Practice these questions to get ready for the big day
Are you in a medical assistant training program and getting ready to enter the job market? One of the most important steps in the hunt for a job is getting comfortable with a job interview. Nearly everyone feels nervous before a job interview. That’s only natural. One of the keys to overcoming your nerves is to prepare for your interview ahead of time. The more prepared you are, the calmer you will feel.
Here are some sample job interview questions for medical assistants who are new to the field. Finding a medical assistant job with no experience on your resume can be tricky. But if you apply to entry level positions and answer the questions with honesty and confidence, you can improve your chances. Practice with these questions.
Medical Assistant job interview questions
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question sounds so simple, yet it’s hard to know what to say! To answer this question, keep your response focused on your professional skills. For example:
“This fall, I finished my medical assistant training at the American College for Medical Careers and was placed in an externship at Smith’s Family Practice in Orlando. My externship exposed me to patients of all ages and backgrounds. I participated in routine visits by recording vital signs and updating patients’ records. I also shadowed an experienced medical assistant during more complicated patient visits. This externship was a great way to end my training, and I’m looking forward to bringing my new skills to an organization like yours.”
2. Why did you choose medical assisting?
For this question, you want to avoid too personal a response. Instead, focus on the healthcare industry and why you want to be a part of it. For example:
“The field of healthcare has always interested me, and being a medical assistant is a good fit. I enjoy working with people and want to provide a good experience for them when they come in for an exam. With the variety of patients we saw during my externship, it seems like the type of career where I will learn something new every day.”
3. Describe your clinical skills training.
Here the interviewer wants to know that your training has prepared you for the job. Come prepared with a description of your program’s requirements and the types of skills you learned. For example:
“At ACMC, the training program was a 40-credit program with 990 clock hours. My externship was 40 hours per week for six weeks, giving me 240 hours of on-the-job experience. I learned my clinical skills during our labs, where we focused a lot on infection control, proper procedures for specimen collection, vital signs, pulmonary function testing, blood draws, and injections. The instructors were experienced clinicians and really took the time to make sure we understood every procedure.”
4. Are you comfortable with blood draws and other invasive procedures?
The employer knows this is your first job in the field, and they may want to ensure that you are comfortable with needle sticks and blood draws. Simply discuss your experience at school.
“We learned phlebotomy, IM injections, and IV injections during our program. I’ve never been afraid of blood, and it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable with these procedures. I haven’t done a blood draw in a true clinical setting yet, but the students at ACMC practiced on one another many times, so I feel that I’m ready to perform the procedure on patients.”
5. What is your experience with patient prescriptions?
Not all medical assistant positions will require calling in prescriptions, but some might. Be ready to discuss what you have learned about prescriptions. For example:
“I took a pharmacology course where I learned about prescriptions and drug interactions. We discussed calling in refill prescriptions to community pharmacies, e-prescribe software, and prior authorizations. I have not yet had direct experience doing this, but I would be happy to learn the system you use.”
6. Describe your administrative training.
Depending on whether you are applying for a clinical medical assistant position or an administrative position, the interviewer may ask you about your administrative training. Be prepared to talk about the skills you learned in your program. For example:
“My training program included courses that focused on the administrative side of medical assisting. I learned about phone technique, appointment scheduling, and handling the reception desk duties. I also took courses on medical records management, how to work with electronic health records, and basic medical billing and coding skills.”
7. What is your experience with electronic health records software?
There are many different types of electronic health records software, so don't worry if you don’t have exact experience in the one that the employer uses. Make sure to explain how you would be happy to learn their system. For example:
“At school, we used a simulated electronic health records program, and during my externship, we used eClinicalWorks to input patient histories and complaints. I found that the interfaces were very intuitive, and I would feel comfortable learning a new EHR software for this position.”
8. Have you done any medical coding or medical billing?
Depending on the employer, you may be expected to handle some medical billing or medical coding. Other medical assisting jobs will not be responsible for this. But be ready for the question, just in case.
