“Physical therapy teaches people how to walk, and occupational therapy teaches them how to dance,” said an Occupational Therapist at the School of Allied Medicine in a U.S. News and World Report article.
When preparing your occupational therapy interview questions and answers, you might feel confident that you have all the necessary skills.
Given the diversity of the field, it can be difficult to convey your skillset, training, and passion in the best way possible.
It seems somewhat ironic that an Occupational Therapist might need help finding and gaining employment.
Occupational therapy services is currently one of the allied careers in demand with the most growth, and the competition is fierce.
An Occupational Therapist requires a master’s degree, but you can’t rely on your education alone to get you through your interview questions. You have to find other ways to stand out in the crowd.
Download Your OT Interview Worksheet
Understanding the Unique Occupational Therapy Specialties
Preparation is key when it comes to interviewing. Moreover, it’s important to know exactly what occupational therapy specialties are out there, so that you can focus on the one which most interests you.
In general, there are nine unique specialties to choose from, and each requires different experience and thus different OT interview questions and answers.
This specialty is focused on working with elderly individuals.
Potential Interview Question: How would you respond to an angry family member who was yelling about their elderly parent, escalating the situation?
Mental Health (BCMH)
This specialty is focused on providing mental health intervention that incorporates wellness and prevention for clients.
Potential Interview Question: What type of mental health disabilities have you worked with in the past?
Occupational Therapists in this specialty work with children to help them succeed playing, learning, and socializing.
Potential Interview Question: What was your most difficult situation dealing with a parent and how did you handle it?
Physical Rehabilitation (BCPR)
As one of the most wide ranging specialties, you’ll spend your time designing and implementing client-centered physical rehabilitation interventions.
Potential Interview Question: What are sternal precautions and how would you handle them with a patient?
Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM or SCDCM-A)
This specialty focuses on enabling a client to be more mobile in his or her community environment.
Potential Interview Question: How do you deal with non-compliant or unmotivated clients?
Environmental Modification (SCEM or SCEM-A)
This OT specialty is for practitioners who determine environmental needs and modify, adapt, or change the environments of home, school, work, or community.
Potential Interview Question: How would you handle a situation where the ideal modification was unfeasible or refused by the patient?
Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing (SCFES or SCFES-A)
Occupational Therapists in this specialty provide essential services focused on feeding, eating, and swallowing.
Potential Interview Question: What therapeutic techniques are you familiar with and which have you used successfully?
Low Vision (SCLV or SCLV-A)
Occupational Therapists in low vision work with adults and children suffering from eye limitations that cannot be corrected by medical intervention.
Potential Interview Question: Do you understand and use sensory integration strategies in your therapy? Can you give an example?
School Systems (SCSS or SCSS-A)
These therapists work with students in the school setting.
Potential Interview Question: What type of experience do you have working with children who have special needs?
To learn more about the various licensure, ongoing education, and general information about each specialty, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). It provides a wealth of resources for those seeking a career in Occupational Therapy.
Researching the Job Location
The next part of acing your interview questions for Occupational Therapists is understanding where you will be working.
The different OT specialties allow you to work in a variety of settings:
- Outpatient Rehabilitation Centers
- Nursing Homes
- In-Home Healthcare
Every organization and setting has its own culture, so it’s important to get as much information as possible before the interview.
For example, working in a hospital is a very different environment from an office and will have distinct requirements and values that they hold important.
To ensure that you know the appropriate OT interview questions and answers, make sure you know where you’re expected to spend most of your time. This will allow you to put your best foot forward.
Common Occupational Therapy Interview Questions and Answers
Once you’ve crafted your Occupational Therapist resume, it’s time to get down into the nitty-gritty details of gaining employment.
As we outlined above, occupational therapy job interview questions will vary based your specialty. Yet, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared.
You can ace your interview and demonstrate your skill, interest, and passion by going down our list of the top 10 OT interview questions and answers.
