If you are fond of technology and have an eye for details then this career choice is the right deal for you! The career starts right after your high school diploma and primarily you will be working at a plant where you will be performing testing and maintenance duties. In this article, we will be sharing some of the questions with answers that you might be asked in your interview as a Sterile Processing Technician.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
I take pride in my field as it is involved with people’s health and my attention to perform my duty can assist the medical process. When I saw your advertisement, I was sure that I will be a good candidate for this as I have the relevant experience and skills that are required. I am here to further polish my skills and perform my role in the healthcare industry.
2. What Are The Roles Of A Sterile Processing Technician?
The responsibility may vary if one is working at a healthcare center or at a laboratory. The basic duties are:
- Maintaining the inventory of supplies,
- Recording the supplies with their expiry dates and disposing of them on dates,
- Record keeping of all procedures along with equipment used,
- Providing all required equipment including instruments for all medical procedures including surgeries, traumas, and examinations,
- Reloading instrument trays during the medical procedures after the sterilization process,
- Checking and reporting if there is an issue with the sterilized items,
- Using decontamination machines and removing the waste to maintain the machinery and
- Collecting the supplies and equipment after the process and sterilizing them.
3. What Are The Qualities That A Sterile Processing Technician Needs To Be Successful?
Attention to detail is the basic requirement for this role as one is an important figure in the medical procedure cycle. For this role, one should have all the technical skills to operate the machinery and handle the equipment involved. Few items are fragile and need utmost care.
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
There are several challenges I have faced in this role but I have always learned from them and performed better. For the lab testing facility, we have to make sure zero contamination at any level of the testing procedure. One tiny contamination can make a huge difference in the test result and doctors will be basing their medical way forward on the value appearing on the test result. At the start of my career, I once felt that protocols are not being followed. I discussed it with my supervisor and we all became vigilant and covered the sterilized items tightly in airtight boxes.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Sterile Processing Technician?
As a technician, my day starts quite early as I have to ensure all equipment is in place and sterilized as per the protocol. I check the trauma rooms and operation theatres and make sure it’s ready for the doctors to start their day. Once the first slots are ready, I sit with my team, and we brief each other on the tasks due today. After this, we start the sterilization process on all apparatus that is coming to us and loading trays as new operations are scheduled. I also check the inventory on weekly basis and let the administrator know about the order list timely. Side by side, I am working on a report that documents the results regarding the process so that no point is missed.
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience?
I did my diploma in surgical technology in 2005 and started working at XYZ Healthcare. My major responsibilities include cleaning and inspecting surgical tools and equipment and linen items. I had to make sure that there was a functioning supply of all materials on all days. I also prepared medical trays and sent them to appointed areas for the medical procedure. I developed skills like process documentation and maintaining the sterilization equipment. I also learned to operate steam machines for several required instruments by controlling pressure and temperature.
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Are Required For This Role?
As a technician in this field, my focus is to provide all necessary equipment and areas without single contamination. To excel, I have to remain focused and pay attention to all details while processing. Before any medical procedure is started, my task is to make sure that everything is sterilized and can be used by the doctor and that there are no traces of any previous procedure. To achieve perfection, I have to distract myself from any disturbance.
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge You Foresee In This Job?
In my experience, I have felt that there has to be some connection or sync between the management and the sterile department. Since we are constantly working nonstop in the process, I sometimes feel that management needs to somehow involve understanding the dynamics of the department. I cannot specify the challenge but this is what I feel after working in this role.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated At Work?
Getting through the day with zero errors and being able to make safe decisions is what makes me happy and content at work. I feel my role is important because someone’s health is dependent on my duty and I value it! I appreciate people getting healthy and being part of their recovery cycle.
10. Describe A Time You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learned?
A few years ago, XYZ town was hit with a viral illness in a lot of community members. In the testing facility, it was somehow misdiagnosed and there was an increase in the number of patients within hours. The protocol became strict and the whole town was put under quarantine due to widespread illness. In our department, we were going through several rounds of sterilization to ensure it’s not passed ahead through the medical equipment and somehow few details were missed out in hurry. Thankfully that equipment did not make it out of the department but we were under a lot of pressure after this. I did learn to remain calm and focused in stressful situations.
11. Why Do You Feel You Are Qualified For This Role?
I have relevant skills and experience in this field that match what you are looking for. I have great communication skills and leadership skills that make me a good candidate for this position. I have been managing a team of more than 5 people currently and I believe I can lead the department here as well.
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement
During COVID 19 Pandemic, there was a major load on our department since the threat was huge and it was something that the world wasn’t prepared for. As you know there was a major outbreak in this area and we were facing a lot of admissions in the hospital and we already have patients on beds. To meet the demand of the moment, I led my team of 6 group members and started the sterilization of all equipment on daily basis in several time slots. Our focus was on the linens used by the patients and the equipment that is being put into their rooms. Even though WHO protocols were being followed but as a department, we had to double-check everything and keep ourselves safe during it as well. It was a stressful time but with teamwork, we were able to manage everything. The sterilization was strict for all the hospitals till COVID tests and vaccines were introduced. Later, we were focused on COVID wards to make sure that those items are not mixed with any other items of the hospital.
