Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Interview tips - from the Interviewers perspective.

Last week at work, I was on the interview panel to find the new OT Technical Instructor for my ward.
It was a long day interviewing the eight shortlisted candidates with myself, the Head OT, a Charge Nurse and a MH service user forming the panel.
We had some great candidates and I'm thrilled with the successful applicant that we have chosen, and am looking forward very much to working with them in the near future.
Being back in an interview room made me think back to when I was being interviewed for my job. That was a nerve wracking day!

So, in order to hopefully help some of you who may be reading this and going through the job interview process I thought I would share some tips into what we are interviewers where looking for.

(Although the interview was for an OT TI and not a qualified OT I'm sure that most of the points will be transferable.)

Kate's top tips for OT interviews:

  1. Make sure you have read through the job description/know what post you are applying for and have read round about the particular area of practice. If you already have experience of the particular area than demonstrate all your valuable knowledge.
  2. Use past life experiences to make you stand out and prove that you are up to the job. Volunteer work, past paid work and travelling is all important. Travelling, especially solo or in dangerous parts of the world can demonstrate maturity, independence and an ability to cope which are all important traits to posses.
  3. Bring your CPD folder with you and know where everything is in it. Bring examples of past work which would be relevant for the role you are interviewing for. For example the post we were interviewing for required the individual to run groups and be creative so candidates who made a good impression where those who showed us examples of their past work whether formal groups they had been involved with or art and craft projects.
  4. DO NOT LIE IN YOUR SUPPORTING STATEMENT. It was obvious from a couple of the applicants we interviewed that their supporting statements were not a true representation of themselves. When asked questions and expanding on answers it was obvious who had been truthful and was able to expand on their supporting statements and those who were not. 
  5. If you have experience in OT then draw upon your knowledge even if it is from a different clinical area of setting. One of the candidates had experience in physical OT only however did not draw upon any of their experience or knowledge within these settings. Although Mental Health OT is different to Physical OT there are also many similarities and transferable skills so show the interviewers that you can work in the new setting.
  6. Try not to let your nerves get to you. It is important for your personality to shine through, interviewers are looking for someone who can not only do a great job but who will slot in well with the team.
  7. Dress to impress. You are interviewing for a professional job so jeans and a top don't give the right impression. You don't have to wear a suit if you are going to be uncomfortable in it but smart wear is definitely the way to go. 
  8. Prepare some questions to ask the interviewers. It shows that you are taking the interview/job seriously and that you have thought about it and show a real interest. Include questions with relation to the service and their goals, future aims etc. as well as general questions such as shift patterns, supervision access etc. 
These are the main tips that arose from the interviews. If any of you reading this are in the job interviewing process than good luck, I hope you get the jobs you all want. 

Happy OTuesday,
Kate :).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Occupational Engagement in Mental Health Recovery.

One of the major challenges I have to try an overcome at work is motivating the individuals whom I work with to engage in their recovery process. Individuals who have enduring mental health conditions often lack motivation and the drive to effectively move forward in their rehabilitation.
After discussing with the head OT where I work about how I could best motivate the service users on my ward to engage more in occupations and activities, we began to speak about the different stages of recovery for individuals. When thinking about recovery it is crucial to apply a client centred approach to formulating treatment plans. There is no one size fits all solution to recovery in Mental Health and so a knowledge of the different stages and ideas surrounding the recovery process can aid OTs and other health professionals in gaining a greater understanding of the needs of their service users.

A recent article published in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy (June 2012, 79(3), pp.142-150) explores different stages in occupational engagement in Mental Health Recovery. I found the article an interesting read and it certainly helped me understand more about the process of engagement in recovery and has developed the way in which I am going to formulate treatment plans for my service users in the future.
This blog post is going to be a brief discussion about the article.

“A phenomenological study of occupational engagement in recovery from mental illness.”  
Sutton, D.J., Hocking, C.S., and Smythe, L.A. (2012).

The purpose of this article was to explore the experience and meaning of occupation for thirteen people who self-identified as being in recovery from mental illness. Recovery narratives were collected from participants in conversational interviews that were recorded and transcribed. These transcripts were then analysed and the finders were as follows:
·         A range of experiences were evident in the recovery narratives and these have led to implications for practice being that all forms of occupational engagement, from disengagement to full engagement can be meaningful in the recovery process. The article calls for therapists to understand these different modes of engagement in order to support their service users through recovery.
The findings of the article were most interesting. The authors explained how a range of occupational experiences emerged from the participants stories. Four points in the recovery continuum of engagement were proposed, there are; disengagement, partial engagement, everyday engagement and full engagement. Each of these were characterised by particular dynamics and each have the potential to support service user’s recovery.  Below is a brief summary of the four points.


This is the stage where individuals completely disengage or cut themselves off from everyday occupations. Individuals in this stage described themselves as feeling numb and having lost all intentionality for being in the world. During this point the absence of routine occupations and everyday living can cause a potential loss of meaning and sense of self. This point in an individual’s recovery can act as a kind of asylum which protects the individual from the demands of the outside world. Stripping back everyday existence and disconnecting from routine occupations can create space for individuals to gain a fresh perspective and reconnect with their volitional foundations of everyday life.

Partial Engagement.
This is the stage where individuals could not engage themselves full in the everyday world however could connect in some way with the immediate world around them. Individuals in this stage often express it as a slow process which provides a grounding for them in the future. Partial engagement ideally creates a space of respite where individuals can gradually get back in touch with the everyday world by slowly engaging more in occupations. The process of occupations in this stage are more about the process than the enjoyment or outcome.

Everyday engagement
This is the stage where individuals enter everyday engagement which involves having direction and increased commitment, meeting expectations and synchronising with others space and time. It is about individuals learning how to be a part of something shared and engage more in community and social situations.

Full Engagement
This is the stage which sees individuals create a sense of flow through deep engagement in meaningful occupations. It is characterised by focused attention, great enjoyment and integration of the individual with their environment.

I feel that from having an understanding of these four points in recovery and recognising that individuals dwell in them at specific and often varying times can help therapists when planning their treatment plans for service users. I particularly like the first stage mentioned, disengagement, this is a stage which I see often with my service users and this article has provided me with a new way of looking at their current place in their recovery process. Before reading this article I had not viewed disengagement and the characteristics of this as being a very positive stage and struggled with knowing where to start really with my service users in this stage. This article has given me a deeper understanding of disengagement in the recovery process and how it can be looked on a positive part of the process and therefore how it can be a springboard for individuals to more onto a more functional area of occupational engagement.

Having a picture of the four stages of occupational engagement in the back of my mind when thinking about my service users, I feel, will help me to formulate both individual and group activities and opportunities on my ward. I am looking forward to returning to work tomorrow and thinking more about these stages and how I can incorporate some of the ideas which the article explored in my practice.

Happy OTuesday!


Sutton, D.J., Hocking, C.S., and Smythe, L.A. (2012). A phenomenological study of occupational engagement in recovery from mental illness. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79, 142-150, doi: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.3.3