17 Occupational Therapist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an occupational therapist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Occupational therapists help people of all ages who have physical, developmental, social, or emotional challenges to live their fullest lives. They work with patients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, and homes.

If you’re interviewing for an occupational therapist position, you can expect questions about your experience working with patients, your knowledge of different therapy techniques, and your ability to adapt to different work settings. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered some common occupational therapist interview questions and answers.

Are you certified as an occupational therapist?

The interviewer may ask this question to determine whether you have the necessary certification for the position. If you are not certified, they may want to know if you plan on becoming certified in the future. You can answer honestly about your current status and explain what steps you’re taking to become certified as an occupational therapist.

Example: “I am not currently certified as an occupational therapist. However, I am enrolled in a program that will allow me to take my exam next month. Once I pass the exam, I’ll be able to apply for certification.”

What are the most common conditions you treat as an occupational therapist?

This question can help interviewers understand the types of patients you’ve worked with in the past and how you helped them. You can use your answer to highlight any specific skills or techniques you used to help these patients.

Example: “The most common conditions I treat as an occupational therapist are stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injuries and amputation. In my last role, I also treated a lot of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is when there’s pressure on the median nerve in the wrist that causes pain and numbness. I have experience treating all of these conditions because I completed my bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy at the University of California, San Diego.”

How would you describe your ideal patient?

This question can help the interviewer understand your approach to therapy and how you might fit into their facility. Your answer should show that you are a compassionate therapist who wants to help people of all backgrounds.

Example: “My ideal patient is someone who is motivated to make changes in their life. I enjoy working with patients who have realistic expectations for treatment, but also want to see results as quickly as possible. I find it rewarding when my patients feel more confident or comfortable after each session.”

What is your greatest accomplishment as an occupational therapist?

This question can help interviewers learn more about your background and experience. They may ask this to see if you have any unique or impressive stories from your career. When answering, it can be helpful to choose an answer that shows your passion for occupational therapy. You can also include a story of how you helped someone overcome a challenge in their life.

Example: “My greatest accomplishment as an occupational therapist was when I worked with a patient who had cerebral palsy. She was having trouble walking without assistance, so we started working on her balance exercises. After several weeks of practice, she was able to walk independently. It was amazing to see her progress over time and know that I played a part in helping her achieve her goals.”

Provide an example of a time when you helped a patient achieve their occupational goals.

This question can help interviewers understand your experience and skills as an occupational therapist. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation or case where you helped a patient overcome challenges in their life.

Example: “When I worked with my last patient, they had just suffered a stroke that left them unable to use the right side of their body. This made simple tasks like eating and writing difficult for them. After working with them over several weeks, we were able to develop exercises and techniques that allowed them to regain control of their right arm and hand. They eventually regained enough strength and dexterity to write again.”

If a patient was struggling to complete an activity, how would you approach them to encourage them to continue?

This question can help interviewers understand how you interact with patients and their families. It can also show them your communication skills, empathy and problem-solving abilities. When answering this question, it can be helpful to provide an example of a specific situation where you helped a patient or family member overcome challenges during therapy.

Example: “I would first try to find out what the patient’s goals are for therapy. If they’re struggling to complete an activity because they want to achieve something specific, I’ll work with them to come up with alternative ways to reach that goal. For instance, if a patient wants to walk without assistance but is having trouble balancing on one foot, I might have them practice standing on one leg while holding onto a wall or chair until they feel more confident.”

What would you do if a patient was not making any progress with their occupational therapy?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle challenges and problem-solving. In your answer, try to explain what steps you would take to address the issue and ensure that you’re helping your patients make progress.

Example: “If a patient wasn’t making any progress with their occupational therapy, I would first ask them about their goals for treatment. If they weren’t able to reach those goals, I would then assess whether there were any barriers preventing them from progressing. For example, if they are having trouble reaching a certain goal because of pain or discomfort, I would work with them to find ways to manage their symptoms so they could focus on improving their skills.”

How well do you communicate with patients and their families?

The occupational therapist’s role is to help patients overcome their physical limitations and improve their quality of life. To do this, they must communicate with the patient and their family members about treatment plans, goals and progress. Interviewers want to know that you can effectively communicate with others in a way that helps them understand your intentions and actions.

Example: “I find it important to explain my diagnosis and treatment plan to patients and their families so everyone understands what we’re doing and why. I also like to keep them updated on how the patient is progressing throughout the course of therapy. This reassures them that everything is going well and gives them an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.”

Do you enjoy working with children?

