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Veterinary Assistant Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 22nd, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    
Question 1 of 25
How do you feel about cleaning up after animals?
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How to Answer
Oh the joys of being covered in vomit and anal gland secretions! A vet assistant's job is anything but glamorous and certainly not for the faint at heart. This is likely your least favorite part of the job, and understandably so. Here's a sample response to the question: "Cleaning up after animals can be pretty disgusting, but it's just part of the job. I keep a positive attitude and remember that I'm helping these animals, and that's what gets me through it. I've experienced some pretty gross situations, like expressing anal glands that exploded in my face, so I think I can handle anything." Giving a brief example of a scenario you handled will show the interviewer that you understand the dirty side of the job and you can handle it.
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Answer Examples
1.
How do you feel about cleaning up after animals?
Oh the joys of being covered in vomit and anal gland secretions! A vet assistant's job is anything but glamorous and certainly not for the faint at heart. This is likely your least favorite part of the job, and understandably so. Here's a sample response to the question: "Cleaning up after animals can be pretty disgusting, but it's just part of the job. I keep a positive attitude and remember that I'm helping these animals, and that's what gets me through it. I've experienced some pretty gross situations, like expressing anal glands that exploded in my face, so I think I can handle anything." Giving a brief example of a scenario you handled will show the interviewer that you understand the dirty side of the job and you can handle it.
Rachelle's Answer
"Cleaning up after animals can be pretty disgusting, but it's just part of the job. I keep a positive attitude and remember that I'm helping these animals, and that's what gets me through it. I've experienced some pretty gross situations, like expressing anal glands that exploded in my face, so I think I can handle anything."
2.
How would you handle an aggressive animal?
Draw from your experience! If you haven't dealt with an aggressive animal directly, how have you observed others? When an animal is acting out, your ability to stay calm is vital! In your interview, talk about the skills you have learned that you apply in every situation with a pet. If you know techniques, ways to hold an animal and how to respond if they get scared, share them. Those little details will help instill more confidence that you are the best person for the job!
3.
Tell me about the different types of animals you have worked with in the past.
Before you go down your list of furry and feathery friends, take a look at the website for the clinic. What types of animals do they specialize in? Even if you have worked with cows and chickens or other animals the clinic does not serve, you probably learned some valuable lessons and skills. Most vet clinics work with a range of animals that might include turtles, bunnies and birds. Each type of animal offers different challenges for a vet assistant. Since you will primarily be handling the animals to administer shots or treatments, show the interviewer how your experience will help you to be an asset to their clinic. Apply the skills you've learned from working with animals to show you are confident and capable of dealing with any kind of animal that comes through the door.
4.
How do you feel about exotic pets?
Depending on the clinic, you may find yourself handling birds and ferrets at different times. Are you up to the challenge? Talk about your experience with pets other than your typical furry friends. You also may want to find out more about your clients and what to expect. Do some research on the clinic. Usually a vet's website will show a list of animals they typically treat. If you don't have experience with exotic animals, find out more about some of the differences in how you will handle them. What are some of the similarities? You may need to be much more careful with a bird than large dog.
5.
Tell me about some of the animals you have cared for in your life?
Talk about your affinity for animals. As a vet assistant, you an animal lover experienced with pet sitting and caring for your own pets. Your relationship to the animals in your life tells a vet that you are compassionate. Think about setting up your example like this:

"I adopted my dog from the shelter. He was a rescue with severe anxiety. I spent the first six months training him and spending time to build a bond with him. Even though he had some bad behaviors, like peeing on the floor and destroying the house when I was gone, I learned that time and patience paid off. He is an awesome dog and I am so grateful to have him in my life."

