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Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions

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  1. What is the most challenging respiratory condition you have treated, and what treatment approaches did you use? See answer
  2. How would you explain a particular respiratory treatment to an anxious patient? See answer
  3. How would you handle a case in which a patient or family member disagreed with your assessment? See answer
  4. How would you handle a situation in which you disagreed with another respiratory therapist about a diagnosis? See answer
  5. How do you build rapport with your patients? See answer
  6. How might you deliver bad news to a patient and their family?
  7. Are you comfortable working nights, weekends, holidays and on-call shifts?
  8. Why did you become a respiratory therapist?
  9. Explain the difference between HFA, DPI and SMI inhalers.
  10. What do you consider to be the most important part of your job as a respiratory therapist?
  11. Do you prefer to work on your own or with other providers?
  12. Have you ever changed a process or procedure to improve patient outcomes?
  13. Do you speak any other languages?
  14. Is there a specific demographic you prefer working with?
  15. In what situation would you prescribe an aerosol treatment for a patient?
  16. What might happen if a patient has inadequate humidification?
  17. List some of the most common medical tools you use to help your patients.
  18. What is bronchospasm, and how do you treat it?
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6 Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What is the most challenging respiratory condition you have treated, and what treatment approaches did you use?

A:

This question helps you assess the candidate’s general knowledge and level of expertise. You’ll learn whether they have dealt with complex cases, and you’ll be able to get a sense of whether they would be suited to the particular type of work that your respiratory therapy team performs. You’ll discover whether the applicant communicates effectively and clearly and how they might communicate with patients and team members. What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence of experience with cases your team commonly treats
  • High level of knowledge of treatment approaches
  • Ability to communicate clearly and efficiently

Example:

“I have treated several cases of Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERV). I tailored treatment according to the severity of the virus and performed frequent monitoring.”

Q:

How would you explain a particular respiratory treatment to an anxious patient?

A:

Many patients receiving respiratory treatments are acutely ill, and this question helps you gauge whether the applicant would be professional, empathetic and clear when explaining and performing potentially painful procedures for patients. You’ll learn whether the respiratory therapist would take an appropriate level of time with the patient and what they might do to ease a patient’s anxiety. This information helps you know if they fit your team. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to keep patient calm
  • Willingness to answer patient’s questions
  • Ability to adapt treatment approach to individual patient’s needs

Example:

“I would model the procedure first and answer the patient’s questions clearly. I’d provide appropriate pain relief and coach the patient through each procedure step.”

Q:

How would you handle a case in which a patient or family member disagreed with your assessment?

A:

In dealing with seriously ill patients, a respiratory therapist may face instances of conflict with patients and families over treatment approaches. This question helps you determine whether the respiratory therapist would be able to handle these situations independently, and you’ll learn about their attitude, values and treatment philosophies. You’ll be able to uncover whether the candidate handles conflict with appropriate resolution tactics and maintains professionalism and respect. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to resolve conflicts independently and respectfully
  • Willingness to listen to patient’s concerns
  • Knowledge of appropriate conflict resolution strategies

Example:

“I’d listen carefully to the patient’s/family’s concerns and address them directly. I’d propose several solutions and provide as much information and time as possible.”

Q:

How might you deliver bad news to a patient and his or her family?

A:

Sometimes, a respiratory therapist has to deliver bad news to patients and families. Perhaps a treatment isn’t working as well as had been expected, or maybe a patient needs to transition to another type of care. This question helps you determine how emotionally involved the respiratory therapist may become, and you’ll learn whether they can deliver bad news in a gentle, warm and positive manner. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to clearly and honestly explain bad news
  • Ability to deliver news gently
  • Understanding of the importance of supporting patient/family after delivering news

Example:

“I’d provide an honest assessment of the situation and communicate this as warmly as I could. I’d provide details of additional support resources for patients/families.”

Q:

How would you handle a situation in which you disagreed with another respiratory therapist about a diagnosis?

A:

This question helps you understand whether the candidate is able to collaborate effectively with other respiratory therapists. You’ll learn whether the potential hire would be an asset to your existing team, and you’ll discover more about their strengths and weaknesses as a person. This information could help you decide where to place the candidate on your team and which members of staff they may interact with best. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to respectfully collaborate with other team members
  • Willingness to admit mistakes
  • Ability to support other existing team members

Example:

“I’d listen to my colleague’s concerns and try to approach the situation from his/her perspective. I’d offer practical solutions and involve other colleagues as needed.”

Q:

How do you build rapport with your patients?

A:

Respiratory therapists perform an important role for the patients they help. In order to ensure those patients feel empowered to manage their respiratory health and take the advice and treatment recommended by their care team, a strong, positive relationship with the respiratory therapist is vital. Ask this question to ensure the candidate knows the importance of rapport and knows how to establish it.

A great candidate answer should include:

  • Reference to the necessity of rapport
  • Steps for relationship building
  • A relevant example

Look for a candidate answer that resembles this example:

Example:

"Earning a patient's trust is absolutely vital as a respiratory therapist. While we often administer breathing treatments for them, there are some treatments and interventions they can do independently, and they're far more likely to do them if they trust the person advising them. Usually, I start by trying to learn as much as I can about the patients and finding a common interest we can discuss apart from their health. I make sure to ask about the things they like and value in our sessions to further develop our relationship.

For example, I worked with a patient in the past who loved to knit. I asked that patient to teach me some basic knitting skills to help us develop a bond. She was more than willing to perform her treatments with me and on her own. We still keep in touch even though she's no longer my patient."

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