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Preparing for a job interview as an Occupational Therapist

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Some tips I shared with my OT students and am happy to share with other OT students heading out into their first job. For more details I suggest reading the book: Oliver, V. (2005). 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc.

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Preparing for a job interview as an Occupational Therapist

  1. 1. PREPARING FOR INTERVIEW As an occupational therapist
  2. 2. Your resume and cover letter are excellentNow you have been called for an interview! Picture source:
  3. 3. Tips on how to prepare forinterview Review your resume and cover letter Do some more research on the organization and department Prepare to answer interview questions Prepare your questions to take to the interview Prepare your job interview “kit”
  4. 4. Tips from the professionals Decide what to wear one week before the interview  Dressing for a successful job interview ( Be certain that your outfit is pulled together and appropriate for the job Ensure you are well groomed  Book a hair cut if it‟s overdue!  Don‟t forget nails!
  5. 5. TYPES OF INTERVIEWQUESTIONSSimple – tricky– impossible!
  6. 6. The following information is fromOliver, V. (2005). 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc.
  7. 7. Your job interview kit Cell phone (which is off during the interview) Directions to your appointment including the name of the contact, full address (room number) & phone number A few extra copies of your resume Key excerpts from your portfolio if relevant A pen and notebook Breath mints Picture ID in case you need it to get in the building
  8. 8. Top 10 tips for being a brilliantinterviewee1. Be polite, organized and enthusiastic2. Plan interviews around their schedule not yours3. Do your homework4. Ask contacts for the inside scoop5. Smile at the interviewer and shake hands, thank them for the opportunity to be
  9. 9. Top 10 tips for being a brilliantinterviewee6. Avoid canned answers to questions. Practise your answers so they sound natural on the day7. Don‟t use words such as “like”, “kinda”, “sorta”, “awesome”8. Follow the news. There might be a story about this organization.9. Don‟t leave the interview without having asked at least 3 questions10. Follow up with a thank you email or letter within 3 business days of your interview
  10. 10. The four Ps of performing atinterview Be PREPARED Look PRESENTABLE Sound POLISHED Stay POSITIVE
  11. 11. Don‟t subtract from the interview Rest well before the interview  you will look healthy and be mentally focused Make a great first impression  be early (make sure you have been there before)  be polite to all staff (they will be asked for their impressions) Be gracious  Your interview may start late  The interviewer‟s phone may ring  Someone may accidentally barge in to the meeting
  12. 12. Don‟t subtract from the interview Give it your best  Avoid canned answers or generalizations Work with the interviewer‟s style  Meld your style to theirs Embrace the middle  Dress conservatively but don‟t become invisible Empathize don‟t criticize  If you are asked to comment but you don‟t want to sound critical, be diplomatic Be present  Concentrate on what they are saying, listen, reflect, clarify and stay focused
  13. 13. Types of interview questions(basic)1. Do you know what we are looking for?2. What are your dreams and aspirations?3. Do you know your strengths?4. Have you done your homework about us?5. Do you know your preferred working style?
  14. 14. Do you know what we are lookingfor?  Ifyou were hiring someone for this position, what qualities would you look for?  What would you like me to know about you that is not on your resume?  Let’s say we offer you the job, tell me how this organization will benefit?  Why should we hire you?
  15. 15. What are your dreams andaspirations?  Can you tell us a little more about yourself?  (Focus on your OT story, your passion for the profession and where you see yourself heading – keep it to 3 or 4 points)  Can you describe your dream job?  What are your short-range and long-range goals?  What are two or three things that are most important for you in a job?  How do you set and manage goals?
  16. 16. Do you know your strengths?(AKA: Sell yourself)  What is the most difficult thing that you have ever accomplished?  Can you tell me about a recent achievement that you’re proud of?  What do you like to do on weekends (in your spare time)?  What special traits do you have that make you well suited to this job?  Can you describe a time when you felt under pressure to perform? What was the outcome?  Please tell me about a time when you had to work independently  What would you say is your most outstanding achievement
  17. 17. Have you done your homework?  Why have you applied for this position here?  Why us, why now?  What do you like about occupational therapy?  Your first degree was in _____, how did that prepare you for this career?  What have you done in addition to your degrees to learn about occupational therapy?  Tell them about other ways you have learned about the importance of occupational therapy
  18. 18. Do you know your preferred working style? Do you prefer to work alone or in teams? What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? Who was your greatest role model?
  19. 19. Trickier interview questions1. Give us one good reason not to hire you?2. You seem to have more experience than we are looking for, don’t you think you might be bored in this position?3. In what ways is a Masters degree better than a bachelor’s degree?4. You are young and passionate and your academic credentials are a great, I worry that there is no substitute for life experience and you’re a little light.
  20. 20. Impossible interview questions1. “Pop essay” questions2. Questions that have no correct answer3. Ethical questions with a twist4. “Pigeonhole yourself” questions5. Questions that send you to confession
  21. 21. Pop essay questions If you could change occupational therapy in any way what would you change?  What changes are happening in health generally or occupational therapy specifically?  What is happening in your community that occupational therapy could get more involved with?
