Interview Tips for Occupational Therapists

By Joseph Reinke, CFA

This article covers 7 key interview tips which can be leveraged as part of an interview process, both for an interviewee and an interviewer.

If you’re an interviewer, this article will give you a way to gain additional insights into a job candidate. As an interviewer, you need to go beyond a given answer and listen to the actual words and tone used by a candidate to help determine fit with your company.

If you are a job candidate, this article will help you reflect on the traits you exhibit and how to form questions to the company you are interviewing with to determine if you would be a good fit to the team and vice versa.

We will break these down into 7 groups which determine motivation and decision-making.  Remember,  there is no right or wrong answer…the end goal is to find the right match for all parties involved.

Proactive vs. Reactive

A proactive person initiates action. She tends to use complete sentences with a personal subject and active verb. For example: “When can I schedule my second interview?”

A reactive person will wait for others to initiate and for things to happen. She will use passive verbs and incomplete sentences. She will also use qualifying phases and nominalizations. For example: “Is there any chance that it might be possible to schedule my second interview?”

If you need a person to bring in business or are interviewing for a job that requires you to bring in business the you should be a proactive person.  Don't expect a reactive person to drive business for your clinic!

Towards vs. Away

This speaks to motivation and focus.

A towards person stays focused on goals and is motivated by achievement. She will use language that indicates what they want to achieve or gain. People with this trait are best employed in goal-getting environments.

Conversely, an away person will highlight what they want to avoid and problems to stay away from. Away people are often great in positions that need to find errors such as quality control or compliance.

Internal vs. External

An internal person makes their own goals and decides for themselves.

If you ask an internal person “How do you know you did well on XYZ?”, she will respond with something like, “I just know.” They also may respond with an internal justification such as, “I wanted to achieve xyz by this time because it meant ABC to me, and I did”

On the other hand, an external person needs instructions and directions. An external person may respond to the same question by stating that someone told them they did well or how they met the expectations set by others for them. For example, a student or recent grad might say they know they did well because they got an A on the project or they might respond by saying they were successful because they achieved completion of a project within 2 weeks because someone else had put that deadline on them.

Internal people often do not care about others standards whereas external individuals will ask you about your standards.

Internal people may have difficulty listening to others telling them what to do. External people, on the other hand, need to be constantly told what the goal is and applauded or disciplined if that goal is not meet.

An easy way to find out the type of person you’re talking with is to simply ask a question such as, “How do you know you have done a good job?”

Options vs. Procedures

Options people want to have choices and develop alternatives. They may hesitate to follow well-established paths no matter how good they are.

A procedures person is good at following set courses of action but not great at developing them. They are more concerned with how to do something rather than why and how they might actually be doing it. A procedures person always thinks there is a “right way” of doing things.

An options person will give you reasons. A procedures person will tell you how they came to the decision or just give facts.

One way to identify this is to ask “Why did you choose XYZ?” i.e. “Why did you choose your job/school/etc?”

An options person might answer why they choose their school with, “I felt their alumni network and academic framework would open up a number of doors I could pursue post-graduation.”

A procedure person may answer the same question with, “XYZ school was a top 10 school in ABC with an average graduate salary of $0,000. I had a list of 25 schools then narrowed it down to my top 5 and compared these figures for each.”

General vs. Specific

General people are more comfortable with large chunks of information and often develop broad management skills.

Specific people, however, pay attention to minute details and need small chunks of information to make sense of a larger picture.

When it comes to language, specific people tend to talk about steps and sequences and give precise descriptions. They also tend to specify and use proper names.

Match vs. Mismatch

Matching individuals notice similarities of things. “Mismatchers,” notice what is different when making a comparison. “Mismatchers” always point out differences and get into frequent arguments.

If you “match” and are a “general” (Number 5 above) a mismatch person may drive you absolutely crazy.

“Matchers” may be content in the same job for many years and they are really good at repeating the same task over and over.

Someone who points out similarities first then differences second usually like changes to occur gradually and slowly. They tend to use comparative words often such as; better, worse, more, and less.

Someone who only points out differences seek out and enjoy change, often times switching jobs frequently.

Those that point out differences first and then similarities also seek out change but at a slower pace.

Their Convincer Pattern

There are two aspects as to how a person is convinced to do something. First, how the information is channeled to a person and second how she manages the information once they have it.

The first aspect is related to a person’s primary representational systems: people normally receive and understand information in one of four dominant forms: they need to see, hear, read, or do something to be convinced.

One example of what to ask: “How do you know someone is good at their job?” A "visual" person needs to see examples. A "hear" person needs to talk to people to gather info. A "read" person needs to read reports or references. A "do" person has to actually do the work with the person to be convinced. This is important to understand because this speaks to how a person learns a new task.

The second aspect deals with how someone reaches a conclusion. The four “modes” are Number of Examples (those who need to have the information multiple times before becoming convinced), Automatic (those who need only partial information before being convinced), Consistent (those who need the information every time to be convinced of the same or similar thing), and Period of Time (those who need to have information remain consistent for some period of time before being convinced).

Note: These 7 groups and examples are sourced from Introducing NLP by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour. A big thank you for all the great work they do. I highly recommend buying this book.

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