Occupational Therapist Interview Questions

Occupational therapist working with patient
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Occupational therapist jobs are projected to grow 16% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—much faster than average.

With median pay of nearly $85,000 a year, this job offers a chance to make a good living while helping others live healthier, happier lives. This job requires a master’s degree and state licensure.

To land an occupational therapist job, you’ll need to be able to answer typical interview questions. 

Prepare for the interview by practicing your responses until you feel comfortable providing answers that reflect your expertise, job knowledge, and interest in the company.

What Interviewers Are Looking For 

Interviewers want to know if candidates have the necessary knowledge about occupational therapy, as well as details on their hands-on experience. Interviewers are also looking to find out about candidates' style and personality—in particular, they want to know how candidates will interact with patients. 

How to Respond to Questions during an Occupational Therapy Job Interview

During an interview for a role as an occupational therapist, you'll want to emphasize your experience as well as your passion for helping patients. You should be ready to answer questions that are specific to your specialty within the field. 

You'll also want to show that you have the key skills required to be successful in this role—for example, communication skills are key, as is being organized. 

Plus, you'll want to be prepared to talk about why you're interested in this role in particular. To come up with a strong answer to that question, it'll help to research the company so you have a strong sense of the culture and values. 

Types of Interview Questions Employers Ask

During the interview, you can expect you'll get the following types of questions: 

  • Behavioral questions: Interviewers will ask about how you've handled certain situations in the past. It can be helpful to employ the STAR technique while answering these types of questions. You may also get situational interview questions, which ask you to describe how you'd handle a specific situation at work. 
  • Problem-solving questions: Interviewers may ask about questions that help reveal your problem-solving tactics. Again, examples help. 
  • Questions about you: You can expect a lot of questions to center around you during the interview as well. By answering these questions honestly and thoughtfully, and with an eye toward the company at hand, you can impress the interviewer while remaining true to your authentic self. 

Occupational Therapist Interview Questions

  • What are the skills necessary to become an occupational therapist?
  • What work experience do you have that is relevant to occupational therapy?
  • What is your opinion on how an occupational therapy team should function?
  • What do you think are the three most important skills necessary for success in occupational therapy?
  • What contribution could you make to our team that other applicants cannot?
  • What do you think the therapist’s role would be like in this setting?
  • What are the factors of effective occupational therapy?
  • What are the benefits and the challenges for each of these factors?
  • Describe a time when you delivered a positive experience for the patient.
  • Tell me a situation where you managed risk effectively, explaining the situation, the opportunity you had to manage successfully, the action you took and the results.
  • How would you respond to someone who was verbally hostile towards you?
  • Describe how you address concerns from a frustrated patient or the patient's family.
  • Tell me about a standardized assessment you have used.
  • How do you cope with an overwhelming workload?
  • Do you mind being supervised?
  • What kind of management style suits your personality and your work style?
  • Describe what you learned from your previous job.
  • What is an effective method you have used to determine realistic rehabilitation goals for patients?
  • How have you helped coach or mentor someone? What kind of improvement did you observe?
  • How would you apply new technology or information to your position? How do you stay up-to-date on new technology relevant to occupational therapy?
  • Do you enjoy working in a rapidly evolving workplace?
  • Do you deal well with change?
  • What kind of feedback do you prefer from your supervisor or manager?
  • How do you balance cooperation with others and independent thinking?
  • Tell me about an effective health promotion program you developed and/or participated in.
  • Are you comfortable communicating realistic goals and progress with a patient and his family? Describe a time when you communicated what you believed were realistic goals, and the patient expressed different goals. How did you resolve the differences between your goals and the patient's goals?
  • Tell me about the most recent seminar you attended.
  • Does any particular type of patient interest you more than others?
  • Would you be comfortable supervising assistants and aides?
  • Describe a particularly difficult challenge that you helped a patient to overcome.

General Job Interview Questions

In addition to job-specific interview questions, you will also be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans. Common job interview questions include:

  • Why should we hire you? Best answers
  • How long do you plan to work for this clinic/hospital/company? Best answers
  • What are your salary requirements? Best answers
  • What’s your greatest strength? Best answers
  • What’s your greatest weakness? Best answers
  • Why are you looking for a job? Best answers
  • Tell me about yourself. Best answers

Tips for Acing the Interview

Research the organization. The job interview is not the right time to find out more about your potential employer. As part of your interview prep, be sure to research the company. Look at their corporate website and social media feeds. Read recent news stories about the organization. Look for connections on LinkedIn to current and former employees who might be able to offer insight on the employer’s goals and culture.

Practice interviewing. It’s not enough to plan answers to common interview questions. To make the best possible impression on the hiring team, it pays to practice interviewing. Family and friends can help you rehearse, or you can practice on your own.

Consider recording your practice interview with a camera or webcam so that you can assess your body language.

Say thank you. Think thank-you notes are old-fashioned? Think again. In a TopResume survey, 68% of hiring managers said that receiving a thank-you note after a job interview influenced their decision-making process. Send yours within 24 hours of the interview to make the best impression.