Interview

22 Physical Therapist Interview Questions and Answers

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

Physical therapists help patients restore movement and manage pain. They work with people of all ages who have a wide range of conditions, including sports injuries, arthritis, heart disease, and cerebral palsy.

If you’re looking for a job as a physical therapist, you’ll need to be prepared to answer a range of questions in your interview. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some common physical therapist interview questions and answers to help you get started.

Common Physical Therapist Interview Questions

What made you decide to become a physical therapist?

This question can help interviewers learn more about your background and motivations. They may ask this question to see if you have a passion for the field, or if you are just looking for a job. When answering this question, try to share what inspired you to become a physical therapist. You can also include any personal experiences that led you to choose this career path.

Example: “I became interested in physical therapy when I was injured playing basketball in college. My coach recommended I go see a physical therapist, so I made an appointment with one of the best therapists in town. She helped me recover from my injury much faster than I thought possible. After seeing her work, I knew I wanted to be able to help others like she did.”

What do you think are the most important skills for a successful physical therapist?

This question can help interviewers understand your perspective on the role of a physical therapist. They may ask this question to see if you have similar values and skills as their team members. In your answer, try to identify two or three skills that are important for a successful physical therapist. You can also share what skills you possess that make you a strong candidate for the job.

Example: “I think communication and problem-solving skills are essential for a successful physical therapist. A physical therapist needs to be able to communicate with patients about their treatment plans and explain how they will achieve their goals. I am very good at communicating with my patients because I always take time to listen to them and provide answers to their questions. I also believe it is important to solve problems creatively when working with patients. I like to encourage my patients to find solutions themselves so they can learn from the experience.”

How would you describe your ideal work environment?

This question can help the interviewer determine if your personality and work style would be a good fit for their facility. Your answer should include details about what you find most important in an office environment, such as how much autonomy you need or whether you prefer to work with others.

Example: “I thrive in a collaborative work environment where I have access to other physical therapists who are willing to share their expertise and advice. I also like working at facilities that offer opportunities for professional development, such as seminars and workshops. In my last role, I took advantage of these types of events by asking questions during presentations and offering feedback afterward.”

What are your thoughts on the use of technology in physical therapy?

Technology is an important part of the physical therapy industry. It allows patients to work on their recovery at home and provides therapists with data that helps them better understand a patient’s progress. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention specific technologies you’ve used in your previous roles as well as how they helped improve your treatment plans.

Example: “Technology has become an essential part of my practice. I use technology to help me create individualized treatment plans for each of my patients based on their unique needs. Technology also allows me to monitor my patients’ progress remotely so I can provide feedback and answer questions from afar.”

How do you feel about patient education becoming more important in the field of physical therapy?

Interviewers may ask this question to see how you feel about the changing role of physical therapists in the healthcare industry. They want to know that you are willing to adapt and learn new skills as your field changes. In your answer, explain why patient education is important and what steps you would take to ensure you provide quality information to patients.

Example: “Patient education is an essential part of a physical therapist’s job because it helps us educate our patients on ways they can continue their treatment at home. I believe that we should always make sure we have time to thoroughly explain each exercise or treatment plan to our patients so they understand exactly what they need to do to get better. This will help them stay motivated and achieve their goals.”

How important do you think preventive care is for physical therapists?

Preventive care is an important part of the physical therapy process. Interviewers may ask this question to see how you feel about preventive care and what your experience has been with it in the past. In your answer, try to explain why you think preventive care is so important and give examples from your own experiences.

Example: “Preventive care is extremely important for physical therapists because it allows us to identify issues before they become more serious. I have worked with patients who had no idea that their pain was a result of something else until we did some tests and found out that they had a torn ligament or muscle. Preventive care can help us find these problems early on and treat them before they get worse.”

What are your thoughts on the importance of collaboration in physical therapy?

Collaboration is an important skill for physical therapists to have. It allows them to work with other medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to provide the best care possible for their patients. Collaboration also helps physical therapists learn from each other’s experiences and expertise. When answering this question, it can be helpful to discuss a specific time when you collaborated with another professional or colleague.

