Dental Assisting Interview Questions and Example Answers
Updated December 5, 2023
Dental assistants work with supervising dentists to perform hygiene and lab tasks in the support and care of their patients. If you're getting ready to interview for a role as a dental assistant, there are several types of questions to be prepared for. Dental assisting interview questions can include questions about your background, how you handle different situations and how you apply your knowledge and skills as a dental assistant. In this article, we discuss some common and role-specific dental assisting interview questions with sample responses to help you prepare for your interview.
Related: How to Become a Dental Assistant
The first part of your interview will likely consist of some basic questions that interviewers ask to get to know you. The following examples can give you an idea of what to expect:
How would you describe yourself?
What interests you about working with our dental office?
How did you learn about our practice?
What are some of your strengths?
What do you consider your weaknesses?
What skills do you feel make a good dental assistant?
How do you feel your skills will contribute to our practice?
What do you enjoy most about your career?
What are your goals? What are you doing to achieve them?
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Questions about background and experience
Questions about your background and experience can include things related to your education and training, how you performed in past jobs and how you see yourself contributing to the job you're applying for. Here are some examples:
Where did you receive your education and training for dental assisting?
How long have you worked as a dental assistant?
What is your level of customer service experience?
What interests you about working as a dental assistant?
What were your major responsibilities in your last role?
How do your values about oral health influence your work as a dental assistant?
Do you have experience working with computer applications?
What was your approach to helping patients in your last position?
How would your past supervisors describe your work ethic?
Do you have experience handling office and administrative tasks?
The following in-depth questions can help you practice your responses to dental assisting questions about your expertise and how you conduct yourself on the job:
What do you feel are the most important aspects of a dental assistant's job?
What procedures do you follow when preparing for a patient's arrival?
How do you communicate and explain complex dental procedures with patients?
Do you use different approaches between children and adults?
How do you maintain patient confidentiality and stay up-to-date on HIPAA regulations?
What is your experience with running radiological procedures?
Have you ever had to resolve a conflict with a patient? How did you handle it?
What precautions do you take when administering radiological procedures?
What steps do you take when evaluating patients for gum disease and other oral diseases?
How do you teach children about proper oral hygiene?
Dental assisting interview questions and sample answers
The following dental assistant interview questions and example answers can help you prepare your responses ahead of time so that you have the best chances of success during your interview:
Can you describe your methods for sterilizing and disinfecting dental equipment?
Like any medical field, the tools and equipment dentists use comes into contact with many patients throughout the day. The interviewer will want to know that you understand the proper procedures for ensuring complete sterilization of all equipment. Describe the processes you use to do this and how you ensure that you complete the task properly.
Example: "After each patient, my first step is to clean the instruments with hot soapy water followed by disinfection in an ultrasonic. I then pack equipment and instruments according to their use and place them in the autoclave to ensure they stay sterilized for our next patients."
How do you prepare the dental exam room for patients prior to their procedures?
The dental assistant's job is to ensure the efficient and safe treatment of all patients under the dentist's care. This includes prepping exam rooms and helping patients get comfortable. Show the interviewer that you consider your patients' needs along with your organizational and critical thinking skills in following procedures to prepare for procedures.
Example: “Before a patient arrives, I review their dental and medical history and make sure the exam room is clean. Then I set out all the tools and prep the equipment that the dentist will need for the patient's procedure. Before the dentist and patient arrive, I also make sure the patient's most recent X-rays are ready for review.”
How do you handle emergency dental situations?
No matter the career field, there are sure to be challenges or stressful situations at some point. The interviewer may ask you this type of question to see how you have handled emergency dental situations in the past and how you would do so for their practice. Use your past experiences to respond, and apply the STAR interview response technique to describe the situation, how you handled it and the results.
Example: "I approach stressful situations, especially with patients, in a calm and friendly manner. I communicate as clearly as possible to find out what the emergency is and to evaluate the nature of its urgency. If it truly is a medical emergency requiring extremely urgent care, I notify patients to go ahead and seek emergency medical care. If it is a dental problem such as tooth pain, infection or another urgent issue, I manage appointment schedules accordingly so that we can get the patient in as soon as possible for an evaluation."
What is your experience with performing laboratory tasks?
Dental assistants may frequently perform laboratory tasks such as taking casts of patient's teeth, preparing crowns and other tasks in a dental lab. Give examples of your responsibilities working in a laboratory setting when you answer this question. Here is a sample response:
Example: “In my last role, I frequently assisted my supervising dentist by accurately making casts and crowns for patients undergoing dental procedures. I also was responsible for developing retainers for dental alignments, along with both permanent and temporary braces.”
What steps do you take when seating a patient in the dentist's chair?
Similar to prepping the dental exam room, the interviewer will likely want to know how you interact with patients when readying them for their procedures. Showcase your interpersonal skills, empathy and compassion by describing how you care for patients who are uncomfortable, anxious or scared.
Example: "After helping the patient get situated in the chair, I secure the bib and maneuver the chair into the appropriate position. While I'm helping the patient get comfortable, I usually love to ask about their interests or hobbies or how their day is going, just to break the ice and help them relax. I understand that dental procedures can make people nervous, so helping calm them and get them smiling is just as important to me as performing the technical aspects of my job."
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