Preparation is the only thing standing between you and a successful interview, assuming you meet the basic requirements for a dental assistant in your state. Show up to the interview looking like you've rehearsed your answers in advance. By practicing answers to questions interviewers are likely to ask, you'll give your best answers and land the job.
Dental assistants must possess knowledge of equipment and experience using it. You should be familiar with dental dams, dental forceps, hand accessories, orthodontic pliers and steam-cleaning equipment. Know what goes on a dental tray. Arm-hand steadiness, finger dexterity and control precision are important qualities in your work. Expect questions that ask about your technical abilities, how you use certain instruments and your technical knowledge. Provide examples of past experiences where you used similar skills and did a first-rate job.
Dental assistants work directly with patients and customers. Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills are necessary. Effective communication, excellent listening skills, emotional intelligence, service orientation and English-language skills help you provide the care and service customers expect. Interviewers may ask you about how you feel working in such close proximity to patients or about your experience taking medical and dental histories from patients -- including your ability to handle sensitive information. Always keep your answers positive and focused on the best outcome for the customer.
This job requires that you know and adhere to certain safety standards. Safety is a big concern in medical and dental offices. Take questions about the importance of sterilizing equipment and reducing the risks associated with X-ray equipment seriously. Interviewers may also ask about wearing safety glasses, masks and gloves, because you can be exposed to disease. Be aware of current safety techniques and measures. Emphasize your ethics, integrity and concern for safety.
The dental team wants to know that you're a team player and someone who will fit in at the office. Learn as much as you can about the dental office and dentists working there. Know about any community involvement they have as well as how the office addresses the public on its website. Find out which populations, if any, the office targets -- such as children or the elderly. Explain why you like the dental office and the job. Demonstrate that you'll contribute to the team and the office's goals.
- O*Net Online: Dental Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Dental Assistants Do
- Dental Workers -- Career Center: Dental Assistants -- Interviewing Questions, Tips and Techniques
- American Association of Dental Office Managers: Good Interview Questions
- American Dental Assistants Association: Who is the Dental Assistant
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.