The Therapy Job Interview

"Tell me about yourself?" is the common starting point of most interviews. You can prepare for this question in advance. Practice this question with family and friends and make sure you know your main talking points. You don't want to sound too rehearsed, but you also want to come across as having strong verbal communication skills during the interview.

Here are some key tips for the interview:

  • Arrive 10 - 15 minutes early
  • Go to the restroom and check your clothes for any mishaps.
  • Always greet the interviewer with firm handshake when offered.
  • Be prepared for a confrontational interview if necessary. Some interviewers will seem downright hostile to see how you react to confrontation and pressure. Always keep your cool during this type of interview.
  • Watch your body language and posture during the interview. A tapping foot or slumped posture will exhibit a lack of confidence.
  • Make sure your do not mumble or use "Uh" too many times. Take a few seconds to compose a thought then respond.
  • Use the interviewers name when appropriate.
  • Convey a positive attitude during the interview.
  • Indicate a willingness to be flexible in the position.

Common questions:

  • Why did you want to be a therapist?
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • How to take criticism/feedback?
  • Why did you leave your last position or job?
  • Describe the duties of your previous employment?
  • Describe your weaknesses and strengths?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What was your most positive and negative reflections of school?
  • Why do you want to work in this area?
  • What do you believe sets you apart from other applicants.

Think about your answers to these interview questions before the interview.

Interview Preparation

There are some universal interview tips that benefit all employment-seeking professionals. Careful and thorough interview preparation along with proper interview etiquette will create a positive and lasting impression on the interviewer and may garner a job offer.

The foundation of a successful interview is built long before the interview meeting. In the days preceding an interview, it is important to research the potential employer. Such research allows familiarity with the interviewing organization and its offerings and makes it possible to impart how you may benefit the mission and operation of the organization. In most cases, an organization's Web site will provide necessary resources. Other times, it may be necessary to request promotional materials from the organization.

In addition to researching the organization, it is important to prepare a strong narrative highlighting personal and professional achievements and experiences that are relevant to the job(s) for which you are applying. Typically, interviewees will be asked to describe how they may contribute to the organization and/or what differentiates them from other candidates. Successful interviewees will have solid answers to these questions.

Moreover, one's personal appearance makes a strong and lasting impression during a job interview. It is important to dress for the position while projecting a professional appearance. Clean, appropriately formal clothing should be worn to an interview. Personal grooming and hygiene should be impeccable, and a smile speaks volumes! Interviewees' personal appearances speak largely to their ability to fit within the organization's clime.

Interview Basics

Regardless of the profession, interviews often proceed in a relatively predictable manner, as the purpose of an interview is to find a candidate who will advance the mission and operations of an organization.

Start the interview on the right foot by practicing common courtesies. Be on time. Warmly greet the interviewer and make a mental note of his or her name. Use that information to interject a personal note during the interview. Let your personality shine.

Continue strong by demonstrating self-confidence. Interviewers typically ask candidates to describe themselves. Use this as an opportunity to tout achievements and personality traits that may be used to benefit the entire organization. Focus your answers on your ability to function as a therapy professional. A good answer will be informative, concise and unique without sounding curt or glib.

Impress the interviewer with your knowledge of the company. Typically, an interviewer will ask whether you have any questions about the organization or the position. It is advisable to have at least one question prepared as this will indicate your level of interest in the job. Avoid asking a generic question that may be answered by reading the organization's Web site or promotional materials. Ask specific questions about the position, the company and the professional environment that go beyond what is easily ascertained via published materials.

Provide the interviewer with information necessary to your success. Bring copies of your resume and cover letter so that you may provide them to additional interviewers as well as directly reference them throughout the interview. Additionally, bring copies of transcripts, certifications, licensures as well as professional and character references. Many organizations will also ask interviewees for a social security card and/or government-issued photo identification. The extra preparation will pay off should these items be requested.

After the Interview

Upon completion of an interview, the interviewee has one last opportunity to make a good impression on the interviewing organization. Immediately write a concise thank-you note to the interviewer. This correspondence should convey your appreciation for the opportunity to interview with the organization and provides a forum to reiterate key discussion points from the interview.

Before sending a thank-you letter, ensure the correspondence is impeccably written, free from spelling or grammatical errors and typed or neatly printed on quality stationary. Address the letter to the interviewer using his or her proper title, full name and company address. Contact information is best found on the interviewer's business card, the company Web site or by asking the receptionist.

Post the thank-you note within a day or two of the interview to ensure it reaches the interviewer while he or she is still in the throes of the interview process. Email thank-you correspondence is not advised.

Salary Negotiations

Once a position of employment is offered, salary negotiations begin. For many professionals, salary negotiations are daunting. Individuals are often reluctant to ask for salary and benefit enhancements. It is important to remember, however, that the demand for therapists is high and most hiring managers expect to negotiate salary and benefits with potential employees. Note, however, that an organization may withdraw an offer of employment if salary and benefit demands are unrealistic or astronomical.

Projecting a strong presence is essential to salary negotiations. Begin the negotiation positively by being prepared. Know the standard salary range for professionals filling similar positions within your geographical area. Also, if possible, determine the typical salary range at the hiring organization of professionals who fill similar roles as you are being offered. Measure your qualifications against those of the average employee filling the same role in the hiring organization, geographical area and profession-wide. As a candidate's experience and education surpasses those of like professionals, it is appropriate for him or her to negotiate towards the higher end of salary ranges.

In a typical salary negotiation, the hiring organization will submit an initial salary proposal. If the offer is fair and satisfying, accept it! If, however, you feel your qualifications warrant higher pay or better benefits, make a counterproposal. That being said, it is important to avoid making unrealistic demands when submitting a counterproposal. Counterproposals should be kept within the salary range indicated by previous research. Remember, negotiations may include both salary and benefits; suggest non-monetary ways in which the organization may compensate you. For instance, a slightly lower wage may be acceptable when a company car is offered as a benefit. Be absolutely clear with regard to your expectation of the total compensation (salary and benefits) package before accepting any salary offer.

At all times during a salary negotiation, maintain a cordial attitude toward the hiring official. Remember that he or she is acting not as an individual but as a representative of the organization. Individuals who maintain friendly terms throughout salary negotiations are more likely to achieve their salary and benefit goals than others who become distant or hostile.

Last Updated: 09/18/2014

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