Telling a brief story about a relationship with your pet is a great way to respond to this question. You could also talk about an animal you took care of for someone else. Talk about what you learned from the experience.
Rachelle's Answer
"I adopted my dog from the shelter. He was a rescue with severe anxiety. I spent the first six months training him and spending time to build a bond with him. Even though he had some bad behaviors, like peeing on the floor and destroying the house when I was gone, I learned that time and patience paid off. He is an awesome dog and I am so grateful to have him in my life."
6.
Why should I hire you?
Veterinary assistants deal with the physical challenges of the vet clinic. You will be wrangling large dogs to get them to sit still. Dealing with an aggressive pet takes strength and persistence. If you haven't been in this situation, think about how you would deal with it? What are some ways you can apply your skills to this situation? The vet doesn't have time or energy for a vet tech to get scared or frustrated. Let them know you would stay calm and cautiously handle the animal. Tell them about any techniques you have learned that would be useful in this situation.
7.
How do you handle stress?
Picture yourself pinning down a large pit bull who is peeing all over the table while you administer anesthesia as cats cry in the background, the phone is ringing off the hook, and you can hear a small terrier whimpering and banging itself against the kennel. Your job will be stressful. Knowing how to handle stress will help you to navigate the ups and downs in a constantly changing environment. Take some time to think about what you would be able to do when you are busy at work feeling your heart rate rise and your nerves begin to shake. Your coping skills outside of work might be difficult to apply, as you can't stop what you're doing and run to yoga class. However, you can take deep breaths and allow yourself to take a break in between patients. You can laugh about the fact that you are covered in dog shit and you can enjoy the company of your coworkers. Getting through the tough parts of your job requires you to have a good perspective and be able to make light of situations.
8.
How did you become interested in veterinary medicine?
Start by identifying your career goals and think backwards. You can even start with thinking about how the idea of working in a vet's office came to be. Think back to when you were a child and wanted to hug every furry friend that came within a mile radius of you. You started to notice the differences between different breeds and how some didn't just look different, but they acted differently as well. Did you check out books at the library to learn more about them? Maybe you spent a lot of time with the family dog and taught it how to do tricks. These are some simple examples of the little things you were exposed to growing up can factor into our decisions as we get older. If this is a career change for you, what made you decide to make the shift? Here's an example of how you can respond:

"I always loved learning about animals as a child. I studied books about dog training and worked with my dog since he was a pup. When I learned about this profession, I was excited because it's a way to incorporate my passion into a career. While I understand that there's a lot of dirty work involved, I'm excited to further my education through this experience."
Rachelle's Answer
"I always loved learning about animals as a child. I studied books about dog training and worked with my dog since he was a pup. When I learned about this profession, I was excited because it's a way to incorporate my passion into a career. While I understand that there's a lot of dirty work involved, I'm excited to further my education through this experience."
9.
What is the biggest mistake you have made? What did you learn from it?
Your interviewer knows you're not perfect. It may seem as though they are digging for weaknesses, when in actuality they are interested in your ability to learn from your mistakes.

"I didn't check the work schedule for the next week and accidentally did not show up for work on a day I was scheduled. As soon as I got the phone call I started getting ready for work. Even though I was four hours late, I apologized and then got straight to work. Now I check the schedule every week and I keep a copy of it as well. I strive to be reliable and I never miss a day."

When you talk about the mistake, focus on what you did to correct it and how you learned from it.
Rachelle's Answer
"I didn't check the work schedule for the next week and accidentally did not show up for work on a day I was scheduled. As soon as I got the phone call I started getting ready for work. Even though I was four hours late, I apologized and then got straight to work. Now I check the schedule every week and I keep a copy of it as well. I strive to be reliable and I never miss a day."
10.
How would you handle a situation that could cause you to be late for work?
"I stay calm and composed when issues arise. I got rear ended one time on the way to work. I called my boss immediately and then called one of my co-workers to see if they could fill in for me for the first couple hours of my shift."

Proper planning will get you far, but sometimes life happens and you'll need a plan B. Think about some of the variables in your life that could affect your attendance at work. Sick children, traffic, car breakdowns... the list goes on. Most likely one of these issues has affected you before. How did you handle it? It may not be possible for everything to work out so smoothly, getting your shift covered or still making it to work on time. Your interviewer is looking to see that you are proactive and that you can handle the stress of unexpected situations that can arise.
Rachelle's Answer
"I stay calm and composed when issues arise. I got rear ended one time on the way to work. I called my boss immediately and then called one of my co-workers to see if they could fill in for me for the first couple hours of my shift."
11.
What is your long term career goal?
What motivated you to become a veterinary assistant? Are you interested in the field but want to get your feet wet first? Think about how this job fits into your long term goals. Here's an example of how you can respond:

"I'm interested in becoming a vet tech at a zoo. Learning from you and your staff will help me to acquire the skills and experience I need to move forward in my career."

