Sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, and a lot of stress. All these factors contribute to a plethora of problems people in the Western world experience. Their back aches, they can barely stand from the bed in the morning, and they struggle to bend and pick an object which fell to the floor. Then we have injuries and physical limitations that follow.
A skilled physical therapist can help their clients regain their full range of movement, or at least improve their situation. Seeing the development of things in the world, you do not really need to worry about the future of your profession. You will have clients, and opportunity to both help people and to earn big.
Before this can happen, however, you have to get to PT school and earn your degree. The acceptance rate is below 33%, so it definitely isn’t guaranteed you will make it. In this article we will look at some questions you may face in your PT school interview, and how you should answer them to improve your chances of getting in. Enjoy!
Why do you want to study at a PT School?
The most important thing is to ensure them that you know why you study, and what you want to do in the future, and do not just follow a dream of your parents, or want to earn a degree because almost everyone has a degree nowadays.
Certainly you want to study at a PT school to be able to practice physical therapy later. But do you have a specific plan? Perhaps a certain target group you’d like to work with, or a specialization you want to get, or a plan to open your own practice/clinic in the future?
Try to be specific. Saying that you want to study at a PT school because you want to help people won’t make the cut in this interview.
If you talk about specific plan for the future, however, or about your awareness of deteriorating physical abilities across all age levels in the western world, and an honest desire to do something about it, and if the interviewers hear some enthusiasm in your voice while you speak about these things, your chances to succeed will be much better.
What was the first impulse that made you interested in PT, and not in nursing, medicine, etc?
Try to tell them a story. Perhaps you experienced your share of problems with movement in your childhood, being limited by some injuries, or by bad genetics. Or someone you loved had such a problem. An excellent therapist helped them to improve their range of movement, and doing so, they significantly improved their quality of life.
Or you visited a clinic for people who suffered spinal cord injuries and remained bed-bound or wheelchair-bound, and you were amazed by the “small miracles” physical therapists managed to perform with these people, and the profound impact they had on their lives.
Someone inspired you, but it wasn’t a nurse, or a surgeon. You found a role model in a physical therapist, and decided to pursue the same career. That was the ignition, the impulse that decided you won’t try to become a doctor, but a physical therapist.
Why did you apply with our school?
You have two options for a good answer here, and you can stand out with them. First one is pointing out something specific about their school, something that makes them stand out in your eyes.
Now, it isn’t enough to say that they have a great reputation, or that you like the curriculum. Such general answers won’t impress anyone…
If you want to praise their curriculum, you should go through it, find three or four subjects you like, and perhaps one or two subjects that are at least somehow unique (you would not have them at other PT school), and point this out in your interview.
If you want to praise reputation of the school or quality of teachers, you should again come up with some facts and numbers. How do they rate in national rating of PT programs? Have any professors published some interesting research papers in the last 12 months? What in particular do former students praise about the school?
Second option for a good answer is brutal honesty. You applied with seven PT schools, but only this one invited you for an interview. Hence they are your first choice, because they decided to give you a chance.
At the end of the day, you do not care much about rating and stuff. At each and every school, you will find both good and bad teachers. You know that it depends mostly on you–your attitude, effort, etc, how much you will learn and whether you will become a great PT or not. Therefor you do not care much about names and ratings. They gave you a chance, and they are your first choice…
Not many people have courage to opt for brutal honesty in their interviews. You can easily stand out with this answer, and win a favor of your interviewers.
PT School is hard. What makes you believe you will handle the workload?
Humility can do wonders for you, in any interview. Say that you aren’t sure you will handle it, but will try your best.
You want to give your studies the first priority, and are ready to sacrifice a lot for your success. You have this or that hobby, or perhaps even a part time job you enjoy doing. If necessary, however, you are ready to quit, and devote all your time to your studies.
What’s more, your honest desire and the plan you have for your future (see the 1st question in this article) will help you overcome a potential crisis of motivation, and push on when things are hard, and you have to spend days and nights studying.
You are humble enough to approach this chapter of your life with a healthy level of respect. You aren’t sure you will graduate–because nobody can be sure about that. But you are sure about one thing–you will give it your best shot, and won’t mind sacrificing your leisure time activities for your studies.
What do you want to do at the college while not studying?
I see two options for a really good answer to this one. First one is saying that you want to devote almost 100% of your time to your studies. Hence you do not think much about after school activities, part time jobs, or anything else you may do in your free time.
Surely enough, you will go to a club or enjoy your time with fellow students once or twice a month. You are a human being, you want to have contacts with other people, and make friends. When the workload won’t be heavy, you’ll find time to relax, and you will try to clear your head.
But during the exams period or when things get difficult, you will simply study.
Second option is referring to something you want to do for the student community. You plan to try to get a job of a resident assistant, or a part time role in school library, or do anything else that will allow you to connect with fellow students and help them.
Show the interviewers that you want to give something back, that you do not think only about yourself. They will love you for such an attitude, especially if they feel that you are honest and do not say things just to impress them…
Other questions you may face in your PT school interview
- Can you tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
- In your opinion, what is the most difficult thing about the work of a physical therapist?
- Do you have plan B? What will you do if you do not get to PT school this year?
- Who inspires you the most in your life?
- Why should we give you the place in our study program, instead of giving it to someone else from the applicants?
* You can download the list of all questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
MMI interviews at PT school
Many PT school across the United States and Canada in particular are slowly ceasing to use the traditional panel interview format, and opt for multiple mini interviews.
In this case, you will walk from one room to another, always talking to one person only. They will ask you a scenario based question (or suggest a role play), you will have a minute to think about it, and then you will have to come up with an answer. Some example questions:
- You work with a teenager who suffered a spinal cord injury. You are exercising together for three months, trying to help them regain some movement in their right hand. But after three months you see there is no progress and there likely won’t be any, and you have to stop the treatment. What will you tell to the patient?
- One of your patient, a man in his forties, becomes emotionally attached to you. They invite you out and make all sorts of proposals. How will you react? Do you think it is ethically correct to continue treating the patient?
- A good friend of yours, Jennifer, calls you and cries on the phone. She tells you that she has been rejected for the 3rd time from all PT schools that she had applied to during the previous application cycle. She invites you to visit her and talk about her future. Go inside the room and speak with Jennifer.
- If the Prime Minister/President were to ask your advice on one change that could be applied to the healthcare system that would improve it enormously and have the greatest positive effect, how would you answer?
Conclusion, next steps
Physical Therapist is a wonderful profession, but it is not easy to get to PT school. People who rely on their good grades from high school, or think that their intelligence will win them a place in the study program, often end up disappointed at the end of the interviews.
It’s your preparation that counts, and that will decide whether you get in or not. Try to learn as much as you can about the PT school before your interview. Read everything on their website, check the curriculum and pick some subjects you like in particular. Learn something about their history, the dean, professors, research papers they published, etc.
Once done, try to prepare for all questions from this article, and check also other online sources. The more you prepare, the better your chances to succeed will be. I wish you good luck!
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