Top 10 Occupational Therapy School Interview Questions

Occupational Therapy School Interview Questions

An interview session is the most nerve-wracking step of a hiring process. Not only should a candidate take care of their appearance, but they also need to ensure that they express the perfect amount of professionalism and character in their answers. For Occupational therapists (OT) especially, the job field is projected to become more competitive in the upcoming years –with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that OTs’ employment rate will grow 16% from 2019 to 2029. But how do you prepare for Occupational Therapy School Interview Questions? 

The best way is, of course, to research the general theme and questions of an OT school interview. It’s also worth noting that because OT schools are focused on activity, behavior management, and environmental analysis, the interview will use a STAR Method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result), which will evaluate a candidate’s behavioral response.

What to Expect from an OT School Interview?

The STAR Method is a good way to ensure that your answers follow a particular and systematic format. The format consists of:

  • Situation: The background of an event, project, or challenge faced
  • Task: The responsibilities and/or assignments that need to be achieved
  • Action: The steps or procedure taken 
  • Result: The results of the actions

This method is effective for behavioral questions, such as “Tell me about…..”, “Describe your response to…..”, and “Have you ever……..”. In addition to behavioral questions, interviewers would present several other categories of questions, such as biographical, motivational, ethical, and academic questions. 

Another great way to prepare yourself for an OT School interview is by researching about the school itself, such as their basic information, what departments are offered there, and what values do they seek in their candidate.

Occupational Therapy School Interview Questions

Biographical Questions

  1. Tell me something about yourself.

This is probably one of the most common questions a candidate will receive in an interview and have comprehensive answers. Of course, a good way is to share something that the recruiters don’t know and not listed on your resume. You can open the answer by briefly describing your background but take the opportunity to highlight your passion, values, and character. It’ll also help solidify a recruiter’s first impression of you positively. Essentially, the interviewers are looking for your history and relevant experiences that shaped you.

“I’m a recent graduate from [university]. Since high school and throughout the university, I was active in many extracurriculars, events, and volunteering programs related to education and development. I’m very passionate about Yoga and reading classic literature. I highly value honesty and professionalism in my work, and it’s reflected in my previous projects.”

  1. What do you consider as your strengths and weakness?

This is another common question that interviewers ask. However, do not take this lightly and instead use the opportunity to showcase your strengths and how they’ll contribute to the school. Remember to share a situation where your strengths have helped you to show proof of performance. Also, interviewers want to see your capacity to admit any weaknesses and/or mistakes and taking the necessary actions to overcome and/or correct them. That’s why candidates should avoid answering cliché answers such as using “perfectionist” as a weakness and instead be transparent. This will help humanize you to the interviewers whilst showing them that you’re adaptable and capable of progress. Here’s a good sample answer:

“My greatest strength is that I’m adept in observations and analysis. When I was doing my OT shadowing, I was given the responsibility to do observations and create reports of the patient’s progress during the rehabilitation program. But I realize that I still lack conversational skills, which is one of the most significant skills to have as a therapist. While I don’t have a problem initiating conversations, sometimes I flounder on topics when trying to keep the conversation going, and I end up making the situation awkward. However, I have taken online classes and practiced with my friend to develop my conversational skills to ensure that the patients can feel comfortable. My professional goal is to be fluent in conversations by the end of Q2.”

  1. Do you have any experience in OT shadowing?

By asking this question, interviewers are trying to determine your knowledge and activeness in the fieldwork. While it’s true that not everyone has the same access to work or do internships in a clinic, describing your experiences in volunteering and community service is also a good way to show proof of performance regarding your passion for helping people. Here is a good way to answer this question:

“I was able to shadow an OT in a local care home where I volunteered. Although my main task as a volunteer is to help around the care home and provide company for the elders, I reached out to the OT –who at that time was assisting some of the elderly with dementia and physical limitations– that I was a prospective OT student and was looking to shadow a professional therapist. The therapist agreed, and I assisted with helping patients during their therapy sessions. The experience taught me to observe a patient’s needs and condition, especially if they do not vocalize them. It’s the responsibility of the OT to accommodate patients.” 

Motivational Questions

  1. What made you choose to pursue a career in occupational therapy?

This question helps interviewers determine what sets up apart from other candidates. Make sure to focus on reasons such as your passion for helping and guiding other people and/or because you’re a great listener. But what’s more imperative is sharing why this has led you to choose this profession. You can do this by sharing pivotal moments and/or experiences in your life that have pushed your drive to help others around you. For example:

“My interest in occupational therapy school has started from a young age, where I saw my older cousin having trouble at school due to an accident and started going for occupation therapy. The therapy became one of his steppingstones in getting his life back on track. His therapy helped him participate in school activities in an alternative way, and he went on to graduate with flying colors. His experience made me realize how important it was for people who have had neurological injuries or mental illnesses to be given a chance and facilitated to integrate back to society in alternative ways that are comfortable for them.”

