Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

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Debbie
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Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Debbie »

Hi,
I am Debbie, an international student trying to secure an AP position within the NHS. So far, I have made several applications without success. I am new to the job market in the UK, so I think I will benefit from some criticism/ feedback on the supporting statement for my most recent application, which I have included below. I have also included the person specifications for this particular vacancy.

Qualification:

I have a B.Sc. honours in Psychology where I obtained 61.8% marks (aggregated over three years), which is equivalent to a 2:1 degree in the UK.

My B.Sc. degree meets each criterion for the eligibility of Graduate Membership of the BPS, as indicated below:
University recognition- The University of Calcutta, a member of the Association of Indian Universities is recognized by the International Association of Universities as comparable to the UK universities.

Course depth and breath- 66% of the undergraduate curriculum was focused on psychology.


Work Experience:

I have 9 months of internship experience as an Assistant Psychologist at a government hospital in India. During this internship I have worked with a wide range of clinical population including neurological conditions.

While in this position I conducted clinical interviews and Mental State Examinations with the clients. I used reflective listening strategies to convey a sense of acceptance and empathy to the clients. This enabled me to easily develop rapport with the clients and their families.

Additionally, I have experience in administration and qualitative analysis of projective tests like Rorschach Inkblot Test. Administration of projective tests particularly required me to be attuned to minor details in the client’s responses such as changes in body language and tone of voice.
These developed skills of observation and listening will enable me to successfully accomplish the duties of the position I am applying for, such as noting and recording relevant behavioural data that may have an impact on interpretation of test data.

As an intern I received training in psychological test administration according to standardized protocol. For this I developed the skills of self-awareness and self-regulation. Thus, I am able to ensure accuracy in neuropsychological test administration.

Further, during my internship experience I learned to apply psychological theories into practice. For instance, I have used the principles of Transaction Analysis to understand ulterior motives behind a client’s communication. By identifying the ego state of the patient and their life view, I could use corresponding strategies to guide the clients into taking responsibility for themselves.
Thus, by applying psychological theories into practice I will be able to develop and maintain rapport with patients and families of varying ages, levels of cognitive function and emotional stability.


Skills:
While studying for an M.Sc. in psychology, I mastered the skills of time management, organization and task management. For my final year practical examination, I was to administer at least two appropriate psychological tests on a real client and provide a written report, within three hours. In order to perform well I learned to divide my tasks into chunks and prepare pre-organised structure for the assessment sessions. My management skills helped me to obtain a ⅚ GPA on my this examination.

Further I am competent in SPSS. For an M.Sc. in Applied Neuropsychology I had the opportunity to work with a large set of clinical archival data. I have learned to interpret, refine and safely store data using spreadsheets. I have expertise in word processing and can quickly acquire efficiency in using databases.

Additional skills:

I have studied Applied Neuropsychology at a masters level at the University of Bristol. Here, I have learned some of the most advanced concepts in neuropsychological testing including ecological validity, sensitivity and specificity of tests. By applying these specialized knowledge into practice I will be able to maintain the highest standards of neuropsychological services.
I have developed an understanding of different models of formulation,

While studying for this M.Sc. I was required to quickly learn and assimilate new knowledge and skills. I learned to use academic search engines and present assignments in class. By utilizing these skills I was able to obtain 68% grade on my first Case study.
Thus, I am able to ensure that I will be able to carry out technical and basic clinical tasks effectively, without direct supervision once training is complete.

Attempting to gain employment in the pandemic era has been challenging for me. However, while I am still searching for a paid position, I am utilizing my free time to further develop my resilience. I regularly practice mindfulness and breath-focused meditation to maintain my calmness in stressful situations. I have also found it useful to not identify myself as introverted. Instead, I am learning to develop social skills and build a network in a country that was initially foreign to me.

I would be delighted to work at the trust. My previous experience of collaborating with the Neuropsychology department, has been extremely enriching to me. I believe I understand their work environment, and I am confident that I will be able to become a valuable employee to this excellent organization.



