9 Common Occupational Therapy Assistant Interview Questions

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Getting an interview for a potential career can be a significant milestone toward your future as an occupational therapy assistant. Being prepared is a crucial element for success. Learn the most common occupational therapy assistant interview questions.

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Beginning an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) career is exciting, signaling the next step after completing your education and certification. Whether you’re a recent graduate or looking to make a career change, finding the right OTA opportunity is both thrilling and challenging. Landing an interview is a major milestone, presenting the chance to showcase your learned skills, passion, and dedication to potential future employers.

The St. Catherine University Occupational Therapy Assistant program equips you with enhanced communication and teamwork skills to help you succeed in your upcoming career and prepare you to address occupational therapist assistant interview questions.

Certain questions consistently make their way into occupational therapy interviews regardless of where you interview. Being prepared for these inquiries is essential so employers perceive you as the most confident candidate. Below, we share nine common OTA interview questions.

1. “Why did you choose to pursue a career in OT?”

When answering this question, you should focus on your genuine passion for helping others and improving their quality of life. Share stories or anecdotes illustrating what sparked your interest in becoming an OTA. You can discuss how these experiences have shaped your commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of others through OT.

Further, you can highlight the connection between your values and the core principles of occupational therapy, including your long-term dedication to the profession. Be authentic and connect your genuine self to your motivation to help others.

OT student sitting at desk with elderly woman filling a pill divider

2. “Highlight the qualities and skills you possess that will make you a good occupational therapy assistant”

In this answer, you can list qualities and skills relevant to the occupational therapy field, including excellent communication skills, empathy, patience, adaptability, and a strong ability to collaborate with teams. You should support each attribute with specific examples or stories from your experiences, such as successful patient interactions, teamwork, or instances where your skills have made a positive impact.

You should demonstrate a clear understanding of how these qualities and skills contribute to becoming an effective occupational therapy assistant. You should showcase the skills that align with what the potential employer is looking for and make you stand out as a candidate.

3. “Describe your approach to challenging situations involving a patient or their family members.”

For this question, emphasize your ability to remain calm, empathetic, and solution-oriented in challenging situations. You should acknowledge the emotional nature of healthcare and express your commitment to providing compassionate care. Provide a specific example of this from your past experiences, highlighting how you successfully navigated a difficult situation with a patient or their family member.

Discuss your communication strategies in these situations, such as active listening and explaining information clearly and concisely, to address concerns and build trust between you and your patient. Showcase your dedication to patient-centered care and prioritizing the well-being of patients and their families.

student stretching with elderly woman

4. “How do you manage tasks when faced with a demanding or overwhelming workload?”

When responding to this question, demonstrate your organizing and time management abilities. You can start by explaining the importance of efficient task management in OTA and how it contributes to effective patient care. Share specific examples of when you were under pressure and successfully handled the demanding workload, detailing the steps you took to prioritize tasks.

Also, share any tools or strategies you use, such as a to-do list or planner. Highlight your abilities related to staying focused and calm under pressure, demonstrating how you balance quantity and quality of work.

5. “Share an experience where you needed to advocate for occupational therapy.”

To answer this question, you should convey your ability to articulate the value of occupational therapy effectively. You can begin by providing context for the situation, such as a conversation with a colleague, patient, or administrator where advocacy was necessary. Clearly articulate the key points that define occupational therapy, emphasizing its impact on patient outcomes and overall well-being.

Use concrete examples or success stories from your practice to illustrate the positive outcomes associated with OTA interventions. Discuss any challenges you faced during the advocacy process and how you overcame them. You can explain how you tailored your communication skills to best bridge understanding between you and a patient, fellow healthcare worker, or someone less familiar with OTA.

6. “What is your greatest strength and weakness?”

When addressing your strengths, choose one relevant to occupational therapy that aligns with the job requirements. Clearly describe how this strength enhances your effectiveness as an OTA, providing concrete examples from your experiences. Support your choice with positive outcomes or instances where your strength is crucial.

student helping elderly woman sit down

When discussing your greatest weakness, show self-awareness by acknowledging this aspect. You should also discuss the steps you have taken or are currently taking to enhance this skill or trait. Display a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, demonstrating how you leverage both your strengths and areas for development to excel in your role.

7. “Tell us about a time you made a positive impact in someone’s life.”

To address this question, select a specific and impactful experience or story highlighting your ability to make a difference in someone’s life. Begin by setting the context and providing background information on the patient and their condition. Clearly outline the goals of your intervention and the steps you took to achieve positive outcomes.

Include specific examples, such as measurable improvements in the patient’s functionality or enhanced quality of life. Discuss the emotional and practical aspects of how they were impacted. You can also highlight your patient-centered approach to the situation and a sense of fulfillment in making a positive impact.

8. “What is your experience in an “X” setting?”

When responding to this question, giving a concise yet comprehensive overview of your relevant experience in the specified setting can be beneficial. Explain your familiarity with the setting, mentioning the types of patients or clients you had there and the nature of the work you completed.

You should also illustrate the skills or knowledge you gained from your experience in this setting. Emphasize how you adapted to the unique challenges or dynamics of the environment. If you have any specific successes or achievements from the experience, describe those as well. You can also express your enthusiasm to continue contributing your skills and expertise in this setting.

student assisting man with pill containers

9. “How would you define ‘occupational therapy’ to someone who’s never heard about it?”

To respond, you can begin with a basic definition of occupational therapy, avoiding any technical jargon. Keep this part simple and touch on how occupational therapy helps to improve individuals’ abilities to engage in daily activities and enhances their overall quality of life.

Further into answering, you can emphasize parts of the holistic care aspect, like how occupational therapy considers all parts of a patient, including their physical, emotional, and social well-being. You can provide real-life examples of how occupational therapy impacts lives. Be sure to express your passion for the profession and why you find it meaningful.

Additional Occupational Therapy Assistant Interview Tips

Along with being prepared for the questions you may be asked in your interview, there are other ways to stand out as a candidate. Aside from answering questions well, the right details can make the difference between you and another candidate with similar qualifications.

Research the Organization

When developing your answers to common OT interview questions, research the organization you apply to. In the job description, you can select keywords or skills the employer is looking for and incorporate those into your answers.

three OT students standing in a classroom

Prepare Thoughtful Questions

In many interview scenarios, the session will conclude with the potential employer opening the floor for any questions you might have. Asking even a couple of questions can show that you are committed to learning and initiating. It can also help the interviewer engage more with you so that you stand out.

Keep a Notepad on Hand

Interviews are significant moments in our lives, and as such, they can be nerve-wracking. When nervous, we often need to remember some of our practiced answers from our previous preparation.

Something that can help is writing down short key points on a notepad to reference. Writing down information shared by the employer shows how serious you are. Overall, having a notepad shows you are prepared for the interview.

Practice Mock Interviews

Conducting mock interviews with a friend or family member can help you prepare and excel in the interview. By simulating the interview questions, you can practice your answers and become more confident in your responses.

How to Best Prepare for Your Occupational Therapy Assistant Interview at St. Kate’s

three OT students posing and smiling in class

St. Kate’s is unprepared to sit idly by while you prepare for your OTA interviews. We offer the Katie Career Center to assist students with resume writing, mock interviews, posting job leads, navigating job board sites, and more to ensure every student has the tools they need to hit the ground running post-graduation.

At St. Kate’s, we go above and beyond so you can step confidently toward your career. Reach out to our admissions counselors to learn more about our occupational therapy assistant program.

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The Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy and OTA

Get answers to your questions about the field, about the OTA career path, and about St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program.

book with cover title: Occupational Therapy Assistant Explained