As a dental hygienist, you are likely going to work in a family-friendly office. If you are a more experienced hygienist, share your experiences where you worked with kids in the office. You can also mention your exposure to working with children in another career space.
"Before becoming a dental hygienist, I worked as a nanny. I have always enjoyed working with kids. As a hygienist, I get to see kids often, and they can be challenging when they are afraid or anxious. I have learned how to comfort them and teach them fun ways to care for their teeth."
"While completing my practicum, I worked in a family-friendly dental clinic. Many kids came through. I found that I was great with helping them to stay calm during their procedure. They love the little stickers and toys they get as a reward after their visit, which is always so cute to see."
"I have many years' experience working as a dental hygienist in a family-friendly clinic. I probably see over ten kids per day, on average. Kids like me, I think because I remind them of their grandma...ready with a reward when they behave during their visit! Also, I like to know that I get to help influence a new generation to care for their oral health."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company 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 questions you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site!
"I would love to know what your timeline is for filling this position. Also, is this role a replacement, or an opening due to growth?"
"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 knows you can't satisfy everyone. Showing that you care and have the skills to listen and empathize are the types of qualities the interviewer is looking for. This is where you show off your customer service skills. Ideally, your patients will walk away with a bright smile on their faces, but that is not always the case.
"I had a patient who was frustrated because we had a long wait that day. I listened to him vent and told him, 'That does sound frustrating. I'm so sorry this had to take up so much of your day.' Even though I couldn't solve the problem, I made a point to be understanding and empathetic to his situation."
"If I had a patient who was not satisfied, I would ask specific questions to see what their true frustration was. Perhaps they are having a bad day and simply blaming it on lack of parking, or that they had a 10-minute wait. Most individuals just want to be heard. I will empathize but also will not allow an unhappy patient to railroad me emotionally."
"As a long-time dental hygienist, I have seen my share of unhappy patients. Going to the dentist can be a stressful task for some people! I go back to my customer service days where my training says that the customer is always right! Often, I don't have to say a word. I will just smile and nod. Listening to someone can defuse almost any situation."
The interviewer would like to know that you are the type of team player who will jump in and help your colleagues, whether it's 'in your job description' or not. There is nothing more distasteful for an employer to hear their employee say 'That's not my job.' Show the interviewer that, on busy days, you anticipate helping out in additional areas. Be prepared with a list of skills and procedures you are experienced in, and think of ways you add value beyond your job description. If you have experience with reception work, taking calls, scheduling and handling paperwork, those are also useful skills.
"I am always happy to jump in and help my colleagues when they are running behind. Becuase I am new to my career as a dental hygienist, I am ready and willing to take on any office related tasks. I will treat everything as a learning opportunity; including answering the phones, booking patients, or helping an elderly patient to their car."
"In addition to general hygienist duties, I also have experience in removing sutures, administering local anesthetics, and performing radiographs. I can step into many shoes, as needed."
The interviewer wants to know how your personal experiences have affected you as a hygienist. This is an opportunity for you to reflect on what you have observed in your dental visits, and how those influence the way you do your job.
"When I was five years old, I went to the dentist, and I remember being nervous about it. Sitting in the chair surrounded by gadgets I had never seen and listening to drilling sounds was a bit overwhelming. When the hygienist arrived, I immediately felt at ease. She was calm and friendly and explained they were going to clean my teeth. She showed me the tools she would use and told me how it might feel. That experience influenced my decision to be a dental hygienist. I decided I wanted to be just like her."
"I have had the same dentist, and hygienist, for my entire life. I plan to mold my career around their positive influence."
"It's always interesting to go to the dentist when you are in the industry, yourself! I go to the same dentist for which I work, and my hygienist is always one of my colleagues. I like to see their techniques in action, and can learn from their work style as well."
Much of your role as a hygienist is focused on educating your patients when it comes to oral care at home. When the interviewer asks how you feel about it, they are looking for an enthusiastic response. The interviewer is looking for reassurance that you care about your patients and enjoy teaching them how to care for themselves. If you have learned helpful ways of presenting the material, your interviewer would be interested in hearing more about it.