Example: “I think collaboration is extremely important in physical therapy because it allows us to share our knowledge and experience with one another. For example, I once worked with a doctor who had extensive experience working with athletes. He taught me some techniques that he used with his patients that helped improve my own treatment methods. This allowed me to better understand how to treat my patient’s injuries.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of rehabilitation?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of the field and how you can help patients achieve their goals. Your answer should include a specific example from your experience as a physical therapist that shows how rehabilitation helped someone overcome an injury or illness.

Example: “I believe the most important aspect of rehabilitation is communication with the patient. I always make sure to ask my patients what they want to get out of treatment, and I explain everything we do in terms they understand. This helps them feel more comfortable during their sessions and gives them confidence that they’re making progress toward their goals.”

How do you assess patients to create an individualized treatment plan?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to create a treatment plan for each patient. They want to know that you can use your skills and expertise to develop plans that are effective, efficient and safe for patients. In your answer, explain how you would go about assessing a new patient and creating an individualized treatment plan.

Example: “I always start by asking the patient what their goals are for therapy. I also ask them questions about their current pain levels, mobility issues and any other concerns they have. From there, I perform a physical assessment of the patient’s range of motion, muscle strength and overall health. Based on my findings, I come up with a personalized treatment plan that addresses the patient’s needs while ensuring safety.”

How do you integrate new research and treatments into your practice?

This question can help interviewers understand your ability to stay up-to-date on the latest research and treatments in physical therapy. Use examples from your experience of how you’ve implemented new information into your practice, including any successes or challenges that came with it.

Example: “I have a passion for learning about new developments in my field, so I regularly read journals and attend conferences where experts present their findings. In my last role, I attended a conference where one speaker discussed the benefits of aquatic therapy for patients recovering from knee injuries. I was intrigued by this idea, so I decided to try it out in my own practice. After implementing aquatic therapy, I saw an increase in patient satisfaction and positive outcomes.”

Can you share a time when you had to overcome a difficult challenge with a patient?

This question can help interviewers learn more about your problem-solving skills and how you react to challenges. When answering this question, it can be helpful to share a specific example of when you had to overcome a challenge with a patient and the steps you took to solve the issue.

Example: “When I was working as a physical therapist at a hospital, I once worked with a patient who had a difficult time following my instructions. This made it challenging for me to provide them with the care they needed because they would often ignore what I said or do something different than what I instructed. To resolve this, I started by explaining everything I wanted them to do before giving any instructions. Then, I gave them multiple reminders throughout our session so that they knew exactly what I expected from them.”

What are your thoughts on working with other medical professionals to ensure the best possible care for patients?

This question can help interviewers understand your willingness to collaborate with other healthcare professionals. Collaboration is an important skill for physical therapists because they often work alongside doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Your answer should show that you are willing to work well with others. You can also mention specific instances where you have worked with other medical professionals in the past.

Example: “I believe it’s essential to work with other medical professionals to ensure the best possible care for patients. I’ve had several experiences working with other medical professionals to develop treatment plans for my patients. For example, when I was working at a hospital, I would meet with orthopedic surgeons regularly to discuss how we could improve our patient outcomes. We were able to come up with some innovative ways to treat our patients that helped them recover more quickly.”

What role do you think empathy plays in physical therapy?

Empathy is an important skill for physical therapists to have. It allows them to connect with their patients and understand what they’re going through. An interviewer may ask this question to see if you also believe empathy is vital in the field. In your answer, try to explain how empathy can help you be a better therapist.

Example: “I think empathy plays a huge role in physical therapy. When I’m working with a patient, I want to make sure that I understand what they’re experiencing. This helps me know how best to support them and gives me insight into what kind of treatment plan would work best for them. If I don’t have empathy for my patients, it’s more difficult to provide them with the care they need.”

Can you share a time when you had to use your problem-solving skills to find a solution for a patient?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you use your critical thinking skills to solve problems and make decisions. Use examples from your previous experience that highlight your ability to analyze a situation, gather information and come up with solutions.

Example: “When I was working in my last facility, one of my patients had an injury that caused them to lose some mobility in their leg. They were doing well at first, but after several weeks they weren’t making any progress. After talking with them about what they were experiencing, we decided to change their treatment plan. We added more exercises and focused on strengthening their leg rather than just stretching it out. Within two weeks, they were able to walk again.”

