"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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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!
What's difficult for one person might be easy for another. A tough customer might be more of a challenge than chasing a cat around the office. Think of an example. Consider framing your answer like this: "When I volunteered at the animal shelter, I had a dog that had vomited and pooped all over his cage and rolled around in it. I cleaned him up and his cage. He was a large Rottweiler mix and very sick so it was a challenge to move him as well." To show your enthusiasm and motivation, you could follow up with your statement by saying, "I understand the challenges of being a vet assistant, but it's worth it to me. I know this experience handling animals will help me reach my career goals." What keeps you motivated when you have to do the dirty work? Time to think about how this job fits into your career goals!
"When I volunteered at the animal shelter, I had a dog that had vomited and pooped all over his cage and rolled around in it. I cleaned him up and his cage. He was a large Rottweiler mix and very sick so it was a challenge to move him as well."
There may be a day you come into work and are told several tasks that need to be completed that day, and in addition, you will need to handle the pets of each customer who walks through the door. It could be anything from cleaning duties to administering medication to performing lab tests. Every item on your list must get done that day. How do you manage it all? Taking time to prioritize could help you get it all done faster. By choosing the items that are most urgent first, then evaluating the value of each task and the effort it will take to get each one done can help you decide which thing needs to happen at one time. If you've struggled with prioritizing in the past, now is a good time to learn! Do a little research on ways to be more efficient with your time and how to prioritize when everything is urgent.
This question is a good test of your knowledge about the profession. When you look over the job description, what stands out to you the most? Are you excited to work alongside a successful veterinarian who saves the lives of animals every day? Talk about how this job will help you to accomplish your goals! That's pretty appealing. Highlight a few key responsibilities that interest you and share how they will benefit you in the long run.
"I'm excited to get more experience handling different animals because I want to work at a zoo. The more exposure to animals I get, the closer I am to reaching that goal."
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.
"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."
Think before you speak! Be humble and don't take it personally. Depending on who the criticism is coming from, you will want to approach it differently. If it's coming from your boss, you will want to respond respectfully, saying something like, "I appreciate the feedback. Now I know how I can improve next time." If it's coming from a client, you may want to tell them, "I am so glad you noticed! I'll make the changes right away." You may have a similar response for anyone's critical comments, but the key is to stay calm and never express frustration towards the person. Give an example where you stayed professional when someone gave you negative feedback. If there was something you needed to change or repair, you responded promptly: "I completely understand where you're coming from. I'll care of it right away!"
"I appreciate the feedback. Now I know how I can improve next time."
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.
During stressful times, you will likely be asked to assist with tasks beyond your scope of expertise. You may be asked to answer phones and assist the receptionist with customers. You might be asked to assist the vet technician with a surgery. Remember your title: Veterinary Assistant. Your role may be primarily focused on handling animals and their messes, but you are still an assistant. As an assistant, you have the opportunity to learn about what it takes to be a vet or a technician, how to run an office and how to deal with customers. All of these skills will be valuable for whatever career goal you have in mind. If you were asked this question, tell the interviewer enthusiastically, "I'm happy to help!"
"I'm happy to help!"
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.
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.
"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."
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.
If a woman walked in carrying her dog who had just been hit by a car, what would you do? Stay calm! In an emergency you will need to move quickly because you never know how much time you have. Think of yourself as the nurse's assistant of the vet clinic working diligently to save your patient. You're role is to support the animal and your staff by providing emergency first aid, holding the animal and cleaning up. Tell the interviewer that you would listen to direction and stay calm in this type of situation. Remember, you have a team to support you too! Be a team player and be confident in your abilities!
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."
"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."
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.
"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."
The challenge may not be your ability to maintain accurate records. It might just be balancing all of the other duties along with it. Talk about your attention to detail and ability to stay calm, even if the customer or their pet are not. You also want to be thorough, reviewing records to check for accuracy. If a customer gives you information that you're not sure was recorded correctly, do you double check by asking them? What systems do you have in place to make sure information is correct? Talk about the process of assessing a patient and how you observe and evaluate behaviors. Apply you what you know about animal behavior, illnesses and treatments!
Let's be honest. No one wants to show up for work when they could be relaxing by the pool. If a coworker is sick or there is an emergency, sometimes you gotta take one for the team. Here's a good response: "Even though having to work on your day off isn't ideal, I understand that life happens. I'm willing to be flexible and positive and work the shift." Due to the nature of the job, there may be times you are on-call or have to work on an off day. Show that you have a good perspective and a good attitude.
"Even though having to work on your day off isn't ideal, I understand that life happens. I'm willing to be flexible and positive and work the shift."
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.
Good news! There is no clear formula for the best way to answer this question. However, there are some topics that could be more beneficial to share than others. Talking about your entire work history isn't the best choice, but you could talk about a few highlights that led you to this career. It's also not great to divulge too much personal information. Think about the interviewer like they are a new friend. You don't want to share too much all at once because they could get overwhelmed. It's okay to talk about a few of your interests and where you're from, but use this time to your advantage. Talk about things that are relevant to this position, things that will give the interviewer more insight into your skills, abilities and your personality.
If you have work experience in the clinic, here are a few things you can do to get you thinking about what the experience will be like. First, picture the environment. Then think about the front desk. What is their interaction like with the customers? Picture the process of checking in with patients and the types of problems you might encounter. What's the difference between a wellness visit and an emergency surgery? Imagine the hustle and bustle of animals moving in and out. Talk about what you have experienced at the vet. Research the vet clinic to see if you can gain more insight into what to expect when you work there.
Veterinary assistants provide medical attention and care to animals under the supervision of a qualified veterinarian or veterinary technician. They spend their work day bathing, feeding, and exercising animals, administering medications and vaccinations, cleaning and sterilizing equipment, operating rooms and examination rooms, collecting blood and urine samples, and restraining animals during treatments or examinations.
Becoming a veterinary assistant does not require advanced education. Many employers hire applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. However, you will need to complete a period of on-the-job training before being entrusted with handling the animals independently. Prior experience working with animals can give your employment prospects a big boost. Critical thinking, problem-solving and active listening skills are essential in this role. Most important is a genuine love for animals. Animals that are sick or injured are more likely to bite and scratch because they are frightened or in pain. The ability to stay calm and think quickly when faced with an aggressive animal is one of the most crucial traits in a veterinary assistant. Doing an internship will give you a first-hand look at what this role entails and will also give you the competitive edge over the other applicants.
Your replies to all interview question must reflect your passion for animals and emphasize your knowledge of what this job entails. You want to be able to convince the interviewers that you are the best candidate for the job with your strong, compelling answers. If you need some practice to improve your chances of success, go to Mock Questions and check out the questions listed there. Practising answers to these questions will help you ace your veterinary assistant interview.