Here are the top 10 most asked dental assistant interview questions along with suggested answers to help you breeze through your interview and land the job.
1. Tell me about your experience as a dental assistant.
The interviewer will have read your resume and noted your experience. This question gives you an opportunity to expand on what is in your resume and show your passion for this role. If you don’t have prior experience as a dental assistant, this question can seem difficult to answer. You can tell the interviewer about your training, including any internships. Think about the skills you have gained from other roles that would be transferable to a role as a dental assistant. For example, customer service and administrative skills are important as a dental assistant. If you have had prior experience, tell the interviewer about your day-to-day duties in that role and how long you were in that role (or if you still are).
Since I completed my dental assistant training two years ago, I have been working in my current role as a dental assistant. During this time, I have worked with the same dentist, and we have built a strong chair-side relationship which is beneficial to patients. By working closely together for two years, I have been able to understand how he likes to work and apply that knowledge to the organization of the exam room so that I can ensure he has the tools he needs.
2. Describe a time you have had to deal with an angry or upset patient.
This question is your opportunity to talk about your communication skills and show that you can handle difficult situations professionally. The interviewer wants to know that you can handle stressful situations in a calm, composed manner. Be honest in describing the situation. If you have had no experience with angry or upset patients, tell the interviewer how you see yourself handling such situations.
I recently had a situation where a patient was unhappy because he had four cavities that needed treatment. He was upset because he had seen a dentist only six months ago, and the dentist had not recommended treatment at the time.
I kept calm and tried not to aggravate the patient. It is critical to ensure the situation doesn’t escalate. I listened to the patient’s perspective. Listening is important to help maintain trust, as is showing empathy. I then used the notes and x-rays to show the patient how the dentist decided that treatment was necessary. By giving the patient a full and complete explanation, the patient was able to see that the dentist was just trying to do what was best for him. The patient calmed down and agreed to the treatment.
3. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a dental assistant?
Before the interview, think about your current role or your internship and what you like and dislike about the role. Be honest about the aspects you like. When it comes to what you dislike, be careful because you do not want to give your potential new employer the impression that you complain about your job.
My favorite part of the role is working with the patients. I know that coming to the dentist can frighten some people, and I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction in helping patients at least reduce their level of fear and making sure they have as comfortable an experience as possible. I don’t have any responsibilities or parts of the role I don’t like.
4. What knowledge do you have of HIPAA protocols, and how will you make sure you are following the guidelines?
As a dental assistant, it is important that you understand HIPAA protocol. Patient confidentiality in dental care is important. Before the interview, review your training in HIPAA protocol. Your answer should show you have been trained in HIPAA protocol and that you understand the need for confidentiality and privacy. Explain how you will follow the guidelines in your role.
During my Dental Assistant Training Program, they trained me in HIPAA protocol. Following the protocol is important to me. Patients need to trust all staff at the practice to maintain confidentiality and privacy, including dental assistants. To follow the guidelines, I would take steps such as keeping patient information out of view of others, closing the exam room door for privacy, and ensuring I lock our computer systems to prevent any unauthorized access when the computer is unattended.
5. What experience do you have with dental practice management software?
A dental assistant will have to be familiar with different software. Your answer should show you are familiar with standard programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, together with other dental software. You should also tell the interviewer you are ready to learn how to use any applications you are unfamiliar with. Billing and coding accurately, alongside familiarity with Electronic Health Records Training, is important. Tell the interviewer about your training in these areas.
I consider myself to be computer literate and have experience with software such as all Microsoft Office programs and Electronic Health Records software. I am also experienced in billing and coding, and processing claims with Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance companies. I appreciate different practices will use different software, and I am happy to learn to use new applications.
6. Tell me about your oral hygiene practices and why you are passionate about your oral health.
Knowing that you understand and follow good oral hygiene practices is important. The interviewer wants to know that you can educate patients on proper oral hygiene and that you use the same practices yourself.
I advise my patients to brush twice daily and to floss regularly, and I follow that advice myself. I also see my dentist every six months, just as I advise my patients to do. Oral health is important in overall health because poor oral health can affect other areas of your body, not just your mouth. I also feel that good oral hygiene gives me confidence.
7. How do you respond to criticism, either from a colleague or from a patient?
Criticism from a colleague will often be constructive, but may not be constructive if given by a patient. Show the interviewer that you can handle criticism, whether or not it is constructive. Constructive criticism is an opportunity to grow and learn. Show the interviewer you understand the difference and can handle criticism from patients and colleagues.
I recognize that criticism is important in being able to improve and grow. I would hope that criticism given by colleagues would be constructive and would allow me an opportunity to improve in my role. Criticism given by patients may not always be constructive, and I recognize that it has to be handled differently. I understand that patients can find the experience stressful, and sometimes emotions can cause them to complain or say things that they perhaps don’t mean or are not justified. I would take criticism from patients seriously and listen to what they have to say. Importantly, I always stay calm during the exchange. I do not let that kind of criticism affect me emotionally and instead use it as a learning experience.
