Whether you're a recent graduate or an experienced physical therapist with a well-rounded resume, you still need to ace the job interview to actually secure your desired position. It's easy to make small mistakes that sink your chances of getting the job, even after you've gone through hundreds of interviews in your life. Make sure to avoid these five common mistakes to give yourself the best shot at that dream physical therapy job.
Dressing Like You're Working
Many job-seeker advice lists open with a recommendation to dress for the interview like you've already got the job and are going to work. However, this isn't a good idea when you're interviewing for a physical therapist position. PTs tend to wear relatively casual clothing when working with private clients, or scrub sets if they're in a general medical facility so that they can move freely as needed. Scrubs and casual work clothing is not appropriate for a job interview, so stick with your usual business suit instead to make a good impression instead of a sloppy one.
Forgetting the Personal Element
Physical therapists often choose their field after a personal experience of recovering from an injury or helping a loved one regain their strength and flexibility. If you've got a personal reason to choose this field in particular, make sure you work it into the interview, even if you're not directly asked about it. Inspiring stories help you stand out in the interviewer's mind and can also help you demonstrate your passion for therapy. That kind of passion is essential for success when you're working with difficult or discouraged clients.
Neglecting Your Communication Skills
Skilled physical therapists must be great communicators because they have to rely on the information they get from the patient to guide treatment. While you do base your general approach on the medical records forwarded by the patient's doctor, a lack of clear communication can lead to a serious injury. The anxiety of talking with an interviewer can make you seem like a less confident communicator than you really are, so polish your skills at speaking clearly under pressure. Taking a few classes or getting tutoring in communication skills also makes your resume more attractive and gives you a relevant career achievement to share during the interview.
Slipping Into a Sedentary Lifestyle
It's very easy to stop your usual gym routine when you're overwhelmed with the job search, but employers are expecting their physical therapists to stay in good shape and exercise regularly. Since you might be called to catch a person much heavier than you or lift most of their body weight for a specific exercise, falling into a sedentary routine can make you less of an attractive candidate when it comes time for the interview. Don't try to lie when you're asked about your physical activity levels and overall fitness because it will only backfire if you're hired and you can't perform according to expectations. If you've only recently got back into the gym, tell the interviewer how you're committed to getting into the best possible shape before starting in the new position.
Hiding Physical Limitations
Finally, be upfront if you have an injury, illness, disability, or other issue that limits what you can do with your patients. Many employers are happy to hire someone who can't provide certain lifting techniques for patients as long as they know from the beginning. You're putting your future career at risk by trying to cover up limitations because if you try to perform regardless of your limitations, you could injure yourself or a patient and end up unable to work as a physical therapist for the rest of your life.