You finally got your degree and completed all the certifications to become an occupational therapy assistant. Now comes the hard part—the job interview. Keep in mind you’ll be competing with many other candidates in this tough job market. These will be accomplished individuals who, like you, are degreed, credentialed and may even have a leg up when it comes to some experience. But if you’re prepared, articulate and demonstrate drive and passion, you'll have a real shot at nailing the interview and getting the job.
Do Your Due Diligence
William Burke, MHP, RT(CV), administrative director of South Shore Hospital's Cardiovascular Center in South Weymouth, MA advises applicants applying at a hospital or other open-to-the-public environment to visit the facility before the interview. "Stop in and talk to patients, or talk to a member of the housekeeping staff, or just walk in and look around quietly," he says. Burke advises job seekers to fully exhaust the Internet. "Google is unbelievable. If you truly want a job so badly you'd throw yourself in front of a train to get it, you have to find out everything, every ounce of research, about the facility's past, present and future," he says.
Take Your Time--Listening and Answering
You’ll more than likely be interviewed by an HR manager, an occupational therapist or both. Ask the person setting up your interview for the names and titles of the interviewers. During your interview, listen carefully to each question and don’t rush to answer it. Use their names when you answer their questions. If the HR manager asks you a question, start your answer by addressing him or her directly, then shift your address to the occupational therapist. When you’ve answered the question, ask them if they have any follow-up questions.
Some Sample Questions
While no two interviews are alike, here are some of the most common questions asked of Occupational Therapist Assistants:
- What would you regard as the number one priority of an Occupational Therapist Assistant?
- Do you think some patients should get preference over others? Please explain.
- How long do you plan on working here?
- Do you have other career objectives in the medical field?
- If you saw a patient being mistreated by a co-worker, would you talk to them first or report the incident to your supervisor?
- I see that you only attained a B grade on Rehabilitation Theory. Can you explain that?
- Describe what an Occupational Therapist Assistant does--in your own words.
If you don't know the answer to a question, be honest and reply with ”I’ll definitely find out and get back to you.”
What to Ask the Interviewer
Invariably, either the HR manager or the occupational therapist will ask if you have any questions for them. You should be prepared for this—and not just answer with “not at this time.” Some sample questions to get you started.
- What is your turnover rate?
- What are the opportunities for job growth and advancement?
- What happened to the last person who held this position?
- What specific goals would like to see this position achieve?
At the end of the interview, you will more than likely be told to expect a call letting you know whether you have the job or not. You may at this point, politely ask when you might hear back from them.
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