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Top Interview Questions and Answers for Recreational Therapists

September 26, 2023

The recruiters for the recreational therapist position you're applying to liked what they saw on your resume and decided to proceed to the next hiring process step: your job interview. This part is regarded by many as one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of applying for a job, especially for first-time applicants who totally don't know what to expect. This is where preparation comes in, and any help with this will surely come in handy.

In this article, we provide some of the most common types of questions that an interviewer may ask during a job interview for a recreational therapist position. We also provide some valuable tips you may follow to help you increase the possibility of success in your job interview.

An interviewer and a candidate during a job interview for recreational therapists.

General Questions in the Job Interview

General interview questions are asked at the beginning of a job interview to encourage rapport between the job interviewer and candidate and promote a friendly and comfortable environment. This gives the interviewer a starting point for deeper discussion and helps them better understand the candidate on a personal level.

How would your former employers or colleagues describe you?

This question is asked upon interview to determine a candidate's personality and to know if it's an ideal fit for the organization's culture and what's required to succeed as a recreational therapist. This question also allows interviewers to get an idea of how a candidate interacts with their coworkers, clients, and stakeholders, as a reference to how well they could work with or for the team.

Our Suggested Answer: My past employer and colleagues would say I’m a reliable, dedicated, empathetic and compassionate recreational therapist who is a great communicator and problem solver. I tend to get along with everyone and work well as a team member.

What skills do you possess that you think make you the ideal candidate for this position?

The purpose of this question is to find out if the candidate has the skills that would enable them to excel in the position. This allows the candidate to elaborate on their unique skills, experiences, and qualities that make them exceptional in the field of recreational therapy. This allows employers to explore a candidate's understanding of the role, relevant experience and overall ability to contribute to therapeutic recreation.

Our Suggested Answer: I believe that my strongest suit is my good communication skills, which enable me to effectively collaborate with other healthcare professionals and ensure a holistic approach to therapy. For instance, my past work experience allowed me to work with and collaborate well with occupational therapists, physical therapists, and psychologists to construct a comprehensive treatment plan for my previous clients. Other skills that I possess that I believe make me an ideal candidate for this position include empathy, dedication, and activity planning.

Questions On Your Career Goals and Perspectives

Interviewers may ask about an applicant's career goals and perspectives to assess whether the company's vision and values ​​align with the candidate's long-term goals. It also helps them understand whether the candidate knows their career path and whether the current position they are applying for aligns with their overall goals.

What motivated you to become a recreational therapist?

This question allows the candidate to demonstrate their personal connection with the role of being a recreational therapist, their understanding of the way that recreational therapy services impact the lives of others by catering to their different needs, and their sincere commitment to enriching the lives of others by helping them improve their quality of life. It also allows the interviewer to evaluate if a candidate's values align with their organization's.

Our Suggested Answer: What motivated me to become a recreational therapist was a combination of my passion for helping others and my belief in the power of recreation as a therapeutic tool. The idea of using recreational activities to promote another person's physical, emotional, and mental health resonated with me deeply. I find fulfillment in the thought that individuals can experience a better quality of life through participation in meaningful leisure activities offered by recreational therapy services.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question helps an interviewer gauge the candidate's long-term goals and their commitment to the field of recreational therapy, and check if it aligns with the organization's own goals. It allows them to have an insight into whether the candidate would aspire to pursue a long-term position and prosper as a recreational therapist or use it as a stepping stone for other career options.

Our Suggested Answer: In five years, I see myself thriving as a recreational therapist, positively impacting individuals' lives through the power of recreation. I'm committed to continuously expanding my knowledge and skills in this field and hope to take on organizational leadership responsibilities. I envision myself encouraging the realization of innovative ideas, collaborating with a team of like-minded professionals, and contributing to the overall growth and success of the organization.

Questions On Your Knowledge, Experience, and Qualifications

Interviewers would like to ensure that they make informed hiring decisions by asking questions about an applicant's knowledge, experience, and qualifications. Knowing an applicant's expertise can help an interviewer assess the applicant's suitability for the role and effectiveness in contributing to the organization.

Are you a Certified Recreational Therapist?

In Canada, recreational therapists are not regulated as a profession, but there are certification programs available for recreational therapists through various professional associations. These programs establish the standards of practice for the profession, promote best practices, and provide a recognized credential for competency at a certain level. Even though certification isn't mandatory, any recreational therapists choose to undergo certification programs offered by these professional associations as a sign of professionalism and dedication to the field.

Our Suggested Answer: Having just recently graduated, I have yet to receive my certification in recreational therapy. Although certification is not mandatory in Canada, I'm committed to enhancing my skills and knowledge in the field through continuous learning courses and training and adhering to the best practices set by the associations for recreational therapy. I am confident that my dedication to ongoing education and my passion for helping others will enable me to provide excellent care and make a positive impact in this role.