1. What skills will you bring to this OT position?
What the interviewer really wants to ask is, “How will you meet the needs of this department?”
Mention the common skills that all Occupational Therapists should posses. Ideally, you will also want to include special skills and certifications you have to help you stand out against other applicants.
If they ask about specific skills that you do not have, let them know that you plan to work on them and how you will do it.
2. What do you think the main challenges of this position will be?
This question has two purposes: the first is so the interviewer knows that you understand the job description and what is expected of you.
The second is to reveal some of your weaknesses.
Everyone comes across challenges in the workplace, but it is how you deal with them that will determine if you are a good fit for the position or not.
3. What placements have you enjoyed the most, and why?
Be positive. You don’t want to go off on a tangent about things that you did not like about a past placement.
If they do ask you about a placement you were not fond of, turn the negative aspects into how you learned an important lesson or how it helped you to strengthen a skill.
4. Share a time that you applied new technology with a client or organization you worked for.
Are you staying current with advances in OT? Do you seek out innovative and more effective ways to help your clients?
Given the opportunity, you might also suggest a new technology or information from a recent study that you would be interested in implementing.
5. How would you handle a patient who constantly complains?
Through this question, the interviewer is trying to figure out how much patience you have. Most of all, they want to know if you have the capability to handle a moody or irritated patient.
This is a great time to share an example of when you’ve been in a similar situation and how you handled it appropriately.
6. What do you think the therapist’s role would be like in this setting?
This is where your prior research on the job will be vitally important.
For your answer, consider:
- what you know about the position,
- where you’ll be spending most of your time,
- and the type of patient you will most often interact with.
Use this as an opportunity to showcase your preparation and to give examples of specific skills or times you’ve been in a similar setting.
7. Are you comfortable communicating realistic goals and progress with a patient and their family?
This is your opportunity to:
- describe a time when you communicated goals with a patient
- demonstrate your experience setting goals
- working with your patient to achieve those goals.
An OT constantly makes critical and crucial decisions. You need to be able to show that you can handle this.
8. Describe a particularly difficult challenge that you helped a patient overcome.
This question is meant to give you a chance to talk about one of your biggest accomplishments. Prove you can handle difficult tasks and detail the actions you took to accomplish incredible results.
Go into the interview with a short story or example already prepared.
9. What would be your ideal OT department?
In this case, the interviewer is asking about your values as an Occupational Therapist. They want you to reflect on your experiences and to share what you liked and disliked about each.
Demonstrate that you know your own mind and what an ideal OT department would be.
10. What type of patients do you most enjoy working with?
As a result, you might be tempted to answer this question with something careful like, “I enjoy working with everyone,” but that’s not the best answer!
No one gets along with everyone.
Your interviewer wants to know that you recognize your strengths and weaknesses and that you’ve sought out a job that best fits your skills and requirements.
OT Interview Questions You Should Ask
Furthermore, before the conclusion of your interview, make sure you’ve prepared a few questions of your own.
Some examples of appropriate questions include:
- What kind of candidate are you looking for?
- Is travel expected for this position?
- Do you offer any resources to help advance my OT career?
Download Your OT Interview Worksheet
Making the most of these occupational therapy interview questions and answers will prepare you for any opportunity on the job market.
- What skills will you bring to this OT position?
- What do you think the main challenges of this position will be?
- Share a time that you applied a new technology or new information to your work with a client, or that you used to help the organization you were working for.
- What placements have you enjoyed the most, and why?
- How would you handle a patient who constantly complains?
- What do you think the therapist’s role would be like in this setting?
- Are you comfortable communicating realistic goals and progress with a patient and his family?
- Describe a particularly difficult challenge that you helped a patient to overcome.
- What would be your ideal OT department?
- What type of patients do you most enjoy working with?
Finally, the more personal research you do about the job position and company looking to hire you, the better chance you’ll have of appearing like a shining example of what an Occupational Therapist should be.
What’s the most unusual OT interview questions you’ve ever been asked?
Share with us in the comments below!