"My favorite part about this role is educating my patients. I ask them questions and make sure they are clear on what I share with them. I also keep up to date on the latest technology in case there is a new tool I can tell them about."
"I am interested in educating patients. I have a knack for teaching and coaching others and would like to help my patients think of ways to improve their health."
"As an experienced dental hygienist, I have had the opportunity to teach many patients over the years. I like to make recommendations but also like for my patients to self-lead when it comes to solutions that work best for them. All most people need is a little bit of encouragement and understanding on why oral health is so important."
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 colleagues. If you had a good relationship with your previous colleagues: "I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players, and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities." If you did not have a good relationship with your previous colleagues: "I have had better relationships in the past, but we did the best that we could. Our communication styles were all very different which made it challenging at times."
"I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players, and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities."
"I get along with just about everyone that I work with. I respect other people's knowledge, experience, and opinion, even if I don't agree. I think that is why I can work with anyone."
"All of the colleagues I have worked with have shared a very respectful relationship with me. We have shared goals, and we share knowledge to accomplish tasks the best we can. Each of us has a part in the clinic's success, and we utilize communication to make it happen."
The interviewer would like to know how heavy your involvement is in the industry. If you're not sure of any major ethical issues, you can always take an educated guess surrounding patient confidentiality or the proper storage of online documents. Some issues worth mentioning might be the cost of education and student loans. Going into the profession for the first time you might be overwhelmed with the cost of your loan repayment, as dental school is expensive. Another issue worth exploring is third party involvement. When a private dental practice is bought by a corporate entity, it could cause a lot of issues.
"For me, at this early stage in my dental career, I believe that an issue could be the safe and confidential storage of patient information with all of the technological advancements and system hacking that has been happening as of late. Do you have concerns surrounding this, in your clinic?"
"I have seen, on a few occasions, the dilemma that a dentist is in when domestic violence is suspected in one of their patients. Dentists must respect an adult patient’s right to self-determination and confidentiality, but at the same time, they need to be an active advocate for the health and welfare of their patients."
If you can't think of ways that you are unique, ask a few friends or family members what they feel sets you apart from other people. Their observations may help you understand how you are perceived. Perhaps you already know what sets you apart! This could include any industry accolades, exceptional achievements, additional industry related training, a second language, or how involved you are in the community. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself a bit. In an interview, you are your most influential advocate.
"You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. When I started with my current clinic, I was the youngest dental hygienist they had ever hired. That didn't stop me from becoming a senior hygienist within six months. I am dedicated to my craft and engaged in this industry to the point where I commit myself to taking at least one development or leadership related workshop every business quarter. I am a competitive achiever. You won't be disappointed when you hire me."
"I believe you should hire me because I am highly dedicated to this industry, having just graduated with my Associate's Degree in Dental Hygiene. I finished top of my class. I also bilingual in English and Spanish, allowing me to communicate with a vast range of clients."
"I have over a dozen years of experience as a dental hygienist with one of your largest competitors. I have a proven track record of successes there and will bring that knowledge to help elevate your clinic to the next level. Having been a part of the industry for nearly half of my life, I have seen a ton of change and have adapted to every change or innovation with ease and excitement, and I look forward to doing that at your company as well."
This question is testing your knowledge and technique. If an interviewer asks this type of question, a proper response would be, "What do you recommend to your patients?" Showing that you are open to learning new ways of doing things is a good sign, primarily when working with a new team.
"What do you recommend to your patients?"
"I realize that string flossing is the most traditional method of flossing; however, with patients who just aren't willing to be consistent, I do suggest water flossing. It's a bit easier to water floss. Kids seem to find water flossing to be more fun, too."
"Water flossing can be more comfortable for my patients with arthritis or other mobility issues. Other than, since flossing is typically such a battle with patients, I recommend whatever they would be willing to do daily to maintain a healthy mouth."
Part of your role as a dental hygienist is helping people to feel calm and comfortable. It's not just in the words you say but how you present yourself. Maintaining a relaxed demeanor, regardless of the situation, is essential. Many patients anticipate the worst when they go to the dentist, and even if you're dealing with a severe case, you are expected to stay poised and confident. Show that you have a rhythm and a routine with your patients and that you have learned what works to keep them comfortable.
