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There is a lot of variety in speech-language pathology. One can specialize by population (adults versus pediatrics; and even pediatrics can be broken down into birth to three, early childhood, and school-age), or by disorder (although jobs that focus on even one or two disorders are more difficult to come by).

I am all over the place, I work with adults, with children, with swallowing, early childhood language, phonological disorders, aphasia, cognition…and the list goes on. A question comes to me a lot: Can I do the best I can, give the best therapy and information possible, when I see so many types of patients? (The giant thought-bubble that hangs over my head during therapy where I’m not sure where I’m going with a patient: “AM I PROVIDING EBP?”)

I am undecided on this question. I do not want to accuse therapists who do work across a variety of different orders of doing a bad job. I like to think I do a good job, although I think I can do better. (This is probably because I haven’t been SLPing for very long.) And I also don’t want to deny my colleagues one of the cool things about our field: that there’s so much to learn, so many different opportunities, and one can change the course of their career to fit their interest or lifestyle.

But when I talk to other SLPs who have been focusing their energies on one area, or a much smaller area, for a long time, their knowledge on a particular subject amazes me and makes me wish I could have that much knowledge about things. (Well, let’s get real, I would love to have that kind of knowledge about All The Things SLP, but that’s probably not possible.) I don’t know if I could ever know as much as I should about all the different disorders I see now. Maybe I don’t have enough years of practice and perspective on this to know if it is possible. Sometimes I feel like there is outside pressure for me to do All The Things SLP. Again, this might be my Type A personality projecting my stress of being a new SLP onto my daily life.

What do you think? Do you think it is better for professionals and our profession as a whole to specialize? Is it better to be a sort of SLP-of-all-trades? Does anyone have advice for reconciling a Type A personality with the expectation of doing All The Things SLP? Is it even realistic to expect everyone to specialize? Is it nice in our field that some people can specialize if they choose to, while others seek out the jobs that require therapy for a variety of individual with various disorders?

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So I had been working on an entirely different post this week, but decided to opt for a completely different piece because the other one seemed unpolished and unfinished.

I might have mentioned I work at a hospital where I sometimes work in the acute setting and sometimes in out-patient care. Some days I jump back and forth between both. Some days, it’s almost as though I don’t get anything accomplished in either place. On the other hand, the idea of sitting still in either setting puts my type-A personality on edge.

I’ve been doing this over a year now, and while it has gotten easier to switch between the two (switch populations, switch ages, switch my brain), I am still searching for that balance. If I really love something (and I love SLPing) or if I really want to succeed at something (and I really, really want to be a kickass SLP) I throw myself into it. In a sometimes-kind-of unhealthy way. (In fact, I should add to my goals: take some frigging vacation even when you don’t have anywhere to go.  Ahem. Anyway.)

In that way, it’s probably a good thing, especially this early in my career, that I have to keep hopping back and forth between many very different SLP-type things. I can obsess about twenty different types things all at the same time!  I mean, I can work hard towards balancing my time among all the different things I do.

Now I realize I am not a special snowflake who spends their SLPing jumping around between adults, children, swallowing, voice, evaluations, treatment, phonological disorders, playing Simon Says  to giving families the facts about NPO versus signing a waiver given the risks of aspiration. What do you guys do for balance? Does it get easier? Does it get harder? Do you think you provide the best care possible to so many different types of patients? (I know this is something I worry about all the time. I can’t be an expert at everything, can I?) Do you ever feel like banging your head against the wall? Oh, wait. I guess that’s all of us.

Lately with various kids I have been working with, I have been thinking less about what I am teaching, and rather how I am teaching it.

First off, before I jump on my soap box, this is not to say that what you are teaching is not important.  I have suggested in earlier posts that I do think there are better ways of teaching a child the sounds in the English sound system that others (e.g., teach later developing sounds rather than earlier developing sounds).

On the other hand, there are somethings like colors or basic concepts where I think, Wait, what am I doing? Not as in, Why am I teaching this? But rather, Why am I sitting here drilling them on this stuff? Isn’t this how they are being taught in the classroom?  The point is, I have the luxury of sitting down with him or her one-on-one. Shouldn’t I take advantage of that? Shouldn’t I be looking at how my patient learns best and try to teach them, if at all possible, through the method that works best for them?

