A little preparation can help you feel more comfortable during your interview
Do you have an interview coming up? If so, congratulations! That’s a step in the right direction. Be sure to take some time preparing for the interview by reading these sample questions. You might even ask a friend to give you a “mock” interview using these questions.
1. Tell me about yourself.
This is a tricky question because it is open-ended. Rather than sharing any of your personal life, try to keep focused on the professional skills that you bring to the organization. Example:
“I recently completed my medical assistant training at the John Doe School, and served in an internship at Jane Doe Pediatrics for three months. In my internship, I had the opportunity to work with the young patients. I talked with them, showed them to their exam rooms, and helped them stay calm before their immunizations. I especially enjoy the clinical aspects of medical assisting, such as taking vital signs and patient histories. I would like to bring these skills to your practice.”
2. How much experience do you have as a medical assistant?
For this question, simply describe how many years you have worked as a medical assistant, and the facilities where you have worked. Explain what your responsibilities were. If you received any promotions or recognitions, be sure to discuss them. If you are new to the field, describe your education program, the skills you learned, and your internship. Example:
“I recently served as an intern medical assistant at Jane Doe Medical Center from January to March of this year. The internship was 180 hours. It was the conclusion of my 1-year training program at John Doe Career School. I have graduated now, and am looking forward to finding full-time employment.”
3. What are your strengths?
It’s always good to be prepared for this classic interview question. When you discuss your strengths, try not to brag. Simply share some of the clinical skills that you feel strongest in, along with your interpersonal skills. Example:
“My clinical skills are my biggest strength. My instructors told me my phlebotomy skills were very strong. I feel confident when doing blood draws or injections. My people skills are also one of my strengths. I am good at making people feel comfortable.”
4. What are your weaknesses?
When it comes to your weaknesses, try not to use the word “weakness” in your response. Instead, explain your weakness as an area where you are hoping to improve. Example:
“I prefer clinical responsibilities over the front-office administrative tasks, but I still feel comfortable with technology, and I am confident that I can learn your administrative procedures quickly.”
5. What computer skills do you have?
Tip: before the interview, jot down the names of the software programs you have used so that you can remember them when this question comes up. Example:
“I have received training on Electronic Health Records software, as well as all of the Microsoft Office programs. Our school also provided training on software for medical billing and coding.”
6. Do you have experience with electronic health records software?
Most employers like to hire candidates who have experience with electronic health records (EHR) software. Be sure to remember the names of the software programs you trained on, as well as any that you have used in previous jobs.
“My training program used a simulation EHR software that contains many of the same elements as the commercially-used software. At my internship, the office used eClinicalWorks, so I had some exposure to that program.”
7. Do you have any experience in medical billing and coding?
Be sure to explain your experience, including the types of insurances you have billed, and whether you have worked with Medicaid and Medicare. If you are new to the field, describe the billing procedures that you learned during your medical assistant training. Example:
“In my medical assistant training program, we learned about different billing systems as well as how to process claims with private insurance companies, Medicaid, and Medicare. We also learned about medical coding for different procedures and diagnoses. We studied the ICD-10 and CPT.”
8. What can you do as a medical assistant to make sure you are following HIPAA protocol?
It is not uncommon for an interviewer to test your knowledge about certain important areas. Be sure you brush up on HIPAA as it applies to medical assistants. Example:
“We were trained on HIPAA, and in my internship, the medical assistants were careful about patient privacy. We used only patients’ first names in the waiting room, made sure the exam room door was closed before any discussion began, and made sure patients’ charts were kept out of view of others. And of course, we learned never to discuss patients’ cases, except with their healthcare providers.”
9. Do you have experience in front-office responsibilities? Are you comfortable answering phones?
Many medical assistants do a combination of clinical and administrative work. Be ready to discuss the office tasks that you have done, or have been trained to do. Example:
“In my training program, we learned a lot of front-office tasks. We were trained in Microsoft Office, and learned how to use medical billing software. Our program focused on communications and customer service skills, so that we would have the professionalism to work with patients in person and on the phone.”
10. What phlebotomy training have you had? Are you comfortable with drawing blood?
The employer wants to be sure you are not nervous about blood draws. Simply explain your training in phlebotomy. If you have experience already, discuss how long you have been performing blood draws. Example:
“I am comfortable with blood draws, and did well in my training program. I have not had the opportunity to do blood draws yet in a real patient experience, but I have performed many phlebotomies on my classmates during my training.”
11. Have you taken patient histories and vital signs in your previous job?
If these were some of your responsibilities in your previous job, you can explain your role. If not, explain that you have been trained in these areas. Example:
“At my career school, I was trained in blood pressure, weight, temperature, and pulse. We practiced these in the lab at school, and did a few community events where we got to take vital signs on members of the public. At my internship, I had the opportunity to measure the vital signs on some patients. In school we also learned about taking patient histories, and I was able to help with this during my internship.”
