When practicing your answers for the typical speech language pathology interview questions, think about how a Speech Language Pathologist role is so vital in our society.
When most of us face the prospect of sitting down to dinner with friends, we’re probably just worried about what we want to eat.
For millions of others that’s a secondary problem.
Instead, these individuals struggle with speaking and swallowing—transforming a simple night out into a difficult task.
Enter the importance of speech language pathology professionals.
Speech language pathologists “assess, diagnose, and treat a variety of speech, sound, language, voice, fluency, and swallowing disorders,” explained Elizabeth McCrea, the 2014 president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Speech language pathology is a highly sought after career field with a positive job outlook over the next ten years.
Data shows that it is growing 21%—much faster than average. Despite this, securing work can still present a challenge.
How do you find a job as a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)?
Let’s review a few important topics to help you in the process:
- Career opportunities
- Where to apply
- Important SLP interview questions
Understanding Speech Language Pathology Career Opportunities
First, before you start hunting for a job as a Speech Language Pathologist, it’s important that you understand what paths are open to you.
The good news is that it’s one of the five allied health careers in demand for the foreseeable future, so it’s an excellent career choice.
In addition, SLPs are highly-educated professionals who, typically, have a minimum of a master’s degree in their field. This qualifies them to work in a variety of healthcare professions and with a variety of issues.
Job requirements for a Speech Language Pathologists includes evaluating and diagnosing communication and swallowing disorders in patients as well as devising treatment plans.
For example, as a Speech Language Pathologist, you can help with:
- Speech delays and disorders: These include issues such as articulation, phonology and motor speech disorders.
- Language delays and disorders: These include helping with expression and comprehension in oral and non-verbal contexts.
- Fluency disorders: Typically related to stuttering.
- Voice and resonance disorders: These include issues such as vocal cord nodules and polyps, vocal cord paralysis, and spasmodic dysphonia.
- Swallowing and feeding disorders: These include difficulties feeding for both children and adults.
- Cognitive-communicative disorders: These include social communication skills, reasoning, problem solving, and executive functions.
- Pre-literacy and literacy skills: These include phonological awareness, decoding, reading comprehension, and writing.
- Other disorders: These include hearing impairments, traumatic brain injury, dementia, developmental, intellectual or genetic disorders, and neurological impairments.
It’s critical to know as much as possible about the position that interests you before applying for the job. This way you can determine what the expectations will be, and how to answer any and all speech language pathology interview questions.
But before we get to the interview questions, let’s talk where to apply.
Where to Apply for Speech Language Pathology Jobs
Speech Language Pathologists can work in a wide range of settings:
- Nursing facilities
- Federal government
- Regulatory agencies
- Private practices
- In-home health care
The good news is no matter where you work, as a Speech Language Pathologist you’ll generally enjoy a job with a flexibility and upward mobility, according to the U.S. News.
What’s more, you can expect a median salary of $73,410.
As for where to apply, there are typically two main career settings: schools and hospitals/clinics.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately eight percent of children between the ages of three and 17 have a disorder related to speech, voice, language, or swallowing.
In educational settings, Speech Therapists follow the same schedule as the school, with summers and holidays off. They collaborate with teachers to optimize student success and may meet with other educators or parents as well.
Speech Language Pathologists working in schools should expect high caseloads, as school systems do not always have enough therapists to meet the demands of their student population.
SLPs in schools should also expect a wide range of disorders from cleft palates—one in 600 children in the U.S. is born with a cleft palate—to stuttering, conversational speech, and social skills.
Clinicians who enjoy working with adults rather than children might consider a hospital or nursing facility setting.
Speech Language Therapists in hospitals and clinics help patients to progress and meet goals after suffering from a medical condition, such as a stroke. This presents some unique challenges.
