Interview Questions for Physical Therapists to Hire the Right Fit

Here are some key interview questions for physical therapists to help you screen potential candidates and hire the right fit.

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Interview Questions for Physical Therapists to Hire the Right Fit

As a physical therapy practice owner and operator, you must rely heavily on your staff to provide the quality of care you and your patients have come to expect. However, to supply the desired patient experience, physical therapists must possess problem-solving abilities, professional expertise, and communication skills to navigate their practice effectively.

Fortunately, common interview questions for physical therapists can help. The right interview questions for physical therapists help decide if a candidate is a good fit for your operation, both in terms of their technical skills and approach to patient care. Take a look at a few good questions to ask a physical therapist in an interview and how to best gauge an applicant's responses.

Top Behavioral Interview Questions for Physical Therapists

Physical therapy's hands-on and personal nature makes screening candidates for adequate behavioral skills and practices a complete must. Behavioral interview questions for physical therapists can determine how potential PT employees would navigate various patient situations based on past behaviors and describe how they developed a solution to prior complications.

1. How would you handle a patient who does not follow treatment recommendations or comply during sessions?

A good interview question to help jumpstart a conversation is to determine how a candidate would handle patients who are not complying with treatment recommendations or in-office efforts. The response to this question helps practice owners determine whether a PT candidate can professionally deal with difficult patients and gauge the strength of their interpersonal skills.

When assessing a response, it is important to pay attention to an applicant's conflict resolution style and whether it meshes well with your clinic's preferred approach. Positive responses to this interview question can be that the PT would first take the time to clearly and calmly explain the importance of the recommended treatment and how it will benefit the patient's function long-term.

Beyond effective communication, employers will also want to listen for the potential solutions applicants would offer hesitant patients to reduce conflict and encourage treatment. Demonstrating compassion and understanding towards the patient's frustration is a good signal of effective conflict resolution, plus a willingness to be flexible but persistent in their treatment efforts.

2. What is most stressful to you about being a physical therapist? How do you handle that stress?

Everyone has their good and bad days. However, from handling difficult patients to dealing with administrative backlogs, there are numerous clinic stressors potential PTs must be ready to handle. As a physical therapist, understanding what candidates view as the most significant PT industry stressors helps determine upfront if they can mesh well with your clinic's specific environment.

Patient retention, satisfaction, and treatment success rely on properly managing clinic stressors. In response to this question, look for candidate responses that can identify understandable PT stressors and, more importantly, explain how they deal with this stress and the problem-solving skills they possess and use to mitigate and eliminate it.

For example, suppose overwhelming administrative paperwork is identified as a candidate's highest stressor. In that case, they must also be able to explain how they would go about this concern to find a stress-reducing solution. This solution should include strong and effective communication among teammates and demonstrating the use of their personal management processes to ensure both administrative and patient care needs are properly balanced.

Top Technical Interview Questions for Physical Therapists

On top of behavioral skills, interview questions for physical therapists should include technical skills questions. Technical skill interview questions are used to gauge a candidate's hands-on PT knowledge and abilities to see if they match up with your expectations, and the specific patient needs at your clinic.

1. Describe how you would document a typical physical therapy session step by step.

PT session documentation is a crucial component of effectively monitoring and properly billing for ongoing patient treatment efforts that aides in the ongoing management of your practice. Asking how candidates would document daily PT sessions step by step helps measure their technical documentation skills in advance to determine if they are up to par with your clinic's standards.

As a candidate provides their response and walks through each step of their documentation process, be sure to listen out for their ability to name and embellish each of the required elements of PT documentation. Their response should include the following:

  • The initial exam and evaluation.
  • Individual visits.
  • Reexamination.
  • The end summary concluding a patient's episode of care.

While you can't expect a candidate's documentation process to exactly match your preferred style, understanding that they possess the basic skills and understanding of PT documentation signal their ability to merge with your exact processes later on. Identifying basic documentation knowledge upon hiring is key to helping assure employee retention after therapist onboarding.

2. Describe a challenging case you've handled. Why was it difficult, and what therapy methods did you implement to treat it?

Across the physical therapy space, there are countless common conditions and accommodating treatment practices that PT professionals must harness daily. While you should anticipate that candidates will be able to display these abilities on a case-by-case basis, you should also be interested in how they previously handled particularly difficult physical therapy diagnoses.

From elderly patients with extremity trauma to more fragile pediatric patients, request that PT candidates discuss challenging cases they handled before, why they believed it was a difficult case, and the treatment methods they used to accommodate the patient. High-ranking candidates should be able to spell out physical condition or injury diagnoses in-depth, along with the varying therapy techniques and measurements used to support and assess functional improvement over time.

Not only does this common interview question for physical therapy provide practices with a method to measure a candidate's performance, but it also demonstrates how strong their problem-solving skills are. Physical therapy practice owners are the first to know that every case is different, so it's critical to locate a new employee who can handle a variety of basic to extreme diagnoses.

The Bottom Line: Hiring the Right Physical Therapist

Using the interview questions for physical therapists discussed above, PT practice owners can better target quality candidates to ensure that newly hired physical therapists will work hard to deliver top-tier patient care. Such interview questions can also help protect your practice against poor patient care that could impede your operation's positive opinions and local preferences.

When onboarding PT professionals, operators deserve a practice management solution that can help reduce and simplify time-consuming tasks to create more time to get new hires on the right track. Contact MWTherapy today to schedule a demo to learn how our practice management capabilities can help your practice better focus (and excel) where it matters most: patient care.

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