“In ACMC’s medical assistant program, we took a course on basic medical billing and coding skills where we learned about ICD-10 coding, CPT coding, and using Medisoft software. We also learned about managed care and other insurance issues.”
9. As a medical assistant, what are your responsibilities with regard to HIPAA regulations?
All medical providers are required to abide by HIPAA regulations relating to patient privacy and confidentiality. The interviewer may want to make sure you are aware of your role in HIPAA.
“We studied HIPAA in class and discussed the medical assistant’s role. For instance, we learned that we should use only the patient’s first name in the waiting room, close the exam room door before discussing any health issues, and keep the names on patients’ charts facing toward the wall, so that passers-by can’t see the names. If we are calling the patients on the phone, we need to have their signed permission before leaving a voicemail. I also know never to discuss any patient issues with anyone other than those directly involved in their care.”
10. Describe a difficult problem you’ve encountered with a supervisor in the workplace and how you handled it.
Here, the employer wants to know that you can handle an angry boss with professionalism. If asked this question, be sure you do not start complaining about a former boss. Instead, come prepared to talk about a courteous way to handle these situations. For example:
“I worked as a cashier in a busy retail environment, and my supervisor would sometimes get upset with the cashiers when customers would have complaints about the long lines. So, a small group of us requested a meeting with the supervisor after the next staff meeting, and we came up with some suggestions. We suggested having a greeter direct customers to open lines, and opening up another express line. We even suggested doing a small give-away, like snack samples, for the waiting customers, but that didn’t get approved. But the supervisor seemed happy that we were trying to work together to make the situation better.”
11. How do others describe you?
This question asks you to look at yourself from another person’s point of view. You might think of descriptors like “reliable” or “hard-working.” As you respond, make sure you respond with traits that are related to being a medical assistant.
“Most people find me to be personable and service-oriented. At my previous position in retail, my supervisor appreciated that I dealt with customers in a friendly and professional manner and always tried to be a good representative for the store. I think I would be able to bring this service-orientation to the patients in a medical assisting position.”
12. Why do you want to work here?
With this question, the interviewer is checking to see whether you really want to work there, or whether you’re just applying for any job you can get. To show them you are committed to their organization, make sure you do your research. Find out about the history of the organization, how many doctors work there, and what the community is like. For example:
“During my training, I found family medicine to be the most interesting, because you serve a wide range of patients with different medical needs. I enjoyed my externship in family medicine, and when I saw your job ad, I was immediately interested in applying. I also like a fast-paced environment, and I know that you have a busy practice, so I think I could be a good fit for you.”
13. What makes you the best person for this job?
This question is similar to “what are your strengths?” It’s a chance to highlight your best skills. Try to avoid bragging, but certainly show confidence in yourself! For example:
“I believe I am a strong candidate for this job because I will bring not only my clinical skills, but also my communication and organizational skills to the job. Helping to room patients in a busy family practice takes a lot of organization and prioritizing, and I think these are some of my strong points. I’m also patient-focused and will always keep my eye on serving the patients well and representing your practice well.”
Once you’ve had a chance to review these questions and come up with your own responses, it’s time to practice. To get the most out of interview practice, try these techniques:
- Practice in front of a mirror
- Practice positive body language. Forbes offers useful Body Language Tips for Career Success.
- Video yourself and use the video to critique yourself
- Memorize a few key phrases that you like that describe how you are qualified for the job
- Sign up for a mock interview appointment with a career services professional
- Ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you
- Find additional interview questions online to prepare even further.
With these questions and sample answers, you should be in good shape for your next job interview. For more resources on preparing for interviews, try these articles:
The American College for Medical Careers (ACMC) offers medical assistant training in Orlando, Florida. For residents of the Orlando region, consider ACMC for your career training. It’s easy to enroll. To get started, fill out our online ACMC Information form or talk with our admissions advisors by scheduling a visit. Or if you prefer the phone, simply give us a call at 407-738-4488. We are waiting to hear from you!