If you’re looking for a career that helps children reach their fullest potential, pediatric occupational therapy may be the perfect fit. Occupational therapists (OTs) help children who have difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs)—such as bathing, dressing, and feeding themselves—due to a disability or developmental delay.
OTs work with children of all ages in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and private clinics. To be a successful pediatric OT, you need to be able to answer common interview questions about your experience, skills, and motivation for the job. In this guide, we’ll provide you with sample responses to pediatric occupational therapist interview questions so you can be prepared to wow your interviewer.
Common Pediatric Occupational Therapist Interview Questions
- Are you certified as a pediatric occupational therapist?
- What are the most common conditions or injuries that pediatric occupational therapists treat?
- How would you help a child who is resistant to treatment and doesn’t want to participate in your activities?
- What is the most rewarding aspect of working with children?
- Provide an example of a treatment plan for a child with a specific condition or injury.
- If a parent is concerned that their child is not developing as quickly as their peers, how would you reassure them?
- What would you do if you noticed a staff member was consistently interacting with a child in a way that was counter to your treatment plan?
- How well do you work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate care for your patients?
- Do you have experience working with a diverse range of patients and families?
- When performing an assessment, what are the key areas you focus on?
- We want to improve our staff’s access to continuing education and professional development. What strategies would you use to encourage professional growth?
- Describe your process for creating an individualized treatment plan for a new patient.
- What makes pediatric occupational therapy unique from other fields of healthcare?
- Which pediatric occupational therapists or physicians did you admire when you were growing up and why?
- What do you think is the most important skill for a pediatric occupational therapist to have?
- How often do you update your continuing education?
- There is a new treatment for a condition you commonly see in your patients. How would you incorporate it into your practice?
Are you certified as a pediatric occupational therapist?
The interviewer may ask this question to determine whether you have the necessary certification for the role. If you are not certified, they may want to know if you plan on becoming certified in the future. You can answer honestly about your current certification status and discuss any plans you have to become certified in the future.
Example: “I am currently not a pediatric occupational therapist. I do plan to take my certification exam next year, however. I feel that having this certification will help me provide better care for children with disabilities.”
What are the most common conditions or injuries that pediatric occupational therapists treat?
This question can help interviewers understand your experience with treating children. You can use this opportunity to list the conditions or injuries you have treated in the past and how you helped patients recover from them.
Example: “The most common condition I treat is developmental delays, which are when a child’s development is slower than normal for their age. This can be due to many different factors, including genetic disorders, brain damage and lack of stimulation during infancy. In my previous role as an occupational therapist, I worked with several children who had developmental delays. I used various techniques, such as sensory integration therapy and motor skill exercises, to help these kids overcome their challenges.”
How would you help a child who is resistant to treatment and doesn’t want to participate in your activities?
Interviewers may ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to motivate children. In your answer, demonstrate that you can encourage a child to participate in therapy by explaining how you would use positive reinforcement and other techniques to help the child feel comfortable with treatment.
Example: “I once worked with a young boy who was very resistant to participating in occupational therapy exercises. I knew he enjoyed playing video games, so I asked his parents if it was okay for me to bring some of my own gaming equipment into our sessions. They agreed, and we spent one session each week playing video games together. He really enjoyed these sessions, and after a few weeks, he started asking when we could play again. Eventually, he began to enjoy our regular occupational therapy activities as well.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of working with children?
This question can help the interviewer get to know you as a person and how your personal values align with those of the facility. Your answer should reflect your genuine feelings about working with children, but it’s also important to highlight some of the skills or abilities that children develop through occupational therapy.
Example: “The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the progress my patients make over time. I love watching them learn new motor skills and overcome challenges. It’s especially rewarding when they’re able to use their newly developed skills in their daily lives.”
Provide an example of a treatment plan for a child with a specific condition or injury.
Interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your experience with treating patients with specific conditions or injuries. When answering, it can be helpful to provide a brief overview of the condition and how you developed an individualized treatment plan for the child.
Example: “In my previous role as an occupational therapist, I worked with children who had cerebral palsy. In these cases, I would first assess the patient’s motor skills and determine if they were developing at a normal rate. If not, I would create a personalized treatment plan that focused on improving their motor skills through exercises and activities. These exercises could include things like strengthening hand-eye coordination by playing games.”
If a parent is concerned that their child is not developing as quickly as their peers, how would you reassure them?
This question can help the interviewer determine how you interact with parents and families. Use your answer to showcase your communication skills, empathy and ability to provide reassurance.
Example: “I would first ask the parent what they are concerned about. If they tell me their child is not reaching milestones at the same time as other children of the same age, I would explain that every child develops differently. I would reassure them that if there is a concern, we will monitor their progress closely and make sure they receive any additional support they need.”
What would you do if you noticed a staff member was consistently interacting with a child in a way that was counter to your treatment plan?
Interviewers want to know that you can work with others and support them in their professional development. They also want to ensure that your treatment plans are followed by the staff, so they may ask this question to make sure you have a plan for addressing these situations. In your answer, explain how you would approach the situation and what steps you would take to help the staff member understand why their actions were not helpful.
Example: “I would first talk to the child’s parents about my concerns. I would then meet with the staff member privately and discuss the importance of following the treatment plan. If the behavior continued after our conversation, I would document it and speak with the director of the facility about the issue.”
How well do you work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate care for your patients?
The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your ability to collaborate with other professionals. Collaboration is an important skill for occupational therapists because they often work in teams with physicians, physical therapists and speech pathologists. Your answer should show that you are a team player who can communicate effectively with others.
