Career progression can be a touchy subject, especially if you feel that your career hasn't progressed as well as you would have liked. Talk to the interviewer about your career progression and what you would like to see in the future.
"Overall, my career has progressed a touch slower than I would have liked. I have held a couple of positions that didn't offer the growth and learning that I was expecting; however, I have bounced back nicely. I feel that this particular position would take my career exactly where it should be."
"I am pleased with the progress of my dental career. I am proud of my accomplishments and the path my career has taken so far."
"Overall, I am satisfied with my career progression within the dental industry. Everyone, including me, hits roadblocks or setbacks, but I have been able to push through them and stay on track."
When you answer this question, be sure to remain positive, even if the experience wasn't. Avoid talking about any previous drama and do not speak poorly of your employer. Keep your answer short and respectful. If you had a good relationship with your previous boss: "I had a very healthy relationship with my previous employer. She was easy to approach, and we would bounce ideas off of each other quite often. I would sum it up as a relationship lead by strong mutual respect." If you did not have a good relationship with your previous boss: "I have had healthier relationships in the past with previous employers, but we did the best that we could. Our communication styles were very different which made it challenging at times."
"I had a very healthy relationship with my previous employer. She was easy to approach, and we would bounce ideas off of each other quite often. I would sum it up as a relationship lead by strong mutual respect."
"During my practicum, I worked with a dentist who provided an amazing learning environment. We had great communication and worked well together."
"My previous boss and I got along well. We had very different interests, so we did not spend a lot of time chatting, but our work interests were aligned, and we respected each other."
Answer this question with a simple yes or no. If your certification is not current, assure the interviewer that you are going to renew your certification. If you have an existing, and valid, certification be sure to bring the documentation with you so that the interviewer can take a copy for your file.
"I am CPR Certified. I brought a copy of my card for you to scan, for my file. This certification is valid for another two years."
"I have not yet obtained my CPR certification; however, I am registered to take the CPR course next weekend. I will certainly be certified before my potential start date."
"I have been CPR certified for the past fifteen years. I did notice that my most recent certification is close to expiring so I will be sure to renew this before starting this role."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the clinic's website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site!
"A couple of questions do come to mind. First, how quickly would you like to have this position filled? Second, is there anything from my background that I can further clarify for you?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me? "
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
The interviewer is trying to establish how committed you are to staying with the company. The company may invest in you with training so, ensure the interviewer that you're not taking this job until something better comes along. It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but do assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long-term fit for their position.
"Ideally, five years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here."
"I'd like to become a proficient dental assistant and specialize as a hygienist in five years."
"Five years from now, I would like to be supervising or managing a team of dental assistants of my own. I feel like I am progressing at a rate that will make this a possibility."
First and foremost, prioritize your daily tasks. Maybe there is an operation due early in the morning, so you must ensure that the dental surgery room is prepared and the instruments are all laid out correctly. Share with the interviewer how you remain organized throughout the day.
"In my current role, I build the daily schedule for each technician and provider. It's important for me to pay attention to detail so I pair the technician and provider appropriately, time all procedures accurately and not overbook the dentist."
"I believe that the key to keeping an organized office is to be properly trained in the software programs, pay attention to the schedule, and avoid overbooking the dentist. Also, confirmation calls to future patients are a lifesaver!"
"I use a variety of techniques for organization. I used our internal booking system with diligence. Also, I make sure to call all appointments the day before, to confirm their time. It's amazing how one or two late clients can change your entire day. Also, I have a checklist for the office team to ensure they know the expectations for the day when it comes to supplies, cleaning, and equipment sterilization."
Attention to detail is critical when you are dealing with ultra sterile environments. A dentist assistant must thoroughly sterilize and disinfect instruments and prepare the trays for dental procedures. Every dental visit should run like clockwork, and the assistant has a significant part to play in this. When the clinic runs smoothly, everyone is happy. It is always best to support your reply with a real-life example. Talk to the interviewer about your level of attentiveness when it comes to details on the job, and be sure to include any previous feedback you may have received from co-workers in the past.