Too often lately, I’m finding myself strapping them into a chair and showing them flashcard after flashcard. While increased number of repetitions of a skill is obviously part of how they learn (since they haven’t learned whatever skill after the same number of repetitions a typical child is exposed to), but shouldn’t I be incorporating how they learn into my skilled intervention as well? Where’s the creativity I had in grad school? (Or maybe that’s just the graduation goggles talking.)

A lot of my kids now seem to be tactile/motor learners. Time to bring out the scavenger hunts! The manipulatives! The crafts!  This giant mess for me to clean up between patients somehow…. (Sounds like a future blog post for how I will manage the chaos.)

Well, at least in baby steps. I can’t get all that together in one night. But it is something I need to be mindful of and begin to incorporate into my therapy.

What about you guys? How do you incorporate your patients’ learning styles into your therapy? How do you figure out their learning style? What type of activities do you do to incorporate these different learning styles?

So, I was doing some continuing education in FEES this past weekend. (Finding fun in sticking a small camera up your colleagues’ noses for two days.  Not sure what that says about me as a person.) It was a mix of speech-language pathologists working across of variety of (mostly) medical settings.

Nerd that I am, I liked to hear what it was like for each of them working across different settings. (Especially those working in long-term care facilities with trachs and vents! I mean, PEOPLE EATING AND SPEAKING ON VENTS???  I had an entire class on trachs and vents and my mind still  boggles.)

Anyway, in reflecting on the interesting information I had gathered about various clinicians’ job settings, I suddenly had a questions.

Q: Did I just miss an opportunity to network?

A: Yes.

Not necessarily in the job crawling sense (although if I were looking for a job, it would have been a good place to do it), but rather in a, Let Me Make Contact With People Who Know More About Certain Stuff Than I Do. Maybe the opportunity for me to do that was not particularly obvious to me because I already work with a good group of clinicians with whom I can ask questions. But that’s not true for everyone! And it’s also not true that everyone I work with happens to be an expert/have a lot of knowledge in a particular area that I have questions in. Not to mention if there comes a time in my life where I am looking for a new job. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some contacts in my back pocket?

The question is, how do I make that leap from chatting about my/their job/s to, “So can I call you sometime.” “Can I have your email address in case I ever have questions about X?”

Of course, not all of these SLPs were doing work that related to my current interests and activities in my own job (see also: people talking on vents.) But it got me thinking about future workshops or conferences I attend. Guess networking falls under one of my Top Goals of All Time: Being Assertive.

Does anyone else have thoughts on networking? Do you use it? How do you make (and keep) contacts? What do you use it for or have you used it for? How do you work exchanging contact information into the conversation?  Or is that last question an obvious sign that I am insecure and un-assertive? Guess I have a lot of work to do.

Am I the only one who thinks there is confusion on this? While I think I have a pretty solid definition in my mind about what I mean when I say “phonology” or when I say “articulation” I get the feeling that in the field there is some general confusion or blurring of lines between the two when I talk to other clinicians. (And I’m not even adding in the confusion I see regarding childhood apraxia of speech into this.)

According to ASHA (on this page): “An articulation disorder involves problems making sounds. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added or changed.”

Also, according to ASHA (also on this page): “A phonological process disorder involves patterns of sound errors. For example, substituting all sounds made in the back of the mouth like “k” and “g” for those in the front of the mouth like “t” and “d” (e.g., saying “tup” for “cup” or “das” for “gas”).”

Well, that doesn’t really clear it up.  Let’s recap:

  • Articulation: sounds can be substituted
  • Phonology: for example, substituting all sounds made in the back of the mouth like “k” for “t”
  • Articulation: sounds can be left off
  • Phonology: final or initial consonant deletion anyone?