  1. Why did you apply to this school and program?

Interviewers look for candidates who can give a detailed explanation of your motivation in applying. This means instead of highlighting too much on how the school can help you achieve your goals, try focusing on how your skills and knowledge can be beneficial towards the program and/or the patients there. You can also emphasize the research you’ve done of the school, such as undergoing projects or fieldwork, and then linking that to how you want to contribute. Here’s how you can present your answer:

“I’m interested in applying to {school} because one of the programs aligns with my values, which aiming to help disabled kids adapt and develop their motor and intelligence through daily activities. At my high school, I excelled in social sciences studies, as you can see from my GPA scores. I’m also very passionate about topics centered around child development and have done part-time jobs assisting at a local kindergarten. I’m looking forward to contributing to the discussions, research, and eventually fieldworks regarding the importance of child’s motoric and mental development in their early years in your programs.”

  1. What is your long-term career plan for the next 5 years?

Interviewers want to determine your preparedness and commitment to your goals. Reassure the recruiters that by investing in you, you’ll give back to the community and people around you by implementing the skills you have learned at the school. Share your step-by-step plan to start your career, such as the internships you’re planning on taking and what clinics you want to work in. Here’s an example:

“By the time I graduate, I plan to be an Occupational Therapist in [clinic]. Specializing in child development. I want to help disabled children integrate into their surroundings by positively utilizing their differences. But to achieve that goal, I’m planning to first apply for internships and occupational therapist assistant positions to deepen my professional knowledge.”

  1. Do you consider yourself someone who works well under pressure and can handle an overwhelming workload?

Recruiters will want to know about your time management method to juggle a hectic schedule. This is imperative because recruiters want to gauge your ability to stay on top of the game even when there’s significant demand for your time. Answer this by bringing up previous experiences positively and how you manage to balance your schedules and remain professional. Here’s how you can answer the question:

“During high school, I actively volunteered in many care homes and participated in 2 extracurriculars besides the usual weekly school assignments. I kept track of all my assignments and work by making a daily to-do list and ordering them by their due dates. There were times I was due on my assignment and volunteering work at the same time. I worked through this by taking at least an hour every day 4 days before the initial deadline to finish my school assignment, so I was free to do volunteering work at the due date. This time management approach has conditioned me to stay calm, professional, and allocate free time to complete other tasks.”

Academic Questions

  1. What do you know about an Occupational Therapist’s duties and responsibilities?

Essentially, interviewers are trying to evaluate your basic knowledge and preparedness to become an OT school student. While this is an easy question because candidates can answer this by researching to educate themselves, what interviewers are looking for is the difference that makes you stand out compared to other candidates. You can do this by listing the common duties of an OT and giving concrete examples. For example:

“OTs are mainly responsible for the care and treat their patients by doing daily life activities and other special equipment. This includes other sets of responsibilities, such as developing treatment plans, helping patients and their caregivers use special rehabilitative equipment, and evaluating and keeping track of patients’ conditions. However, an important aspect of an OT’s duties is that the responsibilities are influenced by the respective setting, such as whether they’re working in a hospital, care homes or schools.”

Ethical Questions

  1. What would you do when a patient is having difficulties or is not in a good mood?

One of OTs’ characteristics is empathy and an etic code to ensure they have the necessary moral compass to assist the needs of their patients. That is why interviewers would evaluate your response on helping patients even during stressful periods. This is a great case study question that requires using the STAR method, so try presenting your case (either hypothetical or an experience) and walking your interviewer through your actions, and highlighting the result and lessons learned. Here’s an example:

“When a patient is having a bad day, I’ll communicate with them about their limitations to not push them. Asking questions about their purpose of today’s therapy is, activities they’re comfortable doing today, and how far the session they want to do. Essentially, when a patient is at their best, I’ll make sure that all their needs are addressed in the therapy session.”

  1. Do you have any other questions?

Always remember to prepare questions that showcase your interests and seriousness in accepting the potential job offer. You can prepare by researching the school, the schedules, and the opportunities offered by the program. Then, list down the information that is not clear. Here’s an example:

“Yes, I would like to ask about the technicalities of the school application. Are candidates allowed to apply for two different programs? Thank you.”

Also read Pharmacist Interview Questions [With Sample Answers]

Top 10 Occupational Therapy School Interview Questions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top