Example: “I am very comfortable working with other healthcare professionals. In my previous role as an occupational therapist, I worked alongside pediatricians, physical therapists and speech pathologists on a daily basis. I find it helpful to meet with these professionals before each patient visit so we can discuss the best treatment plan for each child. This helps me understand what types of exercises or therapies the other professionals have already performed.”
Do you have experience working with a diverse range of patients and families?
Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to work with a variety of patients and their families. They want to know that you can adapt to different personalities, backgrounds and needs. In your answer, try to explain how you have worked with diverse groups in the past and what challenges you might face working with such groups.
Example: “I do have experience working with a wide range of patients and their families. I’ve worked with children from all walks of life, including those who are disabled, low-income or speak English as a second language. It’s important for me to be able to communicate effectively with my patients and their parents so they understand what we’re doing together. I find it helpful to use visual aids like pictures and videos to help them learn new concepts.”
When performing an assessment, what are the key areas you focus on?
Interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your assessment process and how you prioritize the information you collect. When preparing for an interview, it can be helpful to review a sample assessment report from your previous employer or look at examples of other occupational therapist assessments online. In your answer, try to explain what you focus on during an assessment and why these areas are important.
Example: “During my assessments, I always start by asking the patient questions about their medical history and current health conditions. This helps me understand any preexisting conditions that could affect their therapy sessions. Next, I perform a physical exam where I test the patient’s motor skills and observe their movements. Finally, I complete a functional assessment where I evaluate the patient’s ability to perform daily tasks.”
We want to improve our staff’s access to continuing education and professional development. What strategies would you use to encourage professional growth?
Continuing education and professional development are important to the success of a healthcare facility. Employers want to know that you can help their staff members develop professionally. In your answer, explain how you would encourage continuing education and professional development for occupational therapists in the facility.
Example: “I think it’s important for occupational therapists to continue learning throughout their careers. I would create an online database where employees could access continuing education courses. I would also hold monthly seminars on different topics related to occupational therapy. These seminars would be open to all hospital staff members so they could learn more about occupational therapy.”
Describe your process for creating an individualized treatment plan for a new patient.
The interviewer may ask you this question to gain insight into your treatment philosophy and how you apply it in the workplace. Use examples from previous experiences to describe your process for developing a plan that meets the needs of each patient while also considering their age, developmental stage and unique challenges.
Example: “When I meet with new patients and their families, I first discuss what brought them to therapy and any goals they have for their child’s development. From there, I assess the child’s current abilities and limitations before creating an individualized plan that addresses these factors while also taking into account the family’s preferences. I then work with the family to create a schedule for home exercises and activities that support our in-office sessions.”
What makes pediatric occupational therapy unique from other fields of healthcare?
Interviewers may ask this question to see if you have experience working with children and how your previous experiences compare to the role they’re offering. Use your answer to highlight any unique aspects of pediatric occupational therapy that you’ve experienced in your career, such as the types of patients you work with or the challenges you face on a daily basis.
Example: “Pediatric occupational therapy is unique because it’s one of the only fields where I can help my patients develop their motor skills while also helping them learn new things. For example, when I worked at a hospital, I helped a child who was learning how to walk by strengthening his leg muscles. In another situation, I helped a child learn how to use her hands more effectively by improving her fine motor skills.”
Which pediatric occupational therapists or physicians did you admire when you were growing up and why?
This question is a great way to show your interviewer that you have always wanted to be an occupational therapist. It also shows them what inspired you to pursue this career path and how it relates to the position you are interviewing for. When answering this question, try to think of someone who has had a significant impact on your life or career.
Example: “When I was growing up, my family doctor was Dr. Smith. He was so kind and patient with all of his patients, especially children. He would always make sure we understood everything he told us and made sure we were comfortable before leaving the room. I admired him because he showed me that being an occupational therapist can be fun and rewarding.”
What do you think is the most important skill for a pediatric occupational therapist to have?
This question can help interviewers understand what you value in your work as an occupational therapist. When answering this question, it can be helpful to identify a skill that is unique to the field of occupational therapy and how it helps you provide quality care for children.
Example: “I think one of the most important skills for a pediatric occupational therapist is creativity. In my experience, I have found that many children are more open to trying new things when they see their therapists using creative techniques. For example, if I am working with a child who has trouble writing, I might draw pictures on the board to show them what good handwriting looks like. This can help them feel inspired to try harder at school.”
How often do you update your continuing education?
Continuing education is an important part of a therapist’s career. Employers ask this question to make sure you are committed to your own professional development and will continue to learn throughout your career. In your answer, explain that you have a plan for continuing your education. Share the steps you take to stay up-to-date on new techniques and information in your field.
Example: “I am dedicated to my own professional growth. I know that continuing education is essential to being a successful therapist. Every year, I set aside time to attend at least one conference or workshop. This helps me learn about new treatment methods and strategies. I also subscribe to several occupational therapy newsletters so I can read articles from experts in the field.”
There is a new treatment for a condition you commonly see in your patients. How would you incorporate it into your practice?
Interviewers ask this question to see how you adapt your practice to new developments in the field. They want to know that you are willing to learn and incorporate new methods into your work. In your answer, explain what the treatment is and why it’s important for occupational therapy. Explain how you would implement the treatment into your current practice or discuss how you would change your practice to accommodate the treatment.
Example: “I recently read about a new method of treating children with cerebral palsy. The method uses virtual reality technology to help patients improve their motor skills. I think this is an exciting development because it could be used as a supplement to traditional treatments. For example, if a child has trouble walking, they can use the VR headset to practice walking while receiving feedback from the therapist. This could make our sessions more efficient.”