4.30.2009

Interviewing Tips

I am not an expert about getting jobs, but I have been through a few successful interviews recently. Here are some tips that I recently wrote out for a friend. This is not comprehensive, any of these topics could be significantly expanded.

Basic Interviewing Tips- I'm not going to really cover these since most OT students have probably gone through at least one interview in their lifetime, if only the one to get into school. Wear something nice, conservative, that you are comfortable in. Bring extra copies of your resume. Learn about the company before you go. Use positive body language. Etc.

Rule #1- You are interviewing THEM as much or more than they are interviewing you. So the questioning should be a 2 way street. You have questions, you deserve to get them answered before you make a decision. Make a list- If there's anything clinical that you really liked or didn't like at your fieldworks, you can form a question to devise whether a similar situation exists at the new place. You should get information about what they offer for 401K, health insurance, days off and other benefits from the HR department, and they should get you that information before you leave that day.

Questions they will probably ask you:
- about the experience and interest you have in their population
- about your goals for professional development/ what you want to get out of the job
- your strengths/weaknesses
- might ask you to describe a situation when you overcame an obstacle at work or resolved a conflict with a coworker
(Here are some more interview questions, I'd say the ones about coworkers and goals are most likely to appear in your future)

Be honest in your appraisal of your abilities. A recent job candidate rated herself "10/10" in dealing with all types of diagnoses, therapy techniques, and practice locations- despite only having a year of experience. Also, it can be good to pause briefly before answering a question, especially if you find yourself often making foot in mouth statements. If you're nervous about how you'll react to questions and handle things on-the-spot, many college campuses have a career center that will offer to do free mock interviews or resume workshops. Check it out, you're paying for it anyway. If that's not available, have a trusted friend or adult interview you and offer constructive criticism.

Another question that will definitely come up is what you expect to be paid. (this might even be on the job application) I'd encourage you to discuss this with your professors, but there are also other good resources. Enter your state into this page on the Career InfoNet and see the wage table for your target state and compare it to the nation as a whole. You can also look for your city or metro area on the left sidebar. This gives you a good idea of the range, although I don't know anybody getting paid in that 90th percentile area. Advance also has a salary calculator, but you have to sign up to play with that. In my experience, their sample size has been too low to be truly helpful. Don't get dazzled by the money though- you're looking for the best overall place, the money will come. Also, FYI- sign on bonuses are taxed VERY high.

You should also take time to point out anything awesome on your resume or portfolio and explain how you got the honor and why it's special. For example, "I wanted you to know that I was elected to the office of Grand Poohbah of the Water Buffalo by a group of my peers to coordinate volunteer efforts in our community." Nobody knows why you were honored or what the title means until you explain it.

In the post on searching for a job, I mentioned that you should look at several sites and try to do multiple interviews in a near time frame. You'll want to keep detailed notes of what you liked and disliked about each site, what their typical day was like, anything important that they told you. Keep the names of everyone you talk to- try to get business cards as that will make it easier. And remember that you should send a follow up thank you note after the interview- email is acceptable.

If you feel like the interview went well and the facility looks promising, you can ask to have a shadow day. I strongly recommend doing that. See what a normal day is like, what the expectations are for productivity, get a feel for the balance of the caseload. Among other things, you can ask your future coworkers what they really think about everything, see what kind of people they are.

You want to take your time to consider any and all positions that are offered you, but you should be timely and polite about it- your interviewers are trying to fill their positions quickly and will appreciate your honesty. Nobody is asking you to commit to a position on the interview day, but be timely.

After all that, if you decide to accept, you'll have to pick a start date and all that. So if you come out of the initial interview feeling positive about the place, or if you are definitely living/practicing in a certain state, you will want to start investigating the licensure procedure there. Figure out the timing, how long it will take to get a license. Consider whether you need to start work right away with a temporary, or if you want to take the NBCOT exam first. I didn't want to try to balance studying and working, but it depends on what you want. All that plays into the potential start date.

Bottom line- be honest, be you, and try to find the best fit for your personality and for your skills to grow. Good luck everyone!


1 comment:

jaint said...

Your posts are so helpful, thank you!

I have an interview coming up at an acute care hospital setting. Would you have any examples of questions OT manager may ask in regards to clinical case scenarios? I was asked questions such as 'give me an example of a short term goal for pt with recent cva, which stroke is the worst stroke? at what bp should you stop working with a pt?' It really overwhelmed me since I didn't prepare for those.