Two women and a man sitting at a table, working on a laptop.
Are you comfortable drawing blood?

If you are looking for a medical assistant who can handle both clinical and administrative tasks, experience drawing blood is a must. Even if the candidate has not worked in a clinical setting before, listen for answers that show they have been trained to draw blood and are not squeamish.


Have you used electronic health records software before? Which ones? 

Many medical settings require employees to use electronic health records (EHR) software, so some familiarity with them is a plus. The candidate may list commercial software like Epic and eClinicalWorks, or their previous employer may have had a proprietary program. The important thing is that they’re comfortable using this type of software—or are willing to learn.

How do you ensure that you are following HIPPA protocol? 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is designed to protect patient data. The interviewee’s answer should display an understanding of why HIPPA compliance is important, as well as the steps they take to ensure it. They may mention basic protocols like closing the door to the examination room before discussing patient information and hiding patients charts from view.

Which valid certifications do you have?

Medical assistants are often required to be certified in CPR, First Aid, and AED, and will need to get re-certified regularly. A great answer will show that the candidate is committed to keeping their certifications up-to-date, knows how long their current certifications are valid for, and takes review courses whenever necessary.

What would you do if a patient suddenly fell unconscious in the waiting room?

You want to know that the candidate can keep a cool head in a crisis and do what’s best for the patient. They should indicate that they’d act fast, calling for help, checking if the person was breathing and ensuring their airway was clear, and staying with them until the doctor arrived.

Which front office administrative duties do you have experience performing? How do you stay organized across the many tasks?

Most medical assistants are responsible for a range of administrative tasks. The interviewee’s answer should mention tasks like answering phones, handling medical billing and coding, using Electronic Health Records, checking vital signs, and assisting patients and visitors. Ideally, their answer will also help you gauge whether they’re organized, efficient, and able to keep the front office running smoothly.

What steps have you taken to become a better medical assistant?

A medical assistant who is truly passionate about their career will continually strive to improve their skills and knowledge. In their answer, listen out for references to professionals organizations that they belong to, certification classes that they’ve taken, and journals that they read. They may also note that they’re not currently doing these things but intend to start, especially if they’re new to the profession. The important thing is that they want to learn and grow.

Tell me about a time when you had to calm down a patient who was upset or angry? How did you handle that situation?

Tensions can sometimes run high in medical settings, and it’s not uncommon for patients to get upset. The candidate’s answer should demonstrate that they handled a difficult situation with professionalism and empathy—and a focus on safety.

Think about the last time you felt overwhelmed at work. Why was that? What did you do?

To work in a demanding environment like a medical center, medical assistants must be equipped to handle stress. It’s okay if a candidate admits they sometimes feel overwhelmed, so long as they don’t crack under the pressure. Did they ask for help? Did they practice breathing exercises or other strategies to decompress? The most important thing is that they didn’t let it affect the service they delivered to patients.

Tell me about the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as a medical assistant.

Accountability is key in healthcare, so it’s good to know whether a candidate can own up to their mistakes and learn from them. Look for signs that they recognize the importance of avoiding mistakes—after all, lives are at stake—and that they work hard not to make the same mistake again. The nature of the mistake itself is not as important as what happened afterward, although a very severe and dangerous mistake may be a red flag.

How do you put patients at ease?

Medical assistants interact with patients on a daily basis, so it’s important for them to have strong interpersonal skills. A friendly demeanor, good listening skills, and an ability to make others laugh are just a few answers the candidate might give to this question. But you can also pay attention to how they act when they respond. If they seem comfortable and relaxed talking to you, they will probably act the same way around patients.

Do you enjoy working as part of a team?

To do their job effectively, medical assistants need to interact with many other members of staff, meaning teamwork is essential. Listen for signs that your candidate thrives in a team setting and understands the importance of working together to achieve a common goal—optimal patient care. If the candidate says they prefer to work alone, they may not be a good fit for your team’s collaborative culture.