The most common question that a new therapist will have is what to ask on their first interview. Most students prepare for the resume and initial interview questions that an employer might ask, however, students are not always prepared to ask questions. A majority of employers appreciate when an employee or interviewee asks questions. It shows a sense of engagement, readiness, preparation, and enthusiasm for a job. Below are 5 good questions for every interviewee to ask an employer.Case Mix
1.) Case Mix – Whether you are interviewing for an inpatient, outpatient, or acute care setting, it is important that you get a specific idea for the patient population that you are working with. For instance, you may think that an outpatient clinic would see a majority of athletes or active adults, however, it may be an outpatient clinic attached to a surgeons office that exclusively does total knee and hip replacements. This would be a complete change of expectation in the patient population that you, as a therapist, are hoping to serve. Instead of young athletes, you would be seeing primarily elderly patients who might not be as active.
2.) Insurance Mix – With the changing landscape of healthcare payment, types of insurance, private pay options, and deductibles/co-pays, it is important that you learn how your company or healthcare system is getting paid. It is important because oftentimes, therapists have to educate patients on payment. Also, in some smaller clinics, physical therapists will do the billing themselves. There are a wide variety of insurances that you have to deal with. Typically in outpatient, you will have private insurances that have deductibles, co-pays, or premiums. Deductibles are set amounts of money in the thousands of dollars. The patient will have to pay for that amount until his/her insurance covers the care. Co-pays are payments that you have to make in addition to coverage by insurance. This means that a patient will have to pay an additional fee every time they see a therapist in outpatient, home-care, or inpatient rehabilitation. It could be anywhere from 5 – 50 dollars depending on insurance. Premiums do not relate directly to the patient care, however, it is the amount that a person pays per month for insurance coverage. If you are working in a skilled rehab or acute care, it is covered by government insurance (Medicare or Medicaid) and that will be important to monitor the certification period, eligibility, and have appropriate documentation to reduce the rate of denials. An employer will appreciate that you are also concerned with financials as well as effective clinical care.
3.) Continuing Education / Advancement – A great first question to ask on an interview as a new grad is if the chosen place of employment offers any type of continuing education or educational advancement. Other than being gainfully employed, it is important that a new grad continue to educate themselves and continue to learn. Oftentimes, companies will provide internal continuing education or a balance for education credits. Additionally, they can provide reimbursement for management or business training in case you want to move to a supervisory role such as a MBA or a masters of management. These benefits can come with a requirement that you work for the clinic or business for a certain period of time.
4.) Company Mission Statement / Goals / Problems That You Are Working On – Every company has a mission statement or goal that they are working on. As a prospective employee, it is important that you get started on knowing and living this mission statement as soon as possible. Additionally, it would be important to ask the question “what problems will I be working on”. This can simply be treating patients or getting involved with the operations or management of a clinic/healthcare system. Finally, you can ask about the goals of the organization and state your goals so that you can align your respective missions and goals.
5.) Salary and Benefits – Finally, it is important for you to broach the subject of salary and benefits. Before the interview, it would be best to research the local average and median salary in the area. Or, you could ask classmates or fellow physical therapists about what their respective salary offers are. Salary is not the only metric that you want to ask about. Benefits including: 401k contribution and matching, paid sick time, paid time off, personal days, medical coverage, dental, insurance liability, and short term/parental leave. It is important that you get all this information and compare total packages. For instance, some companies could have excellent 401k contribution matches, however, only two weeks of paid time off. It is important to get all these metrics so that you can weigh them appropriately.
In conclusion, going on your first professional interview can be nerve-racking and scary. However, if you are well-prepared and well researched with questions, it can be a positive learning experience. Showing your employer that you are engaged and interested in the work you are starting is a great first impression.