Training to be a therapist equips you with a very specific set of skills. Most of which will not easily translate into other professions. (Except for mind reading. Mind reading is always handy 🧠)

However, there were 3 skills that I acquired in my training and practice as a therapist that really helps me be a good (at least I hope) recruiter today.

Asking the right questions

When you are in a therapy session, the answers you give will more often be less important than the questions you ask. A question that is on-point and timed well, will bring you a good insight as a therapist.

Asking the right questions is also one of the most important skills a recruiter can have in their toolbox. First of all, you need to know about the candidate’s motivation: Why are they interested in this role? What is their goal in changing jobs? If you know the motivating factors for your candidate, then you will be more likely to understand if you can make them an offer they will accept.

Moreover, as a recruiter, we are often the gatekeepers for company culture, and fit to the role. Knowing the right kind of questions to ask in order to assess behavioral competency and cultural fit is a difficult skill. One which most recruiters never get training for. I’m thankful that in my training as a therapist, I got the chance to learn about questions that will allow me to delve deeper and get valuable answers.

If you are interested to learn more about good questions, these days I’m liking the STAR method for structural behavioral interviewing which is relatively easy to learn and implement into everyday phone screens.


Therapists learn to truly keep listening, whilst they take notes, think about the next thing they need to be saying and keep engaged in the session. This is no easy feat.

A recruiter interview is not that different. You need to be able to listen to what is being said, assess it, take notes, think about what to say next and at the same time keep the candidate engaged! And oh, don’t forget as a recruiter you need to be selling the role as well.

Another thing about active listening is it can wear you out if you do it repetitively, all day every day. So my practice with having multiple sessions a day has become pretty relevant for my life as a recruiter where I also have multiple interviews daily. Listening is like a muscle that takes a lot of exercise to keep in shape.

Setting boundaries

When I was a psychologist I had the interesting task of forming a very personal bond with clients whilst maintaining a professional, reliable relationship with them. Setting boundaries is a very important topic in therapy and is often discussed in supervision.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying the relationship of the recruiter and the candidate is anywhere near that involved. However, now that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of many recruitment processes I can see it’s also very personal. As a recruiter, you guide candidates through the life-altering decision of taking on a new job. Especially in Amsterdam, this can mean a family makes the choice to move their life from another part of the world. We discuss salary, living conditions, schooling, special requests, benefits, pension, insurance and more. Sometimes in an interview and relocation process, we end up speaking with a candidate every day for weeks.

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Along the way, I try to be open, friendly, transparent and available for help while keeping in mind this is also a business relationship and I’m a representative of my company. The fact that I’ve learned to set boundaries in my training as a therapist now helps me as a recruiter to maintain a friendly and professional relationship with my candidates.


How did that make you feel? Kidding! I guess old habits die hard.

When I tell people I used to be a psychologist, I frequently get asked the question: Oh, I bet recruitment has a lot of overlap with that, right? It really does not 🙃. Still, these 3 skills are gifts from a past life that make my life today easier!

If you have any questions or comments on this feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin. I would love to hear about your career switch and how (and if) your old job improves your new one!