35 Veterinary Assistant Interview Questions (With Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 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.

Hiring managers use interviews to evaluate a candidate's experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm for a position, making them an important step in the hiring process. Individuals pursuing work as a veterinary assistant can use the interview to highlight their strong communication skills and desire to grow professionally. Understanding how to respond to common interview questions can help you prepare for an interview and develop confident responses.

In this article, we explain what veterinary assistant interview questions are, list potential questions, including general, background and experience, and in-depth questions, review additional questions with example responses, and provide tips for answering.

What are veterinary assistant interview questions?

Veterinary assistant interview questions are those a hiring manager might ask to assess your suitability for the role. The questions may include those that evaluate your ability to clean and prep exam rooms, assist with nursing care, update medical records, and perform clerical duties. Hiring managers may ask about your training and experience with animals to evaluate if you have the required skills for the position.

Read more: What Does a Vet Assistant Do? (With Average Salary)

General questions

Here are some general questions an employer may ask when you're interviewing for the role of veterinary assistant to better understand your personality and interest in the position:

  • How might your previous employer describe you?

  • Do you have any pets at home?

  • Are you comfortable cleaning up after animals?

  • What veterinary assistant tasks do you enjoy the most?

  • What types of tasks do you enjoy the least?

  • Why do you want to work at our veterinary clinic?

  • Tell me about your experience working with animals in a health care setting.

  • Why do you want to become a veterinary assistant?

  • What animals and types of animals have you worked with in the past?

  • Tell me about your interests outside of work.

Related: Techniques for an Interview (Including Examples and Tips)

Questions about experience and background

Employers may ask you these questions to learn more about your experience and background related to the position of a veterinary assistant:

  • What educational qualifications make you suitable for the job?

  • How comfortable are you working with pet owners?

  • How do you ensure the safety of the animals you care for and treat?

  • Do you have experience with administering medications to animals?

  • What's your experience with collecting blood, urine, or stool samples for testing?

  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work and how you corrected it.

  • How do you determine the correct portions and nutritional needs for animals in your care?

  • Why did you leave your last veterinary position?

  • What methods do you use to keep animals calm and comfortable during a visit?

  • Do you think your experience matches the requirements of the position being offered?

Read more: Common Experience Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

In-depth questions

Here are some in-depth questions a hiring manager may ask you to gain a better understanding of your skills and suitability for the role:

  • What's your process for delivering bad news to a pet owner?

  • What methods might you use to comfort a pet owner who has just received news that their pet is terminally ill?

  • What are your career goals for the next five years?

  • How do you communicate essential information to pet owners, such as the importance of dental care?

  • Explain a situation where you had to restrain an aggressive animal.

  • What brings you satisfaction and enjoyment from your position as a veterinary assistant?

  • Can you describe the symptoms of a cat suffering from feline immunodeficiency virus?

  • What are the most important elements to check for after an animal has come out of surgery?

  • Describe your experience with grooming animals, including the methods and products you use for different animals.

  • How might you deal with an aggressive dog when tasked with cutting its nails?

  • Are there any certifications you have obtained or are hoping to pursue in the future?

Related: What Are Closing Interview Questions? (With Examples)

4 sample veterinary assistant interview questions and answers

Here are some common interview questions a hiring manager may ask when you're applying for a veterinary assistant position with sample responses to help you develop your own:

1. What appeals to you about working with animals?

Employers may ask this question to evaluate your reasons for pursuing a position in the veterinary field. They are looking for someone who's genuinely interested in working with animals and making their stay comfortable, so it's important to show enthusiasm in your answer. Consider including an anecdote about any positive experiences with animals or why you decided to apply for this role.

Example answer: "I've always loved working with animals and saved up for school by dog sitting and walking in my neighbourhood. I knew from a young age I wanted to pursue a career in the veterinary field so I can work with animals every day. I hope to use this opportunity to play an important role in the health and recovery of all animals treated here."

Related: 9 Most Popular Jobs That Involve Working with Animals

2. If a sick animal suddenly becomes aggressive and difficult to handle, what might you do to deal with the situation?

Veterinary assistants provide care for animals before, during, and after procedures. When an animal is in pain or not used to being without their owner, they can become aggressive or challenging to handle. A hiring manager may ask this to test a candidate's knowledge of techniques to manage animal agitation. Use a scenario from your experience to showcase your understanding of techniques and knowledge of animal behaviour.

Example answer: "As a dog walker for many years, I have significant experience working with aggressive animals. I use a commanding and calming voice to maintain control of the situation and carefully restrain the aggressive animal. I ensure it feels safe by removing any threats if there were something making the animal feel uneasy."

Related: How to Deal with a Difficult Customer

3. Is there another position within the organization or practice that you hope to train for in the future?

It's helpful for employers to be aware of a candidate's career goals, so they might ask this question to understand how you might be interested in growing within the organization. It's important to be honest about your goals for the future, as the employer may be able to help you achieve them by providing support. Promoting from within can be beneficial to the employer, as they can control the individual's training and make recommendations.

Example answer: "I plan on pursuing a role as a veterinary technician and am preparing to take night courses in the coming years to become certified. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow in my current role as a veterinary assistant and put into practice all I learn in my classes. I believe continuing education is important for staying aware of new treatments and techniques and plan to take courses continually throughout my career."

Related: How to Become a Vet in Canada (With Steps and Duties)

4. How do you manage compassion fatigue?

It can be emotionally challenging to work with sick animals, so a hiring manager might ask how you manage your feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion. You can highlight the methods you use to cope with seeing animals in distress and losing ones to which you've grown close. This question is important to consider, as it's beneficial to develop techniques to help you recharge emotionally when pursuing such a role. Research different methods and find one that works best for you.

Example answer: "When working in any health care setting, I understand I might experience moments that are emotionally challenging. While I try to always show compassion for pet owners when delivering bad news or helping them navigate an illness, I've developed strategies to separate my personal emotions at work. During especially challenging cases, I try to focus more on the science and data of the case to ensure I am not becoming too emotionally attached. Journaling and being with friends outside of work also helps me process my emotions and regain my emotional energy."

Related: Mental Health Days: Definition, Importance, and How To

Tips for answering interview questions

Here are some tips you can use to answer questions with confidence during an interview for the position of veterinary assistant:

  • Be prepared to elaborate. It's important to use real scenarios from your past experience to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. To prepare for your interview, consider examples you can use to showcase your knowledge and support your answer.

  • Engage the interviewer through nonverbal gestures. Be mindful of your body language in an interview and how you can demonstrate your active listening skills. Smiling, nodding, and eye contact shows you're actively participating in the interview and are ready to offer thoughtful answers to their questions.

  • Use the STAR method for formulating answers. The STAR method stands for situation, task, action, and result, which helps you formulate answers to in-depth interview questions. You can use this strategy to describe scenarios and how you responded to them appropriately to demonstrate your experience and knowledge.

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