Explain in which manner you prefer to communicate - written or verbal. Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer.
Dietitian and Nutritionist Interview Questions
Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator?
Explain in which manner 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 like to leverage both methods of communications when dealing with business. 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."
What questions do you have for me?
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 have a couple of questions, thank you for asking! First, I am wondering if you can share with me why this position is open? Second, what timeline do you have in mind for filling this position?"
"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?"
What are your salary expectations?
Share with the interviewer what you would like to earn. Be sure to keep it realistic. Another great way to share your compensation expectations is by sharing with the interviewer what you are currently earning and where you would like to be in your next position. Do your research on the location and see what the going rate is for your career field.
"I researched the area and, based on my years of experience, I think the range of $70k to $75k is reasonable."
"As I am new to my career and this industry, I am happy to negotiate my earnings based on your typical salary for this role."
No one can be an expert in everything. What are some of the things that you would like to learn more about?
This question could be a tricky way to ask what your weaknesses are, within your career field. Try not to answer this too generically but instead choose something particular about your career field that you'd like to learn more about. If there is something, you don't have a lot of experience with that's ok! Let the interviewer know that you are ready to learn.
"I've always wanted to learn more about oncology nutrition. I think it is fascinating how the body reacts to different types of cancers, and treatments, and how the right combination of food and exercise can help alleviate pain and help heal the patient alongside medication."
"I'd like to learn more about how medications work in our bodies when it comes to treating chronic illness. I'd like to do more research on natural remedies for chronic issues."
Tell me about your most difficult patient/client.
No one ever likes to be in a situation with a difficult client. With a calm, relaxed and collective tone, tell a story about a complicated patient situation. Be sure to let the interviewer know how you defused the situation and what the outcome was. Keep patient confidentiality in mind when answering this question and avoid sounding cynical when it comes to your patients.
"My most difficult patient was an elderly man that refused to eat right and take care of himself because he felt that he was too old to make a difference. After building a friendship with this patient he began to trust me, and my advice and his situation started to improve. He's been my patient for five years now and is doing better than I could have ever expected. His diabetes is under control, and he has greatly reduced his blood pressure and cholesterol medications."
"One of the most difficult clients I worked with was a child on the autism spectrum. I haven't had a lot of experience working with individuals of autism, so it was certainly a learning curve for both of us. My patient was a very picky eater and was highly particular when it came to the color, texture, and size of his food. Luckily, his parents were incredibly supportive and followed my recommendations to a tee. Gaining a greater diversity in patients will make me a stronger dietitian, so I welcome these challenges."
What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?
As a dietitian, what types of projects make your eyes light up? Do you love working with kids? The elderly? Maybe you briefly worked on a project in college and you're dying to start it up again and take it to a new level. Whatever you choose to discuss, be sure to let your passion come through in your answer.
"Outside of my work projects, I am currently working on a cookbook for vegans. Through my experience as a dietician, I have found there is a lack of tasty, full meal options for vegans. I plan to offer this cookbook as a free bonus to my nutrition clients."
"I love working on projects that involve the health of children. Their energy and desire to learn to make me love working on assignments with them. I'd also like the opportunity to work with our elderly population and perhaps mesh the two groups. Like, a cooking class where seniors are matched with kids, to teach them how to bake classic dishes."
If a physician requested a patient receive more Vitamin D, what foods would you recommend?
As a dietitian or nutritionist, you know your foods rich in vitamin D like the back of your hand. Tell the interviewer how you would educate the patient about the importance of eating foods rich in vitamin D. If mushrooms, fish, and pork doesn't appeal to your patient, stress the importance of taking a daily cod liver oil capsule. Feel free to share a story about a time you needed a patient to take in more vitamin D and what the outcome was.
"I have a great download available to my clients, for free, focused solely on vitamin D consumption. The recommendations in this download include mushrooms, eggs, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and mackerel."
"First and foremost, I would recommend more natural sunlight if possible. Then, when discussing vitamin D rich foods, I would tell the patient to increase their fish intake; particularly salmon, mackerel, and tuna."
How do you keep current on the changing science of nutrition?
It seems like there is always a new magic pill or diet tea on social media that has all the answers. As a dietitian, you are only interested in the facts. Tell the interviewer about an author, credible site or another resource for accurate information that you enjoy following. It's a great idea to ask the interviewer about their favorite resources for up and coming industry news. You never know what you will learn!
