tell the interviewer about a time you successfully led or followed. What was the outcome when you worked in this group? Were you ahead of schedule and set the pace for others? Here is an answer example: "As a counselor, I need to be able to work well with clients as well as my coworkers. I value my professional relationships as well as the client-focused relationships that I earn through my counseling sessions."24. What are your salary expectations? In many states, it is now illegal for hiring authorities to ask about your current earnings. A question like this will give the interviewer a solid idea of what you are hoping to earn. When you change positions, you want to see an increase in wage. Most interviewees will typically aim for a 7-15% increase for each time they change jobs. This range offers room for negotiations with the new company. This percentage increase reflects economic inflation, unique skills you bring to the table from the last time you joined an organization, and an increase in responsibilities. The best way to discuss your salary expectations is to use your current earnings as an example if you are comfortable doing so. If this makes you uncomfortable, do give as many indicators as you can. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.
If you are newer to your career, or the area, and are unsure of what a fair ask may be, there are many reliable salary calculators available online. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I earn $50,000 per year with two weeks' paid vacation and full health benefits. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the responsibilities of this role and provides an opportunity to learn new skills."25. What have your achievements been to date? When answering this interview question, you will want to choose an achievement that you are genuinely proud of, something that is true to you. The interviewer will be able to see your passion when telling the story. This answer can be a career achievement or a personal achievement. Keep your answer positive and professional. Here is an answer example: "My greatest achievement to date has been raising money and awareness for a local charity that supports the children of addicted mothers. I facilitated the fundraiser this year, and we raised over $30,000 and received thanks from the city's mayor. It was an honor to have led that initiative."26. Why should we hire you? The interviewer is giving you the chance to sell yourself. Tell the interviewer that you possess a combination of skills and experience that make you stand out from the crowd. Experss that you can do the work and deliver exceptional results. Assure the interviewer that you will fit in beautifully and be a great addition to the team. When you answer this question, highlight the personality traits, work experience, and skills that align well with the job description. Here is an answer example: "I have a combination of skills and experience that would make me a great addition to your team. I've spent three years volunteering within the prison system, I've worked within the school system with troubled youth and my most recent position is as a CADC for the state."27. How do you evaluate success? When answering this question, try to tie it back to the job for which you are interviewing. Avoid talking about financial success or personal success. Keep your answer related to your accomplishments at work or in your post-secondary education. Consider the topic of meeting goals set by your supervisors and coworkers as a way you evaluate your success. Have you won awards that you can refer to in the interview? Have you been recognized by your peers for a job well done? Here is an answer example: "28. What was your biggest disappointment as an alcohol and drug counselor? Disappointments happen, in any line of work and industry. Feel free to share a story when you answer this question. Was there a time you were a disappointment in a client due to relapse? Were you disappointed in the fact that state funding didn’t flow down to your facility? It is the simple fact that statistics for recovery is lower than you expected? When answering this question be sure to end on a positive note, and express what you are doing to overcome any disappointments that come your way. Here is an answer example: "29. Describe a difficult project and how you overcame it? The interviewer wants to know how you approach, evaluate and resolve a challenging project. Telling the interviewer how you overcame a significant challenge in the workplace will show your problem-solving skill as well as prove that you are one that can take on responsibility and come out on top. Here is an answer example: "My most recent difficult project was organizing an AA meeting last minute because our regular venue had a roof leak. I was able to delegate tasks to include calling clients, calling counselors, reserving chairs and arranging coffee and donuts for the meeting. The meeting went so well, and I had so much positive feedback that I decided it would be a great place to have our future meetings."30. What major challenges and problems did you face at your last position? With this interview question, you will want to relay to the interviewer that you can keep your cool and respond appropriately under pressure. Discuss some of the common issues surrounding your last position. Reoccurring matters could have been a weak booking system, a high rate of appointment cancellations, location concerns, or even a small budget. Here is an answer example: "
Writers for Alcohol and Drug Counselor Answers and Questions
Heather Douglass has over 20 years of experience recruiting and hiring candidates. She has a knack for resume writing. You can find her on twitter at @heatherinidaho.
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 05/29/2013 Last modified on: 08/30/2018
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