7 Questions to Prepare for a Medical Assisting Interview

Candidates succeed in job interviews when their answers match employer expectations. In a medical assisting interview, employers ask questions that reveal the candidates’ skills, practice-specific knowledge and their fit with the practice/institution. However, the medical assistant candidate should not try to guess at the employer’s expectations as they will want to work in an atmosphere that fits them and, in a position, that they can succeed in.

Marketing assistant candidates should take updated copies of their resume, relevant certificates and licenses to the medical assisting interview. They should also have researched the organization interviewing them, so they have questions to ask when the interview completes.

Try not to memorize your answers as it can come off unenthusiastic and emotionless. Try to memorize the key points you want to talk about and add stories from your previous experience to elaborate. These spontaneous answers to the interviewer’s questions will show that you are enthusiastic about and interested in the position.

Interviewers ask questions common to all jobs apart from those specific to the medical assistant job. Here are seven most common questions asked during a medical assisting interview:

Question #1. Tell me about yourself.

This is an open-ended question intended to help interviewees relax. However, candidates should not talk too much, especially about their personal lives. Instead, they should mention a few interests relevant to medical assisting, such as volunteering, or focus on their professional skills or academics.

Candidates can mention the number of years they have worked as a medical assistant, the facilities they have worked at and the responsibilities they have had. If asked to elaborate, they can mention taking patient vitals and medical histories, assisting in medical procedures, or any administrative or front office duties.

Candidates who have no experience can describe their education, the skills they have learned, their certifications and licenses, and their externship. Some skills that are important to graduates, without work experience, include good customer service, organizational skills and multitasking. The medical assistant candidate can also talk about answering the phone, managing word processing software and scheduling appointments.

Question #2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

While discussing strengths, candidates should avoid boasting. Ideally, they should share some job-related skills they are strong in, along with a few people skills or instances of academic excellence.  They will let the hiring physician now that they are calm under pressure, have the ability to multitask, like working in a team and interfacing with patients. They will want to tell a story about their strength and a situation where it can in handy.

Medical assisting candidates should avoid using use the word “weakness.” Instead, they must talk of “opportunities”or “areas that need improvement,” which can be perceived as a positive too. Weaknesses may include being a perfectionist or getting to work early and staying late to get the job done. It can be seen as a weakness of the candidate but a positive for the medical assisting practice.

Question #3. Do you like being around people?

Since people skills are very essential for medical assistants, candidates should try to show that they love interacting with others and truly enjoy helping them. The medical assisting candidate can tell a story of a positive interaction with a colleague, patient or during an externship. Maybe they had a group of coworkers that always got lunch together, a manager that they got along with or regular customers that they can tell a story about.

Question #4. What schedule do you hope to work? Do you have any scheduling restrictions?

Be honest with this answer and try to understand the demands of the job before applying. If this is a doctor’s office, then shifts from 9 to 5 may be available. If an emergency facility, they will need medical assistants on nights and weekends as the facility is open 24/7. You can always negotiate your hours or switch with other medical assistants but start off your new job on the right foot. Be clear with your hiring physician the demands on your time and the hours you are available.

Question #5. How do you protect the rights and confidentiality of patients?

Medical assisting candidates’ answers can be about any Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training they received and how they apply it by being discreet in their dealings with patients and their records.

State situations that may need additional discretion including answering the phone with a patient or other doctor’s office, greeting a patient while working on another patient’s chart, or not giving out medical information to family and friends unless patient consent is given.

Medical assistants that do not adhere to HIPAA regulations will get in trouble and compromise the confidentiality of the patient.

Question #6. Describe a difficult situation at your workplace and how you handled it.

Medical assisting candidates should talk of a real experience, where their actions helped resolve a difficult situation. They should also share the positive aspects of the experience, without blaming others. Tell a story about a time when you used your skills and knowledge to diffuse a situation, help calm an angry customer or dealt with an emergency.

If this is the medical assisting candidates’ first job, they can refer to instances from their training, non-medical work experience or during an externship. The hiring physician will want to know that the medical assistant candidate can de-escalate situations and take care of emergencies in a calm fashion.

The medical assistant candidate can also take the time to ask the hiring physician how they will handle the difficult situation.  They will listen, learn and respond to show the hiring physician that the medical assistant candidate is interested and willing to learn.

Question #7. What do you like most about being a medical assistant, and what do you like the least?

Although many candidates might say that they like everything about the job, it is better to say what they specifically like and why. Candidates can be open about what they find difficult, which would help employers to provide training or support in those areas.

Usually, interviewers close the medical assisting interview by asking if the candidates have any questions for them. The answer should always be a “yes,” followed by at least one question.  Take the time to research the medical facility and the employees that work there. Come up with a few questions that you want answered and that will show the hiring physician that you are taking the interview seriously. However, if interviewers have already covered everything, the medical assisting candidate can ask a general question about the working atmosphere or locality.

Did learning about medical assisting interview questions interest you? Ready to become a medical assistant? Gwinnett Colleges & Institute offers medical assisting courses to gain essential skills and training. The core curriculum focuses on the medical assisting skills and training you will need to seek entry-level employment in physicians’ offices, clinics, hospitals, and other medical settings needing the services of associates trained in both front and back office medical assisting skills. These medical assisting courses will be the first step in starting a rewarding career.