OTA Interview Questions Answers

Prior to being accepted into occupational therapy school, prospecting applicants may be asked to undergo an interview process. As with any interview, interviewees have to worry about what they’re going to wear, make sure they show up early, and answer questions in an honest, yet timely manner. This can be a hectic process, especially if you are unaware of what types of questions may be asked. Listed below are popular occupational therapy school interview questions prospecting students may be asked upon admittance.

1. Tell Me About Yourself?

This common, yet broad question is frequently asked by interviewers to get a better understanding of who you are. It is typically asked at the beginning of the interview to help break the ice and make the interviewee feel more comfortable with the interviewers.

How to Answer

You start by introducing yourself or stating what name you’d prefer to go by. Then proceed to briefly tell the interviewer about where you’re from, what you do for fun, about your family, extracurriculars, awards, GPA, and any other information that helps define who you are as a person and student. Refrain from sharing too much and briefly tell the stories as if it were a highlight reel, rather than an entire movie.

Sample Answer: My name is Alexandria, but I prefer to go by Alex. I am a graduate of [high school name] where I maintained a 3.5 grade point average. There I enrolled in sports medicine courses that took up most of my free time on the weekends. If I wasn’t tending to twisted ankles, I was enjoying time with my family outdoors, reading crime novels, and refurbishing antique furniture. I am the oldest of four children — coming from a large family has taught me it is important to be unique and stand out. My parents have been my rock and have taught me the importance of giving back to others, which is why I volunteer at the homeless shelter every Thanksgiving.

2. Why Do You Want to Become an Occupational Therapist?

Program board members, trustees, and other qualified individuals may ask this question to determine how passionate the applicant is about the program. They want to know why you have chosen this career path, despite the hard work and time that goes into it. It is recommended that applicants think about this question prior to the interview so they’re prepared and aren’t at a loss for words if the question is asked.

How to Answer

The reasons will vary for each applicant, however, their answers may be similar. For instance, some may want to be an OT because they love helping others, while others want to follow in the footsteps of a loved one. Whatever your specific reason is, you will want to make sure the interviewer can see the passion behind the “why.” Research common buzzwords that the interview may be looking for like “patient-centered” and “meaningful occupation.”

Sample Answer: Helping others has always been a passion of mine, so naturally I wanted to take on a meaningful occupation in the medical field. I chose occupational therapy after interacting with an OT first hand while at an appointment with my brother. I was consumed by the work the OT was performing and found it to be very interesting.

3. What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

This is another basic interview question that you may have encountered before, both in and out of the healthcare industry. By asking this question, the interviewer wants to assess your self-awareness and see if your opinion of yourself aligns with theirs.

How to Answer: Strengths

You should take pride in what you do well. Make it known to the interviewer what you excel at, but do so in a way that doesn’t come off as too arrogant. This is a great opportunity to discuss something that your interviewer can’t learn from your application.

Sample Answer:

I’m proud of my ability to handle stressful situations. By this, I mean that I am able to sit back and assess the situation before reacting — allowing me more time to come up with the best solution.

How to Answer: Weaknesses

It’s frowned upon to say that you do not have any weaknesses since almost everyone does — yet, you also want to refrain from listing too many weaknesses. A good common ground is to be honest and balanced. Present yourself in a positive way that shows how your weakness is actually your strength.

Sample Answer: I can be a bit talkative! However, I have found that I can easily strike up a conversation with others. This allows me to interact with people of all backgrounds and allows others to view me as more approachable and easy to talk to.

4. What Do You Already Know About Occupational Therapy?

Applicants should keep in mind that they aren’t expected to already know everything there is to know about OT. However, they should know a little about the field. This is the time to inform the interviewer about what you already know, even if it isn’t much.

How to Answer

Explain to the interviewer that you may not know a lot about OT, but you are eager to learn and continue your education. It is important to be honest about what you know. If you aren’t familiar with anything about occupational therapy, then say so. If you pretend to know, this could lead to a sense of distrust and embarrassment later on — especially when asked about a topic you claimed to be familiar with, but aren’t.

Sample Answer: I know that occupational therapy is intended to help people of all ages recover from a variety of conditions like traumatic injuries, sports-related injuries, fractures and dislocations, cognitive impairment, and more.

5. What Interests You About Our Program?

This question may be asked under the assumption that the applicant has done research prior to interviewing for the program. If you haven’t already done so, research specifics about the program and take notes on points that interest or stand out to you the most.

