Use these suggestions when preparing during your job search process
If you’re getting close to completing your professional training program as a Medical Assistant, you’re probably starting to send out resumes to potential employers. If you do a good job presenting yourself on paper, you might soon be asked to come in for an interview. That’s a great first step! Now what?
Most people get nervous about job interviews, and one trick to being comfortable and effective on the day is to prepare in advance. We’ve put together some questions you’re likely to hear from an interviewer, along with some thoughts about thoughtful ways to respond.
Since Medical Assistants often handle many different tasks, the questions might cover a range of topics, as well as your previous experience and your overall personality and approach to work situations. Take a look at the following list, and write down answers to several of the questions here. It’s also a good idea to practice saying your responses out loud, perhaps to a friend. Have them ask you some of these questions, and try to answer without looking at any notes. Before you know it, you’ll gain confidence and ease in talking about your self and expressing your interest and enthusiasm.
1. “Get to know you” questions
“Tell me about your background.”
Use an answer to an open-ended question like this to focus on your training and any relevant professional experience you have had. If this would be your first job as a Medical Assistant, then it’s fine to focus on your educational experiences and the skills you gained during your training, as well as any internships you may have held in the field.
“What did you like about your internship?”
Try to be honest but also provide concrete details about an aspect of the work that resonated with you. Then connect that to what you could do for this employer.
“What do you like most (and least) about being a medical assistant?”
Employers know that people who are happy in their job tend to stay and become a positive contributor to the team. This question is a way for a prospective employer to find out how committed you are and how much you like what you do. So be honest about the positive aspects you feel about this work, and what you think is rewarding about it. In terms of talking about what you like least, avoid saying anything that could be considered a complaint. It’s safer to say that you like the responsibilities you’ve had and would be eager to gain more over time.
2. Practical experience questions
These questions will depend on the job description, so be prepared to respond about duties you’re likely to perform should you get hired. Answer these questions in a straightforward manner, depending on what you have done in your work experience or internship. Some of these questions might include:
- “Have you taken patient histories?”
- “Have you used software for electronic medical records?”
- “What experience have you had drawing blood?”
- “Do you have experience helping patients with prescriptions?”
- “Have you handled office responsibilities such as answering phones?”
- “Do you have medical billing and coding experience?”
If you haven’t had experience with a particular aspect of what the interviewer is asking about, find a positive way to convey that—such as by saying you’re interested in learning more.
3. People skills questions
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Find a way to talk about what you do well—without bragging. Give examples of one or two of the areas where you feel strongest. This is also a good opportunity talk about your interpersonal skills. In terms of weaknesses, talk about ways you’d like to improve.
“Tell me about how you handled a challenging situation in the workplace.”
Be prepared with a story about something that actually happened to you at work, and talk about what steps you took to handle things within the scope of your job. The interviewer probably is trying to get a sense of how calm, cool, collected you can be under stress, and whether you get flustered or can remain professional and courteous.
4. Big-picture questions
“Where do you see yourself working in 5 years?”
Some people let this question intimidate them—as though they’re supposed to look into a crystal ball and know exactly where they’ll be. But look at it from the interviewer’s perspective: they want to get a sense of whether you plan to stick with a job for a number of years, or intend to leave to pursue other ambitions, such as going back to school. An honest answer is fine, and it’s smart to inquire whether the job would offer the opportunity to advance within the company over time. You want to get a sense of where you might be if you decided to stay there for five years. It’s good to sound committed in the short term to improving yourself and open to the possibilities the job might bring.
“Why do you want to work here?”
Do as much research as you can about the employer before the interview. Start by reading their website thoroughly, and make note of any details that interest you. Bringing these up in the interview, even in the form of a question, reflects that you’ve done your homework. Then craft an answer that includes the professional reasons you’d want to work there. (You want to avoid responding with personal reasons that you want the job, such as because of the salary or the convenient location.)
“What makes you the best candidate for this position?”
Without sounding overly confident, this is a good chance to restate your people skills as well as the professional skills you would bring to the job. Try to be specific given what you know about this job description. And remember to smile and express your enthusiasm!
Good luck with your interview preparation, and be sure to rely on friends or colleagues to help you practice. You’re likely to become more comfortable in interview situations after you’ve been on one or two. And remember: a good interviewer primarily wants to get to know you, but it’s a great opportunity to showcase what you can bring to the position. We wish you all the best in your search for a job as a Medical Assistant!
This post is part of the Salter College weekly blog. Contact us today to learn more about our various career training programs, or to request more information. Call our Chicopee campus (413-206-0300) or our West Boylston campus (774-261-1500) to schedule a visit. We look forward to hearing from you!