17 Behavioral Health Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a behavioral health specialist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

As a behavioral health specialist, you will help people with mental health and substance abuse issues. You will work with patients to diagnose their problems and develop treatment plans. You will also provide counseling and support to patients and their families.

Before you can start helping others, you will need to go through a job interview. During the interview, you will be asked behavioral health specialist interview questions about your education, experience, and skills. You will also be asked questions about your personal views on mental health and substance abuse.

Preparing for your interview is the best way to make sure you get the job you want. In this guide, we will provide you with sample behavioral health specialist interview questions and answers.

Common Behavioral Health Specialist Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working with patients who have a range of mental health issues?

This question can help interviewers understand your comfort level with working in a mental health facility. It’s important to be honest about your experience and how comfortable you are with the different types of patients you may encounter. If you have no prior experience, it’s okay to say so and explain that you’re willing to learn more about these issues.

Example: “I’ve worked with all kinds of patients during my time as a behavioral health specialist. I’m used to seeing patients who struggle with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other conditions. While I don’t have any formal training on specific disorders, I am open to learning more about them if needed.”

What are some of the most important skills for a behavioral health specialist to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they relate to the job.

Example: “The most important skill for a behavioral health specialist is empathy. This helps me understand my patients’ feelings and needs so I can provide them with the best care possible. Another important skill is communication. In this role, I need to communicate effectively with both patients and other professionals on their team. Finally, patience is another essential skill because some situations may require more time to resolve.”

How do you create a safe and welcoming environment for patients?

A behavioral health specialist’s job is to help patients feel safe and comfortable. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the interpersonal skills necessary for the role. In your answer, explain how you create a welcoming environment for patients. Share one or two ways that you do this.

Example: “I believe it’s important to create a safe and welcoming environment for all of my patients. I try to be as friendly and approachable as possible when they first meet me. This helps them feel more at ease in our sessions together. I also always listen carefully to what they say. When I actively listen to their concerns, it shows them that I care about what they’re saying. It can also help me understand their situation better.”

What is your process for conducting a thorough assessment with a new patient?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you approach your work and what steps you take to ensure quality outcomes. Your answer should include a step-by-step process for conducting an assessment, including any tools or resources you use during this process.

Example: “I begin by meeting with the patient to learn more about their mental health history and current concerns. I also ask them questions about their physical health, family life and other factors that may be impacting their mental well-being. After our initial meeting, I review my notes and create a detailed plan of action based on the information they provided me. I then schedule follow-up appointments as needed.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to help a patient set goals to improve their mental health.

This question can help the interviewer understand how you use your skills to benefit patients. Use examples from previous experience that show how you helped a patient develop goals and achieve them.

Example: “I had a patient who was struggling with anxiety, so we worked together to create a list of small goals they could complete each day to reduce their symptoms. For example, one goal was to practice deep breathing for five minutes every morning before getting out of bed. After two weeks, the patient reported that she felt more relaxed throughout the day and her anxiety levels were lower than when she started treatment.”

If a patient was struggling with substance abuse, what would be your approach to helping them?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you would handle a specific situation. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills and ability to work with patients who have unique needs.

Example: “I’ve worked with several patients who struggled with substance abuse, including alcohol addiction. I find that it’s important to first listen to what they’re saying and try to understand their perspective. Then, I’ll ask them about their goals for treatment and develop a plan of action based on those goals. For example, if a patient wants to stop drinking but doesn’t want to attend an inpatient facility, I may suggest outpatient therapy or group sessions. It’s also important to support the patient through difficult moments, such as cravings.”

What would you do if you felt like a patient was a danger to themselves or others?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you would react to a challenging situation. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills and ability to act quickly in emergency situations.

Example: “If I felt like a patient was a danger to themselves or others, I would first try to calm them down and talk with them about their feelings. If they were still acting out of control, I would call for backup from my team members so we could work together to deescalate the situation. In some cases, it might be necessary to call the police if there is no other way to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

How well do you think you can work with a team of other healthcare professionals to provide the best care possible?

Working as a behavioral health specialist often involves working with other healthcare professionals to provide the best care for your patients. Employers ask this question to make sure you can work well with others and that you understand how important teamwork is in this role. When you answer, try to show that you value collaboration and are willing to put in extra effort to help your team members succeed.

Example: “I think it’s very important to work together with my colleagues to ensure our patients receive the best care possible. I am always happy to share my expertise and knowledge with others so they can learn from me. In fact, I find that when we all work together, we can come up with better solutions than if we were to do things alone. I also believe that by helping my fellow team members, I can build stronger relationships with them and improve my own performance.”

