Dental assistants are paid to help dentists in their work. They, therefore, work in close cooperation with dentists, which can be pretty hectic. We will look at a few questions you should expect in a dental assistant interview if you are eyeing this position.
1. What are You Interested in this Role?
You can interpret this question in two ways. You can either tell the interviewer why you chose to be a dental assistant or your reason for applying for this particular job listing. Whichever you choose, ensure that you sell yourself and convince the hiring manager that you deserve the job. You can also choose to combine both approaches in your answer.
I was constantly in and out of the dentist’s clinic as a child. I had severe cavities and gingivitis, which made me experience a great deal of pain. I, therefore, made a conscious decision to work in the dentist’s clinic and help others with teeth problems, just like my dentist had taken care of me. I am willing to turn this passion into something valuable here in your workplace.
2. Mention Your Roles as a Dental Assistant
Do you know what your mandates as a dentist assistant are? Can you tell what is expected of you in the dentist’s clinic? This is the only chance you will prove to the interviewer that you understand what your job entails. Start by mentioning your primary roles.
A dental assistant mainly offers high-quality care to patients through several offices, laboratories, and patient care roles. They offer clinical chairside assistance and maintain infection controls standards. (Do not shy away from mentioning more roles. We have just covered the tip of the iceberg)
3. What are Some of the Qualities that a Dental Assistant Needs to be Effective?
You should know all the attributes, skills, and abilities dental assistants need to be good at their jobs. This will tell the interviewer that you will deliver given a chance. Be careful not to mention qualities that are not related to this job. Also, make sure that you are confident when answering this question.
A dental assistant should have excellent communication, listening, and dexterity skills. Other qualities include multitasking ability, excellent organization skills, a detail-oriented personality, high levels of professionalism, compassion, and empathy.
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4. Mention the Main Challenge that Encountered in Your Former Role and How You Managed It
This question is pretty obvious. The interviewer is testing your ability to manage challenges and solve problems that may come up in your job. Therefore, you should look back at your last job and remember the main challenge you faced and how you solved it.
I was the only dental assistant in a large clinic during my former role. I, therefore, had to juggle clinical and administrative duties. I was overwhelmed at first until I decided to work things out. I came up with a strategy for prioritizing work and learned how to multitask, which let me handle all my roles smoothly.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine
What does a day in your life look like? Can you mention some of the roles you perform daily in your place of work? You can either answer this question in chronological order or just mention your everyday roles in no particular order. You can also look at the job description if unsure.
My day begins with routine tasks such as reviewing the daily patient schedules, organizing paperwork, and prepping the treatment room. The rest of the day is then spent welcoming patients, settling them for treatment, and helping out the physician.
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
The interviewer needs an overview of your career. You can also mention any supporting role or position that qualifies you for this job. You do not have to mention all the places you have worked or roles you have occupied in your career. Just make sure that whatever you mention sells you.
This is my tenth year as a dental assistant. I have worked in several clinics and hospitals throughout the country. I have vast experience dealing with patient information and using different dental software and tools. I have also volunteered severally in wellness camps countrywide and given back to society.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required for this Role
This is where you tell the interviewer a strategy that has ensured your continued success as a dental assistant. As for the mindset, mention a belief or set of beliefs that sees you through your work. We highly encourage you to draw from your experience.
I have realized that the best strategy in this role is to be attentive to details and get things done in time. It makes the dentist’s work easier and helps prevent mistakes, which may be costly. As for the bright mindset, one should be mentally ready for the exhaustion of dealing with several patients, some of whom may not understand.
8. Mention the Main Challenge that You Forese in this Role
Have you taken a look at the different aspects of this job and identified some that may be challenging in the future? Always make sure that you research extensively about your future workplace and identify some of the problems you are likely to face. Please do not shy away from pointing them out.
I am fresh from an internship and may therefore need some time to adjust to this new workplace. However, I am a first learner and will therefore not consume too much time setting myself up.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In this Job?
Dealing with patients can be pretty draining, especially emotionally. Therefore, you must have something that motivates you to continue giving your all and being good at what you do. Whatever you choose to mention, make sure that money and other material reasons are not part of them.
My experience dealing with teeth problems as a child always makes me want to help people out with theirs. I draw my motivation from a constant desire to ensure the wellness of patients. I also look back at some of my previous successes whenever I face challenges.
10. Mention a Time When You Failed in This Role and the Lesson You Learnt
The interviewer wants to know whether you can take accountability and learn from your mistakes. You are free to pick from any point in your career. Also, ensure that you highlight the lesson you learned.
I once failed to update a patient’s medical history, which saw the dentist repeat a similar procedure twice. We almost got sued for medical negligence, but I managed to talk down the patience. I learned the importance of performing regular updates and being attentive to details in my role.
11. Why Do You Feel You are the Most Suited for this Role?
The interviewer is giving you a chance to sell yourself. You should therefore highlight your skills and experience in this job. Do not badmouth other candidates, or you will come off as a hateful person. Just focus on yourself and what you can offer, and you will be good to go.
I have worked as a dental assistant for the last thirteen years. I, therefore, have vast experience, which I can use to better your workplace. I am a passionate and dedicated individual who will stop at nothing until I have achieved excellent results. I also have several patient handling skills, which are necessary for my job. I am willing to go above and beyond if offered this position.
