Healthcare Assistant Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

by Emma Rowlands

Healthcare Assistant

The role of a healthcare assistant (sometimes referred to as a medical assistant) is to provide vital support to doctors, nurses and other clinical staff in completing tasks, while also giving personal care to patients.

There were almost 600,000 healthcare assistants working in the USA in 2014, with the number of vacancies set to increase by 24% by 2024. With an ageing population and a growing need for medical attention, as well as technological and medical advances, healthcare assistants will be even more in demand in the near future.

When preparing for an interview, there are a number of healthcare assistant interview questions that are designed to establish which elements of the job you enjoy and what you envision your future will be within the health sector.

What Made You Choose This Profession Over Other Aspects of Healthcare?

This is an important healthcare assistant interview question. It is asking you why you have decided that an assistant role is the most appropriate for your skills and interests, over a position such as a nurse or technician. Are you considering using it as a stepping stone to gain enough experience to advance onto a more skilled position? Have you had a personal experience within the healthcare system whereby you appreciated the care of an assistant? Or do you like the variety and flexibility that the role offers? Think carefully about how to answer this question, and remember to emphasize your passion for this role specifically, rather than healthcare in general.

Why Is It Critical to Keep Records?

One job role of a healthcare assistant is to write and maintain efficient patient records. This can include recording blood pressure and urine sample results, processing insurance information or filling out pre-surgery questionnaires and consent forms. It is imperative that these records are thorough, legible and accurate in order to protect the patient and the staff treating them. For example, an improperly completed consent form can pose legal issues at a later date if the patient complains that a procedure was completed poorly or against his will. Similarly, properly written operative notes protect a surgeon and patient from avoidable mistakes. It is critical to mention the importance to confidentiality and research the latest data protection policies in order to support your knowledge.

Give Me an Example of a Time When You've Had to Use Your Initiative

Healthcare assistants require a great deal of common sense and initiative. Hospitals and clinics can become incredibly busy, with doctors and nurses stretched to their maximum capacity. If there is an emergency (for example, if a patient suddenly had an allergic reaction to some medication they had received), your employer needs to know that you can follow the relevant procedure and ensure that the patient receives the immediate care needed. The role of a healthcare assistant has limits, and complex medical procedures need to be left to the doctor or nurse in charge. Excellent, clear communication is essential, as is keeping the patient as calm and comfortable as possible until further help arrives. To answer this question, think of a time when something unexpected has occurred, and what steps you took to ensure your patient was safeguarded while policy was adhered to.

How Do You Care for the Families of Patients Who Are Particularly Distressed?

As a healthcare assistant it is very likely that you will come into contact with distressed, angry or panicked family members who are awaiting news on a patient. Some of these may experience bereavement should their loved one pass away at your facility. When answering this healthcare assistant interview question, it is important to demonstrate immediate empathy and kindness.

According to a study conducted by the Health & Research Educational Trust, consistency is one of the most valued attributes reported by families, and a lack of communication can only make matters worse. Therefore, they recommend that families are involved in handover sessions between medical shifts, and are kept aware at all times of what to expect and possible outcomes.

Are You Comfortable Working Anti-Social Hours?

Depending on the type of healthcare assistant role you apply for, you may be required to work evenings, weekends or night shifts. It is essential that you examine the job description before applying, and ensure that your schedule can cope with a changing rota system. You may wish to give examples of previous jobs where you have worked anti-social hours in an efficient way, and demonstrate your understanding of a work-life balance in order to maintain your own health and well-being.

Healthcare assistant roles are diverse, fast-paced, and give you a front row seat to some of the most interesting clinical cases within hospital or community clinic settings. As part of the interview, it will benefit you to show your willingness to learn, your knowledge of health policy, as well as your compassion for the patients you'll care for.

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