Interview Questions for a Surgical Technician

Prepare for questions about your skills, and maybe even take a test.

Prepare for questions about your skills, and maybe even take a test.

Whether you’re on the receiving end of the questions or running the interview, there are certain questions that play an integral role in an interview for a surgical technician. It’s important, for example, that the candidate has passed all the required tests and coursework preparing her for the work and that she can get along with a team of health care professionals. A surgical tech does not work in a vacuum and can’t do the job effectively if she’s a loner who’s sloppy and indifferent to details.

How Do You Set Up the Operating Room?

One of the most important jobs of a surgical technician, also called a surgical technologist or operating room technician, is to set up all the instruments the surgeon needs to perform the operation. The surgical team relies on the tech to set up surgical drapes and sterile and non-sterile instruments and make sure they’re all in good working order. The job applicant should be prepared to list the processes she uses to define her duties. Whether she follows a checklist or has the procedures in her mind, she should have a thoroughly prepared answer for this important question.

How Do You Handle Stress?

Interviewers use open-ended questions to see how candidates think on their feet and respond under pressure. At the same time, they want to hear stories and examples of when the candidate was put under pressure and how she reacted. Effective candidates have one or two stories prepared about how a nurse knocked over the tray of sterile instruments moments before a procedure started and how she quickly and efficiently replaced the instruments, allowing the surgery to proceed as if nothing had happened. A recent grad might talk about a time in class when she blanked out during an important test, stopped, took a deep breath, centered herself and then continued, passing the test with only one wrong answer.

Do You Work Well On a Team?

Candidates should never give just yes or no answers to questions, but take every opportunity to highlight special skills and attributes related to the job. Instead of saying “Yes, I am a team player,” a winning job candidate tells stories about how she led a team of students during class in a round of intense study groups or how she created a checklist for the surgical techs at her last job so that everyone worked in the same pattern. She should refer to the outstanding references she brought from surgeons and surgical nurses on her last job and how they talked about her ability to foresee the needs of the team even before she was asked.

Do You Have Any Questions?

Interviewers typically ask for questions as they wrap up the interview. This is a place for candidates to highlight the research they’ve done on the hospital and ask questions pertinent to the company, such as its plans for the future, current retention rates and opportunities for growth. Taking advantage of the opening, a candidate also can use this opportunity to throw in a few more personal plugs while finding out more about the facility. “I earned my Surgical Certified Technologists credentials even though it isn’t required by the state because I am a firm believer in professional accreditation. Does the hospital support professionals in their continuing education?” This response serves a dual purpose and is a model of how all questions can be framed.

 

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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