"My co-workers would describe my attention to detail as very strong. I can very easily point out discrepancies in communication and will notice the small things. I think big-picture as well but have always had a knack for details."
"I always take a few extra minutes to ensure that I'm reading the patients x-rays and findings correctly for the doctor. My most recent boss commented on how much she appreciated me giving her the correct information the first time."
"As a senior dental assistant, I often teach junior dental assistants to pay great attention to detail when it comes to sterilization and patient files. A healthy and safe work environment is of utmost importance in a medical environment. My former boss will attest to my great attention to detail when you call for a reference."
A dental assistant has a wide variety of tasks. They have the patient care side where they participate in dental surgeries, assisting the dentist with instruments and recording patient notes. There is also the clerical and general office side where all supplies and stock need to be checked. Day to day requires a focus on health and safety, where the sterilizing and disinfecting of the instruments need to be carried out meticulously.
"I plan to contribute my leadership skills to this position. As the lead dental assistant in my last role, I supervised three other techs, mentored their work, and assigned them new duties."
"I am new to my career as a dental assistant and would like to bring my fresh education, and great attitude, to compliment your already successful dental team."
"I am calm and compassionate, with a methodical approach when it comes to assisting in dental surgeries. Also, I am well organized and pro-active when it comes to the health and safety of our staff and patients."
This is a simple yes or no answer. The interviewer may ask this question, depending on the diversity of their clients. Unless stated in the job posting, this is likely not a deal breaker but more a question of interest.
"In addition to being fluent in English, I speak conversational Spanish. I've found my ability to speak Spanish helps during patient exams from time to time."
"I do not speak any other languages, aside from English. Would you like for me to learn another language? I have wanted to commit to expanding my linguistic skills."
"In my current position, we have many clients to speak a variety of languages. Although I am only fluent in English, I do have basic skills in Spanish, French, and Cantonese."
Tell the interviewer how strong your leadership skills are! You may think leadership is not a requirement as a dental assistant, but most clinics are looking for candidates with promise, who can take control when needed. If you haven't served as a supervisor in the professional setting, refer to a role outside your job where you took on a leadership function.
"I haven't had the opportunity to be in a leadership position in a clinic yet, but I have been a volunteer supervisor for an organization I volunteer with every weekend. I would describe myself as a motivating, and organized leader."
"I possess great leadership qualities that include diligence, tenacity, and open communication. I look forward to taking these skills to work for you!"
"I have taken many workshops and courses to improve my leadership skills over the years. My leadership qualities are best summed as dedicated, attentive, and motivating. I like to recognize my teams' small wins because that motivates them to continue achieving."
When an interviewer asks an open-ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in-depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This is an excellent opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.
"I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful career as a dental assistant, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."
"I recently graduated with my Diploma in Business Administration and am looking for my first opportunity as a dental assistant. In my spare time, I like to go for walks with my dog, and babysit my new nephew."
"I am a calm and quiet leader, with excellent written and verbal communication skills. Even though I am quiet, I can motivate my team and keep morale high. I have been a senior dental assistant for ten years now and love this career path."
Any interview is a stressful situation so if you are coping with that you are not doing too bad! Answer your questions factually and calmly. Are you someone who can handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to control pressure in the workplace. Tell the interviewer about a time you were double booked, had an upset patient or were short staffed.
"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
"I work out each night to resolve any stress I may be experiencing. I find that the rush of endorphins can fix almost anything!"
"Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
This is not a trick question! The interviewer is trying to get a feel for your personality and how you interact with others. You may work well without the need for much management or direction, or perhaps you are better driven by a collaborative and team led environment. Either way, be honest with the interviewer about your preferences without leaning negatively, either way.
"Whether I am doing an independent project, or working in a team environment, I always give my best. I enjoy the camaraderie of working in a team, but I can be successful working autonomously as well."
"Because I just completed my Diploma in Dental Hygiene, most of my experience has been in an independent environment. I would welcome the support of working in a team environment."
"So long as the team environment is healthy and collaborative, I am happy working as a team, or on my own. I have many years' experience working in a small office, where I was alone a lot of the time. Currently, my office supports multiple dentists, and we have a variety of team members."
