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OT School Interview

20 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Question 1 of 20

If you could be any animal on earth, what animal would you want to be? If you could be any animal on earth, what animal would you want to be? If you could be any animal on earth, what animal would you want to be?

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OT School Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    If you could be any animal on earth, what animal would you want to be? If you could be any animal on earth, what animal would you want to be? If you could be any animal on earth, what animal would you want to be?

      Hypothetical questions are a great chance to show your creative side. There are lots of animals so don't just think of cats or dogs. Describe what qualities attract you to the animal you choose. The answer is not as crucial as a thoughtful explanation as to why you choose that animal.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I would choose to be a peacock. People think of them just for their beauty, but they offer more than just looks. They are smart and cunning. I also like how they stand up for themselves against predators and competitors. "

  2. 2.

    Why did you choose occupational therapy?

      A generic response of helping people will not answer this question adequately. Answer the question personably. You could do a lot of things, show them why you want to do occupational therapy. Having the interviewer relate to your motivations will allow them to see that you have a strong will to do well in their program and as an occupational therapist (OT).

      Ryan's Answer

      "I chose occupational therapy because occupational therapists can work with any population group in various settings, from practicing in hospitals to working in outpatient clinics. I have had a lifelong interest in health, but I narrowed in on occupational therapy after seeing it in practice for an aunt. An occupational therapist came to our home and worked with my aunt to help her learn how to feed herself after a bad accident. I will never forget watching my aunt slowly but surely reach new milestones herself. It wasn't all about what the medication could do, but the occupational therapist thought about my aunt as a person and what she was capable of doing with time and effort. After that, I knew that this is what I wanted to do."

  3. 3.

    Tell us about your shadowing experience. What did you learn? What interested you the most?

      Most OT schools have a shadowing requirement for a reason. They want to know that their students are very familiar with their roles and responsibilities after graduating. Highlight your strong observational skills and how shadowing furthered your passion for the field.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I was able to shadow two different occupational therapists. One OT was working in the hospital doing inpatient rounds. The other OT worked in an outpatient facility for individuals who had traumatic brain injuries. The hospital position saw a great variety of conditions, and each case was very different from the others. The outpatient experience focused on one area but in great detail, and the OT I shadowed has a lot of specialized skills. I really enjoyed my outpatient shadowing and could see myself finding an area where I would want to specialize. "

  4. 4.

    How would you handle a difficult patient that became verbally aggressive while you were treating them?

      This ethical question is looking at how well you will work with all types of patients, not just the nice ones. Illustrate that the patient's safety and care are the priority, and you can take steps to de-escalate situations. Talk to the interviewer through the entire process and try to empathize with the perspective of the patient.

      Ryan's Answer

      "If I were treating a patient and they became aggressive, I would first stop whatever exercises or therapy we were currently doing because they may be uncomfortable, and that is causing the behavior. I would then ask them why they are upset. From personal experience, I think it is very important to keep calm and not react aggressively to the patient. If they are unwilling to talk to me or do not want to tell me why they are upset, I would offer to come back to the room later and ask if another medical staff member could help them. "

  5. 5.

    In your own words, what is occupational therapy?

      Occupational Therapists often face a lot of confusion about their role from people in and outside of medicine. Show the interviewer you clearly understand the role of OT in healthcare and can educate others about it. Personalize it with your own analogies and metaphors.

      Ryan's Answer

      "To me, occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic science-based approach to helping people do daily activities that contribute to a higher quality of life. It focuses on the person and their needs and goals relating to their daily activities. We meet them where they are and help them figure out how to improve their daily life processes. OTs work with all people at all ages and stages of life to help them gain better functioning from their head to their feet. "

  6. 6.

    Have you had a difficult class or job? What did you do to overcome the challenge?

      Unexpected challenges occur all the time in medicine. Tell the interviewer the skills and lessons you have learned, allowing you to rise to challenges and get to the other side even if it was not a quick fix. The STAR method is an excellent approach to answering the question.

      Ryan's Answer

      "One of the most stressful academic classes was taking Anatomy. I thought that I had excellent study habits up until that class. I was devastated when I received a D+ on the first test. I had to do some self-evaluating to figure out why my approach to the material was not sufficient. I talked to classmates and even went to the professor's office hours to find tools that could help me improve. After talking to the professor and researching medical school memorization techniques, I changed my studying to better suit the material and got a B+ on the next test. I continued to adapt my study habits until I was able to end the class with an A-."

  7. 7.

    What other schools have you applied to? What are you looking for in an OT program?

      Interviewers ask this question to see how serious you are about attending their program. Do your research before your interview to find out that specific program. Read the school's mission statement and reach out to current students to understand how the program operates. Take that information and relate it to your goals for OT school.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I have applied to a few other schools in the region, but I am most excited to discuss this program with you because it meets all of my desired qualifications that I want in a program. When researching programs, it was very important to me that schools have a lower student to teacher ratio because I like building personal connections with my professors. I also wanted to attend a program at a research institution because I would like to engage in research during my degree program and afterward as well. "

  8. 8.

    Describe a time you went above and beyond for a patient or customer.

      Graduate schools do not want to accept students that are only going to do the bare minimum. Show the interviewer that you can do more than expected, even if your work is not recognized. It is an excellent opportunity to show how you can take the initiative independently and put the patient first.

      Ryan's Answer

      "When I was working in a rehabilitation center, we had one patient who did not have very many belongings. They were nearing the end of their rehab program and were going to be sent back to their home soon. I got together with some of my co-workers, and we put in money to get him some outfits and some shoes before his transfer to the new facility. It was gratifying to see how much joy and relief this simple act brought him, even if it was not directly medical services."

