Preparing for a Job Interview in the Medical Setting

Brought to you by Encompass Health

Preparing for a job interview can be overwhelming and a bit stressful—even for seasoned clinicians. Below are some tips and suggestions to enhance the interview experience from a lead speech therapist at Encompass Health.

Before the interview

  • Do your research. Spend some time researching the facility or hospital of interest. Do they have specific stroke or brain injury programs? Are they in partnership with a Level 1 trauma center? Does The Joint Commission accredit them? How long have they been open? Click through their website and pay attention to keywords. Read the reviews. This can be helpful to refer to during your interview and will impress the interviewer(s). 

  • Anticipate likely interview questions. The interviewer(s) will most likely ask a few generic questions during the interview—such as your strengths and weaknesses, your work experience, and how you have handled a challenging situation in the past. They might also ask you why you feel you are a good fit for them. Reflect on these questions. Ask for feedback from friends, family, and coworkers. Expect technical questions, as well. Have a basic understanding of neuroanatomy; the roles and responsibilities of a medical speech-language pathologist (SLP); specific diagnoses (i.e., stroke, brain injury, progressive neurological disorders, cervical surgeries); and impairments (i.e., aphasia, apraxia, cognitive impairment, dysarthria, dysphagia). It is always beneficial to have had clinical or work experience in the medical setting, but it is not a deal breaker if you have not. If you do not have robust experience in this setting, just acknowledge it—and play on your strengths.

  • Make sure you ask some questions, too. Create a list of your own questions and bring these with you as a reference. Remember, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. This is your career, and you should make sure that the job is a good fit for you—not the other way around. A few questions that you may want to ask include employee turnover, productivity standards, continuing education (CE) opportunities, mentorship, how many other SLPs are in the building, and what a typical day would entail.

During the interview

  • Presentation. I hate to say it, but first impressions are sometimes the only impression. Running late or being completely frazzled at the beginning of an interview does not usually lead to successful outcomes. Show up early—even if this means doing a dry run to the location the night before or sitting in your car for 30 minutes. Look professional and presentable yet let your own style show.

  • Body language. According to some research, only about 7% of communication consists of spoken words. That means that up to 93% of communication is reflective of our non-verbals and tone. Be aware of your body language, your eye contact, and your tone during the interview. As an SLP in the medical setting, quickly creating rapport and trust with patients is a number one priority, and verbal and nonverbal communication can instantly facilitate this.

  • Oh, no! I don’t know the answer! Deep breath: If you do not know an answer, just say so. Rambling on for the next 5 minutes is not a wise choice. Acknowledge your shortcoming in this area, and then turn it around to make it a positive—such as “I really do not have much experience in this area, but that is what really excites me about this opportunity—I am always exploring ways to grow and learn, and I know I will get that here.”

After the interview

  • Follow up. Within 24–48 hours, send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer(s) for their time. Use this as an opportunity to note aspects of this potential job that you love and ways that you could add value. This would also be a good time to speak to—and clarify—any of your answers where you were not super confident in your response. Keep your follow-up email short, simple, and meaningful.

  • Inquire about job shadowing. It may also be a good idea to ask whether job shadowing is available. A job shadow would give you more time to show a potential employer your general interest and skills.

  • Celebrate the opportunity. No matter the outcome, celebrate the fact that you put yourself out there, you took a chance, and you showed up for yourself and your career. If you get the job, congrats! If you did not get the job, take some time to reflect on some areas of improvement—and then try again. 

About the Author

Nicole Link, MA, CCC-SLP, is the lead speech therapist at Mount Carmel Rehabilitation Hospital, an affiliate of Encompass Health, in Westerville, Ohio. She has spent the majority of her 13-plus year career working in the inpatient rehabilitation setting. She believes that teamwork, clinical excellence, and compassion are the key ingredients in moving her profession forward and improving the lives of the patients she serves.

About Encompass Health

Encompass Health is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient rehabilitation, with more than 150 hospitals in 37 states and Puerto Rico. We serve our patients and communities through customized rehabilitation that exceeds expectations. Our care teams are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes and getting patients back to what matters most.