Here are some solid tips for all of you heading into an interview:
1) First thing you need to do is start thinking along the lines of a “salesperson”. You need to speak for at least 3-5 min. about why you are the best Physiotherapist for the job and why he/she should hire you. Talk about your background, education, and experience. Practice this over and over again until you have it down cold. In addition, it would be highly recommended that you research the company you wish to work for. Begin your research with the company web site, then their history, philosophy, vision, and any hints at company culture. This will help you know if they fit what you’re looking for in a physical therapy clinic/company, and why you might be a fit for them.
2) Always arrive early! It is important that you get to the interview approximately 15-20 min early. This will give you time to relax, regroup, review some notes and fill out any necessary paperwork prior to the interview. Using this time for the restroom and making sure your appearance is fresh, clean and presentable is encouraged. Make sure you spit out any gum you might be chewing on, and it might be a good time to use that packed toothbrush and toothpaste for a quick brushing to freshen your breath.
3) Each question should be listened to carefully and then answered thoroughly and thoughtfully. Avoid using filler words like, “um’s”, “you know’s”, “uh’s”, and “like’s”. Be confident when you reply to questions. PT Managers look for people who have a sound knowledge base and have the confidence of answering questions thoroughly. Answer the questions with precision and thought and wait for the interviewer to respond.
4) “So…tell me a little about yourself”. This is very likely to be the first question out of the interviewers mouth so be prepared. We know it is often hard to talk about yourself without sounding either arrogant or plain. But this is your chance to talk about your personality traits and background information that establishes your qualifications for the position. Emphasize your work ethic, love for the PT profession and your desire for ongoing education.
5) The dreaded “What is your weakness and what have you done to overcome it?” question. How do you answer that? Solution: mention a quality or two that is really a quasi-strength in disguise. For example, “I am a very thorough person and like to make sure notes for each day is done perfectly but this sometimes takes more time for me than others.” In these types of behavior-based questions the interviewer is looking for you to give them a specific example from your past that demonstrates your abilities. It is a good idea prior to the interview to think of the skills needed for the job you’re interviewing for, and what examples you have from your past that show that you have successfully demonstrated those skills, remind yourself of the details of those examples. You want to avoid leaving the interview and remembering your good examples after it is too late.
6) If an interviewer asks, “what do you see yourself doing in 5 years?” This is considered a probing question to determine how long you might stay with the company. The appropriate answer is one that shows you are a good candidate for long term employment but also leave things ambiguous, there’s no law that says you have to work in the same place forever. State goals that are in line with your PT career and that show you are a good candidate for long-term employment. Something like “I’d like to be your Senior Therapist,” is a good response.
7) Answering the “How you resolved a particular challenge?” question. Be ready with some specific examples of your more challenging cases. Also, provide some examples of how you were able to get a particular task accomplished under unusual pressure, or a short deadline, if you have those types of examples. Don’t make anything up though. It’s also a good idea to provide examples of your teamwork skills and how well you communicate ideas with co-workers and supervisors.
8) Always display a friendly, positive demeanor! This is perhaps the most important aspect of the interview. An energetic smiling face will always “speak” volumes. Body language (not clutching onto your briefcase while you’re interviewing), positive tone and attitude goes a long way to impress an interviewer. Make sure you Sit up straight, don’t tap your feet or drum your fingers. Make sincere eye contact with the interviewer. If it comes down to a tie between you and another candidate with equal experience and skills, your enthusiasm could swing the job your way!
9) Be cool under pressure. You might be tested to see how you react to confrontation. This may be a way for some interviewers to eliminate more timid therapists. Always maintain professional demeanor and behave as if your interviewer is doing nothing unusual. The idea here is, that you’re not always going to be treating clients who are happy to see you, and some that are in intense pain may not be the friendliest people you’ll ever encounter. Your interviewer knows this, and he or she is just trying to find out how you will be treating the clients when those situations arise.
10) Finally, make it perfectly clear that if you’re interested in the position. And make sure you mention it at least twice. Say something along the lines as, “I am very impressed and excited to join your team, I would be very interested in taking this step further.” We know it may sound slightly assertive, but letting the interviewer know that you want the job clears up any ambiguity and lets them know that you’re serious. If you don’t get a PT job offer on the spot, follow up with a short Thank-You note and ask for the job again. The Thank-You should include appreciation for the time the interviewer took to meet with you, a brief description of the couple of items you discussed that you felt went well, anything that you want to resolve that was of concern by the employer, and your interest in the position or moving forward in the interview process.Don’t use e-mail. Handwrite a note on a generic Thank-You card and drop it into the mail. Trust me, hardly anyone does that anymore. You will stand out from the crowd.
Try some of these techniques and make sure you practice practice practice! Never enter an interview cold. One trick from our experience, is to ask yourself possible interview questions in your mind on your way to the interview and practice answering them out-loud, in your car, on your walk, or even on the train (trust us, you won’t look as crazy as you think!). Most of all, be yourself, and exploit your strengths. There is nothing more rewarding to know that your physical therapy skills are in high-demand and the employers know it.
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