Speech Pathology Job Interview Guide
You’ve studied, graduated and gained clinical experience in speech pathology. Now you’re ready to find a job as a speech therapist. Interviewing is one of the most challenging parts of the job search process for many people. A survey from JDP, an employment screening company, found that 93% of Americans felt anxious about a job interview. Additionally, 41% of respondents said they’re most nervous about failing to answer a difficult question.
One way to get over speech-language pathology job interview anxiety is through preparation. It helps to:
- Research questions you might be asked in a speech therapy job interview.
- Think about honest and genuine answers that will impress an interviewer.
- Practice a mock SLP job interview so you approach the interview confidently.
This article covers interview tips and practice questions to help you prepare for your next speech therapy job interview.
Where to Apply for Speech-Language Pathology Jobs
To make it to the interview stage, you have to apply for speech-language pathology jobs. Below are some popular career sites you can use to search for jobs based on job title, keywords, organization name and location. You can also upload your resume to these sites so recruiters and hiring managers can easily review your experience.
According to a 2016 survey from Jobvite, a software and recruiting company, 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn (PDF, 2.3 MB) to examine job candidates. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is optimized for recruiters and has your most up-to-date education, certification and work experience.
For speech-language specific job sites, check out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s online SLP career portal.
3 Job Interview Tips for Recent Speech Pathology School Graduates
Finding your first job out of graduate school is exciting—you’re about to embark on the meaningful career you’ve spent years preparing for. It can also be overwhelming. Below are three tips to help you transition into the field by nailing your speech-language pathology job interview.
1. Have a clear vision of why you’re passionate about speech-language pathology
Common questions in any job interview include, “Why are you applying for this job?” and “How’d you get interested in this field?”
Be prepared to talk about what prompted you to study speech pathology and why you chose to pursue a career in it. If you can connect your passion for speech-language pathology with the job environment, do so. For example, if you love working with kids, talk about why that motivated you to become a speech therapist.
2. Be mindful of the job environment
The job environment of the position you’re applying for will influence the questions you’re asked. If you’re applying for a speech therapist role in a hospital, for example, you may be asked different questions than you would if you’re applying for an SLP role in a school. Prepare for environment-specific questions before your speech-language pathology job interview.
3. Reference your clinical experience
You may not have as much professional experience as speech pathologists currently working in the field, but you do have supervised clinical experience that you can highlight in a job interview. Relate how your work under a certified speech pathologist prepared you for the job you’re interviewing for. Also, if you gained any specialty certifications that required clinical experience, discuss what you learned from them.
3 Job Interview Tips for Experienced Speech Pathology Job Seekers
There are plenty of ways to advance your career as a speech pathologist, whether it’s moving into a different speciality area or taking on a leadership position in your current area. If you’re an experienced speech pathologist looking for a new job, prepare for your interview with these tips.
1. Connect your experience with the environment
If you’re seeking to transition into a new job environment, be prepared to relate your past experience to the new environment. For instance, if you’re trying to move from a school to nursing facility setting, be ready to talk about how your school experience working with kids will translate to the nursing facility environment. Maybe you’re applying to work on the same kinds of speech or swallowing issues, for example.
2. Talk about continued education and specialty certifications
You’ve likely had to take continued education units to maintain your license or any specialty credentials. Explain how your continued education will benefit you in your new job. For example, you might have taken courses in a new field to prepare you for the new position you’re seeking.
3. Explain your challenges and successes
It’s common for interviewers to ask how you handled a workplace challenge. Go into your next speech therapy job interview ready to share a couple of anecdotes that show how you’ve overcome difficulties in your career. Also, be ready to share some shining moments that highlight your expertise and relate your skills to the job you’re applying for.
7 Typical SLP Job Interview Questions
Before an interviewer dives into environment-specific questions, they’ll likely ask you a few broad questions. Below are some general speech-language pathology job interview questions to prepare for.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Try to keep your answer concise and relevant to the role you’ve applied for. Explain why you’re passionate about speech pathology. Highlight your work experience and the communication disorders you have experience working with. Mention skills—such as empathy, communication or organization—that make you a good match for the specific position.
2. Why are you interested in this position?
Explain why you’re interested in the position, but don’t make it too much about you. Focus on the value you can bring to the company. Frame your answer in a way that shows how you can contribute to the organization and the people you’ll help if you’re hired.
3. What is your clinical experience in this setting?
If you’re an experienced speech therapist, give an overview of your clinical experience. If you’re an entry-level professional, highlight your supervised clinical and/or volunteer experience, as well as applicable knowledge you gained in your speech-language pathology master’s program. If you haven’t worked in the specific clinical environment but have worked with the population the job serves, you can reference that experience.
4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Be ready to list your top strengths and position your weaknesses as soon-to-be strengths. For example, if a weakness of yours is becoming shy when talking in front of groups, you might mention that your strength lies in the one-on-one connections you make. When discussing your weaknesses, it also helps to convey how you’re taking initiative to improve. For example, maybe you’re taking public speaking classes to become more comfortable speaking in front of groups. This shows the interviewer that you’re not only self aware, but you’re also committed to improvement.
