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Why this matters:

Setting realistic goals for patients is a crucial part of an occupational therapist’s job, as many of their patients will have a lengthy rehabilitation, and may not ever fully recover. Occupational therapists assess the challenges their patient is facing, and should be able to accurately determine a realistic rehabilitation timeline.

What to listen for:

  • Proficient in issues and injuries related to OT, and knowledge of how to accurately diagnose and treat them
  • The ability to communicate good and bad news with patients or their parents effectively and with compassion
  • Medical, neurological, and anatomical expertise

Why this matters:

Completing an initial assessment is the first step in occupational therapy treatment, and follow-up assessments are sometimes used during the intervention process. Standardized assessments have been designed to measure a person’s abilities compared to other people, and because they have to be administered in a standard way, the results should be the same regardless of the therapist.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of how to perform standardized assessments
  • Knowledge of different standardized assessments such as WRI, OSA, and MOHOST
  • Proficient in analyzing a standardized assessment

Why this matters:

Occupational therapists often work with people suffering from brain injuries who display challenging behavior. It is important for the therapist to know the root of this issue in order to handle it in the best way possible, and oftentimes these patients can be difficult to communicate with. Here, you’re looking for the candidate to discuss the different causes of challenging behavior in patients with brain injuries.

What to listen for:

  • The ability to communicate with patients who cannot vocalize their pain or issues
  • Knowledge of the causes of challenging behavior related to brain injuries
  • The ability to handle a challenging patient with empathy

 

Why this matters:

Occupational therapists can come across patients who may never fully recover, and they often work with patients who cannot communicate what they are thinking or feeling. It is vital for an occupational therapist to be able to handle all types of challenges with empathy and patience.

What to listen for:

  • A history of calmly and patiently overcoming challenges
  • A positive tone when discussing how they approach a difficult challenge
  • The ability to keep a patient calm and comfortable

Why this matters:

The ability to work well with other people is very important in the profession of occupational therapy. Regardless of background or communication style, an occupational therapist must be able to collaborate to achieve a goal. This question gives the candidate a chance to show off their teamwork and interpersonal skills, and can give insight into their work style.

What to listen for:

  • Effective communication and problem-solving skills
  • A collaborative work style
  • The ability to leave ego at the door

Why this matters:

A patient’s parents may have conflicting goals or expectations for their child. Occupational therapists should make every effort to work with parents and families to achieve a resolution. This question will help you analyze the candidate's problem-solving and conflict resolution abilities. It will also indirectly determine whether they would be a compassionate occupational therapist.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of conflict resolution strategies and examples of implementing them
  • Ability to communicate with parents and families with patience and compassion
  • Acknowledgement that conflict resolution is essential, while also prioritizing patient’s health and safety

Why this matters:

Along with knowledge of theories, principles, and concepts of occupational therapy, there are many important behavioral qualities to being a good occupational therapist. This question gives insight into the candidate’s own relevant skills and qualities that they will bring to the role, such as the ability to solve complex problems with patience and an affinity for providing therapy with empathy and compassion.

What to listen for:

  • A positive and compassionate attitude
  • A history of communicating well with other doctors and specialists
  • A detail-oriented approach

Why this matters:

Occupational therapy can be a tough job. This question will allow you to get to know the candidate on a more personal level. It provides them an opportunity to talk about what excites them about this field, and it will give you an idea of who they are and what motivates them.

What to listen for:

  • A strong interest in occupational therapy and its benefits
  • An affinity for helping others
  • Ambition and drive

Why this matters:

The role of an occupational therapist is to better someone’s life, whether that be teaching someone to get dressed, cook, drive, learn, or play. Though it is a challenging profession, it can be very rewarding to watch patients progress. This question can indirectly give insight into a successful treatment plan that the candidate has accomplished, as well as what drives them in this profession.

What to listen for:

  • A positive outlook on the profession of occupational therapy
  • An example of a successful treatment plan that they put in place
  • Pride in their work
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