This is the second article of a five-part series, “The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview”
Part 1: What to Expect
Part 3: Preparing for the Questions
Part 4: Make the Most of the Campus Tour
By: Mathew Hilton, MS, SPT, ACLS, PALS
University of Delaware Physical Therapy Class of 2017
Each Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program will have their own customized Interview Day. The interview itself will also vary. Sometimes, the DPT program will inform you about the format that you can expect, while in other times you may be walking in blind.
Overall you should prepare for all different types of situations in order to ensure that you build your best advantage for the physical therapy interview process. Here is a breakdown of the different interview formats and perspective on how to succeed through each of them:
1. Traditional (1-on-1)
This is your standard one-on-one interview in which your interviewer will likely be a faculty member. The interview may be “open/closed book,” meaning the interviewer may or may not have read your application, but in either case, you should be ready to discuss your application and assume that they have not looked at your application.
These interviews can very conversational, which allows you to steer the discussion from topic to topic. By providing answers that mention a variety of your experiences, you can help the interviewer ask follow-up questions and overall make the interview smoother and more enjoyable for everyone, rather than forcing the interviewer to read down a laundry list of questions.
2. Group (multiple students)
Some formats will involve you interviewing with multiple other candidates in the same room. Programs may organize the process this way simply to save time. In these cases, the interviews are straight-forward and you can expect an interviewer to ask questions in sequence from one candidate to the next.
In other cases, the interviewer may be evaluating how you handle unstructured group situations. Questions can be asked openly to the group and allow for the candidates to decide when to answer. In these formats, the interview process can seem stressful because many candidates fear that they will not have an opportunity to say their answer.
From my experience, I found it more helpful to wait for a few candidates to respond to the question and wait for a natural pause in the discussion before responding. First, this allows you to think out a more clear and precise answer without sounding rushed or aggressive. Second, you will be able to reflect upon previous answers to demonstrate that you listened to your peers and then relate their answers to your point of view. For an example, see below:
Interviewer: What do you believe to be the most important issue in physical therapy today?
Jamie: I think that the high cost of education is the most important issue because student debt is rising and PT salaries are not increasing fast enough to meet this debt.
Taylor: While I agree with Jamie that the cost of education is becoming increasingly burdensome upon students and young professionals, I feel that the increased prevalence in opioid abuse is most important issue because more than 165,000 patients have died from opioid abuse since 1999.
3. Group (multiple interviewers)
In a format with multiple interviewers, you can expect the panel to consist of faculty, clinicians, researchers and/or DPT students. Think of this as a traditional interview with the questions alternating from multiple people. I would consider preparing questions that you can ask each of the different types of interviewers.
4. Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)
MMIs can be described as “gauntlet-styled” interviews. In these situations, you enter a room with one or more interviewers and you’ll typically have a strict 4-5 minutes to answer questions.
Do not expect conversation or any response to your answers, because the clock is ticking. Right as you finish answering a question, the interviewer is going to ask another question, while writing your answers feverishly on their clipboard. Once the time limit is up, the door will open and you’ll enter a different room to repeat this process 3-4 times.
The key is to stay calm and to collect your thoughts. Speak at your own pace and do not rush yourself through this because the goal is to still provide quality answers instead of poorly answering a high quantity of questions.
Keep in mind that this controlled stressful environment is likely intentional and the interviewers are watching to see how you react to these situations. Practice some diaphragmatic breathing and remain calm. No one leaves these interviews feeling great, but with the right practice and execution, you can definitely achieve success.
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- Oct 19, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: Preparing for the Questions Oct 19, 2016
- Oct 12, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: Preparing for Different Interview Types Oct 12, 2016
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