PERSON SPECS:

Education/Training/Qualifications-
Bachelor level qualification in Psychology at 2:1 or higher. Application Yes

Eligible for Graduate Membership of the British Psychological
Society. Application Yes

Work Experience-
Experience working in a healthcare environment or with people with
neurological conditions Application Yes

Knowledge/Skills/Abilities-
Skills in interpersonal interaction and communication relevant
to the ability to develop rapport with patients of varying ages,
levels of cognitive function and emotional stability.
Application / Interview Yes

Excellent oral and written communication skills Application / Interview Yes
Excellent organisational, time management and task
management skills. Application / Interview Yes

Excellent attention to detail and ability to record data accurately. Application / Interview Yes
Excellent IT and computer skills (i.e., with Microsoft Word, Excel,
and Outlook) Application Yes

Personal Qualities/Special Circumstances-
Excellent observational and listening skills, and ability to relay relevant gathered information to supervisor and other colleagues in
both oral and written formats. Application / Occupational health Yes

Resilient and able to use own initiative to solve problems Application / Interview Yes
Ability to concentrate and remain seated at a desk for prolonged
periods (assessment of up to 3 hours) Application / Occupational health Yes
Last edited by miriam on Wed Jun 02, 2021 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: edited to remove identifying information about the specific post
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miriam
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by miriam »

I'm known for being blunt, and I read a lot of applications, so let me be honest with you without sugar-coating it. NHS applications are highly competitive - this job will have had 200+ applicants, and without UK experience supervised by a CP it would be very difficult to secure such a position. But on top of this there are a few significant issues:

1. You don't state you have the right to live and work in the UK without a visa. We aren't allowed to sponsor a visa for posts that we can fill with UK applicants, so if you don't have the right to live and work in the UK (eg due to a British parent or spouse) or don't make that totally clear in your application you'd be put on the no pile immediately. Having a visa to stay for a year after an academic qualification would be seen as additional paperwork that the employer could do without.

2. Assuming you do have the right to live and work in the UK, your academic marks are very weak compared to the competition. You scraped a 2:1 for your undergrad, and you have one mark that is a high 2:1 in your MSc, but I can't see you have completed the MSc, or what percentage you got overall.

3. The way psychology is used in India and in the UK are very different. Inkblot tests are not something we use much or even take seriously. Even TA and references to ego states won't be widely used here, whilst reference to the client having "ulterior motives" doesn't sound like an attitude I'd want any of my team to take towards the people we work with. And in my experience the role you will have taken in doing psychometrics and non-evidence-based therapies in India will not map very well onto the more structured, behavioural or CBT services. So I don't think the shortlister will feel you have sufficient transferable skills compared to the numerous other applicants.

4. Perhaps more importantly, the format of what you have written is all about telling what you have done, and not about showing the exact skills stated in the person specification, preferably in that order. Where have you shown "Excellent attention to detail and ability to record data accurately" for example? Or "Ability to relay relevant gathered information to supervisor and other colleagues in both oral and written formats"? I wrote a post about this on the forum and a big blog post about applying for jobs in psychology that might be helpful to understand what is required.

Sorry if that isn't what you wanted to hear, but I'd suggest that you make all these changes and try to gain a less competitive post initially, so that you acclimatise to the culture of psychology in the UK and gain more directly relevant skills before applying for an NHS AP post.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com
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reishi
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by reishi »

Additionally to what Miriam wrote, you state that you have the eligibility for GBC but did you actually apply to BPS and receive a letter/email from them stating that you have GBC? I don't quite get that from your explanation. If not, you need to apply to BPS as soon as possible and obtain GBC. Then, you can cut down the sentences by simply stating that you have GBC and save yourself some space in your form.
Good luck with your journey.
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Geishawife
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Geishawife »

Miriam has beaten me to it with the points she has made, but, just to expand on her last point, when you send off applications are you doing as you have done above and answering "Yes/No" to the individual criteria? If so, that is hugely off putting. It comes across as you "ticking boxes" and answering as if by rote, rather than being reflective and demonstrating HOW you meet these criteria. Your supporting statement needs to demonstrate HOW you meet the criteria, not simply state that you do. Plus, you have answered "Yes" to some things that will be assessed at interview so it looks as if you're rather jumping the gun with some aspects.

As Miriam suggests, perhaps you should apply for something a little less competitive initially. Support work and health care assistant roles can be a rich source of experience and give you exposure to the culture of the NHS to aid future applications.

