Though medical assisting is a popular and fast growing career, employment opportunities can be competitive. Employers want to ensure they are hiring the best, most qualified medical assistant for the job. As such, job interviews can be tough. Interviewing for a medical assisting job can be stressful, especially if you’re not sure what to expect.
Being prepared is your best bet for sailing though an interview. Always make sure your resume is up-to-date and lists your best attributes, qualifications and skills to help you stand out from the crowd. If you are a recent medical assisting graduate, look back on school materials on preparing for a job interview. If you know someone who recently interviewed at the same medical facility you’re interested in, ask them how the interview was conducted and what types of questions were asked.
Then, have a friend or family member act as a potential employer and run you through a practice interview. Remember, a job interview is a chance for an employer to see if you’re a good fit for the job. But it’s also an opportunity for you to see if the job is a great fit for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the job at the interview. Below is a list of common medical assisting interview questions, and questions you may want to ask your potential employer.
Common questions an employer will ask you include:
1) Tell me about yourself
Consider this a warm-up question. An employer may ask this simply to get to know you better. They are looking to see into your personality and what makes you tick. Answer this question honestly, but don’t disclose everything about yourself—especially if it really has no effect on your ability to be a great medical assistant employee.
Answer: Keep it simple. Talk a little about your interests, such as reading or gardening, where you went to college, any volunteer work you do or community organizations you belong to. Keep it positive.
2) What are your weaknesses or professional areas you’d like to improve?
Employers use this question to gauge how honest you’re being with them, and how well you rate your own skills. This can be a trick question, since you obviously don’t want to give an answer that can jeopardize your chance of being hired. Be sure to answer this question by noting your strengths as well as the area you’d like to improve.
Answer: Keep it positive. For instance,
“I have excellent computer skills and am proficient in word processing and Excel. However, I’ve not fully mastered Microsoft PowerPoint yet and am eager to do so.”
“I am fully trained in all clinical areas of caring for pediatrics, such as giving correct immunizations, taking vital signs and administering medications; however, I’d really like the ability to perform venipuncture on children to better my skill.”
By noting your strengths and your willingness to learn, you can make your weaknesses seem like a benefit.
3) What are your strengths?
This question allows you to talk about your strongest skills and abilities as related to the job. Employers use this question to see if your skills are a good fit.
Answer: Talk about your strongest personal and clinical skills.
4) Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult patient.
This question wants to know how well you handle conflict. Every medical office will have its share of conflict—be it an upset patient or dispute between employees.
Answer: Think to a time you handled conflict and how you resolved it for the better. If you’ve never handled conflict in the medical office, think to your college education and how you were taught to deal with difficult patients or co-workers.
5) What do you like most about being a Medical Assistant?
Employers want to know why you chose this profession. What drew you to it and what makes you passionate about it? They are looking for candidates with the most dedication and passion for the business.
Answer: Describe what you like most about your career. What brings you joy? What brings you personal satisfaction? If you have limited working experience, describe what you liked most about your training, education and externship.
6) What do you dislike the most about being an MA?
Alternately, employers want to know what you don’t like about the profession. This helps them know what areas you may need additional training or support in. How you answer is important. Keep the negative things as positive as possible.
Answer: Answer honestly, but keep it light. For instance, you may describe how you love working with patients on a personal level but it is difficult to see them in pain or suffering. Or, how you love the challenge of a fast-paced environment but have difficulty un-winding after work.
7) Where do you see yourself in 5 years professionally?
This question allows the interviewer to see how long you will potentially stay with the company. If you plan to go back to school or know you’ll be moving or relocating in a year or two, be honest with the interviewer. They may still be able to accommodate your upcoming life plans. Employers also want to know what your professional goals are. This shows ambition and a willingness to learn.
Answer: Be honest about your plans for the future, such as going back to nursing school. If you expect a life change that may alter your employment, let them know upfront. Also talk about your professional goals, such as to be an office manager in three years, or lead clinical medical assistant.
8 ) Why do you want to work here?
Potential employers like to know that you’ve done some research about them prior to the interview. Perhaps you have a specific reason for wanting to work with the company. Or, the job description may sound like a perfect fit for your professional goals. Be sure to find out as much as you can about the company before you go to the interview, such as what types of specialties are offered and how many physicians are on staff so you can be better prepared.
Answer: Let the employer know what drew you to apply for the open position. If you have specific reasons for wanting to work with the organization, let them know. Talk about anything the company offers that is a good fit for you.
Questions you may want to ask a prospective employer:
1) Can you describe your ideal medical assistant?
The employer may have disclosed their ideal candidate in the early part of the interview. If not, however, don’t be afraid to ask. They may disclose the character traits, personality type and skills and abilities that they are looking for in a good candidate. This allows you to better know if you’re a good fit for the job and vice-versa.
2) Tell me about the physician’s personality.
If you’re interviewing for a clinical position, it’s a good idea to know a little more about the physician or physicians you’ll be working for. In some cases, the physician may be present during the interview. If not, ask about the physician’s personality and what their expectations are in a medical assistant. Or, you may simply state that you’d love to know more about the physician with whom you’d be working and see how the employer responds. This can give you an inside peek at how well you may potentially work with the physician.
3) What are things your clinic has done recently to show how it values employees?
This question allows you to gauge how well the clinic or company values its employees. The employer may disclose employee activities, promotions or attractions that are provided throughout the year. You may also want to inquire about the turn-over rate for the position in which you’re interviewing. If many medical assistants have left before you, there may be a valid reason. Don’t accuse or ask too many pointed questions. If you get the feeling that the employer doesn’t value employees well, you’re probably right.
4) What advancement opportunities are available for this position?
If you goal is to advance within the organization, find out what types of advancement opportunities are open to the position. Ask what the qualification and requirements for advancement are so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect if you’re hired.
5) What is the working atmosphere like in your clinic?
The working atmosphere includes how well employees work together and get along with one another. If a tour of the organization is provided, you may get a sense of how employees interact with each other. If not, inquire about the general atmosphere and pace of the clinic so you’ll have a better idea if the job is a good fit.
You may think of other questions to ask throughout the interview, while some answers will likely be provided in the natural course of your conversation. Always be sure to keep your questions positive. Don’t be afraid to being a list of questions along to the interview so you’re prepared. In the end, remember to smile, make eye contact with the employer and relax so the best of your personality can come through!