Occupational therapy interview questions

7 common OT interview questions

By Tom Baldry

Although you can never be totally sure what will come up at your occupational therapy job interview, it's still really important to prepare. We have pulled a list of frequently asked questions together and have shared some tips on how to respond to these.

1. What motivates you as an occupational therapist?

This is not about you and your career goals. It's about showing that occupational therapy is a vocation for you. For example, you may get job satisfaction from making a real difference to another person's life, and perhaps the lives of their family members. You can even draw on a recent example of where you feel you made a real difference, although try to keep the example short for this question.

2. Tell me about a time when you felt most proud as an occupational therapist...

Try to avoid generalising; it's not enough to say that you feel proud whenever you helped someone have a better quality of life. Give a specific example, perhaps talk about a particularly challenging situation which required all your skills and extra effort to achieve a successful outcome. If you can show creativity yet due diligence in your approach, even better.

3. Describe two key skills required by an occupational therapist...

Make sure you talk about the 'why' as well as the 'what'. If you choose 'excellent communication skills', explain why. For example, you could say 'you need excellent communication skills to engage effectively with patients and their families, as well as with colleagues'... And remember, being a good listener is just as important as being able to convey information clearly to others.

4. What's the worst thing about being an occupational therapist?

This is a tricky question. You need to show that you're realistic without sounding negative. If you acknowledge the negative, say how you avoid it being an issue. For example, you could say, "it can be a challenge to find the exact assisted support for an individual in the current financial climate where resources are harder to come across. I have to think outside the box and come up with a solution where the patient still receive the support they need”. Here, you might wish to talk about how you have built solid relationships with other professionals and departments to help assist you in taking this approach.

5. How would you deal with a patient who is being confrontational or aggressive?

This is a common interview question for many healthcare professionals, but is particularly relevant for occupational therapists. You'll need to show that you're patient and understanding, but also firm and in control. Think about ways you can make the patient feel reassured and relaxed, such as chatting with them about non-health-related matters or putting on some background music. Try to give a specific example from your work experience.

6. How do you stay informed about new techniques and technology?

Make sure you're properly prepared for this one with chapter and verse. For example, don't just say, 'I use the Internet." Be ready to quote specific resources, such as professional forums and networking sites.

7. What's the role of an occupational therapist in a multi-disciplinary team?

Don't just reiterate your core skills. Think about how you can use these in context, cooperating effectively with doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals and social care staff to provide joined-up care. 

To discuss any queries you may have ahead of your interview, get in touch with your Sanctuary consultant.