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Physical Therapist Interview Questions

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  1. Why do you want to work as a physical therapist? See answer
  2. What’s your approach to developing a treatment plan for patients? See answer
  3. How do you measure success when working with a patient? See answer
  4. What’s one area in which you want or need more education or training? See answer
  5. Have you ever encountered a patient who was determined to improve their mobility within an unreasonable time frame? If so, how did you communicate this to them without discouraging them? See answer
  6. Can you tell me about a time a patient struggled? How did you handle the situation?
  7. What is the highest volume of patients you’ve worked with at a time? How did you keep track of their details and make sure each of them felt valued?
  8. What types of injuries have you helped patients learn to live with or overcome?
  9. When would you recommend water therapy to a patient? How about an ultrasound method of treatment?
  10. How do you find a balance between encouraging your patient to continue an exercise while also making sure they don’t injure themselves further?
  11. Have you ever disagreed with a coworker about how to best treat a patient? How did you resolve the situation?
  12. What’s your process for checking in with patients and their loved one’s in-between visits? Why is it important to check-in?
  13. A patient doesn’t seem to be improving as a result of your treatments. How do you determine whether to continue with the current treatment methods or switch your approach?
  14. How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in physical therapy?
  15. A patient comes to you with a mild ACL tear. What exercises and treatment do you start them on?
  16. In your opinion, what are the best stretching methods to treat chronic arthritis?
  17. What physical therapy specialty fascinates you the most and why?
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6 Physical Therapist Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Why do you want to work as a physical therapist?

A:

The answer to this question can help you better understand the physical therapist’s mindset about the position and their career path. Since physical therapy is part of the health care and service industry, it’s beneficial for potential hires to have a compassionate nature and desire to help others. Applicants who approach the job as being a way to aid people as they heal may also be more likely to stay longer compared to those who are only after a paycheck. What to look for in an answer:

  • Demonstrates compassion
  • Desire to help and care for others
  • Comfortable working one-on-one with patients

Example:

“I want to be able to help patients heal, and focusing on them one-on-one in physical therapy will give me the chance to do that. I’ll be able to work directly with them and see their progress as they achieve their goals.”

Q:

What’s your approach to developing a treatment plan for patients?

A:

This answer can give you an idea of the techniques the interviewee is comfortable with as well as how the individual views treatment in general. The way they develop a plan can help you understand how they interact with patients at a first session and if their approach will fit with your facility. In addition, they may bring a new approach that can be beneficial for the current staff. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ideas that blend well with your facility’s approach
  • Patient-focused mindset
  • Flexibility based on patients’ needs and limitations

Example:

“I develop an idea of what to do based on the patient’s needs, and then I set goals with them before creating a treatment plan. That way, they’re aware of what we’re trying to do, and we can work together more effectively.”

Q:

Tell me about a time a patient struggled and how you handled the situation.

A:

This answer can explain how the candidate interacts with patients, including when things get difficult. Did the physical therapist alter their treatment plan? Did they change communication techniques? Understanding how the candidate interacts with patients can help determine if they’ll be a good fit for the facility. What to look for in an answer:

  • Compassionate approach to patients
  • Flexibility in treatment planning and communication
  • Ability to encourage patients to continue toward success

Example:

“The patient and I reevaluated our goals so that we could concentrate on smaller steps. That kept the patient from feeling overwhelmed by a lack of progress with a focus on the end results.”

Q:

How do you measure success when working with a patient?

A:

While there are objective measures of success with patients, a physical therapist may have additional metrics that they use. This answer can provide insight into the candidate’s attitude toward their chosen field and working with patients. It can also help you understand how strictly a potential hire will adhere to policies versus adapting to a patient’s unique needs and individual goals. What to look for in an answer:

  • Discusses previous work with patients
  • Presence of compassion and caring when setting goals
  • Adaptability of candidate’s approach to each individual’s needs

Example:

“I like to set goals with the patient. It gives them a voice in their own health care and healing. That way, if we’re successful, the patient is happy with the outcome as well.”

Q:

What’s one area in which you want or need more education or training?

A:

This answer can help identify potential weaknesses a candidate may have, demonstrate their self-awareness of their shortcomings and show what they’re willing to do to overcome them in order to be successful. Recognizing that they need additional education and training shows a desire to continue learning, which can make them stronger physical therapists. What to look for in an answer:

  • Self-awareness of any weaknesses
  • Willingness to continue learning
  • Desire to overcome shortcomings in order to achieve greater success

Example:

“In my education, we didn’t spend much time studying complementary alternative treatments. I’d like to learn more about how they can be helpful for patients who are going through physical therapy.”

Q:

Have you ever encountered a patient who was determined to improve their mobility within an unreasonable time frame? If so, how did you communicate this to them without discouraging them?

A:

Physical therapists are responsible for motivating their patients while also making sure patients don't injure themselves by pushing themselves too far. This question allows an interviewer to gauge a candidate's experiences and their ability to help their patients set healthy goals for their condition.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Use of positive language
  • Previous professional experience

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"Yes. One time, I was working with a patient recovering from a broken femur. By the time they were able to stand, they were determined to start walking without assistance as soon as possible. I made sure to praise their attitude, but to also remind them that they needed at least a few more months of assisted walking before their leg could support their weight by itself. I also emphasized that this would prevent further injuries in the future."

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