This question is often asked to determine if you have experience working with children. If you do, the interviewer will want to know how much and what types of experience you have. If you don’t have any experience working with children, you can explain that you enjoy interacting with them and would be willing to learn more about working with them.

Example: “I love working with children because they are so eager to learn and explore new things. I find it rewarding when a child accomplishes something they were previously unable to do. For example, I worked with a young boy who had cerebral palsy. He was able to walk independently after several weeks of therapy. It’s moments like these that make my job worthwhile.”

When working with a new patient, how do you establish trust and build rapport?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you interact with patients and establish a positive relationship. Use examples from your experience to highlight your interpersonal skills, communication abilities and ability to work as part of a team.

Example: “When I first meet a new patient, I always introduce myself and shake their hand. This helps them feel more comfortable and establishes my presence in the room. I also ask about their interests or hobbies so we have something to talk about during our sessions. As occupational therapists, we spend a lot of time with our patients, so it’s important that they feel comfortable and at ease.”

We want to improve our occupational therapy program. What changes would you make to our current system?

This question is a great way to see how you can make improvements in an organization. It also shows that the interviewer wants to know what your opinion is on their current occupational therapy program and how it could be improved. When answering this question, try to think of ways you would improve the system or help patients achieve better results.

Example: “I believe one change I would make to your current occupational therapy program is by implementing more technology into our sessions. Technology has made many advancements over the years, and I feel like we should start using some of these tools during our occupational therapy sessions. For example, there are now apps that allow us to track patient progress and monitor their goals. This allows for both the therapist and patient to stay organized and work toward the same goal.”

Describe your process for documenting your work with each patient.

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your organizational skills and how you keep track of important information. Use examples from past experiences to explain the steps you take to document each patient’s progress, including how you organize your notes and files.

Example: “I use a digital system for keeping my records organized. I start by taking detailed notes on every session with each patient. Then, I upload those notes into an online database where I can access them at any time. This allows me to refer back to previous sessions when needed and helps me stay organized during each appointment.”

What makes you stand out from other occupational therapists?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your personality and how you view yourself. It’s important to be honest in this answer, but also show that you have confidence in your skills as an occupational therapist.

Example: “I think what makes me stand out from other occupational therapists is my ability to connect with patients on a personal level. I believe it’s important to get to know each patient so I can understand their goals and help them achieve those goals. In my previous role, I had a patient who was very nervous about her therapy sessions. She told me she felt like we were just doing exercises without any connection. After talking with her, I learned that she wanted someone to talk to during her session. So, I started asking her questions about her life outside of therapy and found ways to incorporate those things into our sessions.”

Which software programs do you use most frequently in your job?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your experience with occupational therapy software programs. They want to know if you have the necessary skills and training to use their company’s software program. In your answer, explain which occupational therapy software programs you’re familiar with and how often you use them. If you don’t have any experience using specific occupational therapy software programs, discuss other computer programs that you do use in your job.

Example: “I’ve used both Microsoft Access and Excel for data management. I also regularly use Occupational Therapy Electronic Medical Records System (OTEMRS) as it allows me to keep track of my patients’ progress over time. I find these three programs very helpful when working with patients.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of occupational therapy?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your knowledge of occupational therapy and how you prioritize tasks. Your answer should show that you understand what occupational therapists do, but also highlight some specific skills or traits that make you qualified for the role.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of occupational therapy is helping patients regain their independence. Occupational therapists help people who have suffered injuries or illnesses get back on track with daily activities like eating, bathing and dressing. I find it rewarding to see my patients achieve these goals and feel more confident in their abilities.”

How often do you update your CPR certification?

The interviewer may ask this question to make sure you stay up-to-date with your certification. This is especially important for occupational therapists, as they often work in hospitals and other medical facilities where they need to be able to perform CPR on patients. You should answer honestly about how often you renew your certification and if you have any plans to do so soon.

Example: “I just renewed my CPR certification last year, but I plan to do it again before the end of this year. I am also planning to take a refresher course on first aid and emergency procedures.”

There is a new treatment for a condition you’ve been treating a patient for. Would you recommend it to them?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of your patients. In your answer, you should explain why you would or wouldn’t recommend this treatment and how you came to your conclusion.

Example: “I have worked with one patient who had been suffering from chronic pain due to an injury. The patient was hesitant about trying a new treatment because they were already doing well with their current method. However, I explained to them that there was no harm in trying something new if it could help them feel better. They agreed to try the new treatment, and after two weeks, they reported feeling much better than before. I believe that as an occupational therapist, it is my responsibility to inform my patients of all available options so they can make informed decisions about their care.”


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