"With all my patients I like to be consistent and use simple terms they can understand. I educate them about procedures and ask if they have any questions."
"I believe that a light-hearted approach is always best, when trying to keep someone comfortable. If they feel that the event is too serious, it will make them even more anxious. I like to joke around with my patients and ask them questions about themselves."
"When I have a patient who is scared, or uncomfortable, I try to talk about topics that interest the patient. To engage and distract is the best method."
Taking the fall for a situation, to protect a co-worker, is a tricky situation. It can show teamwork, but it may not be the most honest thing to do. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on taking the fall for something you did not do.
"I do not believe in 'taking the fall' for people based on protecting them. Transparency is always a good idea, and if something went wrong, then it needs to be addressed to prevent it from happening again. When it comes to clients, I will apologize on behalf of the company for errors. In that case, I will do what it takes to protect the company's reputation."
"I have taken the heat for a situation that was not my fault. Honestly, it wasn't anyone's fault, and I understand that sometimes the blame needs to land somewhere for a team to learn, and move on from, a situation."
"As a leader, I have taken responsibility for the results of my team because I hold myself to that standard. If in a situation where blame is falsely placed on me, I will utilize my communication skills to resolve the matter."
Companies will have confidentiality agreements for a variety of reasons. These could be to protect their trade secrets, patient confidentiality, or to ensure that you do not bring clients over on the occasion that you leave their medical practice one day. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on confidentiality agreements.
"I never have, to my knowledge, broken a confidentiality agreement. Despite my reasons for leaving a position, I would never choose to hurt a previous employer in any way."
"No. I have only once had a confidentiality agreement and had no problem adhering to it."
"Confidentiality agreements are necessary and important to protect an organization. I understand the need for confidentiality and take those factors very seriously. I have never broken the trust of my employer."
In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer.
"I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, a lot can be misread due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible."
"I do not lean one way or another when it comes to verbal or written communication. Both are equally important to me. If I have to choose just one, I will choose written communication as one can always look back on written communication for reference."
"I like to leverage both methods of communications when dealing with patient files. Sometimes, situations call for verbal communications and other times, written. As a rule of thumb, I tend to practice verbal communications, with written follow up or vice versa. Utilizing multiple methods creates repetition and therefore, change."
Working in the medical field, communication is crucial to a successful clinic. As you know, 'telling' and 'showing' are two very different things. Talk to the interviewer about how you put communication into action in the workplace.
"I show my co-workers the importance of communication through my willingness to ask questions if I do not understand the first time. I do not pretend to know something just to save face. By creating an environment where questions are encouraged, we have increased communication greatly, and have seen a healthier safety record as a result."
"Many in-office and client service issues stem from poor communication. While attending school, we often role played and discussed ways to manage patient issues and disputes. This practice has certainly prepared me for clearer communication with my future patients."
"I show my co-workers the importance of communication in the workplace simply from leading by example. I set the tone and expectations for how we should communicate by utilizing all forms of written, verbal and interpersonal communications, early and often in the process."
The interviewer wants to see that you are self-aware and understand the type of manager or employer that brings out the best in you. Some individuals prefer a close working relationship with a lot of accountability, while others prefer space and autonomy. If you are unsure of the management style of the interviewing company, try to leave your answer as open as possible. You can certainly ask the interviewer to describe their management style.
"I have worked with a wide range of personalities and management styles with great success. If I could express a preference, I feel that I am best with a manager who allows me autonomy while still investing time in me through mentorship and training. Can you describe the management style here?"
"I love to learn new techniques in the dental industry so I would like to work under a dentist who is collaborative and has a strong penchant for mentorship."
"I work best with managers who are highly communicative and approachable. I don't enjoy working in a hierarchy based environment as I find it does not offer room for new ideas and creative thinking. How would you describe your management style?"
When the interviewer asks about your work ethic, they are looking for specific examples or keywords to which they can relate. When you read the company job posting or job description, do they refer to particular company ethics? Talk about their values and how those align well with your work values.