How to Answer

Point out what interests you the most about the program you are applying for. This can include the classes they offer, specific teaching methods, reviews, and anything else that stands out to you. It is important, to be honest, and give a specific answer instead of saying “Everything,” or “Nothing, in particular, it all sounds fun.”

Sample Answer: I’ve heard from students in the past that the way the professors execute the curriculum is creative, yet effective. I also have found that your program offers multiple courses that meet my needs and are offered at times that fit well into my schedule.

6. Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Extraordinary Leadership.

Your interviewer may want to hear a real-life example of a time you stepped up to an authoritative position and guided a team to a victory. Leadership can come in many forms, so think of a time you were in charge of others or collaborated on a project that resulted in success.

How to Answer

This can be a loaded question with numerous answers. Take this opportunity to tell them about a time you exemplified leadership in a school or work setting. Discuss what you did, why you did it, what the outcome was, and how you felt afterward.

Sample Answer: There was a time while volunteering at the homeless shelter when the lead volunteer didn’t show up on time due to a schedule mix up. Since I had been there multiple times before, I decided to step up and take on the role of temporary lead volunteer. From there, we were able to successfully fulfill the tasks for the day without issue.

7. How Would You Explain the Role of an Occupational Therapy Assistant to Someone Who Didn’t Know the Role?

If you are planning to go into the field, you should have a basic understanding of the role of an OTA, and how it is both similar to and different from an OT. The interviewer will want to know that you know what you’re getting into, and have you briefly explain in your own words the role of each. It is important to answer this question differently than the question asking “What do you already know about occupational therapy?”

How to Answer

Find a way to explain to those unfamiliar with the role that is simple, yet provides them with the career basics. Define terms they may be unfamiliar with and give a brief overview of what it’s like in the day of an OTA, and how they work under the supervision of an OT.

Sample Answer: It is the occupational therapist’s responsibility to treat patients by helping them regain their ability to perform basic, everyday motions.

8. How/What Will You Contribute to Our Program?

This question may be asked to see what you’re able to bring to the table; the interviewer wants to ensure you have the ability to offer new, unique insight to the program.

How to Answer

The way this question is answered should similarly reflect the question “Tell me about yourself.” Highlight your strengths.

Sample Answer: I am seen as a role model within my family and friend group. I am able to generate creative solutions to common problems and help guide those around me down a path to success.

9. What Are Your Short Term and Long Term Career Goals?

It is common for program interviewers to ask where their students see themselves after they graduate.

How to Answer

Applicants can discuss where they see themselves in 1, 5, and 10 years. You can also include where they may wish to job shadow during your time in the program. Other ways to answer this question include discussing common career goals like achieving a promotion, gaining experience, and improving basic OT traits and skills.

Sample Answer: I would love to job shadow at our local hospital. From there, I want to apply to places all over the United States, and even someday become a traveling occupational therapist. I love the idea of traveling, so if I can make a career out of it, that is what I want to do.

10. How Do You Balance Your School, Personal, and Work-Life?

The interviewer knows that the program you are about to endure can be strenuous; provide them with information on different time management methods you will use (blocking courses, keeping a log, doing homework on time), how you will prioritize your work, and knowing when to communicate that you may need help.

How to Answer

It is important to be honest in your response. Keep in mind that your interviewer may not really care how you manage your time; they’re probably more interested in seeing that you have a plan of action that will allow you to successfully accomplish your academic goals.

Sample Answer: I am big on planners and have one with me at all times. I use color-coding to help me establish the priority level of different tasks, and try to complete my homework as soon as it is assigned, even if it isn’t due for another week.

11. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

More times than none, this is a common question that is asked at the end of the interview. It’s one of the most important questions you could be asked in an interview, as it gives you the opportunity to learn more about the position and the employer.

How to Answer

The very first thing that you must keep in mind is, never to say “No” or “Not this time” as an answer to the question. Start your answer by thanking them for giving the opportunity to sit for an interview. Try to avoid yes or no questions, and ask ones that are sure to provoke insightful answers.

Sample Answer: What are the goals that you would want your students to achieve? What is the student turnover rate? How long have you been a teacher in the program? How is student success measured?

Keep in mind that the applicants who leave the best impression are the ones that the interviewer remembers the most.

Preparing for your school interview can also be great practice for ultimately getting a job, as employers often ask many similar questions in OT job interviews.