1. What is your dental assistant experience?
Give a clear, honest answer about your training and experience. Note any certification or licensing you’ve earned, as well as where you did a clinical externship and/or on-the-job training.
Example answer: “I completed the dental assistant diploma at Greenfield Community College, where I had both coursework and clinical experience working with patients. I completed a 3-month externship at Greenfield Dentistry, where I was able to learn the basics of office assisting and dental procedures.
2. What are your computer skills like?
Computer work is a regular responsibility of dental assisting. Keep your answer focused on dental billing, coding, and electronic health records – you may be a skilled Halo player, but that’s not relevant to your work as a dental assistant!
Example answer: “I’ve been trained in electronic health records software – my school used ___ software. We covered dental billing and coding, and how to process Medicaid and Medicare claims. I’m also familiar with data entry programs like Excel.”
3. How familiar are you with HIPAA guidelines?
Because HIPAA law is so important in dental healthcare, it’s a good idea to review some of the basic protocols before the interview. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your proactive, responsible approach to your work.
Example answer: “My training program had a course devoted to HIPAA so I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the different protocols. Patient safety and privacy are very important to me and I’m always very careful to abide by HIPAA guidelines.”
4. What’s your experience with radiology?
Assisting with taking and processing x-rays is an important responsibility of dental assistants. Be sure to find out the radiology licensing requirements in your state and note if you’re licensed or not. If you’re not, the office may help you become licensed, so be sure to note that you’d be eager to learn.
Example answer: “My program covered radiology and I shadowed a dental assistant on the x-ray machine at my externship. I’m not licensed yet but I definitely intend to get my license as soon as possible.”
5. What made you decide on a career in dental assisting?
This is an open-ended question with no right answer: it’s a great opportunity to share more of your personal story and connect with the interviewer. Offering a personal anecdote can make all the difference in a stand-out, memorable interview!
Example answer: “I was really scared of the dentist as a kid, and the assistant at the office always made me feel so much better, making me laugh and helping me feel more comfortable. That inspired my own dream to become a dental assistant because I love helping people and making them feel at home.”
6. Why are you interested in our dental office?
As noted above, this is a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research looking into the company. Note your values and how they align with this particular dental practice.
Example answer: “I was drawn to your practice because of your emphasis on teamwork and shared responsibility for patient outcomes. My externship taught me how important it is for the whole dental team to work together to provide the best possible care, and I’m hoping to join a practice that focuses on that value.”
7. What are your strengths?
Use this question to share your best side – don’t boast or compare (eg, “I had the best grades in my dental assistant program”), but focus on the attributes that make you a great asset to a team. This is a good one to write down ahead of time so you have your “buzzwords” handy.
Example answer: “I believe I’m a committed teamwork-oriented person who’s always looking for opportunities to support my coworkers. I never want to burden someone else because I haven’t done my best, and I make sure I’m making other people’s jobs easier, not harder. I also love connecting with patients and really enjoy helping them get comfortable and enjoy the visit!”
8. What are your weaknesses?
This is a tricky question – you don’t want to offer negative information about yourself, but you also want to offer a more substantial answer than “I work too hard!” The best way to answer this question is to highlight how you’ve worked to overcome a weakness – this shows you are aware of your limitations, but also highlights how you’ve adapted to be a better dental assistant and employee.
Example answer: “When I first started as a dental assistant, I really struggled with time management – I would get really absorbed in a task and forget that I had a lot of other things to get done before the end of the day. I asked a more experienced dental assistant for tips on better time management, and she offered a lot of great advice on how to stay on task – for instance, I set a timer on my phone when I’m sterilizing instruments now so I stay on task and don’t get distracted!”
9. What’s a difficult workplace situation you encountered, and how did
you handle it?
Like question 8, this is not an invitation to trash talk yourself or your former colleagues. According to topinterview.com, using the STAR method can help with this question: explain the Situation, briefly describe the Task you needed to handle, explain the Action you took to solve the problem, and the Result of your action.
Example answer: “At my last job, we once had a billing problem with a patient and his mother became very upset and angry with me at the front desk, with lots of other patients and families watching. I quickly and politely escorted her into a conference room so she could share her concerns in private, and listened empathetically as she explained what was wrong. We were able to compromise on a payment agreement and we were both laughing by the time it was over. It was a stressful moment but once we were able to listen to each other, things calmed down a lot. I learned how important it is to make patients or parents feel heard and cared for when there is an issue.”
10. Why do you think you’re the best candidate for this dental assistant
Take this question to reiterate your strengths and experience, as well as your respect and admiration for their dental practice. Enthusiasm and warmth are a must!
Example answer: “I completed my dental assistant program last month, and I feel really prepared to be an excellent, capable dental assistant. I’m looking to grow with a company that values teamwork and patient care as much as I do, and I’d love the chance to learn from your experienced staff, and support them with enthusiasm and professionalism! I think I could really help your office deliver amazing patient care.”