13. What Are Your Plans For The Next 5 Years?
I am not looking for jumps in my career so wherever I will be working, I won’t be switching quickly. I am planning to stick around and learn thoroughly from the new job. When I searched about your company, I came to know that you still have your old workforce with you. I am sure your organization will be assisting me in reaching my goals and I can work for a longer time period.
14. How Do You Respond To Negative Feedback?
My rule is to let it not affect you unless and until it is constructive feedback that you can actually implement and improve. In my experience so far, I have felt that negative criticism of my work has helped me improve my work a lot. If feedback is coming from my supervisor, I always discuss it in detail with them to understand his perspective. I reevaluate my work and then do meaningful changes.
15. Share Your Weakness.
I usually face issues in time management and task management. Mostly at work, I end up taking up several tasks side by side due to my interest in this field. I feel as if I am letting go of a learning opportunity if I don’t say yes. In the end, it becomes hectic for me to manage everything on time. If I do manage, I go through rough workdays due to workload. I have started to work on this and now I limit myself and keep a proper check and balance on my workload. My previous supervisor understood this as well so he was patient enough to help me on matters.
16. Your Job Requires Safety Of Yourself. How Do You Cater To That?
For all safety, I follow the protocol by heart! My usual way to start the day is to wear proper shoes that do not have open toes, eyewear that protects my eyes, and full sleeves clothes. I know how to label sterilized items and how I have to differentiate between the two categories. While working, I always double-check my things to ensure that I am not missing out on anything.
17. Which Software Do You Use At Work?
I am efficient use of technology and have good speed at typing on a laptop or desktop. For basic purposes, all staff is required to use Microsoft Office. I use Microsoft Excel for Inventory management and Microsoft Word for simple work or note-taking. For other software, I have used ClinSys and have it installed on my smartphone as well. This helps me stay in touch with the system even if I am on rounds at the hospital. The digital app is a big relief as I can update the software on the go.
18. While Working At Lab, What Are Few Basic Safety Rules You Follow.
- Knowledge of all safety protocols and items that can be used at the time of emergency,
- Wearing safety gadgets like goggles to avoid any exposure to chemicals and
- Avoid skin interaction with any chemical.
19. Do You Like Working Alone Or In A-Team?
To progress, we all need to perform like a team and cover each other in difficult times. I have gotten a chance to work under both setups and I believe I have performed well in both. Teamwork does give energy and a chance to be trained by one another. If one person is lacking something, another team member can assist and help them on a difficult day. Solo work has its advantages as there are fewer distractions and you are accountable for your work. I do not have any preferences so I believe I can perform well in both.
20. How Do You Delegate Tasks At Work?
My focus is to give a variety of tasks to everyone so that there is no boring work for anyone. While giving out tasks, I usually try adding at least 1 task in the bundle that is challenging for them. I want my team to remain focused and learn new things. Sometimes, if one team member is getting stuck on one of the challenges, I encourage other team members to assist him so that team-building activities can be performed as well.
21. In Your Opinion, How Can Workplace Conflicts Be Resolved?
All workplaces have this issue and as a leader, it is important to resolve them timely before any damages are seen from the outside. In order to deal with issues at work, one should have a proper mechanism. In my experience, I have learned that conflicts should be resolved at the earliest and if teams can do healthy discussions then should be talked about as well. With discussions, you can understand the reason and avoid it later at any stage.
22. If You Are Understaffed, What Will Be Your Plan Of Action?
I believe group work will sort the issue. A department should not be giving out any excuse for being understaffed when it can be handled between the team. We are the initial phase of the medical procedure so we have to do prompt work and respond promptly as well. The teamwork is actually dependent on how well synced the team is to take up to pressure of work. On the other hand, if it is a normal routine then the understaffed issue should be highlighted to the supervisor or management to hire a few extra employees to share the load. It depends on the budget. Sometimes internship programs can be a great relief as well.
23. For Inventory Management, Which Factors Should Be Kept In Mind?
A few basic factors are:
- Knowing seasonal demands and then placing orders for the required equipment,
- Weekly inventory check to ensure its well-managed,
- Few surprise checks in the inventory to ensure there are no thefts involved,
- Understanding lead time if the products are being shipped from other states or countries and
- Including a variety of options so that liquidity doesn’t harm.
24. If Your Team Member Is Involved in Stealing, What Would You Do?
If I come to know about such a case, I will first make sure that I am getting the correct information from the source. Once I have doubled checked, I will inform my supervisor to keep a check on such activity happening. I don’t think talking to the concerned team member will be beneficial because someone senior needs to step up. On the other hand, if that person is someone who I am friends with then I will talk to them politely on the matter. Rest can be dealt with by the supervisor.
25. Are You Okay With Flexible Working Hours?
I don’t have any issues and I have worked a variety of shifts in my previous role. I can be at work whenever I am scheduled for. I have my night shifts where we had to cover the emergency and trauma rooms for any incoming accident. I try to maintain my work and personal life balance so as long as it’s taken care of, I can help my team.
As we have listed the top 25 questions for your interview as a Sterile Processing Technician, don’t forget to take your professional resume on the day of the interview. Shake hands with the interviewer with confidence and a smile. Good luck with Project Practical.