When preparing for an interview for a speech pathologist position, it is helpful to consider the questions you might be asked that specifically relate to speech pathology, as well as the more general interview questions about yourself that you will likely be asked.
Prepare for the interview by considering how you would respond to these frequently asked interview questions for speech pathologists. This list includes both general questions as well as specific questions for different types of speech pathologist jobs.
Types of Speech Pathologist Interview Questions
As a speech pathologist (also sometimes referred to as a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist), you help assess and treat children or adults with speech, language, and swallowing disorders. Often, this work occurs in schools or hospitals.
Before you head in to an interview, you should carefully consider the environment of the job. If the interview is for a role at a school, for instance, be prepared to share anecdotes about working with school-aged children. When interviewing for a speech pathologist job, you can expect these kinds of interview questions.
General Speech Pathologist Interview Questions & Answers
Your interviewer will probably have some questions that apply to speech pathologists in general, to get an overall impression of your history, experience, motivation, and style.
1. Why did you choose speech pathology as a career path?
What They Want to Know: This question assesses your professional dedication and enthusiasm for your career.
When I was a kid, I had a bad stutter that was really embarrassing. I was fortunate though, that the speech pathologist at our elementary school was truly excellent. He was so much fun – and had so much patience – that our sessions were the high point of my school week. He gave me the tools I needed to largely resolve my stutter, and inspired me to become a speech pathologist.
More Answers: Tell me about yourself.
2. What areas of speech-language pathology interest you most?
What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know; a) whether your interests would be complementary to those of other team members; and b) if they are a good match for the services the organization offers.
I am most interested in fluency and fluency disorders, which is why I became a Board Certified Specialist in this area.
More Answers: What philosophy guides your work?
3. What is your familiarity with assistive technology?
What They Want to Know: Tech questions are a common element of most interviews. Be prepared to list the technologies you are competent in, even if this information is already on your resume.
I am well-versed in the therapeutic use of speech-generating devices, word prediction software, and picture boards.
More Answers: Interview questions about your abilities.
Questions About Working in a School
When interviewing for a position in a school, your interviewer will be looking for information about how you work with a variety of different people. They will ask questions relating to your interaction with parents and teachers, as well as with students.
Use your answers to demonstrate your knowledge of the school district’s mission, standards, and established goals, explaining how your own practices align with their own.
4. What clinical experience have you had in a school setting?
What They Want to Know: This question is straightforward; simply describe your work history as a professional speech pathologist in the schools. If you are an entry-level candidates, focus on in-service and any volunteer experience you have.
I have five years’ experience working with children grades K-6 in inner-city elementary schools, and so I’m adept in partnering with parents and teachers to develop IEPs and in working with children both independently and in small group settings.
More Answers: What applicable experience do you have?
5. How do you incorporate Common Core goals into your speech therapy sessions?
What They Want to Know: This question may take some finessing. Although some principals and administrators in certain school districts might believe that the Common Core State Standards should be universally implemented, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends that SLPs not base their IEP speech-language goals on the CCSS since this would imply that students do not require special education. Should this question arise, carefully explain this policy and the rationale behind it to the interviewer.
The CCSS aren’t always relevant or appropriate when one creates and implements educational plans for special ed students. However, I do use them as a point of reference in IEPs when comparing a student’s competencies to the expectations placed upon their grade-level peers.
More Answers: How do you evaluate success?
6. Explain how you would assess a child who is a non-native English speaker.
What They Want to Know: School hiring committees may ask this question if they serve a large population of non-native English speakers, so be prepared to explain how you would handle language differences with your students and their parents.
I am bilingual in English and Spanish, and so I’m able to work directly with students and their families who are native Spanish-speakers. For other populations, I have experience sourcing and working with translators to communicate effectively.
More Answers: How are you different from your competition?
Questions About Working in a Hospital/Private Clinic
For a position at a hospital or a private clinic, your interviewer will be interested in determining if your skills, interests, and experiences will be a good fit for their patient population. They will also likely ask questions about how you would integrate your work with other therapists who may be treating the patients.
7. What experience do you have in working with people of other disciplines (OT, PT, etc.)?
What They Want to Know: Speech pathologists within clinical medical environments must be able to collaborate with other disciplines in creating comprehensive treatments plans for patients. Share an example of how you have actively contributed to clinical care teams.
