Medical Assistant Interviewing 101
Medical assistants seeking first time employment will find the job hunting and hiring process quite similar to any other entry-level employment. You have to search for openings, submit your resume and go through at least one interview. Through EBI’s Medical Assisting program, you should be all set to create a thorough resume, as well as receive job placement assistance. One of the things that rests entirely on your shoulders, intimidatingly, is the interview process. Interviewing for positions in the medical field isn’t too dissimilar from any other industry, but you’ll need to be ready for the kinds of questions thrown at you. The following is an overview of how to professionally handle your medical assistant interview.
Basic Interview Questions
Like any other job interview, you’ll be asked a number of general questions about yourself and your experience. Be honest here, but remember that you’re convincing the employer why you’re the best person for the position.
- “Tell me about yourself.”
- Keep your answer simple – stick to your professional history and, as an entry-level professional, keep your training top-of-mind. Explain why you want to be a medical assistant. Describe why your personal attributes (outgoing, personal, empathetic, energetic, critical, etc.) make you an ideal candidate for the job.
- “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
- When talking about your strengths, try to be as specific as possible. Focus on a particular aspect of medical assisting you to excel at. Bring up examples of when a professor or colleague complimented your work.
- When talking about your weaknesses, use language along the lines of “I prefer [this aspect] to [that aspect], but I have a plan to strengthen that part of my professional skillset.” Never use the word ‘weakness’ and speak confidently about your progress.
- “Tell me about your education and if you’re continuing education in any way.”
- Again, speak specifically about aspects you excelled at in your education. If you’re not actively continuing your education through certifications or other classes, simply speak to your ambitious nature and are aware of certifications available. Tell the interviewer you are always looking to improve yourself and ask if the employer has any educational opportunities. The interviewer wants to know that you’re a driven person, not necessarily that you have a high level of education.
After general questions, the interviewer will dive into your professional prowess and skillsets. This portion will likely be about technical skills such as a computer or administrative skills. It is highly important to be confident when answering these questions. Be specific. If you can’t think of an answer you’re comfortable with, revert back to your ambitious nature and willingness to learn, as well as your willingness to be a team player.
- “What computer skills do you have?”
- Give specific examples of computer work you completed in your education. Be sure to mention software, programs and skills you know you’ll use on the job like Microsoft Office or Electronic Health Records or patient database management. Again, if you don’t have a good answer, focus on your eagerness to learn.
- “Do you have administrative or front-office experience?”
- The interviewer wants to know how you would handle patient interactions, as well as how you would get along with other employees. Focus on interpersonal skills you learned in your training program and, if possible, give an example of how you would greet and work with a patient who just walked through the door. If you don’t necessarily enjoy administrative duties, talk about how you understand the scope of the position, but you prefer other aspects of medical assisting duties. Be polite, approachable, friendly, and efficient.
- “How would you work to ensure you are following HIPAA protocol?”
- Explain that you’ve been trained on HIPAA compliance, and then give specific examples, such as only using patients’ first names in waiting rooms, keeping patient charts out of view of other patients, and of course never discussing a patient’s case other than with doctors and healthcare providers.
The time will inevitably come when the interviewer asks you about your medical knowledge. In medical assistant interviews, it is rare that the interviewer will ask specific medical questions about things like biology or treatment options. Instead, you’ll likely be asked about things like how you deal with patients, prescription drug protocol, and handling patient charts. Remember to be confident and sell yourself.
- “What experience do you have with patient care?”
- Keep your answers focused on what you’ll actually be doing as a medical assistant. Explain that you’re comfortable taking patient history, handling charts, and interacting with patients daily. If your favorite part of medical assisting is engaging with patients, talk more about that. If you more enjoy the clinical side of it, talk about how fascinated you are with medical histories and treatment options.
- “Do you have any experience in phlebotomy, or have you ever drawn blood from a patient?”
- Be honest here. If you’ve practiced phlebotomy, explain when where and how it went. IF you haven’t, steer the conversation back to your eagerness to learn and that you realize drawing blood is a critical part of the job and that you’d like to be trained on it right away, even when off the clock.
- “Do you have any other medical experience?”
- You should be honest in this answer, but you can indulge a bit. If you have other experiences, share it openly. If not, explain that while you do not have experience prior to medical assisting many other areas of medicine pique your interest and you’re excited to work closely with doctors and nurses to experience all that medicine has to offer.
With these basic questions nailed down, you should have no problem in your first, second, fifth, tenth medical assisting interviews. If your first few interviews don’t go well, do not give up. Practice interviewing with someone, or even by yourself in the mirror. Use these questions to guide you, but the best way to become an expert interviewee is through practice, so be sure to practice the questions you’ve been asked by actual employers. Bring all talking points back to the tasks you’ll be doing as a medical assistant. Sell yourself and be confident. And remember, passion is the most powerful influencer you have.