12. Have you worked with patient prescriptions?
Some medical assistants may have experience with calling in refills or using an electronic system to place refill orders. Simply explain what experience you have. Example:
“We learned about refilling patient prescriptions in my career school, but I have not had on-the-job experience with this. I would be happy to learn the system you use here at your office.”
13. Are you certified in CPR, First Aid, and AED?
Tip: Before the interview, be sure to check if your certifications are still valid. Remember that the Red Cross’s First Aid/CPR/AED certifications last for only 2 years, so it’s important to set a reminder to get re-certified after 2 years.
“First Aid, CPR, and AED training was part of my medical assistant training, and my Red Cross certifications are still valid for 20 more months. I understand that I need to take review courses every two years to get re-certified.”
14. Describe a difficult situation in the workplace and how you handled it.
Think of an appropriate situation, and be sure your story is honest. Emphasize the actions that you took to get the situation under control. The employer wants to know that you can handle difficult situations with professionalism and courtesy. Example:
“During my internship, one of the male patients was uncomfortable having a female intern in the room, and he asked me to leave. My supervisor and I apologized, and I left the exam room right away. Later the patient complained to the front desk, so my supervisor and I approached the patient. I explained that I was in training, and that my internship was a chance for me to get on-the-job experience to make me a better medical assistant. We agreed that my supervisor should have asked his permission before I came into the exam room. By understanding the patient’s point of view, the patient seemed to be satisfied when he left the office.”
15. How would a former employer describe you?
Most people answer this question with general terms such as “reliable” and “organized.” These are important traits, but also try to think of your traits as they apply to being a medical assistant. Example:
“My performance evaluations at my previous job were strong. My supervisor thought I was good at scheduling, and that I helped to keep the days’ appointments on time. She thought I was organized and efficient, and was able to prioritize the most important tasks that needed to be completed each day.”
16. What do you like most about being a medical assistant?
Employers often ask this question to gauge whether you are someone who enjoys your job and wants to perform well on the job. Simply explain what you like, and tell why you find these responsibilities to be rewarding. Example:
“My favorite part of being a medical assistant is working with different patients who come into the office. I like being the friendly face that patients see when they come back into the exam area. I want patients to enjoy coming into the office, and I want to represent my office well.”
17. What do you like the least about being a medical assistant?
This is a difficult question, because you should never complain in a job interview. You can simply explain that you like all of the responsibilities, and would like to have additional responsibilities as you gain more job experience. Example:
“There aren’t really any parts of the job that I don’t like. I like to take on a variety of responsibilities, so that I become better at all aspects of being a medical assistant. My hope is that as I gain more experience, I will be given new and different responsibilities.”
18. Where do you see yourself in 5 years (professionally)?
This question gives the employer a chance to see how long you might stay with the organization. If you have hopes of going back to school in the next five years, it is okay to say this, since it will show the employer you have ambition. It is also okay to ask the employer about any possibilities for advancement at the organization over the course of five years’ time. But be sure to strike a balance between sounding too ambitious (wanting to advance right away) and not ambitious enough (not motivated to improve yourself). Example:
“In five years, I would hope to still be working here. If there are opportunities for higher levels of responsibility here, I would like to look into them. Eventually I hope to go to nursing school, but I plan to wait until I have had more work experience.”
19. Are you doing any continuing education or other classes?
Employers may want to know whether you are continuing to improve yourself. This shows potential employers that you are dedicated to your field.
“I joined the American Association of Medical Assistants, and have been looking at their continuing education programs. I just finished my training, so I haven’t signed up for anything yet, but I understand that continuing ed is an important part of working as a medical assistant.”
20. Why do you want to work here?
Before the interview, make sure you learn as much as you can about the employer. Reading their website is usually the best way to do this. Once you’ve done your research, think about the professional reasons why you’d want to work at this organization. Example:
“Working at Johnsons Pediatrics would be a good fit for me, because I enjoy working with children, and I would be able to use the clinical skills I’ve learned in my recent training program. I would also like the challenge of working in a practice with 11 doctors, because I would learn many different working styles.” Note: You should avoid saying any personal reasons such as “the pay is good” or “because it’s an easy commute for me.”
21. What makes you the best candidate for this position?
With this question, you want to be sure you do not sound arrogant. You can start by reiterating your professional skills and your “people” skills that you would bring to the job, and end by explaining why you are very interested in being a part of the organization. Example:
“I am a strong candidate because of my clinical skills and my communication skills. I feel confident handling the tasks that are shown in the job description, and I think my people skills would help your patients to feel at ease and comfortable during their appointments. I am good at working on a team, and believe I would be a dependable member of your staff.”