What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of physical therapy?

This question can help the interviewer get to know you as a person and understand what motivates you. Your answer can also tell them about your values, so it’s important to be honest in your response. You might talk about how rewarding it is to see patients make progress or achieve their goals.

Example: “The most rewarding part of physical therapy for me is seeing my patients reach their goals. I love being able to use my skills to help someone overcome an injury or condition that may have been holding them back from doing things they enjoy. It’s inspiring to work with people who are dedicated to getting better and improving their lives.”

Are you a licensed physical therapist?

Interviewers may ask this question to determine if you are qualified for the position. They want to know that you have a license and can perform the job duties without supervision. If you are not licensed, explain why you’re pursuing your license and how you plan to get it.

Example: “I am currently working toward my physical therapy license. I started school last year and will finish in two years. My goal is to be fully licensed by then so I can work independently as a therapist.”

How do you think patient education can be improved?

Patient education is an important part of physical therapy. Interviewers may ask this question to see how you can improve patient education in your current role or another one. Use examples from your experience that show you understand the importance of educating patients and how you do it effectively.

Example: “I think there are many ways we can improve patient education, but I believe the most effective way is by making sure they have a clear understanding of their goals before they leave our care. As a patient, I would want to know what my therapist expects me to achieve during my treatment so I can work toward those goals on my own time. In my last position, I developed a system where I gave each patient a handout with their exercises and instructions for at-home care after every session.”

Are you comfortable working with patients of all ages?

Physical therapy can be a challenge for patients of all ages. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the experience working with people who are older or younger than you. They also want to know if you’ve worked with any special needs patients in the past. When answering, explain that you’re comfortable working with all types of patients and provide an example of how you helped someone of a different age or background.

Example: “I’ve worked with many different types of patients throughout my career. I once had a patient who was only two years old. She was having trouble walking because she had flat feet. I used exercises to strengthen her legs so she could walk properly. Another time, I had a teenage patient who was recovering from knee surgery. He was very active before his injury, so we focused on getting him back into sports as soon as possible.”

Do you have experience treating patients with chronic conditions?

Chronic conditions are those that require long-term treatment. They include things like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have experience working with patients who need ongoing care. If you do, share an example of how you helped them achieve their goals. If you don’t, explain what you would do in such a situation.

Example: “I’ve worked with many patients who had chronic conditions. In my last role, I worked with a patient who had rheumatoid arthritis. She was looking for ways to reduce her pain so she could continue doing the activities she enjoyed. We started by identifying her current level of pain and mobility. Then we created a plan together to help her improve both.”

What are some of the most effective ways to motivate a patient to do their physical therapy exercises?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to motivate patients. In your answer, try to highlight how you use your communication skills to encourage patients to do their exercises and stay motivated throughout the physical therapy process.

Example: “I find that one of the best ways to motivate a patient is by using positive reinforcement. For example, if I notice they are doing an exercise correctly or have improved on a certain movement, I will let them know in a positive way so they feel good about themselves and continue to work hard during their sessions. Another method I use to motivate my patients is by giving them realistic goals for each session. If they can see what they need to accomplish, it may help them push themselves more.”

What’s your process for tracking a patient’s progress?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you use your skills to track a patient’s progress and ensure they are making improvements. Use examples from previous experiences where you used tracking tools or methods to monitor patients’ progress and make sure they were on schedule for their goals.

Example: “I have found that using an electronic health record system is the best way to keep track of my patients’ progress. I find it helpful to enter notes about each session, including what exercises we did and any feedback I got from the patient. This helps me see if there are any patterns in their progress and makes it easy to refer back to when needed.”

What’s your process for giving a patient feedback on their performance and providing encouragement?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you interact with patients and provide them with guidance. Your answer should show that you are empathetic, encouraging and supportive of your patients’ progress.

Example: “I always start by telling my patient what they did well before giving them any feedback on their performance. I find this helps to build up their confidence and makes it easier for them to accept constructive criticism. When providing encouragement, I try to focus on the positive aspects of their performance and give them specific examples of things they have done well. This helps reinforce the good work they are doing and encourages them to continue improving.”

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