Dental practice can be an incredibly profitable business. But dentistry is a competitive field. If a dentist wants to attract new customers and retain existing patients, they have to maintain high standard of both dental care, and customer service. That’s why many dentists and dental clinics employ dental receptionist, especially in the US (in Europe the practice isn’t common, except of fully private dental clinics). You will be responsible for answering calls and emails, scheduling and cancelling appointments, completing insurance forms and billing records, and a couple of other, customer service duties.
Let’s have a look at questions you may face while interviewing for the position of a dental receptionist. The dentist or the dental clinic manager (or other body leading your interview) will inquire mostly about your motivation, experience, expectations, and attitude to various situations that can happen in relation to the patients, on a typical day of a dental practice.
Why do you want to work as a dental receptionist?
Receptionist jobs neither belong to the best paid professions, nor are the position young people dream of having once they grow up. It makes no sense trying to convince your interviewers of the opposite.
I suggest you to focus on the very basic things: you enjoy interactions with other people, have amazing listening and time management skills, always wanted to work in healthcare, and find the job a good match to your strengths, personality, and to your expectations.
Another alternative is referring to your working experience. Perhaps you’ve worked as a receptionist before (in a hotel, school, corporation, hospital). You’ve learned the ins and outs of the job. Instead of starting from scratch in a new field, you prefer to continue your professional career as a receptionist.
Why do you want to work for our dental practice (dental clinic)?
At this point you should benefit from the research you did (or will do) about your future place of work. Without a doubt you can refer to their salary offer and employee benefits, but more often than not, these things won’t differ from one dental practice to another in the same area, so such an answer won’t make much sense. Try something else.
One option is praising their practice for something–excellent reviews online, modern equipment in place, fair pricing policy, perhaps affordable for the masses, or anything else you found interesting while researching about their place.
Another option is talking about logistical reasons. Maybe they are the only dental practice in your area advertising the job offer for a receptionist. Logically you prefer spending 30 minutes commuting to work instead of two hours, which would be the case if you applied with a practice in another city…
Can you tell us more about your previous working experience?
You either have an experience, or you don’t, and you can get this job in both cases. If you’ve done anything related to customer service, be it working in a call center, retail store, restaurant, gas station, or even in sales, you should definitely mention it, and point out a couple of duties that overlap with things you’ll do as a dental receptionist. Maybe you greeted customers somewhere, or billed them, or filled some forms, etc.
The key is to speak with enthusiasm. They should get an impression that you at least somehow enjoy this type of work, and do not do it only because you have to get some job and pay your bills. It is also good adding that you believe your former experience has prepared you for some situations you may face in the dental practice (multitasking, patients complaining about the service, heavy workload, etc).
When you do not have any relevant experience (or any experience at all), you should talk about your motivation, ability to learn quickly, excellent communication skills, and so on. You should simply say them that though you lack experience in the field, you are confident that with your skills and attitude you will quickly get into the role, and handle the duties with effectiveness and precision.
How do you imagine a typical day in a work of a dental receptionist here?
Read the job description and write down three or four principal duties. That’s one good option: saying that you imagine taking care of greeting patients, answering phone calls and scheduling appointments, filling insurance forms and billing patients, and of other duties you found on the job description.
Other option is talking about your vision of a typical day. This is more of a story-telling type of an answer, and it works very well in many interviews. For example, you can say that you imagine arriving at the office at 7:30, thirty minutes before anyone else. You will check the schedule for the day, voicemail and email, making sure that nobody cancelled their appointment.
Then you may make coffee for yourself and other employees who start arriving, and soon enough first patient arrives. You’ll greet them with smile on your face, check their appointment, ask for any details you need (insurance card etc). While they are inside having their teeth fixed, other patients arrive, you answer any incoming phone calls and requests, collect the payments, and make sure that the day progresses smoothly. Then you go for a lunch (perhaps with the dentist), and then the day goes on…
Once again, it is important to talk with enthusiasm about your idea of a typical day in this job, so they get an impression you are looking forward to the experience.
Imagine that one of the patients complains to you about the service they got from the dentist. How will you react?
Ensure the interviewers that you plan to take each feedback seriously–be it on your work, or on work of anyone else from the clinic/practice. The last thing you want is to see someone posting a one star review online, just because they were not satisfied with this or that thing.
Say them that you will mark down their feedback, and try your best to remedy the situation. The action you will take depends on the exact situation, but it can range from simply apologizing and ensuring them they’ll get a better service next time, to offering them some discount for their next visit or giving them a toothbrush for free or something similar.
You will also make sure to share your notes with the dentist, because you understand the importance of a constructive feedback, and want to share it with your colleagues each and every time.
Imagine that three people are standing in front of your desk, looking nervous. At the same time the phone is ringing, and a dental assistant opens the door and tell you to go inside for a minute. What will you do first?
The most important thing is to ensure them that you won’t panic. You realize that while most of the time your work will be relatively calm, with low stress levels, it can happen than the practice experiences a busy day or simply by coincidence suddenly many people demand your attention at once.
In the given scenario, you can say that you will answer the call first. This is the most logical step because while people will be standing in front of your desk until you attend them, the phone will simply stop ringing. But you will try to deal with the call as quickly as possible, or even simply ask the person on the other end to call in ten minutes and hang up.
Then you will quickly go to the dentist office, asking the assistant what they need, and whether it is serious, because you have people waiting in front of your desk. One way or another, you will again try to get it done quickly, to be able to return to your desk and serve the patients waiting in the line.
Once back, you will try to proceed in the most effective manner, to minimize the waiting time, but at the same time you will not neglect any duties with the patients, or rush things, just because other people are waiting. You will try to do things quickly, but at the same time still provide the best possible service to each client.
Other questions you may face in your dental receptionist interview
- What do you expect from the dentist(s), and from other people working here?
- How long do you want to have this job? (Where do you see yourself in five years from now?)
- What are your salary expectations?
- Job of a dental receptionist is quite repetitive and monotonous. What will motivate you to try hard every day?
- How would you describe your communication skills?
- Describe your definition of an outstanding customer service.
- What can you offer us that someone else cannot?
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a dental receptionist belongs to interviews with average difficulty. Receptionist is a popular job title, and in a post-pandemic era (with many people struggling to get any job), you can expect to compete with at least ten other people for the vacancy. Competition makes it more difficult to succeed for everyone.
On the other hand, the interview is quite predictable, and you can prepare for the questions in advance–something you should definitely do. Do not forget that personal preferences play a role in any interview for a receptionist role. Try to make a good connection with your interviewers, and show motivation and positive body language, so they can imagine it will be a pleasure to have you around… I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!
May also help you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – 4 strategies to tackle anxiety and show your very best in the meetings with the employers.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to get the best possible offer at the end of the hiring process.