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Genetic Counseling Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown
Updated August 17th, 2018
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    

Question 1 of 25

What was the most difficult situation you've dealt with in the past, work-related or otherwise?

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1.

What was the most difficult situation you've dealt with in the past, work-related or otherwise?

This is a great way to show the interviewer how you have resolved obstacles in the past. It is always better to focus on work-related situations especially in interview settings.

Ryan's Answer

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2.

What types of genetic testing are you most familiar with?

List and briefly discuss your familiarity with genetic tests. The interviewer wants to see if you have experience with some of the common tests that are out there.

Ryan's Answer

"I have a lot of hands on experience working with prenatal tests, newborn screening tests and diagnostic tests. I have shadowed diagnostic and forensic testing. Newborn screening tests are most interesting to me because it tests newborns on most common genetical disorders so that the parents can start treatments as soon as possible."

3.

Tell me about your personality. What qualities do you have that are suitable for this career?

The interviewer wants you to highlight your best attribute. They are asking you what you think you are great at. You should highlight that one attribute but also give a specific example of why you think so.

Ryan's Answer

"I am a calm and communicative person. The ability to stay calm when things get tough is my best asset. I can listen to patients and create follow up plans accordingly. I can also listen to distressed patients and answer their questions and concerns in a calm manner. For instance, I had an older woman come in really worried about her grandson who she thought has some kind of a heart disease since he was adopted and was always running out of breath and tired. The cardiologist had referred her to us to run a genetic panel because she did not have any medical history on him. I stayed calm and told her that we would do everything in our power to find the defect and hopefully get her an answer."

4.

What do you think will be the most exciting part of being a genetic counselor?

Talk about what excites you about being a GC. Is it helping patients get answers? Is it the fascination of running labs?

Ryan's Answer

"For me, the most exciting part of being a genetic counselor is identifying underlying and recessive medical conditions that my patients present. Running DNA and genetic tests is like solving a mystery and looking beyond what meets the eye - this is what excites me most about being a genetic counselor."

5.

Tell me about your education. How has it helped you with genetics?

The interviewer wants you to go over your credentials so that they can verify your eligibility for the role. Talk about your highest level of education and plan to mention any volunteering work, awards or scholarships to make yourself stand out from the candidate pool.

Ryan's Answer

"I graduated at the top of my class in high school. From then I attended the University of Miami and earned my Bachelor's Degree. While in school, I shadowed a genetic counselor to gain experience specifically interacting with patients. I also was part of a local Red Cross and volunteered at blood drives. After my Bachelors, I decided to work as an intern filing paperwork and running lab tests with a genetic counselor. The more I learned and studied Genetic principles, the more I wanted to have a career in this field- mainly to help patients by identifying disorders."

6.

Describe your work style.

This question will give the interviewer an idea of how you will fit in their current work culture. Some things to consider when answering this question are: are you a team player or prefer to work alone? How is your communication style? Be honest and descriptive.

Ryan's Answer

"I am a team player and really believe in working together to resolve any issues and solve problems. I always make myself available to help anyone who needs me while making sure that I reach my professional goals. I also believe in open and honest communication because this is the best way to avoid tensions in the workplace."

7.

Give me an example of how you have communicated effectively in the past.

Explain to the interviewer your communication style. Do you let others know about your goals? Do you have an open door policy?

Ryan's Answer

"I consider myself to be an organized communicator. I always set weekly catch up appointments with my colleagues and supervisors so that any issues that we have are resolved in a timely manner. I also have an open door policy - my doors are open unless I am consulting with patients. Finally, when it comes to patients, I let them know that I am there for them if they have any concerns regarding their test results."

8.

What was the toughest symptom you've had to tell a family regarding their child? Why was this challenging, and how did you handle it?

Show the interviewer how you have handled difficult patient confrontations.

Ryan's Answer

"I had to tell parents of a young boy that he had Klinefelter's (XXY - trisomy disorder) and he would not be able to have biological children of his own. Furthermore, there might be a chance that he could develop some mild female behaviors and characteristics when he hits puberty. It was difficult to see the parents get emotional as I explained the disorder but I stayed calm and offered any guidance that I could - articles pertaining to the syndrome, local support groups and some things to think about as the boy grows up."

9.

Tell me about your experience shadowing a GC.

The interviewer wants you to discuss what you learned while shadowing a GC. Did she motivate or challenge you?

Ryan's Answer

"In college, I shadowed a genetic counselor to gain experience specifically interacting with patients. She let me run labs and discuss results with her and even allowed me to participate in patient meetings so that I can have a well-rounded experience. She would always challenge me and would ask me ad hoc questions on recent research articles so that I kept up with my reading. The more I learned and studied Genetic principles, the more I wanted to have a career in this field- mainly to help patients by identifying disorders."

10.

What was the most significant birth defect you have noticed before?

This is a great way to show the interviewer that you have seen something that is different in the genetic field. This will also let the interviewer know that you have the depth of knowledge need to excel.

