Sunday, April 19, 2009

Interview Prep, Part I

Okay people!! Less than a week to go!!
Have you figured out why you want to be an occupational therapist yet?
Have you decided what you're going to wear to your interview?!
Have you taken a passport sized photo of yourself (in your interview outfit) for your file?!?!
If not, DON'T PANIC! Just grab a towel ;) <-- (Nerdy reference for the day, likely to be appreciated only by those who read/watched Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, lol.)

There's still ample time to get ready, so don't sweat it too much. Odds are that you have already put a lot of thought into this career choice before you put out the up to $500 in application fees. And you've done a lot of research in order to write your statements for the application package to other universities! So at this point, it's all about getting focused on what's important, refreshing your memory about what you know, and nurturing a sense of calm confidence.

So, in Part I I'm going to refresh your memory about some key points to do with the profession of Occupational Therapy.
Then, in Part II, I'll review some of the McMaster specific issues to remember.
And then I might tack on a Part III: Questions to encourage self-reflection. We'll see how it goes. :)

Part I: Key Points about OT
(all content appropriated from other sources, primarily from the CAOT website)

The Profile of Occupational Therapy in Canada (2007) identifies seven main roles for an occupational therapist:
1. Expert in enabling occupation.
2. Communicator
3. Collaborator
4. Practice manager
5. Change agent
6. Scholarly practitioner
7. Professional

What the heck do they mean by each of those terms?? Good news... you can download a copy of the Profile where they define each. For a quick overview, scroll down to page 28 of this document.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- What personal characteristics do I have that will help me be good at each of these roles?
- Describe an occasion where I have exhibited each of these characteristics.

From Enabling Occupation II: Advancing a Vision of Health, Well-Being and Justice Through Occupation (Townsend & Polatajko, 2007), there are five essential elements of occupational therapy practice (this goes with #1 from the list above).
1. The presence of an occupational challenge
2. The possibility of solutions that enable occupation
3. Client-specific goals/challenges/solutions and client-centred enablement
4. Multi-disciplinary knowledge base
5. A reasoning process that can deal with complexity.

Some things to note are:
- Demonstrate knowledge of these concepts in your answers about the OT profession.
- Emulate these characteristics in other responses... for example, in ethics questions demonstrate that your reasoning process appreciates the complexity of the given scenario.

Last, but not least, TRENDS! Those that affect OT and those within OT.

Current Trends Affecting OT:
- An aging population
- Increased awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities
- Higher survival rates from accidents and injuries
- Increased emphasis on health promotion and prevention to keep healthcare costs down
- Higher incidence of mental health and family problems
- Changes in working conditions, such as job stress and early retirement
- A more informed public, regarding health and health concerns.

Not sure how each of these applies to occupational therapy? Check out the CAOT position statements :)

Emerging Practice Areas in OT:
- Private Practice
- Home Modifications
- Assistive Technology
- Ergonomics
- Research
- Retail Business
- School Systems
- Long-term care settings
- Higher Education Programs

What do these trends have to do with your interview? Well, you need to be familiar with the profession and that means knowing what the hot-topics are! Again, I highly recommend reading the position papers to get a sense of the issues that current professionals are dealing with. Volunteer experiences are also invaluable... but try to connect your experiences to the larger issues they represent.

Okay... enough writing for now! I have to go and answer some of these question myself, lol.
But in the days to come, Parts II and III will follow.
Good luck in your preparation!!
And seriously... don't forget to take your picture :D


  1. Haha, I loved the hitchhiker's guide reference.

  2. I've got an OT interview in a few days! This blogs is great, I'm feeling much more confident reading it! Thank you :)