  22. 22. Questions that have no correctanswer What is the real impact of occupational therapy?  Break it down into sections  Show your ability to pull apart a puzzle and analyse it  Show your resourcefulness and problem-solving ability  Show that you don‟t believe you are an expert on
  23. 23. Ethical questions with a twist When have you confronted unethical behaviour and chosen not to say anything in order not to rock the boat? What if you were working with someone who managed to take credit for your good ideas, how would you handle it?  Are you able to act cautiously and ethically?
  24. 24. “Pigeonhole yourself” questions Are you better at visioning or implementing? Have you ever been so firm that people would describe you as stubborn or inflexible?
  25. 25. Questions that send you to confession Is there anything that would prevent you from giving 110% in this job right now? What are the biggest risks you have taken in recent years? Which ones worked out best and which ones failed?
  26. 26. “What would you do if…” You are likely to be given a scenario question that describes either an unethical or an unsafe situation and then asked how you would manage it They are looking at your ability to recognize what is actually going on AND your capacity to manage it.
  27. 27. Personality questions Tell me about the last time you made a major change. Why did you do it and how did it work out? What were the least enjoyable aspects of your last job? Tell us about a time when you experienced conflict at work, what was it and how did you manage it?
  28. 28. Polishing your persona Choose 5 adjectives that describe your ideal work persona  Intelligent  Perceptive  Hard working  Empathetic  Creative Take temperament test and think about how to talk about your strengths and how you manage your weaknesses
  29. 29. Questions to test your PoliticalProwess Please give an example of a difficult political situation you have dealt with on the job. How aware are you of internal politics that may affect your performance?
  30. 30. Questions that ask you to take offyour “work mask” How would you describe your sense of humour? Do you have any commitments outside the office that might take you away from work? Tell me about a time when you were in a personal situation that made you feel insecure? What do you do for fun?
  31. 31. Questions you can‟t be asked Marital or relationship status Beliefs Children Ability to deal with people who are not the same as you Financial or lifestyle questions
  32. 32. Your turn to ask some questionsFive types of questions that you should ask:1. Get the conversation going2. Show you studied the employer3. Internal structure of the employer and/or job description4. Checking if the employer is a good fit for you5. Questions that put the ball back in the interviewer‟s court
  33. 33. Get the conversation going What are some of the problems your company faces right now and what are you doing to solve them? What type of employee tends to succeed here? How would you describe your management style and what are you looking for in an employee?
  34. 34. Show you studied the employer How has the new management structure impacted the day-to-day processes here? I saw in the news recently that the occupational therapy services here are expanding, can you tell me more about this?
  35. 35. Internal structure of the employerand/or job description Who would I be reporting to? Are these people on the same team and what is the “pecking order”? How does this team manage ongoing professional development? Is there an annual review process? How does that work?
  36. 36. Checking if the employer is a good fit If I decided to undertake further training in ______ would this advance me more quickly? I enjoy learning with my colleagues, does the occupational therapy department run a journal club?
  37. 37. Questions that put the ball back inthe interviewer‟s court I have my resume and portfolio here with me, do you have anything else that you would like to ask me? Well, I think it’s pretty clear, I would love to work here, so what are the next steps? How long do you think it will take to make a decision about the position, is there anything else I can do to help you make it?
  38. 38. Charm can never beunderestimated Be playful without being frivolous Befriend your interviewers Answer thoroughly and keep on track Shine: be the best candidate Show some of the „you‟ your friends know (language and gestures) Rephrase key points to show you are listening Promise yourself a reward for a job well done
  39. 39. Sending thank you emails afterinterviewIt is becoming common to send a follow-upthank you Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed Mention a topic that was discussed in the interview that you enjoyed discussing with them Reiterate what they said would happen re
  40. 40. If only I had said…Maybe you wish you could change what you said inthe interview because: You didn‟t really answer the question You said too much You were too general You have new information You messed up your answer completely
  41. 41. Send an email Thank them for the opportunity to be interviewed Explain that you were unhappy with one of your answers (and a quick reason) Give your improved answer but don‟t go overboard
  42. 42. You have a job offer This is the only time that you are in the driver‟s seat  Use it but don‟t abuse it You don‟t have to accept immediately!  Thank them, tell them that you are excited and would like to discuss the offer with your family  Ask if you can have 24 hours and you will get back to them
  43. 43. After you accept they will ask“When can you start?” Tomorrow: if you are presently not working Two weeks from tomorrow: if you are presently working and somewhat junior I can give notice tomorrow and start in 3 weeks: if you are currently employed and somewhat senior Four (to 12) weeks from tomorrow: if you are relocating to a new area to take the job
  44. 44. More resources Nine essential job interviewing tips(
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Some tips I shared with my OT students and am happy to share with other OT students heading out into their first job. For more details I suggest reading the book: Oliver, V. (2005). 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc.


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