Tips for Answering Some Occupational Therapy Interview Questions

by Emma Rowlands

Occupational Therapist

Employment of occupational therapists is estimated to grow by 27% before 2024. This is thought to be due to many factors, such as the aging ‘baby boom generation’ requiring more assistance for independent living, as well as an increasing holistic approach being taken towards diseases like Alzheimer's.

Employers are actively seeking professional therapists who can deliver excellent care to people in hospital settings and out in the community, with an aim to support the growing number of people who require help with personal independence and health management.

When attending an interview for an OT position, it is important to consider and prepare for specific occupational therapy interview questions that you may be asked. Here are some examples.

How Do You Approach Patient Need Assessments?

The type of assessment you undertake with a patient will depend on which area of OT you're skilled in. For example, if you work (or intend to work) primarily with elderly patients with dementia, it will be essential that you have a good general understanding of the range of mental health assessments and personal independence assessments available for you to complete. But this occupational therapy interview question requires you to demonstrate more than this - it is asking you about your approach towards the patient during this critical assessment phase. Your potential employer will want to know that you'll take a thorough, sensitive and individualized holistic approach to assessing patients on a case by case basis, and that you will actively adhere to the occupational therapy standards of practice at all times.

Can You Think of an Occasion When Multidisciplinary Working Was Particularly Effective?

Multidisciplinary working (also known as inter-professional collaboration) is part of an occupational therapist’s everyday routine. It requires an OT to communicate with and carry out treatment alongside a range of other health professionals (nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, etc.) in a way that provides holistic therapy towards the patient. Your potential employer will want to know that you can successfully work as part of a wider team. According to research conducted by the University of California in 2015, there are three main conflicts that can arise through multidisciplinary working which negatively impact patient outcomes. These are a clash of professional knowledge, a lack of respectful recognition of different professions, and personality differences between team members. It is important that you demonstrate your openness to other health professions and your ability to work collaboratively. You should also be ready to give examples of times when multidisciplinary working has been particularly effective for one of your patients.

How Do You Establish Patient Goals?

It is well known that setting small, achievable goals greatly enhances the likelihood of achieving positive patient health outcomes. When asked this occupational therapy interview question, it is important to discuss the factors to look out for when goal setting. For example, according to a collaborative project undertaken by Kent State University and Encompass Home Health, an occupational therapist should ascertain what the patient is currently able to do, and how these abilities can be used to achieve particular goals. It is also wise to determine how many therapy sessions will be needed, the level of willingness within the patient, as well as the family networks that can be utilized.

Tell Me About a Time You Have Taken Part in Health Promotion

The role of an occupational therapist is to educate patients during all stages of life about the best ways they can optimize their everyday health and well-being. This can be delivered through one-to-one sessions with a patient, or via a workshop or group activity within a specific care setting (e.g. a retirement home or workplace). To answer this question, think firstly about the importance of health promotion as a preventative of ill health, and support your answer with an example of a project, program or activity you've orchestrated or led which achieved positive, measurable outcomes.

The role of an occupational therapist is increasingly desired among many different settings, from hospitals and retirement facilities, to schools and corporate offices. This gives you a wide range of disciplines to choose from, as well as the opportunity to work with a diverse client base. The basic principles of occupational therapy transcend throughout the profession, regardless of the specialty, and topics such as multidisciplinary working and goal planning are frequently discussed at interviews.

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