The slight difference between the two definition appears to be in how they start.  An articulation disorder is “problems making sounds” (but not to be confused with childhood apraxia of speech?) while a phonological disorder is “patterns of sound error.”  The articulation disorder definition sounds like a motor problem (the way your lips, tongue, mouth, whatever move to make a sound). The phonological disorder almost sounds like a cognitive representation, i.e., a child is missing a sound or set of sound representations in her/his head and thus makes consistent errors such as replacing /t/ for /k/ or /b/ for /ʃ/or /θ/.

Agree? Disagree? Do you have your own definition of articulation and phonology?  Do you not distinguish between the two at all?  How does it affect how you evaluation and/or how you treat? Why is there this confusion between the two?  Should they be differentiated in the first place?

I do separate them and it does affect how I approach treatment. But that’s a looooong discussion that I plan to break down into several posts. If anyone else wants to chime in, I’d love to hear it.  My perspective is heavily influenced (of course) by what was taught in my graduate school curriculum. I would be interested to hear what others have learned through their own graduate school curriculum and/or reading from the literature.

This week has been a frustrating week. To put it mildly. (Which is why there wasn’t a post last week. Sorry.)  So, I will take time to talk about something that has been frustrating me recently in my out-patient therapy.

It’s where my history in child care and my odd obsession with environmental modifications collide.

(Short disclaimer: I am pretty satisfied with the set-up at my out-patient clinic. This is a general frustration that I don’t have any suggestions to fix it. So I don’t really expect it to change, nor do I necessarily require it to change. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about.)

All day long, while I’m at out-patient, I dream of turning each individual session into Montessori-style language pre-school that lasts for under an hour. Yep, I’m clearly living in a fantasy world. Well, and to be honest, not all my therapy needs to be language pre-school style.  I still shudder to recall trying to do articulation therapy in the language pre-school at grad school.

But for very young children who are expressively and/or receptively delayed, or children who are on the autism spectrum, I can’t imagine a better way to address these goals. A small kitchen for us to play with and a table to sit and eat at. A real fridge we could walk to, open, and choose food or drink. An outdoor space with a playground where we could move around and practice verbs, or functional requests the child may use at school or at home. Hell, I wish we could go to the grocery store and practice learning the names of common fruits and vegetables that way.

I do try to come up with specific activities to give my parents to practice language skills at home, but I can never be sure how it’s going. Plus, speaking from personal experience, I always learned more when my graduate supervisor would demonstrate the technique than necessarily trying to tell me how to do it. (Guess it’s time to somehow institute a Hanen program.)

So then, is the very way an out-patient clinic structured make it too inflexible to accommodate all types of patients? Of course, we all tailor our goals and our approaches to our patients, but is there a certain rigidity that can’t be overcome in an out-patient setting? (And let’s not even get into how insurance probably would not support any slightly unorthodox approach to treatment.) All I know is that I have a few patients where I find the confines of the out-patient setting deeply frustrating. Time to get creative.

Salary negotiations part deux!  Just to recap what we covered last time:

  • My level of experience
  • Demand for SLP services
  • Geographic location/cost of living

And what we will be covering this time:

  • Employment setting (i.e. nursing home vs. school vs. hospital vs. skilled nursing facility [SNF] vs. for-profit vs. not-for-profit [NPO])
  • Size of the organization
  • What is the compensation package?

Same Disclaimer as Before, 2nd Verse:  What follows below are some tools I was provided to make this…educated (more or less) guess about salary.  I am a first-time professional job searcher and am certainly not an expert on these matters.  I’m learning this as I go along too.  Nevertheless, I hope these tools are useful for people trying to determine a fair salary for themselves given their experience and geographic location.  At best, I think these tools gave me enough information to not over-price myself, but I still worry that I may be under-pricing myself.

Setting

As you will have observed from reading the Annual Salary Report (hinthint), pay varies across job setting.  Generally speaking, you will likely make less money in a school than a hospital, and make less money in a hospital than a SNF or nursing home. Likewise, if the hospital job you applied for is a NPO, then you will probably have a lower salary than an SLP working in a for-profit hospital. This is important to take into account when preparing an answer to the question “What kind of salary do you expect to make?”

