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Respiratory Therapists Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brunner
Updated July 31st, 2018 | Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    

Question 1 of 30

What types of patients do you have the most difficulty treating?

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1.

What types of patients do you have the most difficulty treating?

Depending upon where you worked and your experience, you may have already encountered the worst of the worst! In an emergency setting or even in your every day pediatrician's office, you might have encountered a difficult personality or a scenario that caused a patient to resist treatment or give you an attitude. Draw from your experience and give an example of someone who was extra challenging for you. How did you handle it? What tools did you use to stay calm while interacting with a difficult personality? Show you are competent in handling those tough patients by explaining your reaction and how you helped through the situation.

Ryan's Answer #1

"Having worked in the field now for eight years, I'd say that the patient that I'd have the most difficulty treating right now are pediatric patients. Since coming into the role that I'm currently in, peds patients are treated by pediatric specialists on our team. But even having not used the skills I developed in school and rotations in many years, I am confident in my ability to be able to work with these patients once again with some training and hands on experience."

Ryan's Answer #2

"During my clinical rotations, my biggest struggle was working in the emergency setting on patients that were in critical condition when entering. Having not worked in the field in these pressure situations was tough but I had a great preceptor that taught me how to stay calm. At this time, gaining skills in a hospital setting will better prepare me further for these emergent situations and I look forward to furthering myself as an RT moving forward."

2.

Does providing emergency care to a patient suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock make you nervous?

Work as a Respiratory Therapist can involve patients that are in an emergency type of situation. Your interviewer will be looking for your ability to stay focused on the task at hand in any type of situation. If you have direct experience, talk about a particular patient you worked with where the outcome was great because of your work.

Ryan's Answer #1

"Regardless of the situation my patient came from, I am focused on patient care. I am proud to be a part of the stabilizing process and hope to be able to assist in their recovery."

Ryan's Answer #2

"I am not a stranger working in stressful situations as I worked as a part time EMT while attending school. In the emergent situations I was put in as an EMT, I was able to keep a level head and stay focused on the task at hand in helping a patient. I've worked with patients that have been in bad auto accidents and were suffering from things like a stroke or heart attack. I feel this skill will transfer nicely to my career as a Respiratory Therapist."

3.

What motivates you to want to help people?

For many who work in helping fields like medicine or non-profits, they are driven by their knowledge that they can make a difference. You may have personally experienced the benefits of working with a respiratory therapist. Perhaps that motivated you to work in the field. This question is a good one to reflect on before the interview. Why do you like helping others? What do you get out of the experience? Your interviewer will be looking to hear that you are a driven employee that is not just in the job to earn a paycheck because they know that successful employees are ones that are invested in their career.

Ryan's Answer #1

"As a person who grew up in a large family, I saw the benefits of a strong care team for a patient at a young age when my father was hospitalized with a severe case of pneumonia. Having been a farmer his whole life, a man that worked 16 hour days every day, watching him lay helpless in a hospital bed was shocking to me as a young child. Seeing the team of people work with him to recovery played in a big part in my pursuit of a career in healthcare and today, my family remains my number one motivation in helping patients get better to once again be a part of their own family lives."

Ryan's Answer #2

"For me personally, this is not a job where you can just report to work each day for your shift, skate through the motions of the day and go home at the end of the shift. I love the fact that I will be able to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients and this will drive me to be the best that I can possibly be in this field. Our patients need our therapy and knowing that I am making that difference makes the work day extremely fulfilling."

4.

What respiratory equipment do you have familiarity in working with?

As a Respiratory Therapist, you have familiarity working with many different pieces of equipment. Your interviewer will be looking to hear specifically what you have hands on experience working with. Talk about those items you are familiar along with stressing your ability to learn new things with ease. You don't have to get wrapped up in the specific manufacturers of the equipment you have worked with. If you haven't worked on a particular machine that your new employer uses, your interviewer will be left at ease knowing you are willing and able to learn something new.