Do you have any experience working with children?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have experience working with a specific population. If your previous experience is in a different field, you can explain how it relates to this role and what skills you gained from that experience that will be helpful in this position.

Example: “I worked as a camp counselor for five years before I went back to school to get my master’s degree. During those five years, I learned how to work with children of all ages and personalities. I also developed strong communication skills and conflict resolution skills. These skills are important when working with patients who may not always want to do what they need to do.”

When working with a patient who speaks a different language than you, what would be your approach to communication?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to communicate with patients who speak a different language than you. Use examples from previous experience in which you used translation services or worked with bilingual staff members to help you communicate effectively with patients.

Example: “I have had the opportunity to work with many multilingual patients throughout my career, and I find that using translation services is one of the most effective ways to ensure that I can communicate clearly with all of my patients. In my last role as a behavioral health specialist, I worked with a patient who spoke Spanish. I asked for a translator to be present during our initial meeting so that we could discuss his treatment plan together.”

We want to improve our diversity and inclusion efforts. How would you go about building a diverse patient base?

This question can help an interviewer understand how you might contribute to the diversity and inclusion efforts of their organization. Use your answer to highlight any experience you have with working in diverse communities or helping organizations create more inclusive environments.

Example: “I believe that a key part of improving diversity and inclusion is ensuring that everyone feels welcome at our facilities. I would start by making sure we had enough staff members who could speak different languages, so patients feel comfortable asking for assistance if they need it. I also think it’s important to make sure all of our facilities are accessible to people with disabilities, as well as those who identify as LGBTQ+. This includes having gender-neutral bathrooms and offering services like same-day appointments.”

Describe your experience working with people from different cultural backgrounds.

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your cultural sensitivity and how you adapt to working with people from different backgrounds. Use examples of how you’ve helped clients who have diverse backgrounds, such as helping a client who is bilingual or someone who has experienced discrimination.

Example: “I worked at my previous job for three years, where I primarily worked with Spanish-speaking families. In that role, I learned the importance of being culturally sensitive when communicating with patients and their families. For example, I always made sure to speak slowly and clearly so that parents could understand me. I also used visual aids like pictures and gestures to help explain what I was saying.”

What makes you qualified to work as a behavioral health specialist?

This question is an opportunity to highlight your relevant experience and skills. When answering this question, it can be helpful to include information about the specific job duties you will perform as a behavioral health specialist.

Example: “I have worked in mental health for five years now, and I am passionate about helping people who are struggling with their mental health. In my previous role, I helped patients manage their mental illnesses by providing them with counseling services and medication management. I also regularly communicated with family members of patients to keep them updated on treatment plans and progress.”

Which computer programs or software have you used in your previous jobs?

This question can help the interviewer determine your computer skills and how you apply them to your work. If you’re applying for a job that requires advanced computer skills, it’s important to mention this in your answer. You can also include any other relevant skills you have if they are not related to computers.

Example: “I’ve used Microsoft Office extensively throughout my career as a behavioral health specialist. I’m also familiar with several online databases that provide information on mental illnesses and treatments. In my last position, I was responsible for updating our database of resources and treatment methods regularly.”

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when working with patients who are going through a difficult time?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your interpersonal skills and how you interact with patients. Your answer should show that you are empathetic, compassionate and willing to listen to others.

Example: “I think it’s important to remember that everyone is going through their own unique situation. No two people have the same experience or feelings about what they’re going through. I always try to be as understanding and patient as possible when working with patients because I know that sometimes life throws us curveballs we aren’t expecting. It’s my job to make sure they feel comfortable enough to share whatever they need to.”

How often do you think a patient should see a behavioral health specialist?

This question can help the interviewer understand your approach to treating patients and how you might fit into their organization. Your answer should show that you are flexible in your treatment plans, but also consider the patient’s needs when making decisions about appointments.

Example: “I think it depends on the patient and what they’re looking for from therapy. Some people may only need a few sessions to feel better, while others may need more support over time. I always encourage my patients to call me if they have any questions or concerns between appointments so we can address them as soon as possible.”

There is a shortage of behavioral health specialists in the area. How would you convince people to pursue this career path?

This question is a great way to show your passion for the behavioral health field. It also allows you to highlight some of the benefits of working in this industry. When answering, try to focus on the unique aspects of being a behavioral health specialist and how it can positively impact people’s lives.

Example: “I would tell them that there are many reasons why they should pursue this career path. First, I would mention that this job offers plenty of opportunities for growth and development. There are so many different types of patients we work with, which means there are always new challenges to overcome. I would also explain that this job has a lot of flexibility. We get to spend time one-on-one with our patients, which makes us feel like we’re making a real difference.”


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