6 Common Dental Hygiene Interview Questions (With Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Understanding what interview questions a candidate can expect is often one of the best ways to prepare for an interview. This is especially appropriate for jobs that require significant technical knowledge, such as dental hygienists. If you know what questions a hiring manager may ask you, you can prepare answers in advance rather than construct them during the job interview. In this article, we discuss six of the most important dental hygiene questions, some technical questions you may receive, and experience questions an interviewer may want you to discuss.

6 dental hygiene interview questions

Many interview questions aim to check your technical knowledge or learn more about your experience. It's important to think about these questions, but they often have straightforward answers you may know before your job interview. These types of questions include:

1. Tell me about yourself.

Many people consider this question a challenging question as it has no singular correct approach, but it may involve a straightforward answer. If you're unsure where to begin, it's beneficial to use a concise answer and emphasize your strengths and desire to work in the place you've applied.

Example: "I've spent about two years working in the industry, interning at a dentist's office after graduating. What interests me about dental hygiene and dentistry is the combination of being able to help people while also getting this feeling of solving a puzzle using a mix of technical know-how and what is often modern equipment. I like this kind of work and don't expect that to be changing soon."

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2. Why are you leaving your current position?

This question requires some nuance, as many employers believe it's a bad sign for an applicant to talk badly about a previous employer. There are ways to answer the question neutrally enough and avoid negative words or situations. Many applicants focus on points such as a differing vision or discuss how the workplace was excellent but lacked upward mobility.

Example: "While I enjoyed my time at [workplace name], the location was smaller and the rate of incoming clients was slower than at a location like yours. There also wasn't much upward mobility, although it wasn't their fault. A smaller location simply has fewer positions that need filling. The business was good and produced excellent results, but I think I might prefer the faster pace of a location like yours."

3. What are your most significant weaknesses?

While an applicant has many options when discussing their strengths, many are unsure how to discuss weaknesses. It's important to look for an honest way to answer the question while still seeming like a worthwhile candidate. A good option for talking about weaknesses is to discuss a trait with both positive and negative sides. Common weaknesses people discuss are overworking or overly focusing on minor details. This is a real problem many people face but can have advantages in the workplace.

Example: "I sometimes spend many hours focused on the details of a job, even when the team has already found a usable solution. I stress about the efficient use of time and resources, which I realize is often positive, to a degree that isn't always helpful. Ironically, that sometimes means I am being less efficient with my own time and energy because I can use my efforts focusing on a more pressing issue."

Related: Interview Question: "What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?"

4. What is your greatest strength as a dental hygienist?

Hiring managers ask this to determine whether your strengths align with the company's needs and the job's duties. They also use it to compare your greatest strengths with those of other candidates. Use this question as an opportunity to share your best qualities and abilities as they relate to the role of a dental hygienist. Answer confidently and clearly to assure hiring managers of your strength as a candidate.

Example: "I believe my greatest strength as a dental hygienist is my attention to detail. I always review my work multiple times to ensure accuracy. I also believe my interpersonal skills are an asset to this job. I care about providing quality service to our patients, but I also want to bond with my coworkers so we can establish a positive work environment and provide our clients with excellent care."

5. What are your short- and long-term career goals?

This question helps a hiring manager better understand where you want to go in the future. This makes it a delicate question, as you also want the hiring manager to trust that hiring and training you is an excellent investment. One helpful tip is to explore a company's website and think of goals that match their general philosophy. You also want to make sure your goals match up with the industry you're entering. Help the hiring manager understand you want to pursue this career path further.

Example: "Within the next five years, I want to say I am an expert in dental hygiene and oral health. I realize I have the education and the experience needed, but there is always more to learn. Long-term, a senior dental hygienist position, where you can trust me with complex tasks and leadership duties, is my ultimate goal. I already find this work fulfilling, but helping others achieve their best in this practice once I've gained more experience myself is a dream. I also can't deny a senior position's salary is quite attractive, duties aside."

6. Why may we hire you as a dental hygienist?

This is one of the most important questions to show why you are the most hirable candidate among the applicants they already believe are capable. Answering these kinds of questions requires that you sound confident without sounding overly pretentious. Consider what makes you a unique candidate and how that can help the practice's team. For example, you can mention any industry achievements, training or your ability to speak a second language. If you're unsure where to begin, consider asking a family member or friend what makes you different from other candidates.

Example: "You can hire me as a dental hygienist because I'm highly proficient in this field. I graduated at the top of my class, and I already have demonstrated a significant talent for this work. I have the knowledge to help your clinic excel and provide clients with the best dental services. Particularly, I also have a proven track record of adapting to changes in this industry with ease."

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Technical dental hygiene interview questions

Another important grouping of questions to prepare for is technical questions. These aim to check your ability as a dental hygienist. These questions often have only one or two correct answers. While this makes them more challenging in some ways, it also means that study and preparation can help you find an objectively sound answer. Some sample questions in this category include:

  • Name some ways to identify gum disease.

  • What is the proper procedure for maintaining dental equipment?

  • Please explain how to administer an X-ray and develop the film.

  • What are some good ways to calm anxious patients?

  • You're in the middle of a procedure, and the patient experiences clear signs of distress. What do you do?

It's important that an applicant study the basics of the law and medicine they might regularly use in their role. This is true even if you've already gotten a college degree or have experience in the same or similar position. Studying helps keep you knowledgeable and, if a company hires you, keeps the clients you work with safer.

Experience dental hygiene interview questions

Most interviews have some questions designed to check your experience. Technical questions can help an interviewer determine your knowledge, and experience questions help determine your skill in applying that knowledge. Some examples include:

  • What was the hardest problem you faced in your old position? How did you solve it?

  • Have you ever helped a patient gain a much better understanding of dental hygiene? How?

  • Have you ever had to deliver tough news to a patient? How did you approach doing so?

Sometimes an interviewer asks questions about experiences you've never had. A good approach to these questions is to be honest about that fact, but discuss a time when you've seen or heard about the type of situation the interviewer wants to discuss. For example, you may never have had to deliver bad news to a patient. It might be possible a colleague did, while you were with them. You can also answer it from a hypothetical position, talking about what a good approach might be if the situation arose.

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