Interview Tips

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Photo by Javrsmith

This blog post will help you prepare for interviews and improve your chances of landing a great job. Please note, that while some of the advice offered here may seem obvious to you, it might not be obvious to everyone, and we would rather share things that sound basic rather than omit something that we assume you know.

These tips are provided for your consideration for both direct hire positions as well as contract assignments. Although a contract job is not a “commitment for life,” the employer conducting the phone or face to face interview will be looking for a strong indication that you are committed to the position you are being considered for and that you are truly interested in their district. Many interviews for contract jobs are done strictly by telephone, and as such are often perceived by the candidates as less important as an interview that takes place face to face. In fact, the opposite is actually true. A telephone interview may be your only chance to make your best impression. It is much more difficult to get the “real you” across by phone, so you need to make the most of every minute by preparing ahead of time.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW:

Research the employer in advance. Learn specific details about the organization, the department, and specifics about the job so that you may be as informed as possible about them. Most of this information can be found on the organization’s website or by “Googling” them and reading articles you find online. If you are working with a recruiter they should be able to help you collect much of this information, but whatever else you can learn on your own will only serve to help you even more. For example:

  • Size – the number of clients served, and if it is a school based position, the number of schools, administrators or managers.
  • Recent awards and honors the company, district or organization has received.
  • Reputation – How is this employer or school district perceived in the city/town compared to others.
  • Administration – a visit to the school or company website will generally lead you to current news and information about the organization.
  • The makeup/census of the caseload – What are the economic, geographic, cultural and socioeconomic factors for the families that you will be serving. If the employer is a school district, is it growing or shrinking?
  • How big is the department? Number of therapists? Number of administrators?
  • Total number of clients/students served – Is the caseload growing or is there attrition?
  • If a school, how are the children served? Are the students served through a pullout model? Are therapy sessions done one on one or in groups?

SPECIFIC JOB QUESTIONS TO HAVE ANSWERED BEFORE THE INTERVIEW:

  • Why is the job available?
  • Exactly where is the position located?
  • What will be the population and makeup of your particular caseload?
  • Is there a supervisor over your area or will you report directly to the Director or Assistant Director?
  • How many hours am I guaranteed (or can I expect) per week?
  • Is paperwork done by computer or manually, and will I be provided with all the tools I need to succeed?
  • Email address of the interviewer so you can send him/her a “thank you” note.

All of this will not only create a stronger image of you in the interview, but likewise will provide you with a better basis for evaluating the opportunity if an offer is made.

FOR THE PHONE INTERVIEW:

  • Schedule a time where you can give the interviewer your undivided attention.
  • Keep the interview “clinical” and focused on the job duties. Other, more general questions can be answered by your recruiter or through your research.
  • Don’t talk about money yet. If you are working with a recruiter, they will have that information for you. If you are interviewing on your own, get through the interview first and follow up with human resources for salary information.
  • Let the interviewer ask his or her questions first to ensure that the interviewer covers all that they want to learn about you. If there is time, feel free to ask job related questions.

FOR FACE TO FACE INTERVIEWS:

  • Getting there: Have good directions and allow plenty of time to get there.
  • As a starting point, it is critical to understand that the impression you make in the first few minutes of the interview generally sets the tone for your success or failure for the entire interview.
  • Dress conservatively; avoid bright colors. Make sure hair is clean and neatly styled. Avoid perfume and cologne but make sure you wear deodorant to control perspiration and odor.
  • Be exceptionally courteous to everyone you meet.
  • Even if you’re having a bad day, put on a smile and show your enthusiasm for the job. Many hiring decisions involve more than one candidate. Personality and motivation are often tie-breakers.
  • If you want the job, ask for it. At the very end of the meeting say why you’re excited about working there and that you’d like to have the position.

 

Heidi Kay is one of the founding partners of PediaStaff and is the editor-in-chief of the PediaStaff Blog, which delivers the latest news, articles, research updates, therapy ideas, and resources from the world of pediatric and school-based therapy. PediaStaff is a nationwide, niche oriented company focused on the placement and staffing of pediatric therapists including speech-language pathologists.

Interview Questions for Pediatric SLPs on the Job Market

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Photo by bpsusf

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”  –Theodore Roosevelt

I’m moving out of state soon, and therefore recently engaged in the dreaded job search in a new city.  Because I’m an over-planner, I had a fourteen  interviews (yikes!) before I finally found my dream job.  I was recently telling my graduate student intern about the interview experience, and it occurred to me that maybe other grad students and job-seeking SLPs might be interested in the types of questions typically asked during job interviews.  I actually wrote down the questions I could remember just after each interview, so I could share them with my intern.  (Yup, I’m nerdy in so many ways, even job interviewing!)

So, here are the questions I could remember from all my interviews, combined.   Of course, I’m a pediatric SLP, so most of these questions apply to interviews with pediatric providers, but they might help you prepare in general for other interviews, as well.

Organizational Skills

1.  How do you keep up with due dates and important to-do items?

2.  How do you organize therapy data and session notes?

3.  How do you stay organized?

4.  How do you keep data during a therapy session with a busy client?

Theory

1.  What’s your philosophy for serving preschool students for speech/language?

2.  What model do you currently use to serve students?  (pull out, push in, inclusion, collaborative, coteaching, coaching, consultation?)

3.  What model do you use to serve students with autism?

4.  What program/model do you use to serve students with articulation/phonology disorders?

5.  How would you approach serving children with multiple special needs in a self-contained classroom setting?

6.  Do you think you can make change in the learning trajectory for a child even without parent involvement?

7.  What are the most important things you think teachers and parents need to know about language to make a difference for children?

