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Journey of a DPT Student

The First Real Interview

Published March 31, 2014 6:34 PM by Lauren Rosso

I sat for my first interview on Friday. I was sweating the entire time. I wore a scarf and had to take it off. I usually don't get very nervous for interviews, but for some reason when the interviewer started to go through the benefits packages, I started to realize how important the next 1-2 hours were going to be. Health insurance, you say? You mean I won't just use what the university offers? 401K matching? Percentages, dental, and vision? She had officially sent me into a panic, but I thankfully recovered with enough time to pull myself together before the formal questioning.

Overall, I think it went great. I felt confident, having prepared for 2-3 days ahead of time. I find it most useful to think back on clinical scenarios that have been any number of things: challenging, success stories, teamwork-driven etc. That way, when they ask questions, I at least have a bank to draw from and I don't feel completely caught off-guard. It worked really well. I also go through the usual ahead of time -- strengths, weaknesses, a time when someone was difficult to work with and how I reacted, and similar situations. For me, it takes the stress away of coming up with an immediate answer. If I go in with the sense that I've prepared, then I'm much more confident.

I also prefer to write down a few questions ahead of time. Whether they are based on research I've done about the company (and purely meant to prove that I know something about the organization I'm trying to work for), or if it's to acquire some new information about the position, I feel much more engaged when I have something ready. They are inevitably going to ask you if you have questions, so you might as well put some together. In the end, I think it worked. Apparently I could hear as soon as this week about their hiring decisions, so keep your fingers crossed for me. Either way, I'm happy to have the first one completed and the prospect of my future employment lurking somewhere in the future.

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I had a slightly different path in my final semester of PT school: I applied for sports residency positions.  I was fortunate enough to be offered interviews from 4 different programs.  Each one had a unique feel and unique questions, though there were many similarities as well.  When preparing for oral interviews, I did many of the same things that you mentioned: I reflected beforehand on strengths and weaknesses, clinical experiences, etc.  Though I had practiced these beforehand, my first interview was rough.  By the fourth interview, I felt much more fluid and comfortable answering these questions.  I also had several somewhat unique experiences, including group interviews at one of the residency programs.  Here, there were two applicants with 2-3 interviewers.  They would ask us both a question, and we would take turns responding.  This was challenging -- wanting to come up with something unique, yet recognizing the strengths of the other applicant's response as well.  For anyone else entering the interview process, I would recommend what you have said: prepare beforehand, reflect, and try to exude confidence.  Good luck to you!

Courtney Ross, , Student ECU April 29, 2014 11:53 AM
Greenville NC

Lauren, first off I would like to tell you how interesting I find your blog. It was brought to my class' attention by one of our instructors and I have sat down and gone through reading most of your posts. I, too, am going through submitting resumes and got an interview with the very first place I applied. One thing that helped me was to go through my resume and think of all the questions they could ask as I figured that piece of paper was going to be their first impression of me as a future employee. Another thing, and one that helped me the most, was going to my professor who teaches our administration class and getting him to ask me some of the same questions that potential interviewers would ask. Having answered them out loud already when I got to the interview made it very much less nerve-wracking. The best part about this interview was that I had previously done a clinical affiliation with the company and this gave me some knowledge of the company just like you did with researching your company. I wish you well on all your future interviews and I'll continue to check back for more posts as I am counting down the months until I can sit for my boards. Thanks again for creating this site!


Clayton Self, , Student ECU April 28, 2014 11:16 AM
Greenville NC

I am undergoing my first interview for a PT position tomorrow!  I have prepared similarly to you, thinking of challenging scenarios, successful outcomes and reviewing my strengths and weaknesses.  Gathering information on the facility is always good to show interest in learning more about their facility and to be able to come up with questions to ask the interviewer.  I actually had my last clinical rotation with the contracted company I will be interviewing for and I loved working with them!  This interview is at a different facility, but the rehabilitation director from my last clinical is also a manger over this facility as well, which will be beneficial because I'm sure she will give a great recommendation for me.  This interview will be over the phone since I live 3 hours away from the facility, which should be interesting.  I have thought of the challenge of going through the benefits offered and plan on referring to an advisor and family mentor when making these decisions.  I'm sort of looking forward to my interview tomorrow!  Thanks for the great advice.  Congratulations on the new job and wish you the best of luck!

Hallie Stricklad, Physical Therapy - 3rd Year Student April 23, 2014 12:18 PM
Greenville NC

I have just recently undergone my first interview as a 3rd year PT student as well. I am still waiting on that call that you were fortunate enough to receive, CONGRATS! I prepared the same way and had situations already planned out in my head so I would not have to come up with examples on the spot. I felt like this worked well and prepared me. I also did a lot of research about the company including their values. My interviewer asked a lot of questions about their values and core areas to see if we were compatible and if it would make a good fit. I also prepared a lot of questions as well. Something that was very important to me when finding my first job is their mentoring program and their "approach" to new grads. I had heard horror stories of new grads having intense patient loads with little to none guidance. I feel like this is important factor to make sure to ask about in your interview. Good luck with your future job!

Katie Thomas, Physical Therapy - 3rd Year Student April 9, 2014 10:18 AM
Greenville NC

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