Ryan's Answer #1

"In my current position, I work with on a wide array of equipment with patients in an intensive care setting. I regularly work with oxygen monitors, suction machines, heated humidifiers and nebulizers with my patients in this setting. W hnever working with a new machine, I take tehetime to train and get to learn the machine prior to using the machine on a patient. I am able to pick up on new things very easily when they come my way."

Ryan's Answer #2

"During my clinical rotations, I feel very fortunate to have had hands on experience working on CPAP machines, BIPAP machines, oxygen cylinders and nebulizers. Part of my love for entering this field was my aptitude with mechanical equipment and I look forward to learning more about the types of equipment to help patients."

5.

Have you ever had to work with a difficult colleague? How did you handle that situation?

As a Respiratory Therapist, you work with a wide variety of colleagues. From nurses, physicians, administrators and fellow therapists, you will encounter many people throughout your workday and working with a difficult person has to come second nature to you. Give a specific example of a time that you had to work with a difficult colleague. Try to highlight how you handled the situation in a positive manner without getting down and out. By demonstrating that you can handle these things with ease, your interviewer will be able to see that you are able to work with a variety of people, including difficult ones.

Ryan's Answer #1

"In my current job, one person on my team tends to bring a lot of their issues from outside of work into the workplace. Being such a tight knit team, at first I found it very difficult to work with her. As we got to know each other better, I began having conversations with her when she was bringing up her home issues and letting them affect her work and our team. I explained that it sounded like being at work should be a good respite for her. And slowly, she became much better to work with and much more tolerable co-worker."

Ryan's Answer #2

"During my years in college, I worked in the deli at a large grocery store in town. During most shifts, we worked in a team of three people. Once co-worker that I was regularly scheduled shifts with was definitely not pulling his weight on the team. During times where no customers were at the counter, we had other duties to complete like cleaning and salad/food preparation. Rather than helping, he would get on his phone and text his friends or play video games. First, I addressed him directly about the issue and he flat out refused to listen to me. After another shift of this occurring, I took the issue directly to our supervisor who handled it with the employee. It turns out I wasn't the first employee to bring the issue up to her."

6.

Why did you decide to work in this field?

Respiratory Therapy is a growing field because of the growing need for practitioners who can treat the pulmonary issues that the population faces every day. You might have learned about it through an anatomy class or through a friend who works in the healthcare field. What sparked your interest? If you have personal experience, explain how it influenced your motivation. If you have plans to pursue something different in the future, talk about how this role will help you to get there. This is a great opportunity to share your passion and talk about your career goals.

Ryan's Answer #1

"Ultimately, my decision to pursue a career as a Respiratory Therapist was sealed during my senior year of high school where I did a one month shadowing experience in our local hospital. Personally, I knew the RT that I observed from being a youth athletics coach and I got to see firsthand how he got the chance to help a variety of patients throughout his day. In my eight years in the field, I have loved the blend of patient care, teamwork and technology that this job blends together and I look forward to many more years of it as well."

Ryan's Answer #2

"Knowing that I was destined to be in a healthcare setting came at a very young age for me and I was heavily influenced by watching my grandmother's care while she was hospitalized with pneumonia while I was in high school. Seeing the intimate interaction she had with her respiratory therapist and watching the progress she made under the RT's care solidified my decision to pursue this as a career choice. For my future down the road in this field, I'm looking to getting some great years of experience under my belt in a hospital setting. From there, I'm keeping an open mind to potentially pursuing a leadership role or potentially even furthering me education to a nurse practitioner level provider."

7.

If you could spend more time studying one particular respiratory illness, what would it be?

Sleep apnea and asthma are two commonly diagnosed respiratory illnesses. Even though there is much research on them, there is still more to be learned. Think of some of the problems you have experienced with patients. Which ones interested you most? Why? Explain to the interviewer that you are interested in understanding how these illnesses affect the oxygen supplied to the brain, which ultimately affects the patient's overall health. Are you interested in finding out if some of these common illnesses can be prevented or treated in a more effective way? This question will show your interest in furthering the field and your interviewer will be looking for you to have an interest in this.