8.  What do you think causes the achievement gap for minority students we serve?

Experience

1.  Tell me a little bit about yourself.

2.  Tell me about your current work setting.

3.  What social skills resources do you use for children with autism spectrum disorders?

4.   Tell me about the most difficult client you’ve ever had and how you worked through it.

5.  Tell me about the hardest therapy session you’ve ever had and how you made it work.

6.   What experience do you have with children with  __(whatever disorder the site specializes in serving)__?

7.   What AAC/Assistive Technology experience do you have?

8.  How do you involve parents and teachers in treatment?

9.  How would you deal with a parent who questions your therapy practices?

Personal Qualities

1.  What are your strengths?

2.  What are your weaknesses, and how do you overcome them?

3.  What prompted you to want a career in speech language pathology?

4.  Who are your mentors, and how have they guided you in your career path?

Goals/Job Outcome

1.  What are you looking for in a job?

2.  Describe your perfect/dream job.

3.  What’s most important to you in your job hunt?

4.  What are your favorite settings/special populations to work with?

5.  What age group do you most enjoy working with?

6.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Knowledge Base

1.  What continuing education courses have you taken in the past 2 years?

2.  Are you certified in any therapy program such as Hanen, Floortime, ABA, Lindamood Bell, etc?

3.  Do you regularly attend ASHA, and which courses do you typically go to?

4.  Tell me what you think the current events/issues are in speech-language pathology.

5.  How do you usually come up with goals/objectives for clients?

6.  Describe the steps you’d take to conduct an evaluation (both quantitative and qualitative).

7.  What do you see as your role in the Response to Intervention (RTI) process in a school system?

8.  How would you keep your caseload manageable?

9.  What do you see as your role in regard to reading/writing skills for elementary school students?

10.  What strategies/materials/activities do you use regularly for children with _______?  (autism, social skills deficits, Down Syndrome, apraxia, feeding disorders, etc.)

11.  Describe a typical activity you would use to address receptive and expressive language goals for a group of children.

12.  How do you typically coach a teacher or caregiver to help facilitate positive change in their teaching behavior?

Your Turn!

Also, I think it’s smart to have a list of a few questions you are going to ask your interviewers, so you don’t feel put on the spot when they ask you whether you have any questions.  Some basic ideas are:

1.  What’s the typical caseload?

2.  What are the typical hours?

3.  What paperwork/documentation am I expected to complete on a regular basis?

4.  What types of support for continuing education do you offer?

5.  What technology resources are available to me here?  (ex:  laptop, AAC devices, iTouch, iPad, etc.)

I think that preparing my responses to possible questions ahead of time, and actually saying them out loud to myself or someone else, really helps me reduce my stress level during actual interviews.   I hope this is helpful to other new or job-hunting SLPs, as well!

 Are there any questions I’ve left out?  Please leave a comment if you think of any others!


T.J. Ragan, MA, CCC – SLP
, is a speech language pathologist, wife, and mother who lives with her husband, their four year old daughter, and their two dachshunds in Durham, NC.  She works for Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools and The Cheshire Center and writes a blog about happiness.

Resume Preparation Tips

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Photo by bpsusf

(This blog article has been adapted for ASHASphere from the “PediaStaff New Graduate Guide.”  Click here to download the entire guidebook.)

A resume is a “living” document that will grow with each new job and professional experience. That said, it should concisely and effectively describe and sell your most relevant credentials. An employer will spend very little time reviewing your resume, so it must be clear and targeted for the type of job you are applying for. You may have more than one resume with different objectives. Don’t be afraid to “toot your own horn” because if you don’t, nobody will!  Beware of typos and grammar errors as these will leap right off the page.  Remember, this may be the only time you get to make an impression on an employer!

Before Writing the Resume:

  • Compile your educational experience. This will include all degrees you have completed or are in the process of completing, as well as relevant courses and seminars.
  • Catalog all your work experience such as your clinicals, therapy-related jobs, and positions working with children (special needs as well as typical). Also include jobs which demonstrate your leadership and interpersonal skills whether they are speech related or not.
  • Make a list of your honors, scholarships, academic and community achievements.
  • Put together names of all of the professional and community organizations to which you belong.
  • Choose three references who will speak highly of you (check with them first). Get their full names, titles, phone numbers, and email addresses. Also ask them how they prefer to be contacted.
  • Create a record of publications and papers you have written and presentations you have given.

Writing the Resume

  • At the top of the resume put your name, address, phone number(s) and email address. Only include references to blogs or social networking sites if they are exclusively used for work. We also recommend that you open a free account just for your job search. Gmail or Yahoo are great for this.  Also, make sure the voicemail message on the phone number you have listed is clear, professional, and states your name.
  • Declare your objective, the type of job you are looking for, and the population you wish to serve. This should be short and general. Do not close the door on any type of job you might have an interest in. Create a second resume if you find that your possible career objectives don’t work well in one document.
  • Create your educational information section. Working with most recent first, list the schools, city, state, year of graduation and the degree earned (or expect to earn).
  • Write your experience/work history. List this experience in reverse chronological order. Include title of job and use descriptive action words to describe your duties and responsibilities. Examples are “achieved,” “communicated,” “recommended,” “provided,” etc. Avoid passive verbs like “have written” or “was selected.”
  • Add a section for publications or papers you have presented, if relevant.
  • Create a section for any honors you have achieved. These honors should include academic, civic, and any other awards you may have received in the community.

After Writing the Resume

  • Show the completed document to a trusted friend, professor, or peer who can proofread it, look for things you may have missed, and help you with any areas of confusion.

Heidi Kay is one of the founding partners of PediaStaff and is the editor-in-chief of the PediaStaff Blog, which delivers the latest news, articles, research updates, therapy ideas, and resources from the world of pediatric and school-based therapy. PediaStaff is a nationwide, niche oriented company focused on the placement and staffing of pediatric therapists including speech-language pathologists.