Size

Size of an organization matters, too.  If you are working for a small, not-for-profit hospital in a small town in the midwest, you should expect a lower salary than a not-for-profit organization that runs multiple medical centers or perhaps has some funding/connections with a university.  It’s all down to the resources the organization has: a for-profit organization has more, as does a larger not-for-profit organization when compared to a local hospital that is not part of a larger healthcare system.

Compensation

What benefits is the company offering you?  A health insurance package?  Does it include medical, dental, and optical?  Other types of insurance, like life insurance or disability.  How do vacation and sick-leave work?  Is it paid?  Unpaid?  Are there retirement benefits like a pension? 401(k) plans?  Do they match contributions to your 401(k)?  Are there annual salary reviews (related to performance reviews)? Do they offer tuition reimbursement, health club membership, child care options, elder care options? Do they pay for or have a certain amount of money set aside for continuing education?  Do they pay your professional dues?

Yeah, it’s a lot to think about. It’s important to take into account, however, particularly if you are considering multiple offers.  If one place is offering you a higher salary, but no health insurance benefits, and the other offers a lower salary but provides full health insurance coverage, you need to really compare which is the better deal.  Will you still come out with higher salary if you are using part of that salary to pay for health insurance out-of-pocket?  Research and find out.  Benefits are an important part of the compensation package.  You may notice on the Salary Calculator that you can look at the total benefits package for that particular area as well.  I would highly recommending looking at that to see the actual monetary value of these benefits and what it makes your total salary when looked at in actual dollar amounts.

Whew. That’s a lot to consider, isn’t it?  Feel like banging your head against the wall?  Me too.  And this is all the information that you need to consider when going into the job ready to name a salary range and if you feel the offer is not acceptable and you plan to negotiate. You should also check out what the ASHA website has to say about salary.

Speaking of negotiating…here are some things to think about when the salary discussion comes up in the interview.

State whether the offer is acceptable, not acceptable, or if the figures in the higher end of the range (if they give you a range) are acceptable.  Always base your responses about the salary on research you’ve done on the areas I’ve mentioned in these posts, and phrase your response in those terms, i.e., “Based on my research….”  Make it as objective as possible.

You can always always always say “I’d like to think it over.”  You do have time to think it over.  This will give you the opportunity, for example, to consider if the benefits they offer you make up for the somewhat lower salary number they offered you. It will also give you time to discuss the offer with people who have more experience than you and who may explain aspects of the offer or contract that you aren’t sure about.  Plus, you may just need to the time to gather yourself together so you don’t appear gobsmacked that someone is finally offering to pay you before you accept.  (Haha!)

What’s negotiable?  There are both monetary and non-monetary aspects of the salary you can negotiate.  Monetary includes (the obvious) salary adjustment, extra compensation for working overtime, a yearly bonus, signing options, or stock options if it’s a for-profit business.  Non-monetary options include many of the benefits listed above, including health benefits or paying member fees or for continuing education. Again, the ASHA website has some excellent insight into the process as well.

If you still get a “no,” but are still interested in working for that particular organization, ask to have a review at the end of your CFY (and get it in writing!) and note all the instances you were awesome during your CF to brining up as extra evidence of why you deserve a raise/extra benefits, along with all the objective data you’ve collected, at the end of the CF year.

Bonus Material

Here are some links provided to me and my fellow classmates by one of our wise and wonderful supervisors about salary negotiation:

Comments?  Questions?  Time to share your wisdom, folks!


(Geez people!  I started writing this and I realized it was getting really freaking long and no one wants to stare at and/or slog through a post that long in one sitting.  Not that you have to read anything in one sitting.  But, for my own sanity as well, I thought I would break it up into two parts.  [Although part of me is thinking it might morph into 3 parts.  I just can’t shut up.]  So this is Part 1 and the other part[s] will follow in a few days.)

Time to talk money.  Yes, it’s very exciting to think of earning money after paying it all out and/or racking up ungodly amounts of debt over the past two years, but how do you know what to suggest for your starting salary?  You want this job.  You don’t want to scare them away because you accidentally priced yourself too high. On the other hand, you have loans to pay off and would prefer to not continue eating ramen every night like you have for the past two years.

