Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Interview Tips and Advice

Also in the “New OT seeks first job”  trilogy:

So, today I went to my first interview for a rotational band 5 post - very exciting stuff. When I first heard I was much the same - extremely excited by the prospect of attaining my first OT position, however after calming down I begun to panic as I had no idea what sorts of things I needed to prepare for this interview. At university we had discussed the potential different sorts of questions and what the interviewers were really looking for, but this had become a hazy memory among those of dissertation and exam worries - so what was I to do? The answer was this - turn to the one resource which I knew could provide me with some much needed advice - twitter.

In posted this message:

I had a fantastic response and have decided that it is only right that I share these with you so below are a list of potential questions and a few tips from these wonderful OTs:

Possible Questions
Please remember this is not a complete list and only has ideas of questions that may come up.
I have noted in red what I think some of these questions are really trying to ask.

·         What made you choose OT?
·         What is your motivation in applying for this post?
These questions are examining your motivation for the post, and have the potential to highlight your strengths as well as your hopes from working within the post.
·         Think of one client – what did you do and how did OT have a valuable contribution?
This can be tricky, but the real question is how you see OT as having a positive impact and is this positive for the hospital or client or both.

·         What are your strengths and weaknesses?
·         Why should we appoint you as opposed to other candidates we are interviewing?
·         What skills have you got to bring to this post?
These three questions are targeted at identifying whether you meet the needs of the department in terms of the skills you can bring and offer – it is important to recognise what these are but not to forget that you will also have weaknesses. Identify your weaknesses but turn it into a positive – say you need to work on this skill or that actually whilst it is a weakness it can also be a strength because....
·         How would your colleagues describe you?
This one can be difficult as you have to think how you come across to others but is much the same as selecting your strengths and weaknesses but in the scenario of team-working.
·         What do you see as the main challenges of this post?
This one is seeing if you have actually read the job description but can also be an opportunity to bring up how your weaknesses may impact upon your work – if you do discuss this, make sure you can identify methods to overcome these potential challenges.
·         Give an example of when you had to deal with a confidentiality issue?
This one is seemingly tricky, but you can turn it around as confidentiality is something which must be dealt with daily so think how this has impacted upon your working.
·         What is the most challenging thing you’ve ever had to do?
·         What would you do if a patient’s relative was complaining and making a scene?
·         Dealing with rapidly changing situations on the ward is essential to this post. Can you give an example of a time when you’ve had to do this?
These examine how you deal with situations, both expected and unexpected. How do you act under pressure – it’s okay if your previous experiences proved to be the ‘wrong way’ but identify that you need to change this.

·         Give an example of a time when you had to work as member of a team and how you fulfilled your role?
·         How would you manage the transition between ending one and starting another rotation?
·         Can you give an example of a time when things did not go to plan in the course of your work? What did you learn from this experience?
·         Tell me something that went well and why
·         Tell me something that went badly and what would you do differently?

·         Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Forward planning is always good to do – but they are looking for some commitment, not for you to be using this job as a mere stepping stone.
·         What would you hope to learn from this post?
What opportunities can you gain – how would you expect to learn i.e. through CPD opportunities, experiential leanring?
·         How would you as a band 5 OT promote the profession and the role of OT, both within your own department and external areas?

These questions are looking at your knowledge – you may not know the answers and if so do not make them up.
·         What is the role of the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant in the multidisciplinary team?
·         What was the last professional-related/research article you read and what did you gain from it all?
I would recommend reading an article – and to help it sink in, write a paragraph stating what it was about and what you learned or just make a few bullet points.
·         Describe the differences between an environmental, home and discharge visit?

·         How would you describe your ideal line manager?
·         Which placements have you enjoyed most and least?
This has to be handled with care – you don’t want to offend anyone and regarding placements – you want to show how your positive and negative experiences have informed you choice to apply for this role – for me a rotational post would extend the practice experience I lacked in my placements.

 How do you see your role changing when you start work?
Tell me how you and the patient connect?
Remember client-centeredness, as the way you connect may vary.

Handy Tips from OTs
·         Be yourself
·         Recognise you have weaknesses but remember your strengths
·         Be passionate, enthusiastic and confident – interviewers can forgive nerves/daft answers
·         Let them see that your enthusiastic to work in all areas and that you are willing to learn from the team
·         Relax and Be yourself

My top tips:
disclaimer – these come from a newly qualified OT with minimal interviewing experience

  • Use EXAMPLES – even if they are not ‘OT’ – if they can apply use them, but don’t go overboard
  • READ the job description and person specification – they may provide hints as to what will be asked and they tell you what is expected from you
  •  ASK questions – show that you are interested in this job by having the questions prepared and written down in a notepad
  • Be PREPARED not just for potential questions but take a CPD folder ( I was asked if there was anything I was particually proud of) and be prepared for the unexpected (I was given a written senario to complete)

Good luck to you in your applications and when you get that interview – I wish you all the best and there will be a time when the right role is in your grasp.

My thanks to the following twitter-using OTs

UPDATE - should add the job for which I used this information to prepare, I didn't actually get as I fell down on a few details but all good experience nonetheless 


  1. This has been great to read! I have an interview this week and a written scenario to do so not really sure what to expect from this? What topic did yours cover if you don't mind? Thanks x

    1. Hi Laura, sorry its been a while to reply - I haven't signed in for a while and for some reason gmail didn't send me a message. I know its late but for this interview it was to write out what topics I would cover in an initial interview (I believe). In another interview that I had we were given a series of tasks to complete that included case prioritisation and delegation tasks as well as writing an intervention plan - it was part of an elimination process over a 2 day interview process. Hope all went well for you.

  2. Well done! you have hit the nail on the head - I am someone who is about to be the interviewer!! and your final tips are spot on - be yourself, we know you are nervous, remember it wasn't all plain sailing for us to get in the position we are in. All we want to see is what you are passionate about (hopefully our client base) that you are willing to learn and that you realise that you do have weaknesses but that you are willing to learn on a daily basis - I have now had nearly 10 years experience and let me tell you, I don't know everything and I love getting students and Band 5's who end up teaching me so much.
    Good luck to all of you - and always fly the OT flag!

  3. No education is necessarily easy, but knowing what to expect and how to go about it all will make the process as smooth, hassle-free and hopefully successful as possible. Visit great info for the details.

  4. Hey Lottie
    I’ve just gone through your how to write a personal statement, CPD folder and interview questions and found them all invaluable. Thank you so much for taking the time to put your experience into words, I personally have found it a huge help (as like you I can’t find much in the way of guidelines on how to approach these topics on the internet). So a big thank you!!!!!! 

  5. Amazing!!! Thank you so much!!

  6. what a useful blog! thank you. I have an interview on Monday wish me luck!!! thanks again

  7. This info is so useful. Thanks for taking the time to set up this page :)

  8. Hey.
    Googling Occupational Therapy interview questions and I happened to come across your post, I was wondering whether you had any tips on Occupational Therapy University Interviews? The type of questions they may ask? I would really appreciate any help you can give. Thank You :)

  9. I have my second interview for a rotational post and I am terrified! I will study, study, study for this one!! xx thank you for your help.. really useful information :)

  10. Thank you for the advice. Some of these questions came up and I got a rotational post!

  11. Hi. I have been qualified for over two years but remained in mental health. I am about to go for a band 5 neuro post but feel so apprehensive! Any tips or possible questions? Thanks in advance!