Before answering scheduling questions, it's important to be clear on the interviewer's expectations. If you haven't had a chance to clarify their scheduling needs, now would be the perfect time to ask! Consider asking, 'What are the scheduling expectations for this position?' If they expect you to work 12 hour days, it would be important for you to know that before you respond with, 'Absolutely! No problem!' You want to be sure that you can meet their expectations. If it turns out their schedule expectations won't work for you, think about what you CAN offer and see if you can meet in the middle. It's much better to discuss these things in an interview than for you to commit to a schedule that won't work for you.
"I am available for full-time work which is preferably 8-5 Monday to Friday. I am happy to be a team player and work some overtime, as required. Will these hours meet your expectations?"
"If overtime is required in this role, I am happy to accommodate whenever I can. My only restriction is that I cannot work Wednesday nights as I have an evening course those days."
"In a salaried role such as this, I don't expect a strict 40 hour per week schedule, but I also know that I'm looking for a work-life balance. As needed, I'd be available to dedicate more time to the team, while hoping to preserve that balance."
The interviewer wants to know how you handle stressful situations. As a dental assistant, you may run into a patient that is unhappy due to an unexpected wait at the office. Tell the interviewer how you would clearly and calmly explain the situation to the client.
"I've found that if I calmly explain the situation and apologize, the patient understands and appreciates the explanation. The key is not to ignore the patient. Keep them informed during their wait time rather than brushing it under the rug, hoping they will not notice."
"If a patient complained to me about their wait time, I would give them an estimated time for their wait and give them the option to reschedule. There are many unforeseen circumstances in a dentists' day, and the reality is, they will run behind from time to time."
"The office I currently work in is a well-oiled machine, and we very rarely have setbacks in our day. If this were to happen, it would be due to unseen severity with a previous patient. If a patient complained about their wait time, I would explain to them that we had an emergency and would assure them that, if it were them needing extra time and care from the dentist, we would not hesitate to provide them with the extra time needed as well."
As a dental assistant, you will be exposed to a great variety of people and situations each day. Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity.
"I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity."
"In my current role, I work alongside cross-functional teams regularly. I embrace this diversity and encourage it in the workplace. Where would we be if everyone was the same?"
"I would say that pretty much every company I have worked for has valued diversity. Working with people from all walks of life help shed different perspectives and identify potential problems faster."
Are you pretty flexible in your ability to work in most environments? Have you experienced a position where the atmosphere wasn't conducive to your productivity? Be sure to know the type of environment that is offered in this position before the interview.
"I can be productive in most work environments, so long as the mentality is positive and teamwork is encouraged. I cannot work in an environment that feels negative or toxic."
"I tend to find slow paced or red tape environments challenging to maintain my excitement levels."
"I do not work well in micro-managed environments. I cannot concentrate with someone watching my every move, and at this point in my career, I can work very independently, with great success."
You cannot force others to communicate with you in a way that you would always prefer. Talk to the interviewer about a time that you have handled a dentist who does not interact with you in a way that you like.
"Whenever I have had a dentist who does not properly communicate with me, I try to learn their style of communication and emulate it. Sometimes you simply have to relate to others in their style to be understood."
"I would go to the dentist directly and ask to talk about the issue. Hopefully, we can find common ground to improve communication. He/she may not realize that not everyone understands and interprets messages the same way."
"I have worked for a dentist who was incredibly brief in her communication. Many times, I would have to put the pieces together for myself. I managed through it, and it taught me independent thought."
The interviewer would like to know your preference when it comes to a predictable vs.unpredictable routine. Are you the individual who prefers to know what the day will bring, or do you thrive on the challenge and excitement of unpredictability?
"I prefer working in a more predictable environment because I can be more effective in my tasks. With that said, I can certainly work in an unpredictable environment from time to time."
"I am comfortable either way, but I would probably grow bored if nothing ever changed. Having a few days of status quo now and then is good for my sanity though."