"I remain current on the changing science of nutrition by reading multiple blogs, subscribing to a few notable podcasts, and through industry-related google alerts. When I come across a new study or interesting paper, I bring it to my colleagues to gather their thoughts as well."
"I have subscriptions to various journals, follow online sites as well as build professional relationships with my co-workers to keep current on the changing science of nutrition."
Have you ever broken a confidentiality agreement?
Companies will have confidentiality agreements for a variety of reasons. These could be to protect their trade secrets or to ensure that you do not bring clients over on the occasion that you leave their company. 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."
Have you progressed in your dietician career as you have expected?
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."
"Overall, I am satisfied with my career progression. Everyone, including me, hits roadblocks or setbacks, but I have been able to push through them and stay on track."
When have you had to adapt your workload due to increasing demand from your supervisors?
Workloads will increase and decrease as client demands change. Explain how you navigate these changes and ensure the interviewer that you can perform in any environment.
"I fully understand that my workload will increase from time to time and I easily accept that. Personally, I prefer it when times are busy, so I definitely do not mind an increase in workload."
"In my current position, my workload changes depending on my current clients and their needs. I can adapt to those needs quickly and effectively. In these instances, I work overtime and am sure to meet my deadlines."
Why should we hire you?
This is where your 30 to 45-second elevator speech comes in! Take your time to tell the interviewer a bit about your work history, educational background, and something unique about yourself. Keep your answer short yet impactful. Wow the interviewer and set yourself apart from the rest of the competition.
"When I read the job posting I noticed that you were looking for someone with experience working with children. As you can see on my resume, I have ten years experience as a dietitian and 3 of those years was spent working specifically with children in a school setting. I have additional training in working with children affected by childhood obesity."
"In addition to meeting the educational requirements for this position, I also have a certificate in human kinetics. I have a unique understanding of how diet and movement work together to create successful plans for my clients."
Tell me about yourself.
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 passionate about health and helping people on their journey to total wellbeing. My passion for nutrition began just after high school when I made the decision to better understand food in order to manage my weight and improve my energy levels. In college, I had an internship with a nutritionist for a professional sports team, and I learned so much about the powerful impact nutrition can have on our bodies. I find so much excitement in helping people narrow in on healthy habits that will help them experience a fuller life. I also have a passion for running and yoga and love to remain active, and I encourage this in my clients, as well."
"I am a very active individual who loves to workout and go 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!"
How do you deal with work stress?
Of course, you have stress. We all do. But how we handle it says a lot about us. Do you find yourself confronting people when you are stressed out? Do you chain smoke out behind the building? If you happen to have a few bad habits, keep those to yourself. What you should portray with this answer is something positive. Do you like to run, do yoga, spend time with your family, read, or listen to music on your off time? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace.
"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 manage my work stress by leading a community yoga group in our local park three times a week. It helps tremendously when it comes to keeping my mind in a positive space."
What do you think are the most important skills or traits for a dietitian or nutritionist to have?
The interviewer wants to know what you think makes a good dietician or nutritionist. Chances are, the skills or traits that you mention are going to be some of your most influential.
Public speaking, critical thinking, monitoring, time management and instructing abilities are just a few skills a dietitian and nutritionist have to have. Of course, you have all these skills but it's best to narrow it down so you don't spend an hour answering this question.
"I think the most important skill a dietitian or nutritionist must have is active listening skills. As a dietitian, we must give full attention to what other people are saying, take the time to understand the points being made, ask questions as appropriate, and not interrupt at inappropriate times."
"I think one of the most important skills for a dietitian to have, is patience. Getting clients to change their eating habits and bad habits doesn't happen overnight, and I need to be able to stay the course with them."
Which parts of your current position bring you the most stress?
When did you realize you wanted to be a Dietitian?
How would you describe your counseling style?
Have you ever considered continuing your nutrition education in a particular specialty?
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
What area of medical nutrition therapy interests you the most?
Why would you be the best Dietitian for our hospital?
What diet would you recommend to an elderly female, who has just gone through breast cancer treatments?
What was the most recent dietitian study you have read?
How do you continue your education in nutrition, outside of the classroom?