Dental Assistant Interview Questions

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  1. Why did you choose dental assisting as a profession? See answer
  2. What is your level of experience with dental practice management software? See answer
  3. What steps do you take to prepare for a patient’s arrival? See answer
  4. How do you explain the need for a dental procedure to a patient who doesn’t understand the importance of the treatment? See answer
  5. How do you maintain patient confidentiality? See answer
  6. What steps do you follow to take a quality alginate impression? See answer
  7. How would you respond to a patient who becomes nervous and upset before a scheduled procedure and tries to leave the appointment? See answer
  8. A patient is diagnosed with four cavities and becomes unruly because they claim their previous dentist — who they saw six months ago — didn’t recommend any treatment. How do you handle the situation?
  9. Do you have experience working with kids?
  10. Describe your dental assisting duties in your last position.
  11. Do you have your X-ray license?
  12. Describe your experience working with periodontics.
  13. What has your experience with administrative tasks been in past positions?
  14. How frequently do you sterilize dental equipment and instruments?
  15. What is your own oral hygiene routine?
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8 Dental Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Why did you choose dental assisting as a profession?

A dental assistant plays a vital role in guaranteeing the success of a dental office. Ask this question to learn what inspired a candidate to pursue dental assisting and what they find enjoyable about the profession. What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of the role
  • Strengths
  • Desire to help others

Example:

“As a teenager, I chipped my front tooth in an accident. My dentist was able to see me right away and the compassion shown to me shaped my experience for the better. I knew immediately that I wanted to create the same type of experience for others.”

What is your level of experience with dental practice management software?

Storing patient medical history, dental treatment, appointments and billing information is achieved through the effective use of dental-specific software. Employing a dental assistant with expertise in the type of software your office uses will decrease the training period and ensure the candidate quickly acclimates to the role. What to look for in an answer:

  • Computer literacy
  • Dental software experience
  • Possible training needs

Example:

“I’ve extensively used Dentrix in the past five years. My previous office transitioned to being a paperless office, so each dental assistant was required to chart and document all notes in Dentrix. I scheduled appointments, set appointments as complete and submitted claims to insurance companies.”

What steps do you take to prepare for a patient’s arrival?

Properly preparing for the arrival of a dental patient demonstrates an aptitude for organization and attention to detail. A dental assistant who can appropriately plan ahead and anticipate needs will improve office productivity and ensure appointments remain on schedule. What to look for in an answer:

  • Organization skills
  • Dedication to maintaining a smooth operation
  • Ability to multitask

Example:

“Prior to a patient’s arrival, I review their medical and dental history, make sure the operatory room is clean and presentable, set out all required tools and mount their recent x-rays.”

How do you explain the need for a dental procedure to a patient who doesn’t understand the importance of the treatment?

Often times, a patient has difficulty understanding the need for dental treatment, especially if they don’t feel pain or can’t see the problematic area. This question will determine if a candidate can find unique techniques to simplify an explanation and illustrate the treatment’s importance, resolving the situation and reassuring the patient. What to look for in an answer:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Communication skills
  • Patience

Example:

“My go-to strategy is using an intraoral camera to take a picture of the tooth that needs treatment. Once the patient sees the condition of their deteriorating tooth, my case is much easier to make! I also use teeth models and drawings to better explain tooth anatomy, the procedure and what can happen if they fail to take action.”

A patient is diagnosed with four cavities and becomes unruly because they claim their previous dentist – who they saw six months ago – didn’t recommend any treatment. How do you handle the situation?

Quickly diffusing a difficult situation amounts to quick thinking, showing understanding and the ability to remain calm and present facts. Ask this question to help you understand how a candidate will maintain peace in times of adversity. What to look for in an answer:

  • Professionalism and composure
  • Listening skills
  • Ability to adapt to and manage stressful situations

Example:

“The first step is to remain calm as to not escalate the situation and further aggravate the patient. I listen carefully to their argument – without interjecting – and maintain their trust by showing empathy. Referencing notes and x-rays, I educate the patient to help them gain a better understanding of how the dentist came to their conclusion. If necessary, I meet in private with the dentist to make them aware of the patient’s concerns.”

How do you maintain patient confidentiality?

Adhering to HIPPA regulations is an important aspect of a dental assistant’s career. Use this question to discern the importance and value a candidate places on protecting patient privacy. What to look for in an answer:

  • Discretion
  • Knowledge of HIPPA
  • How they implement regulations

Example:

“In my previous role, I was responsible for overseeing regulations, scheduling training sessions and performing risk assessments. Each team member safeguarded and properly disposed of documents, followed phone protocol guidelines and used caution and judgement when discussing sensitive information.”

What steps do you follow to take a quality alginate impression?

Taking an impression can be a messy and stressful ordeal for the dental assistant and patient. Find out what methods a candidate employs to take a blemish-free and accurate impression on the first try, while preserving a comfortable patient experience. What to look for in an answer:

  • Awareness of current techniques and products
  • Ability to choose the right tools for the task
  • Adaptability to patient needs

Example:

“First, I choose a tray size that is slightly larger than the patient’s arch. After thoroughly mixing the alginate with water to avoid bubbles, I fill the tray with an appropriate amount – not too much – and place the tray, seating it from back to front. I instruct the patient to breathe through their nose to avoid gagging, and I pull the patient’s lips away from the tray to ensure a proper fit. Once the alginate sets, I remove gently.”

How would you respond to a patient who becomes nervous and upset before a scheduled procedure and tries to leave the appointment?

In many dental offices, dental assistants must perform dental procedures and provide assistance to the dentists while also managing patient expectations. Asking a candidate how they would respond to a hypothetical situation can help you see if they have the knowledge and interpersonal skills to successfully manage challenging or upset patients.

Look for these elements in your candidate's response:

  • Explaining the value of necessary dental procedures
  • Supporting patient's emotional needs
  • Providing clear communication

A strong candidate response might be similar to this example answer:

Example:

"I know how scary dental procedures can be for some people, and it's important that we respect and support our patients. However, it's equally as important that we get the procedure done so that the patient isn't living with pain or that their dental problem continues to grow worse.

If one of my patients became visibly upset before a procedure and tried to leave, I would guide them into an office or conference room, ideally with no dental equipment in it. I would ask another assistant to bring the dentist in to speak with the patient about the procedure in depth and help them work through their concerns. I would stay with the patient the whole time and do my best to make them feel supported while we try to calm them down enough to perform the procedure."

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