Ryan's Answer #1

"Having worked in a large hospital with a blossoming oncology program, I've worked with a large number of lung cancer patients and the field of cancer treatment and hopeful eventual cure/prevention of the disease is very close to my heart. Lung cancer is very hard to detect early and once the cancer spreads, it has an extremely high mortality rate. Working with these patients has taught me the fragility of life and has made me appreciate each and every day with my loved ones even more."

Ryan's Answer #2

"Having grown up with a father suffering from sleep apnea, I've learned in my schooling and clinicals that RT can help these patients. Watching the troubles that he has experienced with the condition first hand give me a great interest in pursuing further research into how respiratory therapy can help those suffering with the condition."

8.

What was the most difficult part of schooling?

Sometimes the most difficult aspect of training for a new career is finding balance and managing stress. You may have also enrolled in a class that provided an extra challenge for you because the professor moved too quickly or didn't present the information in a clear way. Maybe you struggle to memorize medical terminology. Regardless of the difficulty, explain what it was and then elaborate upon how you handled it. The interviewer is more interested in how you overcame the challenge than the challenge itself! What tools did you use? Did you go to tutoring? Did you meet with the professor during office hours?

Ryan's Answer #1

"When I was attending my two year program, I was young and helping to raise a young family so I also worked part-time to help support my family with my spouse. Attending school and balancing a job and family was hard at first, but I learned quickly to prioritize things and keep myself healthy in the meantime. This juggling act became very helpful as I entered a career in the fast-paced field of respiratory therapy in the hospital setting."

Ryan's Answer #2

"Going into my schooling, I had heard plenty of feedback that two to two and a half years in an RT program was a commitment to both time and effort and that advice was spot on. So much information is squeezed into the coursework and pairing that with clinical rotations really had to put my personal life on hold. Looking back, the two years were difficult personally at times but I wouldn't go back and change the experience and training I received to enter a fulfilling career."

9.

Can you work overtime, weekends, and holidays?

Medical facilities often require you to be available to work odd hours. You might be working the night shift for weeks and then one day you're asked to work a double or switch to 12-hour shifts. If you work in a doctor's office that's only open until 7 PM every night, you might have a more predictable schedule. But if you're in the emergency room or another 24-hour facility, you will need to be flexible. Explain your availability, but be clear that you are willing to work the shifts needed while also being honest with your availability. This can be a difficult balance and researching the hours for the position is important prior to applying for the job to ensure that it meets your availabiIlty. if you're not sure what to expect, ask!

Ryan's Answer #1

"With my current employer for the past four years in a large hospital setting, I have worked 12 hour shifts that rotates 2 days on, 2 days off, 3 days on, 3 days off, 2 days on and then 2 days off every two week period. Every two weeks, we switch from day shift to overnight shifts. I am very flexible with my family situation and am usually willing to trade shifts with coworkers that need certain days or shifts off. I knew going into a career in healthcare that the need for patient care comes 24 hours a day and 365 days per year."

Ryan's Answer #2

"As I look to enter the workforce as a new Respiratory Therapist, I am ready to take on any shifts, overtime and holidays that I can to better myself in this field. I understand that essential learning in this job occurs the more that I can work and to one day work a more stable day shift, I need to pay my time in the department."

10.

Tell me about the conditions you are most familiar with treating.

Bronchitis, Lung Cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Respiratory Syncytial Virus... the list goes on and on! There are so many different conditions that you may encounter on the job. Describe the experience. Are there some conditions that are more difficult to treat? Which one are the most lethal? Do you respond differently depending on the sensitivity of the condition? Explain how you are able to provide consistent patient care for every situation you have handled.

Ryan's Answer #1

"Working on a home health team, I have worked with patients that are suffering mostly from COPD, lung cancer and sleep apnea. These chronically ill patients have been discharged from the hospital and are receiving care in their home. With each patient, my job is to ensure that they are able to breath in the best possible way so my initial tests are all the same. Beyond that, treatment may vary depending on the condition that they suffer from."

