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10 common occupational therapy interview questions

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​At Maxxima, we understand that job interviews can be the most daunting part of looking for your next role. When getting ready for an occupational therapy job interview, it’s important to do a little preparation and we pride ourselves on being able to help you with this.

In this blog, we discuss some of the most frequently asked occupational therapy interview questions and offer you our guidance on the best way to answer them with confidence.

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Common occupational therapist interview questions and how to answer them

Occupational therapy interview questions that are frequently asked include:

  • What motivates you as an occupational therapist?

  • How would your colleagues describe you?

  • Can you give an example of a time you’ve displayed leadership skills while working as an occupational therapist?

  • Can you tell me about a time when you’ve witnessed care that you thought wasn’t good?

  • What kind of feedback do you prefer from your supervisor or manager?

  • Tell me about the most recent occupational therapy seminar you attended…

  • How would you deal with a confrontational patient?

  • Are you comfortable communicating realistic goals and progress with a patient and their family?

  • What contribution could you make to our team that other occupational therapists cannot?

  • How do you cope with an increasing workload?

Here are our top tips for answering these common job OT interview questions so that you can make the very best impression:

What motivates you as an occupational therapist?

At first sight, this may feel like an easy question to answer but it’s sometimes difficult to articulate if you’re caught off guard. When preparing your answer, think about what inspired you to get into occupational therapy in the first place, such as a passion for patient care for example. Focus on the aspects of the job that resonate with your personal values and career goals.

How would your colleagues describe you?

This interview question is looking to examine your interpersonal skills, your self-awareness and how you think others perceive you. Start by listing your greatest strengths, and if you struggle look over old emails or speak to a trusted colleague or friend. Think about relevant anecdotes that support your statements. And beware, before you get too creative, your answer may be compared to your references later down the line.

Can you give an example of a time you’ve displayed leadership skills while working as an occupational therapist?

You don’t have to have had experience in a leadership position to have demonstrated leadership qualities. Try and think of examples where you may have supported a team member, were trusted to deliver a project or took the lead on resolving a workplace issue. Try and make these examples as relevant as possible to the occupational therapy role you’re applying for.

Can you tell me about a time when you’ve witnessed care that you thought wasn’t good?

Patient care is a priority for employers and this question is designed to gain an understanding of your standards of care - and how you’d respond when those standards aren’t met. Your answer needs to go above and beyond ‘I reported it to the manager’, giving a sense of how the situation occurred, what happened and potentially what you’d do differently if you saw the same issue again. The best candidates can be objective in their answer, displaying compassion and professionalism, outlining patient safety as a primary concern.

What kind of feedback do you prefer from your supervisor or manager?

Different people respond to different management styles and the aim of this question is to establish if you and your manager will align. Whether you are happy to be left to your own devices, checking in with your manager as and when you need, or prefer a more hands-on management approach, it’s important to be honest about what works best for you. It’s ok and even beneficial to talk about positive examples where you’ve worked well with senior colleagues in the past.

Tell me about a recent occupational therapy seminar you’ve attended…

Hiring managers are looking for proactive occupational therapists who stay abreast of the latest sector insights. These employees are valuable because they’re well placed to apply new learnings to their role and support the mentorship of colleagues. Demonstrating an interest in the latest occupational therapy thought leadership and technologies shows a commitment to professional development. Swot up on some industry insights or events you’re interested in to highlight areas of knowledge you could bring to the role.

How would you deal with a confrontational patient?

Like all jobs, particularly those in healthcare, practicing occupational therapy is not without its challenges. A future employer wants to know how you’d handle these situations effectively while operating within the boundaries of your role. Try and frame your answer positively, demonstrating you’d have the communication skills and composure to safely manage difficulties or conflicts should they arise.

Are you comfortable communicating realistic goals and progress with a patient and their family?

Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary to have difficult conversations as an occupational therapist. These highly emotive matters can be complicated further by the patient’s family and friends. An employer wants to know if you’re equipped with the skills to have these conversations. Refer to your experience and explain how you would handle the situation, such as making sure you’re in the right environment, avoiding medical jargon and inviting questions.

What contribution could you make to our team that other occupational therapists cannot?