What other certifications relevant to the field of recreational therapy do you possess?

Asking about other certifications allows employers to identify candidates who have sought additional training in specialized areas, which can be an asset in certain job roles within recreational therapy. For example, employers want to ensure that candidates have the necessary skills and knowledge to handle emergencies and ensure the safety and well-being of their clients. For this purpose, certifications such as Basic Life Support (BLS) and first aid are necessary and can provide an edge to a candidate's application.

Our Suggested Answer: As a recreational therapist, I understand the importance of continuous learning and staying updated with industry standards. In addition to my primary certification as a recreational therapist, I have also obtained several other relevant certifications and training like Basic Life Support (BLS) and first aid, which I believe are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of clients in any therapeutic setting. I have also done specialized training in art therapy as well as music therapy, which allows me to incorporate alternative therapeutic techniques into my practice.

How do you ensure that your chosen treatment plan is personalized and best suited for your patient’s needs?

This question allows the interviewer to evaluate the candidate's competency in providing a high level of care and obtaining positive outcomes with clients. It assesses the candidate's comprehension of the significance of individualized care for patients in recreational therapy and the ability to modify treatment options to the client's specific needs, wants, and preferences.

Our Suggested Answer: As a recreational therapist, my comprehensive therapeutic approach centers around building rapport, listening actively, and adapting my interventions for the most effective care. This is accomplished through continuous patient evaluation and feedback in collaboration with the patient's support system, allowing me to make necessary adjustments and ensure the treatment plan remains effective and beneficial.

Are you capable of catering to patients of all ages? Specifically, have you worked with special populations like elderly patients, children, and patients with developmental disabilities?

Recreational therapists work with diverse populations and must have experience and understanding of individualized care. This question allows the interviewer to assess the candidate's ability to develop an individualized treatment plan for their client or patient. It also assesses knowledge of assessment techniques, ability to develop effective treatment plans, and flexibility to adapt interventions to meet the needs of the various populations and ages of clients they're working with.

Our Suggested Answer: From my past experience working as a recreational therapist, I have had the opportunity to work and direct services with a variety of populations including patients from nursing homes, psychiatric residential centers, and Alzheimer’s units, among others. I understand these groups' specific needs as I have observed and directed many services for them. I have also gained experience in developing and implementing many treatment plans for my clients.

Typically, I will start my recreational therapy services for my clients by thoroughly assessing their needs and mental and physical abilities. I will also try to acquire as much information as I can about the client from their family and staff if available. This is very important to me as the family has had the most history with the client and are also the eyes and ears you will need to report updates or changes to the patient. I will use the information I gather to help develop treatment plans and goals for each client. Goals will be developed based on one or more of the performance areas.

How do you encourage the patient's family members and loved ones to participate in the recreational activities?

Encouraging the patient’s family members and loved ones to participate in recreational activities is very important to enhance the patient’s therapeutic process and ensure that they'll have a supportive environment that they can move forward with. Through this question, the interviewer wants to determine if the candidate understands the importance of family involvement and has strategies to effectively engage and encourage participation from the patient's support system.

Our Suggested Answer: I understand that involving the patient's family and loved ones in recreational activities can greatly enhance the therapeutic process. So, to encourage their participation, I would start by establishing open lines of communication with the family and actively listening to their concerns and goals. I would provide them with information about the benefits of recreational therapy and how their involvement can contribute to the patient's progress. I would also offer educational sessions and workshops tailored to the family's needs, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to engage in the variety of activities indicated in the patient's treatment plan.

How do you assess if the individualized plans you're implementing for the patient work?

As a recreational therapist, it's crucial to assess whether the interventions and activities implemented are meeting client needs and goals. This question allows the interviewer to assess the candidate's ability to develop appropriate assessment methods and modify treatment plans to ensure the best possible patient outcomes.

Our Suggested Answer: To arrive at the best results in addressing physical or mental health issues, it's important that I continually evaluate and document my outcomes to guide the assessment process. In doing so, I will communicate with the patient and their family members to see what their perspectives are on the intervention that I have planned for the patient, and how the patient has responded to it. I would also use standardized assessment tools and observations to track progress. If adjustments are necessary, I'll also see to it that I would collaborate with other healthcare professionals to gather insights on what changes I'll implement for the patient's treatment plan.

How do you stay updated with the current trends and best practices in recreational therapy?

It is important for recreational therapists to stay updated with the current trends and best practices so that they can provide the highest quality care possible. This question is asked to see if the candidate is engaged in lifelong learning consistent with the demands of therapeutic recreation. The interviewer wants to know if the candidate seeks out new information, engages in continuous learning and then applies it to their practice. Through this question, the interviewer can also assess the candidate's level of commitment to their own professional growth and development.

