Are you ready to be an occupational therapist?
You’ve received your degrees, passed the NBCOT, and obtained your licensure. It may seem like the long road is almost over, but there’s still one last hurdle: getting hired.
Securing an OT position is going to look a bit different from your average job search. The biggest factor you’ll want to prepare for is the lengthy job interview process. Fortunately, you have the ability to familiarize yourself with the types of questions an interviewer will ask.
Read on for the top 9 most common occupational therapy interview questions.
How to Prepare for an Occupational Therapy Interview
Preparation is key to nailing an OT interview, and this includes more than just the questions. While everyone’s pre-interview process will be unique, there are a few tips that can help even the most nervous candidate succeed.
Try these three tactics to prepare for your next occupational therapy interview:
- Stay calm – We understand how stress inducing interviews can be. With that said, a comforting demeanor and stress management are two of the most important occupational therapy tools. You want to show off your people skills in this interview, and the best way to do that is by calming any jitters. Try relaxation techniques—like breathing exercises and meditation—in the hours leading up to your interview.
- Do your research – This is generally a good rule to follow for any interview, but proper research will be particularly important for an OT position. Study everything about the facility, their specialties, and any information you can find on your interviewer. This will ensure your answers are appropriate, confident, and thorough.1
- Prepare questions – The interviewer shouldn’t be the only one asking questions. It’s important to take time during your prep work to craft some inquiries of your own. A few examples of thoughtful questions you may want to ask include:
- “Does this position come with any mentoring or growth opportunities?”
- “What do you enjoy most about working here?”
- “Are short-term or long-term patients more common at this facility?”
- “What are the biggest challenges that come with this job?”
- “Which type of documentation system does the facility use?”2
By having your own questions at the ready, you’re signalling to the interviewer that you’re interested in them just as much as they’re interested in you.
The Bottom Line: Preparing for your interview isn’t just about memorizing answers. You want to make sure you’re calm, confident, and prepared to ask the right questions. Show your interviewer that occupational therapy comes naturally to you!
What Types of Questions Will an Interviewer Ask?
The most common occupational therapy interview questions can be broken up into three main categories: personal questions, work history, and future employment. Below are some possible questions an interviewer may ask within each of these categories.
In an OT interview, you may be asked personal questions early on that relate to your work style, goals, and general lifestyle choices. Some of the most popular personal questions that an OT interviewer will ask are:
- #1 What are your hobbies? – Don’t get so hung up on technical questions that you forget about your personality. An interviewer is going to try and paint an entire picture of you, and this may include your likes, dislikes, and what you do in your free time. Spend a few minutes preparing an appropriate answer to this casual question.
- #2 Why did you get into occupational therapy? – Jobs want candidates with passion. While a steady paycheck is important, it shouldn’t be the only reason you can provide for entering this field. Consider what motivated you to become an occupational therapist in the first place, and explain why helping people is important to you.
- #3 What are your career goals? – A potential employer wants to understand your goals. When answering this question, you’ll need to demonstrate that career growth is important to you, while also tying in the position you’ve applied for. Explain how this job fits into your five-year plan with honesty and thoughtfulness.
The Bottom Line: These are just a few examples of personal questions that an interviewer may ask. Occupational therapy is all about working with people, so you want to make sure your answers reflect your kindness, work ethic, and ability to collaborate.
If you’ve worked as an occupational therapist before, your interviewer is likely to have some questions regarding previous positions. For newly licensed OTs, these questions may be applicable to your time in school or your observation hours.
Below are some of the most common topics you’ll want to prepare answers for:
- #4 Describe a time you had difficulties with a patient and how you managed the difficult situation? – Even the best OTs run into issues at work. Rather than avoiding these topics in your interview, it’s best to think of an anecdote that illustrates your problem-solving skills. Think of a time a patient was particularly difficult to work with and explain how you deescalated the challenging situation and helped them receive proper treatment.
