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Top 10 Questions You Never Thought to Ask in a Physical Therapist Interview!


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As generations change and the world of Physical Therapy changes, hiring the right staff becomes a daily challenge. Understanding the needs of Generation X, Generation Y and now the Millenialists can be confusing and leave the employer wondering “What do they want!"

In the process of interviewing new Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation staff, the conversation can be turned on the employer leaving her caught off guard and feel as though the benefits, or schedule, or pay scale is not “good enough" for the prospective job candidate. Instead of feeling as though the interviewee must be impressed with the company, they must be impressed upon to understand the company's ethics and values. It is important to remember that many skills can be taught; true character is either brought to the table or left home.

Too often during an interview the standard questions are asked; “What are your strengths and weaknesses?", “How did you improve a procedure at your current job?"and the most standard of all interview questions “Where do you see yourself in five years?" Only a very secure person would answer this last question the way we would all like to answer it, “On a beach in Hawaii retired!"
Provided the prospective employee has the correct qualifications and experience to apply for the job, assessing someone's character during an interview can be difficult. The employer must find ways to go beyond the obvious questions and truly assess the person they are interviewing. These are some suggested ways to perform a character assessment during a Physical Therapy job interview:

1. Constant Learning: A true lifelong learner will never admit to having all the answers but be able to logically state how to find answers and are ready to admit to needing to find answers. After locating an answer, does the interviewee circle back and close the conversation with appropriate information or follow up? Does the interviewee openly admit a time when they made an error and how they were able to address the issue? Does the person have a plan to continue to grow both professionally as well as personally? Too often we worry about only the person who walks in our door from 8-4:30 and not the person as a whole.

2. Have a Guiding Vision: Does the person have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish, again personally and professionally, and the strength to persist in the face of difficulties and failures. Ask them what obstacles they have overcome to achieve past goals and how did they maintain their focus during difficulty. What is the person's ultimate professional goal?

3. Service Oriented: Too often we hear “What can you do for me?" instead of “What can I do for you?" Is the person truly invested in making a difference? Do they see their role as a career instead of a mission or just a means to justify the end? What drove the individual to this profession and what motivates them to embrace Physical therapy and will they embrace the continued growth of the profession?

4. Radiate Positive Energy: You know those people! They can sell water to a drowning man and make them think it is a great idea! You want to sit and talk to them for hours! They are cheerful, pleasant, happy, optimistic, and upbeat and have the ability to translate those feelings into their views of others. Ask the individual the types of teammates they work best with or get a sense of the types of people they surround themselves with both personally and professionally.

5. Have Passion! Do they truly believe in what they do as a Physical Therapist professional? Do they do what they love and love what they do? Are they able to answer “What is your passion?"

6. Work in Synergy: In a team environment, is the person able to build on their own strengths while complimenting their weaknesses with the strengths of others? Build on the basic concept of “What are your strengths and weaknesses?" It is not so much what their strengths and weakness are but how they use them and adapt them to lend these attributes to their overall success. Are they able to share accomplishments with their teammates for their contributions and able to recognize the success of each person is intricately linked to the success of many?

7. Have Courage and be Daring: Does the individual demonstrate their ability and their undaunting attitude to tackle tough issues? Are they able to accurately assess the level of risk involved in a situation and how adept are they are accepting risk? Is the individual driven by the “popular" choice or are they willing to be unpopular at times while daring to do the right thing? Ask them “Tell me about an unpopular decision you made but knew it was the right thing to do?" Assess if the individual is a low, medium or high risk taker through this discussion.

8. Lead a Balanced Life: Each person should ask themselves this question! Is life balanced in their eyes while not being consumed by any one thing? Is there a balance between business, physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual well being? Balanced life activities will keep you satisfied as a whole person and these individuals are much happier at their jobs and are able to radiate positive energy while taking risk. If someone over emphasizes one area of their life and then struggles in that one area, it could lead to an unraveling of abilities and discontent. A well balanced individual lends depth of character as well stability to themselves and to others.

9. Be Internally Motivated: Too often individuals are motivated by factors out of their control like financial gain, benefits or time off. Problems arise when there is a different level of expectation between employer and employee regarding financial motivation and the employee is at higher risk for “job hopping" thinking the grass is always greener if they are offering more money or better benefits! Internal motivation and the ability to appreciate your own goals and accomplishments as well as the goals and accomplishments of others is truly a unique ability and will keep dedicated employees for years to come.

10. I Can Do It! A “can do" attitude is contagious and essential for both customer service as well as project and team management. Someone who believes in them self will also believe in others. The success of the practice is directly linked to the success of its individuals!

The interview process can be very difficult on both a facility as well as the individual. Use the prospect's resume and their ability to communicate while setting up the interview as a way to begin to decipher whether or not the candidate would compliment your practice. Give the person a task to complete prior to the interview as a mini job assignment. If it is completed easily as requested, continue on. If the prospect suggests three other ways the same thing could be accomplished and presents unprepared to the interview, you may have saved yourself precious time as well as thousands of dollars.

Use the time you have both prior to the interview and during an interview wisely. Each step of the process provides valuable information about the candidate. By incorporating some of the techniques listed above, a more complete picture of the candidate is formed which will lend itself to a better match and a more successful employee.

Gerilyn M. Gault, BSPT, is co-owner of the Rehabilitation Company and Account Specialist for Billing Dynamix. Gerilyn is an advanced neurological clinician with years of experience in professional staffing, contract and fiscal management. She invites you to visit Service and Practice Management Software for Physical Therapy and Rehab Offices to learn more about responsible billing and reimbursement practices.


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