Our Suggested Answer: As a recreational therapist, I am committed to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in my field. To do this, I make sure to attend professional conferences and workshops, read industry publications for the latest research and innovations in our field, and participate in online forums and discussion groups where best practices are discussed and shared. I also make sure to reflect on my own practice and seek out feedback from patients and their families to improve my skills and knowledge continually.

In-Depth Questions About Your Soft Skills and Behavior

In-depth questions help an interviewer assess if an applicant can fit well with the organization's culture, if they're capable of working in a variety of settings, and if they can work well as a part of a team. These questions also explore an applicant's soft skills like communication skills and leadership skills, which are must-haves in providing the best care and improving a patient's overall quality of life.

How do you handle difficult situations, both with your patients and with your coworkers?

As a recreational therapist, many times you will work with patients who have a physical, cognitive or emotional disability – hence, conflict resolution and communication skills are very important so that you can provide the appropriate care to your patients. With that, this question is often asked so that the interviewer can probe into whether or not a candidate has good interpersonal skills, can problem solve, and how well they get along with patients and other team members. It also enables an interviewer to assess a candidate's ability to handle challenging and potentially stressful situations that may arise in their work.

Our Suggested Answer: As a recreational therapist, I understand the importance of effectively handling difficult situations with both patients and coworkers. My approach involves empathy, effective communication, and a focus on finding solutions that benefit everyone involved. I maintain a patient-centred approach for my patients by actively listening, empathizing, and validating their emotions. I strive to create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable expressing their concerns. On the other hand, I believe in open and honest communication with my coworkers.  

Describe a specific example situation when you must work with other healthcare professionals. How did you go about it?

Recreational therapists often work as a part of a multidisciplinary team, where cooperation and coordination are important to achieve optimal improvements in the patient's condition. Through this question, the interviewer wants to understand how you have handled such situations in the past, including your approach, problem-solving skills, and ability to work well with others in a healthcare setting.

Our Suggested Answer: As a recreational therapist, I worked closely with a multidisciplinary team to ensure that our patients received the best possible and holistic care. One specific example that comes to mind is when we had a patient who was recovering from a serious motor vehicle accident. They suffered from an extensive amount of injuries and had to undergo surgery to repair those injuries. After the series of surgeries, this patient required physical, occupational, and recreational therapy to regain their mobility and overcome the physical limitation brought to them by the accident. I saw this person progress day by day, and I believe such great progress was a result of the joint efforts and expertise of different healthcare professionals I have worked with.

How do you stay physically fit to ensure that you can perform the necessary demands of the activities in therapeutic recreation?

As recreational therapists often engage in physically demanding and often outdoor activities, it's important for them to have the stamina, strength, and endurance necessary to participate actively. This question also allows the interviewer to determine if the candidate is aware of the physicalness of the position, is aware of the importance of taking care of their own health and well-being, and can lead by example to others in his/her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

Our Suggested Answer: As a recreational therapist, I understand the importance of staying fit to meet the demands of therapeutic recreation. To stay physically fit, I prioritize regular exercise and engage in activities that enhance my strength, flexibility, and endurance. I also maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to fuel my body and promote overall well-being.

What do you do to engage reluctant patients in the recreational therapy activities that you planned for them?

It's important for recreational therapists to be able to build rapport with a variety of individuals, find unique ways to motivate these individuals, and push past their unwillingness or hesitancy. Through this question, the interviewer can assess the candidate's ability to engage and motivate patients in therapeutic activities. The question also helps the interviewer gauge the candidate's interpersonal skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

Our Suggested Answer: In encouraging hesitant patients who are unwilling to participate in various activities related to therapeutic recreation like outdoor recreation, it's important to understand where these patients are coming from and be patient with them. Most of these patients have chronic illnesses that make them feel helpless, and the key to gaining their trust is to demonstrate empathy, patience, and flexibility, while continuously adapting your approach to meet each patient's unique needs and preferences.

Some examples of the strategies and techniques I employ to achieve this include actively involving patients in the planning and decision-making process, which can give them a sense of ownership and increase their willingness to engage, and incorporating games, music, art, or other interactive elements into the activities.

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Find Recreational Therapist Jobs at Caring Support

An interview is an initial assessment that helps an interviewer learn more about a recreational therapist job applicant in aspects that go beyond their resume, like learning about their interpersonal skills and behaviour. It also helps the interviewer explore the applicant's qualifications, extensive experiences, and career prospects.

At Caring Support, we're committed to helping healthcare professionals find a supportive environment by building and maintaining connections with their schools, colleagues, and prospective employers. Our innovative platform helps streamline and tailor-fit the hiring process through our behaviour-driven match-making process. Explore our different healthcare career options by signing up today.

About The Author
Cam Adajar
Content Writer

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