Ryan's Answer

"The most significant birth defect that I noticed was Marfan's syndrome. While I was interning with a genetic counselor post graduate school, a couple came in who were expecting a baby in five months. They had a family history of Marfan's and were worried that their baby might have it too. This syndrome is a common inherited disorder of the connective tissue and is located in the FBN1 gene. We ran a panel and confirmed the findings that their fetus did indeed have a high percentage of possibility for that symptom. The couple now had a difficult decision to make regarding their pregnancy."

11.

Have you done any volunteering work? How do you think this benefits your career?

Great way to show the interviewer what else it is that you are passionate about and show that you contribute to the society.

Ryan's Answer

"For the past three years I volunteer my time with the local no-kill pet shelter because I have always been passionate about animals. My shift is every Saturday from 10 am - 2 pm and work with animals who are mistreated by their owners and try to re-engage them into society. I bathe them, walk them, play with them and give them their medications. I also help with administrative duties when they have a large influx of animals. It is very important to give back to the community. Working with animals for a while now has taught me the importance of loyalty and resilience."

12.

Are you actively interviewing with other facilities or hospitals?

You want to play hard to get but not like you are interviewing with a lot of other places.

Ryan's Answer

"I am currently researching all the clinics where I feel their newborn screening programs are strong. I have shortlisted a handful and have applied. I had a phone interview yesterday with another clinic and they have invited me for an onsite interview early next week. I do not want to apply to programs just for the sake of applying. I am content where I am but am looking for the opportunity to grow and will only consider places that allow me to reach my highest potential."

13.

Why should someone see a genetic counselor?

In your opinion, why do you think people visit with genetic counselors?

Ryan's Answer

"Many couples consider visiting with genetic counselors so that they can rule out any abnormal results from prenatal testing. Other individuals see genetic counselors because they want to be proactive in their efforts to stay healthy if they are at risk of common genetic diseases such as diabetes or cancers."

14.

How do you explain to patients that just because they are tested for having a higher chance of receiving a certain disease, doesn't necessarily mean you will have that disease?

For this question, you can talk about a specific example and then follow it up with how you handled the situation.

Ryan's Answer

"I had a patient come in to see me who was distraught that she tested positive for the Alzheimer's gene. While she did not present any symptoms, she was worried that she would turn out like her grandfather who was helpless and delusional as he aged. She started crying and panicking. I told her that just because she tests positive does not mean that she will have the disease but yes it does increase her chances. I also set up an appointment with a neurologist so that he could refer her to support groups and talk to her about potential clinical trials. More importantly, I let her know that it is difficult to predict the future and we could potentially have a cure by the time she expresses the disease. This did seem to calm her down and make her realize that she should enjoy today and worry about tomorrow when it gets here."

15.

What appeals to you about the role of genetic counselor? Why did you choose this career?

Explain to the interviewer why you chose this career - this is a good way to give them some background on yourself and your motivation.

Ryan's Answer

"Growing up, I was intrigued with puzzles and was inclined to pursue a career in where I can solve problems. In high school, I chose Genetics as an elective and was really inspired by my teacher because he would motivate me to take on science fair projects and keep challenging me. In college, I decided to major in Biology with a minor in Genetics and shadowed a Genetics professor. We had a couple come in who were worried that their child might have Tay Sach's disease due to their background. As I watched my professor talk to them about their test results and ease their minds - I knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

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25 Genetic Counseling Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. What was the most difficult situation you've dealt with in the past, work-related or otherwise?
  2. What types of genetic testing are you most familiar with?
  3. Tell me about your personality. What qualities do you have that are suitable for this career?
  4. What do you think will be the most exciting part of being a genetic counselor?
  5. Tell me about your education. How has it helped you with genetics?
  6. Describe your work style.
  7. Give me an example of how you have communicated effectively in the past.
  8. What was the toughest symptom you've had to tell a family regarding their child? Why was this challenging, and how did you handle it?
  9. Tell me about your experience shadowing a GC.
  10. What was the most significant birth defect you have noticed before?
  11. Have you done any volunteering work? How do you think this benefits your career?
  12. Are you actively interviewing with other facilities or hospitals?
  13. Why should someone see a genetic counselor?
  14. How do you explain to patients that just because they are tested for having a higher chance of receiving a certain disease, doesn't necessarily mean you will have that disease?
  15. What appeals to you about the role of genetic counselor? Why did you choose this career?
  16. Genetic testing is a critical decision for any individual. How will you ease their mind and walk them through the process?
  17. Talk to me about your undergraduate work. Did you take any specific classes that are helpful for your career as a genetic counselor?
  18. Have you completed or thought about completing your certification from the American Board of Genetic Counselors?
  19. What are your hobbies?
  20. What is your biggest weakness?
  21. What tools do you use to efficiently manage your time?
  22. During patient visits, you will be dealing with patients as they go through difficult times. How can you ensure me you are capable of this?
  23. Talk about the challenges you have had working with physicians.
  24. If I found out my genome doubles my risk of breast cancer, should I have a preventive mastectomy?
  25. How will you handle a customer that is uneasy about receiving their genetic diagnosis?
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