School-Based Pediatric Physical Therapy Interview Questions

Do you want to work as a physical therapist and help students? Working with children as a school-based physical therapist does just that. As a school-based physical therapist, you’ll have the chance to help children overcome their challenges and reach their potential. Discover some of the questions you may be asked in a school-based physical therapy interview in this resource.

1) What Is Your Communication Style?

Good communication skills are a critical part of the therapeutic relationship with students, their parents, and other staff members. Strong communication improves outcomes, facilitates teamwork, and increases patient satisfaction, but not everyone has the same communication style. Some people are more assertive while others are more passive. Some have an analytical style and like to focus on the hard data when communicating. Some therapists prefer to communicate things in a step-by-step fashion. Think about how you tend to communicate and how that may be an asset when working with students and their families. Keywords to include in your interview response can consist of clear and effective communication. This is something that is universally crucial, regardless of communication style.

Types of Communication Styles

Need help identifying your communication style? According to Fast Company, there are a few types that you may be able to identify with:

  • Analytical
    • Analytical communicators value data, numbers, and specific language. They thrive on clearly-defined tasks in order to get the job done well. Some key components to communicating effectively with this style are to provide details, set clear expectations, and allow them to work independently.
  • Intuitive
    • These are the communicators that function well with big-picture ideas. The small details aren’t where they thrive. They prefer broad overviews so that they can address what is of the highest priority. The key to communicating with this style of a communicator is to stay on topic, keeping it high-level and excluding small details when possible.
  • Functional
    • Functional communicators thrive on the details as well. They approach effective communication by working through the step-by-step process that is required to get the job done. They thrive on making sure that everything is thought of in order to achieve the end goal. Follow-up questions and detailed questions are common with this type of communicator.
  • Personal
    • This type of communicator thrives on relationship and connection. It is common for a personal communicator to take on the same amount of emotion/care that the person saying something has. Diving into connection and emotion is where this person thrives. It’s a style that may require more follow-ups with important details as well as a lighter conversation but they are often the strength of a team that encourages relationships versus simply remaining coworkers.

2) Tell Me About A Challenging Situation Working With A Youth Patient And How You Overcame It.

Whether it involves a difficult case or problems meeting goals, every physical therapist has challenging situations. Be honest about a time when you had a difficult situation. How did you resolve it and what happened? Your potential employer is trying to assess your problem-solving skills.

An example of a challenging situation could include a hesitant student. Perhaps the student has hesitancies about the help that could be offered by a PT or perhaps they feel discouraged about their situation in general. Focusing on keeping the student engaged from the beginning could be key in this situation. Explaining why your treatment decisions are beneficial for the student and celebrating their milestones are both great ways to develop trust and comfort.

3) Tell Me About Your Experience Working With Kids

If you worked as a pediatric physical therapist in any setting, talk about your experience as a PT. If you don’t have pediatric physical therapy experience, consider discussing any work or volunteer experience you have with kids. Your interviewer wants to make sure you are comfortable working with children. In addition to this, your interviewer is using this interview as an opportunity to get to know your personality and how you would fit in an environment with children. Be sure to display positive qualities such as patience, humor, and energy within your answers.

A great way to support your answer to this question is to include examples of activities that pediatric physical therapists practice with their patients. Take a look at this resource to give you some ideas.

4) How Do You Think School-Based PT Is Different From Medically-Based Outpatient PT?

Your potential employer wants to make sure you understand that working in a school setting is different than working in a hospital-based setting, such as an acute care hospital. School-based physical therapists work on goals related to helping a child achieve their academic potential.

There are also certain regulations that physical therapists must follow when they provide therapy in school settings. Individual guidelines may vary. Usually, children are treated individually or in a small group setting. A certain amount of time is set aside during school hours for the child to participate in PT. The therapist must also set aside time to discuss the child’s progress with parents and parents and teachers to provide goals and interventions performed.

It’s important to arrive well-informed for your interview. Make sure that you have the proper understanding of these kinds of topics by researching various guidelines and best practice resources such as this one from UNC.

5) Why Are You Interested In Working In A School?

Advancement opportunities are similar for physical therapists in most settings. School-based therapists can advance by becoming a lead therapist or moving into management. In addition to the advancement opportunities that are available to physical therapists, there are a variety of continuing education options as well. Continuing education courses provide the opportunity of career growth, thus increasing the chances of career advancement. There are several resource options when it comes to continuing education courses. provides a list of career development opportunities which can be found here. Continuing education course requirements are based on a state-by-state basis.

6) What Is A Typical Day Of A Physical Therapist Working At Schools?

Take a minute before your interview and think about what drives you to want to work as a school-based physical therapist. It may be several factors. This could include answers such as being able to work with children or being involved in the school community. Just remember to speak from your heart, and you can’t go wrong.

Ready to start job-hunting? Search available positions.

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