"I am a very dedicated and loyal employee. I saw on your website that you describe your company as honest, transparent and you go the extra mile for your clients. My work ethic is the same. I am honest, flexible, and come ready to work hard for my employer every day."
"Some characteristics you may want to use are: - Determined/Driven - Accountable - Humble - Respectful - Dependable"
"My work ethic can be described as reliable, honest, and consistent. You are welcome to speak to my references in regards to my work ethic. I am very proud of my reputation in the industry."
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 hygienist, 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 am a very active individual who loves to workout and goes to the mountains on the weekend. I feel that my level of activity on my off time greatly improves my work during the week. I have a high amount of energy to offer!"
"I am a passionate, excited team player who loves to learn on the fly and take the lead when possible. I have a proven track record of success. I'm loyal and have shown that through my decade-long career at one dental clinic. I have risen through their ranks, and am ready to take on the next challenge. Outside of work, I love to travel and do DIY projects on my home."
We all like to be recognized in some way for our accomplishments in the workplace. Share with the interviewer how you would like to be recognized for your hard work. Through gifts? Financial perks? Public recognition? Kind words? Title promotions?
"I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to be given words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work is being noticed."
"I am very simple. I do not require any formal recognition, but kind words from my coworkers and superiors will keep me motivated and working hard."
"I love accolades given, in sincerity, by those whom I respect. It's even better when others know that my hard work is not only noticed but appreciated and commended. "
The interviewer is trying to quickly gauge if you are qualified for this role, or not. If they have invited you for an interview, chances are - you have something on your resume that they like. Most job postings will specify the amount of years experience that the employer is looking for so, be prepared with that information. Let's say the interviewer is looking for five years experience in a specific field or skill, and you have only three years: "I have approximately three years' experience in your direct field; however, I have exposure to many similar job duties from my five years in position XYZ. I am well equipped to exceed expectations in this role."
"I have approximately three years' experience in your direct field; however, I have exposure to many similar job duties from my five years in position XYZ. I am well equipped to exceed expectations in this role."
"I am just beginning my career as a dental hygienist. I recently graduated with my Certificate in Dental Hygiene. I completed my 3-month practicum at a local clinic, supporting two dentists. I learned a lot in this practicum and looked forward to taking my skills to work in your clinic."
"Let's say the interviewer is looking for five years experience in a specific field or skill, and you have 15 years. Avoid being labeled as overqualified by saying: "I have more than five years' experience in your direct field. My most recent position was similar to this role, and I was a top performer for the entire seven years of my employment there. This role is what I have been seeking, and I am eager to succeed with your company."
A potential employer will often base their offer on your current salary. You should be transparent about your most recent earnings and be prepared to back up any salary requests.
"I am currently earning a base salary of $78,000 and health benefits. I am looking for a competitive salary in my next position."
"As I am a recent graduate, I would like to be offered a fair salary that reflects my recent education. I am most concerned with joining an organization that will help me to grow my career within dentistry. Compensation is not my primary driver."
"I am currently making $80,000 per year plus health benefits. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth."
As a Dental Hygienist you are a licensed dental professional who specializes in preventive oral health, typically focusing on techniques in oral hygiene. Common procedures performed as a Dental Hygienist are prophylaxis, scaling and root planing for patients with periodontal disease, taking of prescribed radiographs, dental sealants, administration of fluoride, and providing instructions for proper oral hygiene and care. You also educate patients on how to develop and maintain good oral health. You give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.
As a Dental Hygienist you are detail oriented. You follow specific rules and protocols, such as infection control procedures when helping dentists treat patients. Dental Hygienists 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 Hygienist 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 Hygienists should be able to listen to patients and other healthcare workers. You follow directions from a dentist so you can help treat patients, perform tasks, such as taking an x-ray. As a Dental Hygienist you have excellent organizational skills. Keeping the correct tools in place for a dentist 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. Bring a copy of your license and any additional certification you may have If you are certified to perform expanded duties such as independently diagnosis health problems and provide some treatments, such as application of fluorides and sealants be sure to mention it during the interviewer- this could set you apart from the rest of the candidates!