Ryan's Answer #2

"Coming into my first position out of school, I have direct experience working with a wide array of patients from my clinical rotations in a large hospital setting. During my time in rotations, I worked with many people in an inpatient setting suffering from lung cancer, COPD, asthma and even a few patients with brain injuries due to accidents. In each case, a proper assessment of the patient determines their RT needs and I am comfortable working on many different patients."

11.

How do you keep yourself up to date on advancements in our field?

As a Respiratory Therapist, staying up to date on the changes in technology and practice in the field is important. Your interviewer will be looking for ways that you stay current to these changes. Talk about the significance that continuing education has played or will play in your career. As well, if you subscribe to any publications or belong to any organizations, talk about those as well.

Ryan's Answer #1

"In my eight years in the field, a lot has changed in that short period of time. I love the fact that I am required to attend CME courses or events as these have helped keep me up to speed on new advancement in RT. Recently, I took a course on noninvasive ventilation and learned new techniques and equipment for better helping the patients that I work with."

Ryan's Answer #2

"Coming out of my schooling, I feel that I have a very good knowledge base of the equipment and techniques used in the field. But with that said, I know that the field will continue to evolve as time goes on. I am currently a member of the AARC and I also receive the monthly Respiratory Care journal. The group and publication are great about talking about new advancements in the field."

12.

Walk me through how you interview a patient.

Explain step by step how you approach a patient. What questions do you ask first? What do you do if a patient is unable to answer your questions
Familiarize yourself with the questions and the process of patient assessments. How does this assessment play into the care plan development for each patient?

Ryan's Answer #1

"With each new patient that I encounter, my first impression with them goes a long way in their outcome. I take a few moments to get to know the patient and explain who I am and what my job is. By making eye contact and showing I am invested in their care, patients are more likely to open up in following consultation with them when finding out about their medical history and the symptoms they are facing."

Ryan's Answer #2

"From my preceptor in my clinical rotations, I learned that the key with patients is to build their trust in me as their RT. I begin by introducing myself and explaining my role in their care. When a patient knows and understands what I am doing, it makes them more comfortable around me. I walk through the standard interview questions and allow the patient to ask follow up questions as well as me asking them for follow up on items if need be. The initial interview with a patient will guide their plan of care so it is vital that I find out as much information as I can during the process."

13.

What do you like least about being a respiratory therapist?

If you have read through any posts on job search sites from experienced respiratory therapist, you will see some of the drawbacks. The pay can be low and the opportunities for advancement may be limited. You may have already experienced some other drawbacks already, but clearly you are still interested in the career. If you are searching for interview questions, you must like something about the job! If an interviewer asks you this question, focus on the challenges like dealing with difficult patients or balancing a heavy workload in a fast-paced environment. Then share how you deal with it in a positive manner. An interview is not the place to complain! You want to show off your strengths and how you overcome challenges. Speak with confidence and draw from your experience.

Ryan's Answer #1

"Through my career so far, my least favorite part about the job is working swing shift on a weekly basis. Having done this for five years, my family has had to take a backseat to my career many times. While I've been able to do this with ease, I've missed a lot of important things in the lives of my children. In speaking with a current RT here, I love the fact that the department here works a month long stretch of a particular shift. Along with all of the other great things I've heard about working here, this appeals to my personal life in a huge way."

Ryan's Answer #2

"As I went through my clinical rotations this past year, one unexpected thing I wasn't ready to deal with was ornery patients. From my first day on the job, I experienced patients who were upset to be hospitalized and weren't open to my treatment. They weren't afraid to let me know it! Being a people person, I am now confident in my ability to work calmly and wisely with these types of patients as I enter my first job in the field."

14.

What was the best thing you learned during your clinical training with patients?

Give an example of something you learned that you think will benefit you in your career. It could have been something as simple as listening to patients, learning what to observe and how to treat an obscure illness. If you are fresh out of your schooling, this will give your interviewer a chance to hear that you are looking forward to further educating yourself in the field. If you are an savvy, experienced respiratory therapist, this question is a chance to show your interviewer how you've grown in this field since you attended your RT program and went through your clinical rotations.