Edit to add, can I also ask why you are applying for AP posts? What is your longer term goal? If it is to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology and gain experience before applying for the doctorate, do be aware that AP posts are not essential. Maybe have a look at the "What experience" thread which will give you an idea of what people have done to gain experience.
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by miriam »

reishi wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:40 pm Additionally to what Miriam wrote, you state that you have the eligibility for GBC but did you actually apply to BPS and receive a letter/email from them stating that you have GBC? I don't quite get that from your explanation. If not, you need to apply to BPS as soon as possible and obtain GBC. Then, you can cut down the sentences by simply stating that you have GBC and save yourself some space in your form.
Good luck with your journey.
This is incorrect. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO JOIN THE BPS TO GET GBC. You need to know that on the basis of the qualifications you have obtained you are eligible to apply for chartered status/practitioner training in the future, which is what "having GBC" means, and what Debbie has correctly stated.
Geishawife wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 8:03 pm Edit to add, can I also ask why you are applying for AP posts? What is your longer term goal? If it is to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology and gain experience before applying for the doctorate, do be aware that AP posts are not essential.
If your goal is to do the doctorate, then unless you have home fees status in the UK, you would not be eligible for an NHS funded place, and this would potentially be a very expensive training path. So it is worth checking that out if you recently immigrated from India.
Miriam

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reishi
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by reishi »

If you do not hold a degree from a BPS-approved psychology course in the UK (either bachelor's or conversion) and have an international psychology degree instead, the only way to prove you have eligibility for GBC is by making a graduate membership application to BPS. They do not confer overseas degree holders GBC otherwise. If the OP's university in India has an agreement with BPS regarding GBC like Ireland has, then of course eligibility would be enough. But for overseas degrees, this is unfortunately how you need to proceed.

Here's the link: https://www.bps.org.uk/join-us/membersh ... membership (need to click on Non-UK applicants tab).
Debbie
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Debbie »

Hi Miriam,
Thank you for your feedback and advice. For the sake of keeping this post relatively short I have not included all information regarding my application. But I assure you that I have mentioned my right to work (on the basis of a spouse visa) and my overall grades in the application form. I have not mentioned these in my supporting statement because the instructions clearly asked me not to repeat any information that has been mentioned elsewhere in the application form.

I understand that my undergraduate grades may not be the best. However, I have an M.Sc degree in Psychology from an Indian university (aggregate 70.2%). I also have a second M.Sc. degree in Applied Neuropsychology from a UK university (aggregate 69.3%). Do you think these grades improve my situation? 😅

My goal is to be a clinical neuropsychologist. So, yes I am aiming for a doctorate. I definitely agree that a less competitive role may be more suitable for me.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post.
Debbie
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Debbie »

Hi Geishawife,

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your concern and assure you that I have not put yes beside each criterion. Haha, that's just how the person specs were advertised.

I am struggling a little with writing "HOW you meet the criteria, not simply state that you do". I think there is a balance to be struck between writing stories about all these criteria in order to evidence how I meet them, and just saying I do meet these criteria.

I will read up on this more. Thank you again, for your time.
Debbie
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Debbie »

Hi Reishi,

Thank you for the link. I will definitely look into it.
alexh
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by alexh »

Debbie wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 7:29 am Hi Geishawife,

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your concern and assure you that I have not put yes beside each criterion. Haha, that's just how the person specs were advertised.

I am struggling a little with writing "HOW you meet the criteria, not simply state that you do". I think there is a balance to be struck between writing stories about all these criteria in order to evidence how I meet them, and just saying I do meet these criteria.

I will read up on this more. Thank you again, for your time.
Either a balance to be struck, or maybe a skill to be learned in succinctly setting out how you meet them and what you learned along the way.
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by miriam »

Debbie wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 7:19 am Hi Miriam,
Thank you for your feedback and advice. For the sake of keeping this post relatively short I have not included all information regarding my application. But I assure you that I have mentioned my right to work (on the basis of a spouse visa) and my overall grades in the application form. I have not mentioned these in my supporting statement because the instructions clearly asked me not to repeat any information that has been mentioned elsewhere in the application form.