The hospital setting lends itself to technological advances. Therefore, hospital-based Speech Language Pathologists must be trained and knowledgeable in a range of areas including:
- Fiberoptic endoscopy examination of swallowing\
- Trach/vent care
- And more
In a 2007 SLP Health Care Survey, SLPs working in both general medical and rehab hospitals were asked about the challenges they faced. Here’s what they had to say about the top five challenges:
- 36% paperwork
- 45% high productivity requirements
- 43% insufficient reimbursement
- 36% keeping current with advances in clinical information
- 32% unsatisfactory salary/benefits
However, for individuals working in these and private practice settings, they often feel rewarded by the impact they have on the client and his/her family.
What to Anticipate During a Speech Language Pathologist Interview
So, now you know where you could work and what it looks like in a career as a Speech Language Pathologist.
How do you get the job?
First, you have to get past the interview.
Interview questions will vary based on the position you are applying for. In some cases, interviewers may present you with a scenario involving a fictional client and ask you to describe the action you would take. In other cases, the interviewer will ask a probing question to get to know you as a person.
Preparation is key to success.
Generally, we recommend preparing to answer the question, “Why should we hire you?” You can find more on this in our article: How to Ace the Interview Question: Why Should We Hire You?
More importantly, you need to prepare to answer specific Speech Pathologist interview questions.
Now, every position will be different, but the following are just a few examples of common questions you’re likely to be asked as well as some advice about how to deal with them.
General Speech Language Pathology Interview Questions
More likely than not, your interviewer will have some questions that relate to speech pathology in general. These questions will be used to get an overall impression of your history, experience, motivation, and style.
1. What interests you about speech language pathology?
For this question, you should talk about what you love about being a Speech Language Pathologist as well as the skills and qualities needed. Such as:
- People skills
- Analytical mind
- Good listening skills
2. What communication disorders are you familiar with?
Go through the list at the beginning of this article and make sure you’re aware of the variety of disorders, as well as how they can be treated.
3. Are you familiar with assistive technology?
For this question, make sure you’re aware of the many apps and programs out there for speech therapy. We’ve outlined a few of our favorites in our article: 6 Best Apps for Speech Therapy with Kids in Mind.
4. What formal assessment tools have you used to evaluate patients?
There are a variety of tools used by speech pathologists to treat patients. You should be aware of such things as:
- Adaptive communication switches
- Sound measuring apparatus like an ECG or layngograph
Other general speech language pathology interview questions to consider include:
- What area of speech language pathology are you the most interested in?
- What quantitative and qualitative steps do you take during evaluation?
- How do you assess success?
- Describe a time when you collaborated with others.
- Describe a challenging case.
- Are you comfortable working in a group therapy setting?
SLP Interview Questions: School Settings
About two out of five Speech Language Pathologists worked in schools in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If working in a school is where you want to be, then you should also be prepared to answer these specific speech therapist interview questions.
- What is your training and experience working with children with autism?
- How would you respond to a parent who believes speech therapy is not helping her child?
- What strategies would you use when working with a child who stutters?
- How do you handle a group therapy setting consisting of children with diverse needs?
- How would you assess non-native English speaking students?
SLP Interview Questions: Hospital/Private Clinic Settings
If a hospital or private clinic working with adults is more your cup of tea, prepare with these questions instead.
- Are you comfortable working with professionals of other disciplines, such as occupational therapists and physical therapists?
- What oral-motor programs do you have experience with?
- Do you have experience with voice disorders?
- What types of patients interest you, and why?
Questions for You to Ask the Interviewer
Don’t forget to ask your own speech pathologist interview questions, too!
As much as you want the interviewer to think of you as the best candidate, you should also be investigating whether the organization is a place you would like to work or if you should look elsewhere.
A few of the best questions to ask include:
- What qualities do you look for in a candidate?
- What’s the typical workload like?
- How do you measure job performance?
As a Speech Language Pathologist with a high-degree of skill, expect to demonstrate your knowledge in every interview.
The better prepared you are with research and practice, the better chance you’ll stand of being chosen as the top candidate.
If you don’t want to handle the job market on your own, considering working with a recruiter instead. We’ve got the tips about How to Get the Best Speech Pathology Job with a Recruiter for you to take a look at.
What are some speech language pathology interview questions you have come across?
Share with us in the comments below!