8. Tell me about your experience exposing and processing x-rays.
While taking x-rays is an important responsibility of a dental assistant, not having experience in this area does not mean you automatically fail the interview. The interviewer is simply trying to gauge your skills and experience. If you have experience in this area, explain the procedure, and also share details of any qualifications you have. If you don’t have the experience, be honest, but make it clear that you are excited about learning how to do it.
I haven’t had experience in processing and exposing x-rays, but I would really value being able to work towards gaining my certification in radiation health and safety.
9. Take me through the steps you follow to make an alginate impression.
The interviewer wants to know what awareness you have of current techniques and products and that you know how to choose the right tools for the task at hand. They also want to know that you can still provide a comfortable patient experience during what can be a messy and sometimes stressful ordeal. Show the interviewer that you can take accurate impressions on the first try by talking them clearly through your process.
The first step is to choose the right size of the tray. The right size is always going to be the one that is slightly larger than the patient’s arch. I then mix the alginate thoroughly to make sure there are no bubbles. That is important, so you get a blemish-free impression. I then fill (but don’t overfill) the tray, and then place the tray from back to front. It’s important to make sure the patient’s lips are pulled away from the tray, and I always advise them to breathe through their nose. This helps them avoid gagging. Once set, I gently remove the tray. I always stay calm during the process and try to keep the patient calm and reassured throughout.
10. Why should we hire you?
Talking about yourself in a positive light and selling yourself doesn’t come naturally for most people. Before the interview, think about why you are the best person for the role and practice your answer. Think about your skills and how they align with the skills needed to perform the role. You can talk about your skills and experience in a way that doesn’t come across as conceited or arrogant.
I feel my training and experience show that I am the right candidate for this role. Aside from the technical training and experience, strong people skills are needed for this job. I think I have both the technical and people skills for this job. In my last review, the dentist praised me for my communication skills with patients and colleagues, and in particular, with distressed patients. Making patients comfortable and supporting them during the process is an area that I excel in.
Next 30 Most Asked Dental Assistant Interview Questions
- Tell me about your long-term career goals.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths?
- What is your biggest weaknesses?
- Why did you choose to become a dental assistant?
- What opportunities have you taken in the last twelve months to develop and grow your skills?
- Why do you want to work at this office?
- How often do you sterilize equipment?
- How do you prepare for patients arriving?
- Imagine a situation where the patient doesn’t understand the treatment being proposed. How would you handle this?
- Do you prefer to work with children or adults?
- Do you have your CPR qualification?
- How do you handle stress?
- Can you tell me about a time when you have shown initiative?
- A patient panics as you lead them to the treatment room. What do you do?
- In what ways do you treat adult patients differently from children?
- Tell me about your experience with lab tests.
- How do you feel about being closely supervised?
- What does being part of a team mean to you?
- Describe what you consider to be exceptional customer service.
- What professional achievement are you most proud of?
- Have you ever disagreed with a dentist or a supervisor? Tell me how you handled that and what the outcome was.
- How important do you think a dental assistant’s role is?
- What three words would your current employer use to describe you?
- Have you ever had a chair-side experience that has made you feel uncomfortable? What did you do?
- Are there any areas where you feel you need further training?
- Do you prefer to work with patients or to do the administrative and clerical parts of the job?
- Do you prefer to work as part of a team or independently?
- Why have you decided to leave your current role?
- How do you organize your time to ensure you accomplish your tasks each day?
10 Best Questions to Ask in a Dental Assistant Interview
An interview provides more than an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know you. It also provides an opportunity for you to get to know more about the position, the people you will be working with, and the patients you will be serving. The questions you choose to ask at the end of an interview can result in valuable insights into the position, and show the interviewer that you came prepared.
- What skills do you think are most important for a dental assistant, and why?
- What type of patients do you see here?
- What kinds of opportunities are there in this position to grow my skill set or the depth of my experience?
- How would you describe the culture here?
- Why do you enjoy working here?
- How will success as a dental assistant be assessed?
- What challenges do you see for the practice in the next twelve months?
- Can you tell me about a typical day for a dental assistant in this practice?
- How long do dental assistants typically work here?
- If you could change anything about working here, what would it be and why?
Before the interview, make sure you are familiar with the role and with the particular dental practice where you will be interviewing. Read online reviews for good things about the practice that you can mention in the interview to show you’ve done your homework and know what you’re getting into. Explore the office’s website and get to know the faces and backgrounds of the people that work there. Use the interview as an opportunity to show the interviewer you have prepared for the interview, have the required skills to succeed at the job, and would be someone who patients would enjoy being around. Don’t forget to smile!
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.