Visiting a veterinary practice is a stressful occasion for both the pets and their owners. It helps a lot when a cheerful receptionist welcomes them with a smile, confirms their appointment, says a few nice words to help them calm down, and eventually shows them to the veterinarian’s office. Once the treatment is done, and everyone is happy (at least most of the time), she takes care of invoicing and collecting payments.

These are just some of the duties of a veterinary receptionist, an important role in each bigger veterinary practice or clinic (some smaller practices do no employ receptionists). Let’s have a look at the questions you will face while interviewing for the job, and other things that matter in this interview.


Why do you want to work as a veterinary receptionist?

You should focus on two things in your answer. First one are your skills and character traits that make from you an excellent candidate for any receptionist role. Perhaps you have good communication skills, can type quickly, are efficient with the phone, and have excellent time-management skills. What’s more, you enjoy working with people, and can deliver an excellent customer service each and every time.

Second thing is your preference of workplace. Why not a hotel, or a corporation, or a school, but a veterinary practice? You can talk about your relation to animals, and that you’d love to participate on helping them. And while you weren’t lucky or gifted enough to study at a vet school, and perhaps run your own veterinary practice one day, as a receptionist you can still participate on the care, and in your own way contribute to the well-being of domestic animals.

Obviously you can refer also to other reasons. As long as they hear some enthusiasm in your voice, and see that you do not apply for the job with them only because you cannot get any better role, they will be satisfied with your answer.


How would you describe your relation to animals?

You should realize that you won’t meet only dozens of people on a daily basis, but also dozens of animals–mostly dogs and cats, but also other animal species people keep at home. Ensure the interviewers that you aren’t afraid of any animals, and actually see this as a benefit of the job, when compared to the position of a hotel receptionist, or one of a medical receptionist.

If you have any animals back at home, or at least take some dogs from a shelter for a walk on weekends, or do any other activity which demonstrates your positive attitude to animals, you should definitely mention it in your interview.

Imagine that you present an invoice to the client, after the treatment of their pet, and they complain it was way too expensive. What will you do?

Treatment at vet clinic is expensive, this should be no a surprise to any pet owner. But some people will still try to get a discount, or complain, sometimes simply because they struggle with money and can barely afford the services of a vet.

Having said that, once the treatment is over, you cannot offer any discounts or anything similar. Say that you may show some compassion, agreeing that the treatment isn’t cheap. But you will insist on getting the full payment, because they’ve already got the treatment. At the same time, you will speak in a calm voice, and avoid getting involved into any arguments with the clients. Keeping a cool head, you will try to deliver an excellent customer service in every situation, including the difficult one.

* May also interest you: Receptionist interview: Why should we hire you? 7 sample answers.


Imagine that you are in the midst of a busy day. The vet is already behind with schedule, and suddenly a client arrives with a dog which bleeds severely. What will you do?

Another behavioral question, and another opportunity to show right attitude to work, and to the animals. Obviously you will call the vet immediately, or walk in their practice, announcing the emergency case. The severely injured pet will get a priority. But a work of an excellent receptionist does not end here!

On the contrary, you will apologize to the other clients, explain them the situation, offer alternative appointments, and simply make sure that they do not leave the place completely upset. Some may still complain, but that’s something you have to live with. Emergency case has the priority, and you won’t let a pet die just because someone may complain of waiting too long, or of having to reschedule their appointment for a vaccination of their pet.


What computer programs do you have experience with?

They will most likely have a scheduling software in place, or even a medical billing software, if you apply for a job with a bigger vet clinic. It is important to ensure them that you are tech savvy, and willing to learn to work with any software they use in their veterinary practice.

Nowadays one can find online tutorials for everything, and you have no doubt that you will learn how to work with the programs they use. You should mention your skills with basic office software, such as MS Word, MS Excel (or the alternative for Mac), MS Outlook, PowerPoint, and any other common software you have experience with.


How do you feel about working on weekends, or on public holidays?

In most cases you will have to work at least one or two weekends each month. That’s because in each city or area at least one vet clinic has to be open on weekends and holidays, to address emergency cases.

Ensure them that you are willing to sacrifice something for your job, and for the well-being of the animals. Sure enough, you won’t work 24/7 or each weekend. But once or twice a month, when necessary, you do not mind taking a shift, and sacrifice something for the animals…


Other questions you may face in your veterinary receptionist interview

  • Imagine that an older woman arrives with her dog for euthanasia. She is in tears. How will you react? What will you say to her?
  • Tell us about a time when you struggled with motivation in work. What did you do to overcome the crisis?
  • What do you consider your greatest weakness when we talk about a job of a receptionist?
  • How would you deal with an angry client?
  • Imagine that a client enters the waiting room with their dog. The animal starts peeing in different corners, marking the territory. How will you react?
  • What will you do to make sure that the data about animals and their owners remain confidential?
  • What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?


Final thoughts, next steps

Interview for a job of a veterinary receptionist belongs to interview with average difficulty. It is relatively easy to predict the questions you will face, and you can prepare for them in advance.

On the other hand, many people want to work with animals. And, when compared to a job of a hotel receptionist, or for example a school receptionist, you will typically compete with more candidates for any job opening. That makes your situation more difficult…

You can try to stand out with your answers, but you can also try to make a great connection with the interviewers, clearly demonstrating with your interview presence that it is a pleasure to have you around… I hope you will manage to stand out, and will get the job. Good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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