Disclaimer:  What follows below are some tools I was provided to make this…educated (more or less) guess about salary.  I am a first-time professional job searcher and am certainly not an expert on these matters.  I’m learning this as I go along too.  Nevertheless, I hope these tools are useful for people trying to determine a fair salary for themselves given their experience and geographic location.  At best, I think these tools gave me enough information to not over-price myself, but I still worry that I may be under-pricing myself.

There are several things to consider when preparing an estimate to provide to a potential employer.  First, you need to consider what are your services worth?  You as a clinician.  In my case, a newly graduated clinician.  Things I have taken into consideration include:

  • My level of experience
  • Demand for SLP services
  • Geographic location/cost of living
  • Employment setting (i.e. nursing home vs. school vs. hospital vs. skilled nursing facility [SNF] vs. for-profit vs. not-for-profit [NPO])
  • Size of the organization
  • What is the compensation package?

Experience

Obviously the level of experience plays an important role for SLPs.  As I have mentioned in the past, at least in hospital settings, there is frequently not a path for promotion (unless the organization you are working for has a career ladder) for SLPs.  Increase in salary is frequently based on years of experience and performance within a particular job setting.  In the school setting, SLP salaries are generally advanced with years of experience, similar to teacher pay.

From my research, I have very little information about starting pay for SLPs fresh out of grad school.  However, ASHA publishes a study every year about SLP salaries, the Annual Salary Report.  (Download this document STAT!)  Unfortunately, our peers who are freshly minted CCCs have not seen fit to share this information with ASHA so that they can provide actual data for SLPs with 1 to 3 years experience.  (Folks, let’s help out our future graduate students by responding to this Annual Salary Report survey if ASHA sends it to those of us with 1 to 3 years experience.  And when we are elderly SLPs we can shake our canes and talk about how we negotiated our first salaries blindfolded, with our hands tied behind our backs, with minimal information, and in the middle of a snowstorm and how easy kids have it nowadays.)

Brief rant over.  Now, although this (otherwise helpful) document does not provide specific information for those SLPs with 0 years on-the-job experience (although we certainly have plenty of clinic hours), generating an adequate salary based on 1 to 3 years experience is, I think, easier than trying to extrapolate backwards from 4+ years of experience. However, the document does give a new grad an overall picture of how salaries vary across setting, geographic location, experience, and other variables.  This is helpful.  As a person looking for jobs in multiple geographic locations all across the USA, I liked knowing that the median income for a SLP in the West was higher than an SLP in the Midwest or South (likely due, I imagine, to cost of living differences).  This document provides a big picture for the new grad, as well as some possible variables s/he may want to consider her/himself when doing the research for her/his own salary negotiations.

Note: Please note that the Annual Salary Report provides median salaries, NOT mean salaries.  Take a moment to review the difference if it’s not clear in your head and consider the strengths and weaknesses of median data reporting and the range of salary numbers a median number obscures.

Demand

I think most of us know that SLPs are pretty high in demand. Based on my own search for a job, I would say if you are looking to work in the schools, a nursing home, or a SNF, you will be gobbled up.  If you are looking for work in a hospital acute inpatient, inpatient rehab, or outpatient setting, they tend to be looking for people with experience (i.e. NOT CFs).  I am searching really hard for a hospital job nonetheless due to my own personal preference for working in a hospital and my skepticism of getting appropriate supervision/support in a nursing home or SNF setting during my CF.  A hospital job fresh out of grad school is not impossible, I would just say harder to find than the other settings I mentioned.

Cost of Living

So, in that earlier paragraph, I mentioned that ASHA document provides information based on geographic location.  Giant pieces of geographic location.  A useful, but blunt tool.  For something more fine-grained, I recommend checking out the Salary Calculator, which provides median salary information for a specific zip code based on job title.  Pretty cool, huh?  Keep in mind here, again, that this is the median salary for all people with the title SLP, regardless of their experience and job setting.  Nevertheless, you can look at this and think, Okay the median salary for City is $$.  As a brand new clinician, I would probably be in the lower end of that bell curve. But based on the Annual Salary Report, it should be a little higher/lower within the left tail of the bell curve because I want to work in a SNF/school. (See how looking at the Annual Salary Report was kinda helpful after all?)  Now the trick will be not to underestimate your worth.