"I learned that by thoroughly assessing symptoms, therapists can be much more effective in treating patients. I shadowed a therapist who was extremely detailed in his approach. He encouraged me to take time to get to know patients in order to identify factors that could affect therapy and to know what exercises will work best."

Ryan's Answer #1

"I learned that by thoroughly assessing symptoms, therapists can be much more effective in treating patients. I shadowed a therapist who was extremely detailed in his approach. He encouraged me to take time to get to know patients in order to identify factors that could affect therapy and to know what exercises will work best."

Ryan's Answer #2

"Upon entering my program out of high school, I had a very good understanding of the daily life of a Respiratory Therapist. During my classroom training, my skills were further developed but it wasn't until I began my clinical rotations that I realized how important the patient documentation duties were in this job. My first preceptor stressed to me that working in an EMR was a vital part of our job to properly care for a patient. After working for four weeks with her, I learned that my documentation on a patient goes a long way in their care for follow up visits with their physician and future care that could potentially be provided. You'll find that I am able to learn the EMR here very quickly and that I put a high priority on patient documentation."

15.

Tell me about a character trait that makes you a good candidate for this job?

Integrity, humbleness and empathy are all character traits that would make you a great candidate for the job. Think about a day in the life of a respiratory therapist. What challenges do you anticipate? How will you handle them? Your ability to remain calm during stressful times is an example of a character trait that would lend itself to the role. Your ability to listen to patients is another example. Review the job description and ask yourself, "What traits would help me to accomplish these tasks on a daily basis?"

Ryan's Answer #1

"What traits would help me to accomplish these tasks on a daily basis?"

Ryan's Answer #2

"If I'm hired, you'll quickly find that my compassion for others is a great asset to have in this field. From a very young age, I was a caretaker for my siblings and family members and this was one of the deciding factors for me in pursuing a career as a Respiratory Therapist. As a compassionate therapist, I ensure that I show my patients that I am invested in their treatment, helping them respond better to said treatment. By having this investment in each and every patient, my personal motivation drives me to be the best that I can be every day in this career."

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30 Respiratory Therapists Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. What types of patients do you have the most difficulty treating?
  2. Does providing emergency care to a patient suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock make you nervous?
  3. What motivates you to want to help people?
  4. What respiratory equipment do you have familiarity in working with?
  5. Have you ever had to work with a difficult colleague? How did you handle that situation?
  6. Why did you decide to work in this field?
  7. If you could spend more time studying one particular respiratory illness, what would it be?
  8. What was the most difficult part of schooling?
  9. Can you work overtime, weekends, and holidays?
  10. Tell me about the conditions you are most familiar with treating.
  11. How do you keep yourself up to date on advancements in our field?
  12. Walk me through how you interview a patient.
  13. What do you like least about being a respiratory therapist?
  14. What was the best thing you learned during your clinical training with patients?
  15. Tell me about a character trait that makes you a good candidate for this job?
  16. If you could not be a respiratory therapist, what career would you choose?
  17. How do you handle stressful situations?
  18. Why is measuring a patient's Hp levels important?
  19. What do you like most about being a respiratory therapist?
  20. How do work as part of a larger team and what role do you find yourself being comfortable in as part of a larger team?
  21. Talk about a time that you had to handle an emergency situation with a patient. How did you handle that situation and what role did you play if a larger team was involved?
  22. What is the importance of the role of a Respiratory Therapist in infection control?
  23. Talk about the importance of patient documentation and the documentation systems you have familiarity working on.
  24. Talk about a time where you had to work with the family of a particular patient. Were there any obstacles you had to overcome to work effectively with them?
  25. What kind of work environment do you thrive in?
  26. Are you a people person?
  27. How do you make sure you are using your time effectively?
  28. Have you worked with a patient with a condition that was beyond your scope of practice? How did you handle it?
  29. How do you gain the respect of your teammates when start a new job?
  30. How would you handle a situation that could cause you to miss work?
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