"As a dental assistant for the past twelve years, I am accustomed to working in an unpredictable environment and tend to prefer that pace. It's fast and makes every day different. I certainly enjoy the challenge!"
Many hiring managers will choose one candidate over another because of their volunteer experience. They feel that it shows strong character and selflessness...all qualities that make a great employee. Talk to the interviewer about your willingness to give back to your community in some form of volunteerism. If you do not have formal volunteer experience, you can draw on things you do in your spare time to assist friends, family, or even your current employer. If you do have volunteer experience: "For the past eight months, I have volunteered every Wednesday evening at our local animal shelter. I will help with grooming the animals, feeding them, and walking them. It's been an enjoyable experience and rewarding at the same time." If you do not have volunteer experience: "I have not formally volunteered in these most recent years, however; I spend a lot of time helping my sister who is a single mom. I will babysit on weekends, cook dinners for her and drive the kids to appointments when necessary. I feel that it is essential to take care of the needs of the family."
"For the past eight months, I have volunteered every Wednesday evening at our local animal shelter. I will help with grooming the animals, feeding them, and walking them. It's been an enjoyable experience and rewarding at the same time."
"I volunteer a couple of Saturdays per month serving meals at a local homeless shelter. Helping others is very rewarding, and I think the world would be a much better place if we all spent time volunteering! "
"For the past two years, I have helped our office set up a coat drive that not only collects hundreds of coats for the less fortunate, but also other items such as non-perishable food and hygiene-related needs. Each January, we gather with increasing strength to distribute these "warmth kits" to different shelters and soup kitchens throughout the city."
The interviewer would like to know more about the programs that you have been exposed to in your career as a dental assistant. It's best to list the types of programs you have worked in, state the amount of years' experience in each, and then grade yourself as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced user. If you have trained other dental assistants on a program, be sure to mention that here as well. If you are unsure of the type of applications and software used in this particular clinic, be sure to ask!
"I have worked in three different dental clinics who used a variety of programs including Denticon, MaxiDent, and PracticeWeb. I have approximately four years' experience in each and would rate myself as an intermediate user."
"Because I am new to my career as a dental assistant, I have not had the opportunity to work with a dental specific program. I am, however, well versed in the entire Microsoft Office Suite, and am highly tech-savvy. Which programs do you use here? I would love to give myself a head start on training by searching for online tutorials in the meantime."
"I feel that I have used them all, in my ten years as a dental assistant! I am most familiar with ACE Dental Software and iDental Soft. I am tech savvy and have taught many junior dental assistants on new programs during my career. Which programs do you use here?"
Dental Assistants assist the dentist to provide more efficient dental treatment. Dental Assistants perform many tasks, ranging from providing patient care and taking x rays to recordkeeping and scheduling appointments. Your duties vary by state and by the dentists’ offices where you work. A few duties you may have as a Dental Assistants is to prep the patient for treament, sterilize instruments, pass instruments during the procedure, hold a suction device during a procedure, exposing dental radiographs, take impressions and fabricate provisional crowns. You serve as the Dentists extra set of hands so the Dentist can focus more time on the procedure.
As a Dental Assistant you are detail oriented. You follow specific rules and protocols, such as infection control procedures when helping dentists treat patients. Dental assistants must be good at working with their hands. You generally work in tight quarters on a small part of the body, using very precise tools and instruments. As a Dental Assistant you must work closely with dentists and patients. Sometimes, patients are in extreme pain and mental stress, so the assistant should be sensitive to their emotions. Dental assistants should be able to listen to patients and other healthcare workers. You follow directions from a dentist or dental hygienist, so they can help treat patients and do tasks, such as taking an x ray. As a Dental Assistant have excellent organizational skills. Keeping the correct tools in place for a dentist or dental hygienist to use when treating a patient is very important during the procedure.
To prepare for your interview we recommend you bring a letter of recommendation from the dentist you work for. Having a colleague speak highly of you and recommend you will help during the interview. If you are licensed, registered, or certified bring a copy of the documentation. If you are certified to perform expanded duties such as coronal polishing be sure to mention this during your interview- this could make you stand apart from the rest of the candidates.