I understand that my undergraduate grades may not be the best. However, I have an M.Sc degree in Psychology from an Indian university (aggregate 70.2%). I also have a second M.Sc. degree in Applied Neuropsychology from a UK university (aggregate 69.3%). Do you think these grades improve my situation? 😅
Yes, that improves things. The difficulty is that you can't judge how good an application is in the absence of all the information, both about the candidate and about the post they are applying for, so you've effectively given us an impossible task. But the content of your application still appears too short and sparse, and doesn't demonstrate every element of the person specification.
Miriam

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miriam
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by miriam »

reishi wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 12:33 am If you do not hold a degree from a BPS-approved psychology course in the UK (either bachelor's or conversion) and have an international psychology degree instead, the only way to prove you have eligibility for GBC is by making a graduate membership application to BPS. They do not confer overseas degree holders GBC otherwise. If the OP's university in India has an agreement with BPS regarding GBC like Ireland has, then of course eligibility would be enough. But for overseas degrees, this is unfortunately how you need to proceed.

Here's the link: https://www.bps.org.uk/join-us/membersh ... membership (need to click on Non-UK applicants tab).
The BPS are terrible at promoting themselves by giving unclear information, and I can see nothing on that page to clarify the issue. For UK students you get GBC from your courses, and don't need to contact the BPS at all, and the same is true of some well established psychology courses elsewhere. Debbie said she had eligibility for GBC and that she had done a UK postgraduate qualification, so I assumed that would confer the GBC, which was what I was referring to.

You are right that things are more complicated if she has no UK or otherwise recognised qualificaiton with GBC. The clearing house says:
If your qualifications are not from a UK or Irish university you need to have them assessed by the BPS to see if they give you GBC. You must do this by applying for Graduate Membership of the BPS. They will automatically assess your qualifications for GBC as part of your Graduate Membership application.
However, it is worth noting that - even in this eventuality - you do not need to be a current member of the BPS to apply for clinical training or AP posts, you just need to have had the BPS assess your qualifications and issue the letter. You can then leave. There is no requirement for BPS membership at any point beyond having confirmation of GBC.
Miriam

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Debbie
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Debbie »

miriam wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 5:57 pm
Debbie wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 7:19 am Hi Miriam,
Thank you for your feedback and advice. For the sake of keeping this post relatively short I have not included all information regarding my application. But I assure you that I have mentioned my right to work (on the basis of a spouse visa) and my overall grades in the application form. I have not mentioned these in my supporting statement because the instructions clearly asked me not to repeat any information that has been mentioned elsewhere in the application form.

I understand that my undergraduate grades may not be the best. However, I have an M.Sc degree in Psychology from an Indian university (aggregate 70.2%). I also have a second M.Sc. degree in Applied Neuropsychology from a UK university (aggregate 69.3%). Do you think these grades improve my situation? 😅
Yes, that improves things. The difficulty is that you can't judge how good an application is in the absence of all the information, both about the candidate and about the post they are applying for, so you've effectively given us an impossible task. But the content of your application still appears too short and sparse, and doesn't demonstrate every element of the person specification.
Yes, I understand that it's difficult to assess an application with incomplete information. Nevertheless, I have received some very useful pointers from you and others. Thank you for your time, Miriam.

When you say the content of my application doesn't demonstrate every element of the person specifications, do you mean I haven't covered all of the points within the specifications, or do you mean my statements do not adequately demonstrate that I meet those specifications.

Is it possible for me to find a good supporting statement online. I would love to study what good "evidencing person specifications" are like. Can you recommend any site or forum where I can find such examples?
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by miriam »

I think more the former, but a bit of the latter.

The final paragraph is a bit awkward too. As a second generation immigrant myself, I generally identify strongly with the immigrant work ethic and see it as a positive thing, but the tone of "I would be honored to work for your great organisation and would be a diligent employee" can easily come over as a bit sycophantic.

I don't think it would be good to have a template - then everyone would copy it and sound the same. Applications should be personal to you. But there are lots of examples on the forum if you search for them :)
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Re: Requesting feedback on Assistant Psychologist application

Post by Spatch »

I agree with much of the above, but I would add that one advantage that you may have is if you speak a common Indian/Pakistani dialect well (Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali etc) and you target AP applications to areas with high immigrant populations. Not many Assistant Psychologists I have come across speak those fluently, especially in older adult services where there are multi generational families and a lot of systemic issues. Stressing that skillset may make you appealing to shortlisters more than generic stuff.
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