You have just completed what may have been the most stressful two years of your life – a graduate program in speech-language pathology and now it’s time for the real world. Looking for that first professional job, which in itself is another stressful experience, poses a variety of questions: Where to apply? Who’s even hiring clinical fellows? What interview questions will be asked?
Seven years ago I searched for my first SLP job, and now I’m doing some interviewing of new candidates. From my real life experience, here’s some help for first-time job seekers:
Where to apply?
This question and your answer depend on the job market in your area as well as what setting you want to aim for. Odds are that if you are in a metropolitan area there will most likely be a variety of jobs open to you across all settings: school based, clinic/private practice, hospital/skilled nursing or home health. Each of these settings has their own respective pros and cons.
Pros: Summers and holidays off; teacher-therapist collaborations
Cons: High number of meetings; high caseload with lots of paperwork; possible travel time; treated like a ‘resource teacher’
HOSPITAL OR SKILLED NURSING FACILITY
Pros: Enjoyment of working with adults; improved patient progress in an acute-care setting; clients have greater investment in making progress
Cons: Insurance paperwork; limited sessions with patients; low productivity in outpatient settings due to cancellations; long hours
Pros: Flexible hours; cross discipline opportunities; greater impact on client and family’s success; opportunity to specialize
Cons: Large numbers of cancellations/no shows; insurance/billing paperwork; travel time (if home health)
Interview questions to anticipate
Beyond the basic interview questions (such as, ‘what are your strengths and weakness?’) candidates for speech-language pathology jobs should anticipate specialized queries like the following. Also, some interviewers will present you with a scenario or mock client, and then ask for your input about what course of action to take, so be prepared for ‘what if’ questions.
- What got you interested in speech-language pathology?
- Tell me about your clinical experience. What areas do you enjoy most?
- What type of client are you most comfortable treating? What type of client are you not comfortable treating?
- What do you look for in a supervisor?
- What level of supervision are you comfortable with?
- What hours are you willing to work?
- Are you comfortable conducting group therapy?
- Are you willing to travel?
These questions are a basic outline of what could be asked and will be more specific depending on your setting, which means you may be asked about IEP paperwork, CTP codes, hospital billing and other documentation.
Questions to ask your perspective employer
- How much supervision is offered? Do you offer mentors?
- Is the job salaried or am I payed per visit?
- Will I get paid for travel time?
- Will I get paid for cancellations?
- Is there dedicated time for paperwork? Billing? SOAP notes? Evaluation reports? Progress reports?
- Do you take taxes out or am I responsible?
- Is there a supply budget? What type of supplies do you offer?
- Do I need to sign a noncompete clause?
Good luck finding that first job!