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Acing The Interview: Tips From A Travel Therapist

January 12, 2015

Posted by <Xai>

We’re super excited to share post from one of our superstar travel mentors, Kayla Layner! We’re sharing it from her blog (with permission) but click on over to read more of her adventures. 

Travelers are definitely not strangers to job interviews. Thankfully, we do not have to stress about how to dress, what our hair looks like, or hold back our nervous non-verbal behaviors due to the fact that the majority of our interviews are completed over the phone! How wonderful is that? Not only do we get to answer all of the questions in the convenience of our pajamas, while sitting with a big mug of coffee, but we also get to have an interview cheat sheet!

Before my first interview as a traveler, I was a nervous wreck. What should I say? What kinds of questions should I ask? How am I going to effectively allow them to get to know me through the phone? With the help of my recruiter and some great Pinterest blogs, I gathered a list of questions, answered some typical interview questions and had them ready to go before the call. In most cases, the DOR will go over these questions before you even have a chance to ask, but this can helpensure that you have covered what you need to.

Scheduling Questions
Discuss start date
How many hours? M-F?
Will weekends be required?
Is overtime available?
Policy for working holidays?
Confirm/discuss any prearranged days off you may need

Facility Questions
What are your productivity standards?
Am I required to reach full productivity the first week?
How many COTAs will I be supervising?
Number of beds/common diagnoses
How many patients seen per day?
What type of charting/documenting system?
What is the dress code?
Will floating to other facilities be required? (If the answer is yes, you may want to find out more!)
Where do you report? What time?
Do you use modalities?

Mentorship Questions
How many OT/PT/SLP?
Is there mentorship available?
Specifics on orientation/ramp time
Will someone be able to show me documentation requirements?
Will there be an evaluating therapist on staff within the facility for questions?

In addition to the logistics that need to be discussed, I also made a list of frequently asked interview questions and answered them with bullet points. I chose to bullet point my answers so that I would not want to read straight from my notes. You never want to sound scripted. Here are a few that I have found to be most helpful.

Tell me a little bit about yourself
^Here I like to talk about work and personal related things. It is important to show versatility, what makes you different?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Can you describe a situation that you believe you handled well?
Can you describe a situation that you could have handled better?
How do you deal with stressful situations?

New Grads/New Travelers
It is a giant leap of faith to start your career as a traveler. I am very grateful for the experiences and opportunities the travel world provides, but there are definitely some things that I would recommend for first time travelers/new grads. Please, please, please do not start in a facility that does not have another therapist there to assist you. Travelers are supposed to be able to hit the ground running, but the amount of stress and insecurities you are likely going to have will outweigh a lot of the positive attributes of being a traveler. Try to get your feet wet in a larger facility so that you can learn from your coworkers, you can build your therapy toolbox, and you can gain some confidence. I am very grateful to have started this journey in a large facility with an abundance of resources, it most definitely made me a better therapist. I have also experienced facilities where I am the only OT on staff. Great experience, however I would not have handled it as gracefully if my first job was not so great. Being the only OT is hard, especially when you are just starting out.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. That is how we learn and you will be a much better therapist and colleague for doing so. If you do not feel comfortable asking someone you work with, reach out to your mentor or shoot me an email. I am by no means an expert, but would be happy to help in any way possible! Hope this little (or big) list helps ease some of your interview stress!

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