Looking to switch jobs as a dental assistant? When you are invited to a job interview, you probably know only as much about a prospective practice as you can see online: their website, online reviews and job posting. These things give you a snapshot of what the practice is about; but if you are going to be spending 40+ hours a week at a job that might affect your career and your quality of life for years to come, you might want to know a bit more about it, right?!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about a position to draw out the information you really want to know about the dental assisting position. Here are some questions to ask during the interview that can help you determine if the job is well suited for you:
- What are the key responsibilities of a dental assistant in this office?
If these are well covered in a one-page job description, you don’t need to ask this. But, if all you saw was a 50 word classified ad about the job, it’s good to know if you have the skills to jump right in and start getting things done, or, if you will need to ask about how training is provided.
- What would a typical day for me in this role look like?
This question can help you determine the amount of time you will spend chairside, in sterilization, or handling administrative duties. If the response is “Oh, every day is different,” ask what the last week looked like for the person previously in that role or what took up most of their time.
- What continuing education opportunities are provided?
Dental assistants in Texas are required to obtain six hours of continuing education each year in areas covering dental assistant duties. It is good to know if you will have to cover these financially or if the practice will cover them.
- With people previously in this role, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great at it?
Asking this question goes straight to the heart of what the interviewer is looking for: someone who will excel at the job and the interviewer will know that you care about being that person.
- How do you evaluate the performance of dental assistants and what metrics do you use?
You need to know what you will need to achieve for the manager to be happy with your performance.
- Can you tell me about the office culture and work environment?
If the culture is a competitive environment and you’re more low-key, or if they describe themselves as super relaxed and you prefer structure, it might not be a fit for you. If they remark that the dentist often takes end of day emergencies and you, as a parent, might be unable to work frequently extended hours, it may not be a fit for you. You may be able to work around any quirks you hear about, and it’s great to be forewarned.
- What is the office policy on teamwork and collaboration among team members?
This question will help you determine what goes on when you aren’t working chairside. If you aren’t willing to help with sterilizing the hygienist’s instruments or if you expect others to pitch in when you are slammed, knowing what is expected of the team can help you determine if this is the right fit for you.
- How do you describe the patients that the office serves?
If you like working with children and the office mostly treats elderly patients, you may not be comfortable. If you enjoy working with the underserved population, an office full of white collar businessmen may be too stiff for your preferences.
- What type of dental technology and equipment does the office use?
If you love technology and the office is old school, you need to be aware. Or, if you will need to learn new equipment, this question can lead to asking how training is handled in the office.
- What are some of the challenges you expect the person in this position to face?
This can reveal information you’d never get from the job description and can also provide an opportunity for you to describe how you have approached similar challenges in the past, which can be reassuring to your interviewer.
- How long did the previous person in the role hold the position and what has turnover in the role generally been?
If you hear there’s been a pattern of people leaving quickly, it’s worth asking if they have a sense of what has led to the high turnover.
- What do you like about working here?
How the interviewer responds to this question can tell you a lot. People who truly enjoy their job will sound sincere and usually have much to tell you. Long pauses or blank stares are rarely good.
- What’s your timeline for the next steps?
You will want to know when they will contact you again or when you can do a working interview so arrangements can be made with your current employer. Also, if they don’t contact you, it gives you an idea of when you should make a follow-up call and can keep you from obsessing over whether your phone will ring or not.
Before you interview, spend some time thinking about what you really want to know. What is most important to you—time flexibility, job stability, variety of duties, etcetera—you will want to ask about these in the interview. Asking these questions can help you gain a better understanding of the role, the office, and the team, allowing you to assess if it is a good fit for you.