- #5 Have you ever had a disagreement with your employer, and why? – Issues can arise with your superiors, as well. An interviewer may ask about a time when you had a disagreement with a previous employer. Choose an example that highlights a difference of opinions in the workplace, and doesn’t include any explosive arguments or long-term problems.
- #6 Was there ever a time you advocated for OT? – This is a question that’s particularly unique to the occupational therapy field. If you’ve ever discussed the effectiveness of occupational therapy with someone who didn’t believe in it, share this experience with your interviewer. You’ll want to highlight the points of your argument that help prove the importance of occupational therapy, including personal experience, statistics, and knowledge of biology.3
The Bottom Line: Your work history is bound to come up in any occupational therapy interview. Prepare answers that explain both the positive and negative aspects of your previous employment, without making yourself seem incompetent or difficult to work with.
In addition to previous jobs, your employers are even more interested in how you’ll fit into their work environment. This section of the interview will test your knowledge of the facility and reveal what benefits you can bring to the position.
These are three common questions an interviewer may ask in regards to hiring you:
- #7 What interests you most about this facility? – It’s important to explain why you’re interested in the specific facility you’ve applied to. Every OT job is going to have different specifications and duties, and explaining your interest in them is always a great interview tactic. Plus, it never hurts to be a little complimentary in any job interview.
- #8 Can you deal with the workload required by this position? – Occupational therapy can be a difficult field. Long hours, physical labor, and frequent shifts will often be part of the job. Taking on this work load and actually coping with it can be very different things. Explain to your interviewer how you manage stress and keep yourself motivated even when work becomes difficult. Examples from previous positions may help you answer this question more thoroughly.4
- #9 Why should we hire you? – Ah yes, the ultimate interview question. This is usually the final beast every candidate must face, but not all answers are created equal. You’ll want to find an appropriate balance of confidence and humility when broaching this question. If you’re new to the field, express an interest in learning and growing within the position. Experienced occupational therapists have room to talk about their strengths in the field based on their extensive work history.
The Bottom Line: Your potential as an employee is perhaps the most important part of your occupational therapy interview. Tap into the qualities that make you a unique worker, and show the interviewer what you’d bring to the position.
Don’t Let Unexpected Questions Throw You Off
Getting some practice never hurts when it comes to the hiring process, so don’t be afraid to run through your answers alone or with a friend. Utilize your strengths, have confidence, and stay alert. If you’re truly prepared, even the most surprising questions won’t be able to throw you off.
And if you ever are thrown off, just remember, you’re human—it’s okay. Take a deep breath, say, “that’s a good question,” and answer honestly.
Start Your Occupational Therapy Career with Host Healthcare
Do you share two passions in life? One of occupational therapy, and another of traveling? If so, Host Healthcare is the perfect opportunity for you.
Becoming a travel occupational therapist with Host Healthcare is simple—just apply as an OT, and you’ll be paired with a recruiter. Soon enough, you’ll be saying hello to a brand new city with a job waiting for you. Traveling occupational therapy is the perfect solution for those who want steady work without being tethered to one place.
Make your live-work dreams come true, all while helping others, and start your career with Host Healthcare today.
- myotspot.com. 2020. The Complete Guide To Your First OT Job Interview | Myotspot.Com. [online] Available at: https://www.myotspot.com/first-ot-job-interview. Accessed 9 January 2021.
- OT Potential • Occupational Therapy Resources. 2019. Nail Your Occupational Therapy Job Interview — OT Potential. [online] Available at: https://otpotential.com/blog/ot-job-interview. Accessed 9 January 2021.
- myotspot.com. 2020. The Complete Guide To Your First OT Job Interview | Myotspot.Com. [online] Available at: https://www.myotspot.com/first-ot-job-interview/. Accessed 7 January 2021.
- Indeed.com. 2019. [online] Available at: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/occupational-therapy-mock-interview-questions. Accessed 7 January 2021.