  9. 9.

    What is your greatest weakness?

      The person asking this question wants to know if you can critically evaluate yourself. You cannot do everything right. It is crucial to recognize your weaknesses to understand how they can affect you as an OT student and a working OT. Show them how you are trying to grow despite your weakness.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I would say that I have a quiet or introverted personality that can sometimes get in my way. I grew up with many siblings and developed into a shy kid competing with all of those other personalities. However, after working with vulnerable populations, I know that I will have to speak up and use my voice for those who cannot always speak for their own best interest. I work hard to acknowledge the introverted habits that do not serve me and push myself to be more extroverted by asking questions when I am uncomfortable and taking on more public speaking roles."

  10. 10.

    Tell us about your biggest accomplishment.

      The question appears as if they want you to tell them about your most important job or fancy degree-that is not the case. They want to see what your value system is and what you find important. An accomplishment is personal and can be a small thing like teaching yourself how to fix cars or raising your kids with care.

      Ryan's Answer

      "My biggest accomplishment was working hard to buy myself a car that I then taught myself how to fix. I did not have many people in my family into cars, but I really wanted this coupe that I saw online. I worked extra hours and saved up to buy it. I then taught myself how to do the needed repairs to get it back on the road at my school's auto mechanic shop. I was so proud when I drove the car home. I still have the car today. "

  11. 11.

    What is your favorite hobby not related to medicine?

      Biographical questions are necessary for the interviewer to feel for who you are outside of your application. Pick a hobby that will help you stand out in the interviewer's mind and show your creative side.

      Ryan's Answer

      "I run a virtual board game club since college with friends and family. Board games are great for disconnecting from technology and immersing yourself in a lot of different worlds. Plus, so many games require high-level strategies, and I like solving complex problems. We can get together, have fun, and let go of whatever stress we have that day. "

  12. 12.

    What would you do if your managing supervisor asked you to retain a patient that, in your opinion, had reached their maximum potential for care?

      This question's focus is not what you would do in a provider-client relationship but how you would respond in a situation that involves your colleagues. Questions like these test your ethical code against the pressures of company demands and intrapersonal relationships. Be sure to address all sides of the problem in providing your response.

      Ryan's Answer

      "As an occupational therapist, there are not always clear lines to show how someone is recovering or responding to treatment. As a therapist under another therapist, it is expected that people will have different opinions regarding patient care. I think it is important as a medical professional to be able to communicate with others honestly, even if they are superior. I would ask the supervisor why they think the patient should be retained medically. I would then hope to present my evidence as to why I do not believe the patient should continue to receive services. If we were unable to reach an agreement after our discussion, I would seek help from other managers and state my opinion because it is important to advocate for the patient. "

  13. 13.

    What would you do if you saw a co-worker become physically aggressive with a patient that they were treating?

      Working as an OT, different ethical dilemmas will occur that you will have to judge. The interviewer wants to know that you have an ethical decision-making process that incorporates logic, your value system, and the matter's facts to determine what action should be taken. There is not always a right or wrong answer.

      Ryan's Answer

      "This is an unfortunate situation. Our code as medical professionals is to do no harm to those we treat. What we do is sensitive work, and physical abuse should not be tolerated. I believe that this goes both ways. Therapists should not be aggressive to patients, and patients should not be aggressive to therapists. There may be some trigger that causes the fellow OT to behave aggressively, but as the medical professional, they should have acted more professionally in the situation. I would document what I saw and report it to my supervisor so that the issue can be addressed. "

  14. 14.

    What areas of research interest you?

      Many OT programs have research clinics or projects that students can join and lead. Some OT students decided to pursue research as their primary career goal. Even if you do not want to do research full time, finding an area of OT that you would like to learn in-depth through research shows the school you have an intellectual curiosity that draws you to the profession.

      Ryan's Answer

      "Personally, I am very interested in the mind-body connection. I would love to be able to research traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBI's have a tremendous impact on how well you are able to function and do the activities necessary to have a good quality of life. Researching how to treat better and hopefully improve functioning for people with a TBI would be very rewarding. "

  15. 15.

    Describe a time when you were part of a team that had to achieve a goal. What was your role, and what was the outcome?

      From working with doctors to relying on the nurses at your hospital, medicine is a team sport. Explain the qualities that lead to a good team with a good outcome and address the qualities that teams should avoid. The goal is to illustrate to the interviewer that you can contribute to a team environment and improve team outcomes.

      Ryan's Answer

      "When I was in college, I participated in a case-competition for a marketing class. The professor assigned our teams, and I worked with four other students to create a marketing campaign proposal. An area that I think we could have improved upon is group communication. We showed up and presented successfully, but I felt that it was four parts that were not well connected. If we had spent more time talking to each other and brainstorming together, the project would have been more cohesive, and we would have placed better with other groups who had better-developed ideas. The thing we did well as a team is to delegate tasks so that no one person carried more responsibilities than the other and used all the provided resources."

  16. 16.

    How do you deal with stress and a large workload at work/school?

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  17. 17.

    What do you think your daily life as an OT student will be?

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  18. 18.

    Why Occupational Therapy and not Physical Therapy (PT)?

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  19. 19.

    Where do you think Occupational Therapists fit into the constantly changing sphere of healthcare?

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  20. 20.

    What characteristics do you think are required to be a great OT?

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