During my 7-year tenure at ABC hospital, I worked daily with OTs, PTs, doctors, nurses, and physicians’ assistants to implement patient treatment plans within the stroke rehabilitative unit.
More Answers: Do you work well with other people?
8. What types of patients are you most interested in working with, in terms of age and type of disability?
What They Want to Know: There's no wrong answer here – but the hiring committee may be assessing their candidates based on their current needs and patient demographics. The safest approach is to be honest about your preferences, but also note your experience (if you have it) in working with a varied population.
During my master’s degree training I performed multiple clinical rotations and am comfortable working with patients of all ages and diagnoses. However, I really like helping developmentally delayed patients – especially children – with swallowing disorders, because I know I can make an immediate improvement in their quality of life.
More Answers: Describe your work ethic.
9. What oral-motor programs are you familiar with?
What They Want to Know: Like tech questions, this example simply requires a list. If you know from the job advertisement that the employer requires competency in a program or maneuver you aren’t conversant with, express your willingness to pursue immediate training in its use.
I use the full complement of tongue, jaw, and lip exercises to help patients with their swallowing issues, including the effortful swallow, Mendelsohn maneuver, supraglottic swallow, and super-supraglottic swallow.
Additional Questions About Speech Pathology
Other common questions about speech pathology a hiring manager might ask could include:
- What training and experience do you have with autism?
- What communication disorders do you have experience in working with?
- What is one recent trend in speech pathology that you think is important?
- How do you plan to stay current on your knowledge and skills?
- What is the difference between an articulation disorder and a phonological disorder?
- What are some of the formal assessment tools that you have used to evaluate cognitive patients?
- How do you assess success with a patient?
- How do you stay organized and manage multiple patients?
- What kind of strategies would you use with a child who stutters, and why?
- What kind of experience do you have with voice disorders?
- How proficient are you at MBSs?
Tips for Acing a Speech Pathology Interview
Be prepared for both behavioral and situational interview questions and you'll impress the hiring manager.
Behavioral Interview Questions
You may be asked certain behavioral interview questions about how you’ve dealt with clients or patients in the past. These questions are meant to gauge how, based on your previous behavior, you might psychologically or emotionally react when facing challenges in your new workplace. Here are a few examples:
- Tell me about some of your most challenging cases / patients and how you dealt with them?
- Describe one of your greatest accomplishments with a patient.
- Describe a time you had a child who wasn’t cooperating. How did you respond?
- What type of collaboration / teamwork have you been involved in?
- In what areas do you feel you need the most supervision? How do you handle criticism?
Situational Interview Questions
Situational interview questions, like behavioral interview questions, address work experiences. However, situational interview questions require that you explain how you would handle future practical situations rather than past situations. Some examples include:
- Describe the steps you’d take to conduct an evaluation (both quantitative and qualitative).
- Imagine a parent comes to you and tells you that she is taking her child out of speech because the child doesn’t like it. How will you respond?
- You are in a group setting with a child who stutters and a child with a receptive delay. How will you develop a therapy plan that will meet each child’s goals?
- How would you deal with a situation in which you suspected a case of child abuse?
- Tell me how you would assess a right CVA.
6 Questions to Ask the Interviewer
An interview is a two-way street. That means it's important for you to ask questions during the interview too. This will help you get a sense of if the role and the environment suit you. Here are some questions that can help you understand more about what your day-to-day work would be like in a position:
- What's a typical caseload for speech pathologists here?
- How are caseloads determined?
- Will I work exclusively in [school or healthcare facility X] or will I visit several [schools or facilities]?
- Will the focus be one-on-one work or group work?
- What kind of workspace do you provide for speech pathologists? Is this a shared space?
- Can you share demographic information on the population here?
REVIEW COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Be prepared to answer both general queries about your education and professional background and questions specific to the work environment (schools, hospitals, clinics) you are targeting.
RESEARCH THE EMPLOYER: Learn as much as you can about the school district, hospital, or clinic you hope to work for, including their mission statement and the demographics of the clients they serve.
KNOW YOUR NUTS AND BOLTS: Be ready to discuss the technologies, therapies, exercises, and other tools you use on a daily basis.