This question is a gift – make sure you use it to its full advantage. When preparing for the answer, really think about what makes you, you, and how that will benefit patients, your new colleagues, and the organisation.

What makes you great at your job? Is it your technical knowledge? Your interpersonal skills? Or perhaps the way you’re able to unite a team?

Be positive and avoid criticising others. This is a great way to highlight your strengths and suitability for the role.

How do you cope with an increasing workload?

Workloads can fluctuate, sometimes without notice, and a prospective employer might ask this to understand how you would respond to the pressure. Your past behaviour is a good predictor of how you’d act, so share a time when you’ve managed a heavy workload effectively. Give insights into your work ethic and approach, with examples of your problem-solving capabilities. Again, it’s important to remain positive, highlight your contribution and don’t point fingers of blame.

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Different types of questions often asked during occupational therapist interviews

An interviewer’s goal is to ascertain whether your skills, experience and personality make you a good fit for a role within their organisation. Along with the commonly asked interview questions we’ve mentioned above, they are likely to ask you a variety of other questions to tease this information out of you.

The different types of occupational therapy interview questions that interviewers are likely to ask include;

Behavioural questions

These questions explore your behaviours, the skills you’ve used to overcome challenges and how you respond to certain situations.

Remember, these are your experiences, so you are well placed to share them. Preparing a few examples ahead of time and practicing saying them out loud will help you respond with confidence. Times when you’ve displayed soft skills, such as teamwork, communication and problem solving are particularly valuable.

Competency-based questions

Competency is the ability to do something through a combination of skills, ability, and knowledge. These questions seek to identify your strengths and weakness and how they may impact patients, colleagues, and service users if you were to secure the role. Your answers will help the interviewer determine if you have the necessary skillset and where you could add value to the organisation.

Come armed with examples with how you have driven positive impacts in the workplace but in the name of preparation, it’s also good to consider where you’re not as strong.

‘What’s your greatest weakness?’ is certainly one of the more difficult questions to navigate, but framed correctly, can show a level of self-awareness and ambition that will set you apart from other candidates.

Opinion-based questions

We are all individuals and will bring different qualities to a role. When the interviewer asks opinion-based questions, they’re seeking to understand your thoughts and feelings on a certain topic, procedure or practice.

There are no right or wrong answers - they are opinions after all. However, it’s important to be mindful of how your answer could be interpreted so try to be positive. It might be tempting to tell them what you think they want to hear, but this can backfire should you ultimately get the role.

Questions to ask at your occupational therapy interview

This is your opportunity to turn the spotlight on the interviewer – after all, you need to find out if the job is as good a fit for you as you are for it. It’s likely they’ll address some of your queries throughout the interview, so always come prepared with a few questions. This will reiterate your interest in the role and allow you to gain more insight into what it would be like to be part of the team.

  • How would you describe your workplace culture?

  • What does the onboarding process look like?

  • Are there any opportunities for professional development?

  • Can you tell me more about the team I’d be working in?

  • What would success look like in the first three months?

  • What’s your favourite thing about working in this organisation?

  • What do you think will be the biggest challenge I’ll face?

  • How do you ensure patient and staff safety is a priority?

Interview tips to improve your performance

  • Re-read the job specification: This document is invaluable because it details the exact qualities and attributes the hiring manager is looking for. Highlight key words and phrases and think of examples of how you’ve fulfilled these criteria in the past.

  • Be a STAR: Answering interview questions is essentially telling a story. The STAR method gives your story a structure that will make sure you cover all the key points your interviewer needs to know;

    • Situation – Set the scene to give context to your example.

    • Task – Describe what you had to do.

    • Action – Detail what action you took.

    • Result – Share the outcomes as a result of your action.

  • Take a breath: Remember, it’s natural to be nervous. Try and think of the interview as a conversation. A few deep breaths will help to reduce your heart rate and make you feel calmer.

Occupational therapy opportunities with Maxxima

Now that you're fully prepared to answer questions in your next occupational therapy interview, let's find you a new opportunity with Maxxima.

Whatever stage of your occupational therapy career you’re at, we’re here to help you secure your next role. It only takes a few minutes to browse and apply for our occupational therapy jobs.

Our specialist recruiters can provide expert support and guidance throughout the interview process. Simply register your details to embark on your next rewarding occupational therapist role.

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