Cost of living (how much it costs for housing, groceries, utilities, etc.) in a particular place should also factor in.  For example, you would make much more as a starting clinician in Los Angeles, CA than you would in a small town in Arkansas just because how much it costs for you to buy things is more in one place than it is in another.  If you are looking for a job in an area you are already familiar with, you may not need to look into this.  You probably have an idea in your head of how much you money is needed to pay for housing and groceries and so forth.  If not, check out the Cost of Living Comparison calculator.

A couple other factors to consider in your cost of living (and your salary negotiation) is how much money do you need to sustain your lifestyle.  Essentials such as shelter and food are important, but obviously each person has different ideas about what constitutes as important in their standard of living.  Don’t get crazy, though. They’re not going to fund your standard of living that includes flying to Paris and staying for a week in 5-star hotels 3 times a year. If you name a price too high, the people offering the job are probably not going to agree with that. On the other hand, don’t be unfair to yourself.  It’s a tricky balance, and I have no doubt it takes some experience just like everything else about SLPing.  Another important factor to take into account, especially as a new grad is:  Are you making enough to cover the essentials and start paying off loans?  Those monthly payments are not cheap and a valid factor to point out during salary negotiations.  You did two additional years of school after a bachelor’s degree after all.

Questions?  Comments?  Feedback?  Input?  This is definitely an area where my knowledge is shaky at best, so if anyone has further insight into the salary negotiation process, comment away!  We would all benefit from your knowledge.

(To be continued in a second post as explained at the beginning!)

So while I’m stuck in the airport waiting for my now hour delayed flight, (Love you too, weather!), I thought I would write up a short post about the post-resume/pre-interview time.  As in,

Q: What to do after you have submitted the resume and are waiting to hear back?

A:  You call a week later to follow up on the resume.

From what I hear, you should try to actually talk to someone within the department (i.e. the rehab manager, or an SLP who works there.)  I have yet to figure out how to manage this.  Probably because I become blind with panic when I get on the phone and am rarely convincing and professional sounding enough (I imagine) to be connected.  If I ever figure out how to do this in an effective manner, you will all be the first to know.  (Or you can give me tips about how to get this done.  Hinthint.)

Until then, at the very least, talk to a human resources (HR) representative.  In fact, within the HR department, I would even check and see if there is a specific representative who works directly with the rehab department, or, even better, with the SLPs.  These people usually have a better grasp on what is going on in the rehab department/SLP division and are usually much more helpful in the information they provide than the average HR person (who will say something like, “Yes we’ve received your resume.  The X person reviews them and passes them on to Y person who will contact you for an interview if your qualifications meet our needs.”)  That does at least let you know that it’s been received, but otherwise for all you know it’s lost in some HR limbo, never to be seen again. On the other hand, if you talk to someone who directly represents the department (or is in the department) they may be able to give you a heads up on what specific qualifications they are looking for and maybe even if another job opening is coming up within the department.  (They almost always know pretty well in advance of the actual posting to the website.) Also, if you are talking to an actual person who Knows What’s Going On, feel free to take the opportunity to try to schedule an interview time while you have them on the phone.

At the very least, the call to whoever you end up talking to, reminds the people there that you are interested in the job…really interested in the job.  And that’s a Good Thing.

Don’t get anyone?  Have to leave a message?  Feel free to call back again in a few days or another week to follow up that follow-up call.  Don’t think of it as annoying them, think of it as showing them how interested you are in working with them!  Questions?  Comments?

Only one more job advice piece to write on salary negotiation, and then…and then…a post or two wrapping up my final thoughts on this whole experience.  And then…we’ll see.

The Interview.

Yes, that does look like it could be written in cheesy-horror-movie-font, and I have definitely thought at times that it should be.  Nevertheless, there are lots of ways to prepare for an interview.  And yes, the preparing part is key.  Someone has fallen in love with your beautifully written .pdf and/or online application resume and now they’ve called you for an interview.  What’s next?

