Occupational Therapist Job Interview Questions

To perform well during an interview for an occupational therapy position you should prepare ahead of time. A study on the importance of first impressions in a job interview found that the first 20 seconds of an interview can make a huge impact on the assessment. Walking in the door with confidence can make or break your first impression, and you want to make sure that confidence is backed up by a strong resume, your educational background, and your preparation to answer occupational therapy interview questions.

Preparing For Occupational Therapy Job Interview Questions

There are two types of questions you should be prepared for in your occupational therapy (OT) interview. The first is more focused on OT questions, your passion and views on the profession or organization, and how you intend to perform based on your qualities and exposure to the field. The second type includes generic interview questions that help the interviewer discover who you are as a person, how you operate within an organization or on a team, as well as your past experiences and future goals.

During your interview, there will be questions that are directly related to your expertise, experience, and values in regard to the field of occupational therapy. They may also inquire about your knowledge of the institution in which you are applying. The following questions may be asked during your interview.

Why Did You Pursue a Career In Occupational Therapy?

To answer this question, consider discussing your inspiration to help others, and grounding it in personal experience. There are many benefits to working as an OT — try to emphasize the features of the job that resonate with your goals, values, and intangible rewards of this career path.

How to Answer:

Share a short story that explains why you have found passion in helping others in regard to occupational therapy. This may be drawn from a family member or friend’s experience needing occupational therapy or something you experienced while volunteering or doing clinical work. You may even share an inspirational quote, or paraphrase a favorite quote from other OTs. The goal of answering this question is to showcase your inspiration for the profession of occupational therapy, and how you are motivated to pursue this kind of work.

What Interests You Most About Our Occupational Therapy Program or Facility?

In asking this question, the interviewer wants to discover not only what you know about their organization, but how you will bring your strengths to better serve their goals. To answer this question, do research on the organization beforehand to discover what their mission statement is. Find out if there are any particular demographics that they serve or any OT specializations, such as OT for kids, OT for veterans, or OT for seniors. Look into how they perform their best work in the organization, and in the community. When developing your answer, dig deeper than “I want to work with/serve the elderly community.”

How to Answer:

Create an answer such as, “In my volunteer experience, I found a deep passion for providing kind, empathetic, and patient care specifically when working with the elderly community. I want to use my excellent communication skills and respectful demeanor to provide the best care possible for those in situations that may need patience, understanding, and gentle care.”

What Do You Feel Are The Most Important Qualities In Being a Good Occupational Therapist and Staff Member?

In answering this question, you are trying to describe how the essential traits of an occupational therapist can fulfill the job duties and responsibilities. This is a good opportunity to discuss your ability to work on a team, your desire helps others and your compassionate and patient nature, your organizational skills, or your accuracy and attention to detail.

How to Answer:

Create an answer that blends the desired trait with the ability to perform the duties to your best ability. For example, “I believe that empathy, communication, and attention to detail are some of the most important traits of an occupational therapist. When examining the condition of patients, analyzing their needs, and planning treatment, it is important to be able to show compassion, listen to their needs and difficulties, and create a treatment that is catered specifically to the details of their situation and medical conditions.”

Describe a Challenging Moment You Had With a Patient, and Explain How You Handled It

The purpose of this question is to discover how you can perform under pressure, in a difficult situation, or your ability to mitigate risk. Reflect on a moment that was particularly challenging for you in regards to working with a patient.

How to Answer:

Explain your critical thinking and thought process in overcoming the situation and describe how your actions resolved the situation in creating personalized care. Demonstrate your ability to leverage your skills, and how you created a relationship with the patient to provide insight, education, or understanding, to meet the therapeutic goals of the patient.

Explain a Time When You Had to Advocate for Occupational Therapy

Advocating for occupational therapy can take many forms. It may include speaking with a physician and advocating for the therapeutic needs of a patient, speaking with a hesitant patient and advocating for the results and use of therapy, or advocating on a professional or political level of the importance and role of occupational therapy and health.

How to Answer:

Your answer should pinpoint a specific experience you have had advocating for the profession, why you felt compelled to do so, how you accomplished your advocacy, and how it personally affected you as a clinician.

What Type of Feedback Did You Receive From Supervisors About Your Documentation?