5. What’s your experience with assistive technology?
Be prepared to talk about speech pathology tech devices, apps and programs you’re familiar with. Prepare some examples of how assistive technology aided you in your previous work.
6. What techniques do you use for evaluating patients?
This is a common question for speech-language pathology job interviews. Go in ready to talk about the qualitative and quantitative techniques you use to assess patients and monitor their progress. Speak to your familiarity with tools such as stroboscopes, ECGs and adaptive communication switches.
7. How do you stay organized?
Since managing paperwork is a major task of speech therapists, be ready to explain how you handle paperwork completion tasks and stay organized.
Speech-Language Pathology Job Interview Questions by Work Setting
In addition to understanding why you’re passionate about the speech therapy field, interviewers want to learn about your readiness to work in their specific work setting—whether it’s a school, occupational therapy office, hospital or nursing home.
SLP Job Interview Questions: School Setting
- Describe how you work with teachers, administrators and parents. Explain how you collaborate with each of these groups and navigate difficult conversations with parents who are skeptical or resistant to speech therapy.
- How does your work align with our school’s values? This is a great opportunity to show that you’ve researched the school and understand how your goals align with the school’s mission and values.
- How do you align your work with educational standards? Explain how you use academic standards when creating individual plans for students.
- What’s your experience working with children with autism? Nearly one in 54 children has ASD, according to the CDC’s estimates. It’s possible that some schools may want to hire speech-language pathologists experienced or interested in working with children who have autism.
- What are your language capabilities? If you have expertise in other languages, that will be important to highlight, especially if there’s a significant portion of students at the school who are non-native English speakers. If you don’t have additional language experience, be prepared to explain how you’d assess non-native English speakers.
- What communication disorders do you have experience in or are interested in? Be ready to name specific communication disorders and talk about the strategies you use for each one.
- What are your group speech therapy techniques? Be ready to talk about group therapy settings for children with varying speech therapy needs and how you accommodate different goals within a single group.
- What strategies would you use for students who are not cooperating during a speech therapy session? Be prepared to talk about behavior management and motivation strategies you employ.
SLP Job Interview Questions: Physical and Occupational Therapist Office Setting
- What interests you about working in a therapist office setting? Explain why this type of work environment appeals to you.
- What types of patients are you most interested in working with? Explain your experience with certain ages, disabilities, etc. The office may have a certain need or be able to place you with those types of clients.
- Describe your collaboration style. Explain how you work with other therapists, like physical and occupational therapists, when creating treatment plans.
- What communication disorders do you specialize in? Prepare to explain how you approach these.
SLP Job Interview Questions: Hospital Setting
- Why do you want to work for our hospital? When answering this question, address why you want to work with the hospital’s specific patient population and why you support the hospital’s mission and work.
- How do you collaborate with other medical professionals? In a hospital, you may be collaborating with physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors and other medical professionals. You’ll want to explain your collaboration techniques when working on patient treatment plans with other medical professionals.
- What kinds of patients are you interested in working with? If you’re comfortable working with all types of patients and diagnoses, mention that. Also highlight any specific experience you have working with certain age groups or disabilities.
- What oral-motor programs are you familiar with? List the competencies you have. It’s also good to mention that you’re eager to pursue training in any programs you aren’t familiar with that the hospital’s patients will benefit from.
SLP Job Interview Questions: Nursing and Residential Care Facility Setting
- Why are you interested in working with our population? Be prepared to explain why the population served at this facility is one you’re passionate about working with.
- How do you work with other medical professionals? You’ll likely be working with nurses and administrators, as well as consulting patients’ families. Be prepared to talk about how you’ll collaborate with these parties.
- What speech therapy programs are you familiar with? Be prepared to explain the techniques you specialize in, as well as your techniques for assessment and progress monitoring.
Questions to Ask the Speech Pathology Job Interviewer
“Do you have any questions for me?” is a common way for a job interviewer to conclude an interview. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about the position and show your interest in the organization. It’s always a good idea to come prepared with a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Here are some questions to consider:
- How would you describe the culture here? Organizational culture significantly contributes to job satisfaction. How interviewers answer this question will reveal whether your attributes align with the organization’s.
- What’s the typical workload for speech pathologists here, and how are workloads determined? Depending on the workplace, speech therapists may have a steady workflow or be extremely busy. Asking these questions will help you gauge whether or not you’ll have a manageable workload.
- Do you focus more on individual or group work work here? Some organizations may specialize in individual or group speech therapy. You’ll want to know that your preference aligns with the organization’s practice.
- What kind of workspace do speech pathologists have here? Depending on how you manage paperwork and organizational duties, office setting may be important to you.
- How do you evaluate job performance? This will give you an idea of the qualities that help speech pathologists succeed long-term at the organization and indicate how you need to perform at this job.
Practice So You’re Prepared
Ease nerves in your next interview by rehearsing your answers to commonly asked questions in the speech pathology job setting you’d like to work in. Practice by having someone ask you a combination of the general and setting-specific questions listed in this article. The more you practice, the more comfortable and prepared you’ll be for your speech-language pathology job interview.
Last Updated July 2020