You can keep it simple. No need to discuss all of your future goals. Just share your main career focus. Do some research on the company to see how their values, mission or even types of clients will help you to attain your goals. This will also help you to assess if they are the right company for you.
Rachelle's Answer
"I'm interested in becoming a vet tech at a zoo. Learning from you and your staff will help me to acquire the skills and experience I need to move forward in my career."
12.
Tell me about your experience working in a clinic or a hospital environment?
Veterinary assistants typically work in a clinic under the supervision of a veterinarian alongside a vet technician or a vet technologist. Any experience in a technical or clinical setting will help you to get use to your new work environment. What are some things you would expect to experience in such a setting? Your customers will be in much different states of mind than in a bar setting. Some may be frantic and emotional. Animals will be smelly, dirty and loud. You will need to be cautious of infectious diseases and be prepared to see animals in disturbing form. It's a different type of stress. Don't feel pressured by this question if you don't have this type of experience! For a vet assistant, it is typically not required, but always helpful.
13.
Tell me about your animal training.
You may have read books and articles or received formal dog training. Whatever the case may be, you want to share relevant training related to animal handling and training. If you received any training in a volunteer setting at an animal shelter or from your education, be sure to include it! When you talk about training or education, share what you learned and how it has been helpful. Training is not required to be a veterinary assistant, but there are several medical career schools that offer training. If you are considering formal training, be sure to check with the National Association of Veterinary Technicians to find a program that's right for you!
14.
How would your employer describe your past work?
"Overall my boss was very pleased with my performance. My last job was working retail, staying late and working early morning and late night shifts. I kept a positive attitude in stressful situations and worked well with my team. I learned a lot about how to give a customer the best experience, and I think my boss would say that's where I showed the most improvement."

The more specific you can get, the better! Take some time to reflect on your most recent role, mistakes you made and how you learned from them. Showing improvement in your performance reveals how teachable you are and that you can grow and adapt to new work environments. If you weren't consistent in your work, explain why. Your future employer will want someone who is reliable not just in showing up to work on time, but also in the way they treat customers and complete jobs.
Rachelle's Answer
"Overall my boss was very pleased with my performance. My last job was working retail, staying late and working early morning and late night shifts. I kept a positive attitude in stressful situations and worked well with my team. I learned a lot about how to give a customer the best experience, and I think my boss would say that's where I showed the most improvement."
15.
Tell me about your favorite job. What did you like most about it?
This is a good question to think about before you go to your interview. It can help bring clarity about what your intentions are for wanting this new position. It can also help you check to make sure you're headed in the right direction. If you liked your past job because you to work with people in a hands on, challenging environment, working as a vet assistant in a clinic is perfect for you. However, if you enjoy working in an office behind a desk on a computer all day, you might want to reconsider this new role. If you were to use that as an example, I know the interviewer would be questioning if you're a good fit. When you give your answer, talk about how the elements you enjoyed in your favorite job to show how they are similar to this new position. It could be a completely different field. That's okay! Point out three key characteristics of the job that made it great. Think about how they compare to what you're looking forward to when you work at the vet clinic.
More Interview Q&As
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Continue practicing by visiting these similar question sets
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25 Veterinary Assistant Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. How do you feel about cleaning up after animals?
  2. How would you handle an aggressive animal?
  3. Tell me about the different types of animals you have worked with in the past.
  4. How do you feel about exotic pets?
  5. Tell me about some of the animals you have cared for in your life?
  6. Why should I hire you?
  7. How do you handle stress?
  8. How did you become interested in veterinary medicine?
  9. What is the biggest mistake you have made? What did you learn from it?
  10. How would you handle a situation that could cause you to be late for work?
  11. What is your long term career goal?
  12. Tell me about your experience working in a clinic or a hospital environment?
  13. Tell me about your animal training.
  14. How would your employer describe your past work?
  15. Tell me about your favorite job. What did you like most about it?
  16. What's the most difficult situation you have dealt with in your work experience?
  17. Think of a day when you had many things to do. How did you schedule your time?
  18. What appeals to you most about working as a veterinary assistant?
  19. How do you respond to criticism?
  20. How do you feel about being asked to perform tasks outside of your job description?
  21. How do you respond in an emergency situation?
  22. How do you maintain accurate patient records?
  23. How would you respond if asked to come in on your day off?
  24. Tell me about yourself.
  25. From your observation and/or experience, what do you think it will be like to work in a veterinary clinic?
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