12. Share with Us Your Greatest Achievement
This is a common general question asked by interviewers to know more about you and gauge how you view success. Your main achievements will show some of the things you hold dear in your professional or personal life. You can talk about an experience or an award that means everything to you.
I once volunteered to work with a team of dentists running a free camp in our locality. We managed to treat over 3000 people with different dental conditions and won the State Humanitarian Awards, which opened for me several doors. I still consider this my most outstanding achievement.
13. Could You Share Your Experience With Dental Practice Management Software?
Technology plays a massive role in your work as a dental assistant. You will use special software to store patients’ medical histories and billing information, schedule appointments, among many others. Your answer should reveal your dental software experience, possible training needs, and computer literacy.
I have used several software in my time as a dental assistant. The most common is Dentrix, which helps me chart and document all the important notes. Thanks to my extensive software knowledge, I can also easily schedule appointments and submit claims to insurance companies.
14. How Do You Normally Prepare for a Patient’s Arrival?
This is an operational question that seeks to uncover how you handle a specific part of your job. A good answer should show that you are excellent at organizing yourself and paying attention to details. You should always plan ahead and anticipate the needs of your patients to improve office productivity. Therefore, show that you are determined to maintain smooth operations in the workplace through your organization and multitasking skills.
I review every patient’s medical and dental history before they arrive to get a clue of what we will be dealing with. I also ensure that the operation room is neat and has all the necessary tools before mounting the patient’s recent x-rays.
15. Any Medicine-related Job Requires One to Exercise High Levels of Confidentiality. How Do You Normally Ensure that in Your Role?
The interviewer wants to know if you think it is crucial to protect patient’s privacy and the value you put on their personal information. Remember, you need to adhere to given regulations even as you go about your job.
I have overseen regulations, scheduled training sessions, performed risk assessments, and other tasks that require personal information about the patients. To avoid such information from landing in the wrong hands, I usually safeguard and properly dispose of documents, follow phone protocol guidelines, and exercise caution and good judgment when discussing sensitive information.
16. How Would You Handle a Scenario Where a Patient Becomes Nervous and Upset Just Before an Appointment and Makes an Effort to Leave or Postpone It?
Your work as a dental assistant goes beyond performing dental procedures and offering assistance to dentists as they go about their work. You will also be required to manage patient expectations in several offices; a role that you should be prepared for. Therefore, the interviewer must know whether you have the knowledge and interpersonal skills that will help you manage such a patient.
Dental procedures can be scary for some, especially with some of the myths going around. In such a scenario, I would guide the patient to a separate office without any dental equipment and ask the dentist to speak with them by giving an in-depth explanation of the procedure and answering any concerns. I would then stay with the patient and offer as much support as possible while calming them down until they are ready for the dental procedure.
17. How Would You Take a Good Alginate Impression?
The interviewer wants to know the steps you would follow to take a quality alginate impression, which will tell just how good you are at your job. Keep in mind that this can be a messy experience both for you and the patient. Your answer should convince the interviewer that your methods can yield results in the first try and ensure that the patient is comfortable all through the procedure. You should also be aware of current techniques and tools.
I would begin by choosing a tray size bigger/larger than my patient’s arch and properly mixing the alginate with water to prevent bubbles. The following steps would be to fill the tray with the right amount and position it back to the front. I would then instruct the patient to breathe through their nose, which prevents them from gagging, and part their lips away from the tray so that it can fit properly. I will then remove it gently once the alginate sets.
18. How Would You Handle a Situation Where a Diagnosed Patient Becomes Unruly Claiming that their Former Dentist Did Not Recommend Any Treatment?
The interviewer wants to know how you would handle specific challenges in your line of work. You should show high levels of quick thinking and understand when answering such a question. Ensure that your answer brings out the filling qualities: Composure, professionalism, excellent listening, and the ability to adapt to different situations.
I have realized that the first thing is to remain calm and avoid escalating the situation when faced with such a situation. I will then carefully listen to the patient and show empathy to win their trust before educating them using my notes and x-rays to give them a better understanding of the dentist’s decision. I may also meet with the dentist to voice the patient’s concern.
19. How Would You Convince an Ignorant Patient on the Need for a Particular Dental Procedure?
You are likely to meet patients who do not understand the importance of dental treatment in your line of work. Therefore, the interviewer will want to know whether you can come up with unique techniques to convince and reassure such a person. Your answer should reveal resourcefulness, good communication skills, and patience.
I will use technology during such a scenario by taking an intraoral camera to picture the particular area that needs attention. I believe that this will help convince the patient just how vital the procedure is. I may also use teeth models and drawings to explain how a normal tooth looks and what would happen if the procedure is not done.
20. Mention a Major Weakness
This is a general question asked in interviews. The interviewer wants to know some of your shortcomings as a person. We advise you not to mention something that renders you incompetent or attacks your job description. In short, make sure that your weakness does not compromise the quality of your job to be safe.
I am a perfectionist. I envision things in my head and strive to replicate them perfectly. I usually end up disappointed if I do not achieve the exact results I envisioned. However, I am slowly learning to work on this weakness, thanks to therapy. It may take some time, but it will surely end one day.
We have exhausted some of the commonly asked questions in dental assistant interviews. I hope that our article will aid in your preparation and help you secure the job. Also, remember to give the interviewer a good first impression and work on your posture.