Being a medical assistant means you are a “Jack of all trades”. Whether you work for a medical practice, an urgent care clinic, or a hospital, you know that you will have a busy day – every day.
That said, medical assistant positions are highly rewarding, both emotionally and financially. That is if you land a solid position. But hey, you’re halfway there if you’ve reached the interview stage.
What’s now left is to come in and make a dazzling impression on the hiring committee — and this requires practicing your answers to common medical assistant interview questions.
What Questions are Asked in a Medical Assistant Interview?
In general, you can expect a mix of a roster of general interview questions about your background and experience, paired with those around your specific skill set. Separately, interviewers like to ask behavioral and situational questions, aimed at “testing” your customer service, adaptability, and teamwork skills.
A List of Interview Questions for Medical Assistant Positions
Recruiters usually have a personalized approach to interviewing. Some prefer a more formal interview process, where they ask the candidates to walk them through their resume first, explain their rationale for wanting to work at their institution, and talk about reasons for leaving the past job. Then navigate towards discussing more specific skills and experiences, related to the role.
Others have a more “conversational” approach and may ask you to briefly tell them about yourself, describe your career objectives, and briefly state why you’re interested in this position before jumping to some situational interview questions.
Though every conversation is different, some medical assistant interview questions keep coming up more often than not. Here’s our shortlist.
1. What Are Your Core Competencies For Working With Patients?
Medical assistants come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Private offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals have somewhat different patient care standards and requirements. So, of course, an interviewer wants to hear where you stand with your patient-care skills.
“I believe, there are really 3 core competencies a medical assistant must have – clinical, administrative, and personal. The patient is really focused on personal competencies. My skills in the area include providing a really welcoming climate when they enter, spending the necessary time to make them feel comfortable in the exam room, providing an empathetic listening ear, and respecting their privacy both while they are there and as their records are entered into our system.”
2. Which Types of Administrative and Front-Office Skills Do You Have?
Medical assistants have lots of “front office” duties, so your employer naturally wants to understand what your strengths are in this department. A good strategy is to talk about your administrative skills in general.
Then elaborate further, if you are asked about a specific duty. if you’re not familiar with a particular software app or business process, don’t be afraid to say so.
“I perform a variety of front office tasks in my current position – from answering the telephone and scheduling patient appointments to processing intake and insurance forms, to billing and coding, to arranging lab testing, and maintaining patient records. In short, I’ve done it all because my current position is in a small medical practice. The few of us have to be able to do everything as needed.”
3. Are You Familiar With HIPAA Guidelines? How Do You Protect Patient Privacy?
HIPAA is a standard question for any interview for a medical position. Before the interview, make sure that you are up-to-date on any recent changes. Separately, think about a quick example to illustrate your adherence to patient records privacy.
“Part of my formal training included HIPPA regs and guidelines. This year, I have also attended a workshop about the proposed changes to the Privacy Rule.
In general, my approach to patient privacy protection is two-fold. First, I never talk about a patient in an open office environment where others might hear, and I only privately discuss a patient with co-workers on a “need-to-know” basis. Second, the latest software systems have top encryption and security protocols in place, that I’m well-familiar with through cybersecurity training”.
4. Tell Me About a Situation Where You Had to Deal with an Unsatisfied Patient.
The interviewer wants to know if you have the right people skills to resolve an unsavory situation. Obviously, answers will vary, but here is a sample that will give you some tips. If you can use a situation that includes some kind of humor, all the better.
“In our practice, we have a pretty tight schedule of patient appointments every day. When someone calls with an “emergency,” we try to work them in but always tell them that there could be a long wait and encourage them to go to an urgent care center. One woman refused because it would cost her more. So, we gave her an appointment time and hoped for the best. She arrived and pretty soon began to loudly complain about having to wait, which made other visitors uncomfortable. Luckily, I had my personal laptop with me. I called her over and asked her if she had any favorite TV channel or movie she liked. She named a movie and I was able to pull it up. I escorted her into a spare exam room, got that movie going, and never heard another peep out of her until we could see her.”
5. Are You Comfortable With Working in a Fast-Paced Environment? How Do You Cope with Stress?
Obviously, a medical assistant position is this type of environment, and you will be expected to show mental resilience and flexibility. Note: there is no right or wrong answer about how you deal with stress. Just be honest.
“My current environment is fast-paced, even though it is smaller than yours. That’s because we have a very small staff. So, yes, there is stress. I use different techniques depending on the situation. If I have the time, I find a quiet spot, sit down, and visualize a quiet calm scene in my head. If I don’t have a spare moment, I take 12 deep breaths to calm down. I also use my breaks and my lunch hour to decompress. I make sure that I am not scarfing down food on the run. Eating with co-workers and having non-job-related conversations helps. Sometimes I take a short walk on my break. It really just depends on how stressed I am and what I know works for me.”
6. Why Have You Chosen This Field of Work?
Someone thinking about hiring you wants to judge your level of commitment and passion for what you do. Plus, given the stress levels of this profession, an employer possibly wants to weed out candidates with intrinsic rather than only extrinsic motivation.
“In high school, I knew I wanted to do something in the medical profession. My older sister trained to be a med tech, and I really loved hearing her stories about what she did and the patients she worked with. She’s a real people person, and so am I. Training to become a medical assistant was just a natural choice for me. It is the best of both worlds, really. I get to do the clinical stuff, but I also get to be up close and personal with patients. It’s a perfect fit.”
7. What Prompted You to Apply to Our Medical Institution?
This is an important question, so be sure you have your answer prepared. Above all, do not “slam” your current employer or co-workers or your job in general. This is the quickest way to take yourself out of the competition.
“I really like my current job, and I have gained so much experience there. But I am ready to move on to a larger setting in which I can gain even more experience and skills in a place that has greater variety in patient care.”
You can also check our more detailed post about answering the “why do you want to work here” interview question.
8. In Your Option, What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?
This is a tough interview question. The interviewer wants to know why you think you are the best fit for the job. Use this opportunity to unapologetically promote your stronger suits and tout some of your biggest accomplishments.
“I don’t know the other candidates and what they bring to the job, but I am confident in my qualifications. I have the full skillset listed in the position description and some extra competencies in phlebotomy and test administration. Moreover, I’m well-familiar with the e-prescription system your clinic uses since it’s the same one at my current clinic. In fact, I have created and delivered a short training course on it to about 10 other new hires.”
Even More Common Medical Assistant Interview Questions
There are lots of other interview questions for medical assistant positions that you should be prepared for. So, have a look at this additional list and think about how you would respond.
- How do you maintain high standards for patient experience?
- Are you experienced in working with a (certain patient demographic, e.g., children, seniors)?
- Where do you expect to be 5 years from now?
- How would you handle conflict with a co-worker?
- Describe a time when you made a mistake on the job. How did you handle it?
- In your opinion, what are the three most important qualities for a medical assistant to have?
- What EHR and EMR systems do you have experience with?
- What do you believe to be your biggest weakness?
- Please, walk me through your typical conversation with an EKG patient.
A Final Word: How Do You Answer Interview Questions Like a Pro?
When preparing for a medical assistant interview, keep these points in mind:
- Advance preparation is the key. You need to know what you will say in response to each question.
- Don’t memorize answers to questions you feel certain you will get – you will sound too “rehearsed.” Just keep in mind the points you want to make and speak naturally
- Be open and honest. Don’t try to “fudge” or give fluff answers that are meaningless. If you don’t know something that is asked (e.g., a software system), say so, but stress that you are a quick and eager learner
You won’t need luck – you’ll need prep and confidence!