Interviewers may ask you this question to determine your accuracy, attention to detail, and skill in writing reports and documenting methods and treatments for patients.

How to Answer:

Be as honest as possible when answering this question, highlighting your positive feedback, and discussing how you have grown and focused on advancing your skills by learning about your areas of opportunity for development.

What Strengths and Skills Will You Bring to This Organization, and In What Areas Do You Need Support and Further Learning?

Your potential employer is interested to know not only what you are capable of, but the areas in which you may be looking or needing future development.

How to Answer:

It is important to be as honest as possible, and can sometimes provide you benefit if you are looking to develop skills in a specific specialization. If possible, mention how the skills you will bring such as empathy, organization, attention to detail, or ability to manage stress, can be leveraged in your further learning and development.

Explain Your Fieldwork Experiences

This question helps the interviewer gauge your exposure to the field. They are typically looking for more insight into your hard skills, and to understand your qualifications beyond your baseline education and certification.

How to Answer:

Discuss the settings you worked in, the clients you provided services to, the range of assignments you had, what a typical workday or rotation looked like, and what kind of caseloads or workloads you were responsible for.

Describe Your Proudest Moment as an Occupational Therapy Practitioner

By asking this question, the interviewer gives you the opportunity to discuss your passion for the industry, and the level of intrinsic value you hold in helping others achieve their therapy goals.

How to Answer:

Reflect on a time where you felt a deep moment of pride for your work, and explain the details of the situation, the results of your actions, and the sense of accomplishment you felt.

How Would You Apply New Information or Technology To Your Position?

This question may also be posited as: How do you stay up-to-date on new technology relevant to occupational therapy? Keeping up with changes to medicine, technology, and other trends and research in the industry is an important job of working in OT, and employers want to see that you will take the initiative to remain current and flexible.

How to Answer:

Discuss the opportunity to include the use of technology in the field of occupational therapy. Describe current trends, research, or applications you have used to incorporate technology into the field of occupational therapy, or virtual medicine.

Common Interview Questions

These general job interview questions are sure to arise during your occupational therapy interview. These questions are designed to discover who you are as a person to see if you will fit in with the company; your strengths and weaknesses, and your personal work ethic, your goals, and your professional drive. These questions may include:

  • Tell me something about yourself?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest failure?
  • When do you feel most satisfied with your job?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • How do you make important decisions?
  • What are your salary requirements?

To prepare for these questions you may wish to consider how you will answer in a professional, honest, and personalized manner. For example, when you respond to “tell me something about yourself” prepare a response that describes your positive attributes and values. An example could be “I am a healthy and active person who enjoys reading, learning, and engaging in activities like biking, hiking, or exploring new types of food.”

You may also wish to prepare for financial questions in regards to salary. Look up the occupational therapy salary, both nationally and locally to determine a salary range that is appropriate and that you feel comfortable with.

OT Questions To Ask During An Interview

Oftentimes, an interviewer will provide the time for the interviewee to ask questions, by asking the common question “Do you have any questions for me?”. This is a great opportunity to express your interest in specific aspects of the industry, facility, and population that they serve. To gain an understanding of potential growth opportunities within the organization. As well as build a rapport with the interviewer. Questions to ask during an occupational therapy interview may include:

  • What type of mentoring and onboarding opportunities are available with your organization?
  • What type of growth, education, and development opportunities are there?
  • What do you like about working for this company?
  • What is the most common diagnosis in your patient population?
  • How collaborative are occupational therapists with physical therapists, nurses, and physician staff?
  • What is the average length of stay for patients, and the average length of a rehab session?
  • How is productivity measured and calculated – what are the productivity requirements?
  • What types of certifications do other employees here have? Are certifications required or supported?
  • What is the documentation system?
  • What are the common working hours – what are the busiest times of the day/week/month/year?

Getting hired for your occupational therapy job will take preparation beyond your education and work experience. Being ready for your occupational therapy interview by prepping yourself to answer questions can help you to feel more confident while providing answers.

Being prepared ahead of time with questions for what you would like to know about the job can also give you the opportunity to understand the job and facility more fully, giving you both a leg-up in the interview process, and a better understanding of your potential future employment.