Research

  1. Yeah, it’s too bad that you still have research to do even though you’re done with classes, but it needs to be done.  So!  Find out as much as you can about the place that wants to have an interview.  Their website is a wealth of information.  And, hey, if you happen to know someone who works there, use him/her a resource too!

Traditional Interviewing

  1. Every interviewer ever is going to ask this question, or rather, state this statement:  “Tell me about yourself.”  Yeah, that’s pretty wide open, but what they really mean is give me a 2 minute synopsis of your resume.  Write it. Rehearse it.
  2. “Why should we hire you?”= a short summary of your experience.  Write it.  Rehearse it.

Behavioral Interviewing

  1. The above are “traditional” interviewing questions.  There are also behavioral interview questions.  These usually involve you providing a real life example/story of when you showed teamwork, resolved a conflict, showed any one of the strengths you listed about yourself (more about those below).  They want you to show what you’ve done not what you know.  A few websites (a very few) have explicitly mentioned they use behavioral interviewing techniques on their page and even provide information on the types of skills they are looking for you to share a story about.  Most don’t and you probably won’t know which it will be going in.
  2. Prepare 4-8 examples of real-life situations you’ve been in. For example, maybe the time you helped a difficult client, how you prepared for a project in  school, or anything along those lines.  Any story that showcases your strengths and skills.  The manager I mock interviewed in told me it’s okay if I repeat the same example as before for different questions (especially as clinicians just starting with fewer years of experience to draw stories from), the point is to show you have done things that demonstrate the skills they are looking for.  (But hey, I’m sure if you have a different story for each questions, that’s okay too.)  Half should be positive, the other half should be situations that either started badly and ended positively, or that you made the best out of the outcome
  3. Set up your response like this:  Situation (the problem), the background (as briefly as possible), action, and the result.

Have Questions about the Company/Workplace Yourself

  1. This is a good way to show off the research you’ve already done above.
  2. Think of an interview as a two-way street:  The interviewer wants to know if you would be a good fit for the company, YOU want to know the same thing.
  3. Some examples (a lot of these are related to the Clinical Fellowship (CF) experience since that’s the type of position I am looking for):
  • Is this position likely to continue after the CFY (Clinical Fellowship Year)?  How much would I be supervised?  Would the supervisor be full-time?  Do you know who it is?  If so, has s/he supervised before?  Have you had CFs in the past?  (If not) How did this position become open to CFs if you haven’t had a CF in the past?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement?  Is there a clinical ladder*?
  • How is one evaluated?  Is there potential for a review after my CF is complete and a possible raise or increase in benefits at that time?
  • What is the size of the caseload?
  • What would a typical day be like?
  • What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?
  • What do you like about working here?  How long have you been working in this position?
  • What do you think is the most important quality for a candidate?

Those are just a few.  Trust me, if you ask people (people like your internship supervisors or supervisors at school) they’ll have other suggestions!

Mock Interview

  1. That’s right, I said it, try to get a mock interview with someone.  I know a friend who had a connection for someone who working in a human resources department and was willing to give a mock interview.  The manager at my hospital internship was kind enough to do one for me.  It’s great because a) you get to practice and b) you get good feedback from people who know their stuff, but also don’t hold a job for you in the balance.  It’s a great resource, so seek it out!

After the Interview

  1. Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank you note to all the people involved in the interview process 24-48 hours after the interview!!!

Comments?  Questions?  Your very own wisdom from slogging through the job hunting process?  Share!

*Generally speaking, there is not way to advance in the field of speech pathology.  As you gain more experience this (hopefully) correlates with pay raises, but you’re always a speech-language pathologist.  However, some places have a clinical ladder wherein you get a different title (e.g. “Senior Speech Pathologist”) and a raise in pay as you gain experience and perhaps (? I don’t really know.  Does anyone else?) meet certain criteria/goals at your place of work.  If advancement like that is important to you, you will definitely want to find out in the interview.

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