vet assistant in blue scrubs with golden retriever.

10 Vet Assistant Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

Prepping for a vet assistant interview? Read expert tips, insights from professionals, and learn how to confidently answer common vet med interview questions. You scored the interview; now let’s land that job!
Lauren Ambrosio

Lauren Ambrosio

A job interview is so much more than answering questions about your skills and experience. You have to be prepared to engage with the interviewer if you want the job. It's your chance to describe your skills, show off your passion for animals, and see if the job is right for you. While interviews can feel a bit nerve-wracking, with the right prep and mindset, you can make a great impression. Let's dig into how to get ready for your vet assistant interview!

How to prepare for your vet assistant interview

Before the interview:

  • Familiarize yourself with the clinic's mission and values, found on most clinic websites. This research will help you align your responses to their philosophy. For example, if they are a fear-free clinic, you will want to mention “fear-free” during your interview.
  • Prepare stories that showcase your skills and share specific instances where you've demonstrated essential vet assistant skills, such as compassion, patience, and technical ability.
  • Know your resume inside out. You should be able to confidently talk about every experience listed on your resume. Be prepared to discuss your roles, responsibilities, and what you learned.
  • Practice active listening. This soft skill shows you're engaged and respectful. It involves nodding, maintaining eye contact, and repeating or paraphrasing to show understanding.
  • Come up with answers to common interview questions. Write or type up the questions and answers to review before your interview. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading a script, but it’s okay to refer to your resume and notes during an interview to help keep you on track.
  • Have questions for the interviewer; this shows that you’ve done your homework and came to the interview prepared. A couple of great questions are:
    • Can you describe the clinic's culture and team dynamics?
    • What does a typical day look like for a vet assistant?
    • What does the onboarding and training process look like for new hires?
    • Are there opportunities to get more in-depth training on surgeries/dentals/radiology/labs?
    • How does your clinic handle difficult clients and untouchable patients?
  • Reflect on your motivation for wanting the job. Understanding why you want this role will help you articulate your passion and commitment during the interview. We know you aren’t there for the money, so it’s good to focus on what would make a clinic your ideal work environment.
  • Dress professionally because first impressions matter. We don’t mean put on a suit and tie, but slacks or khakis and a button-down shirt is a good combo for a vet clinic interview. Don’t wear scrubs unless the interviewer tells you to do so.

Read more: Your Veterinary Assistant Career Guide


At the interview:

  • Arrive early, but not too early. Being early shows respect for the interviewer's time and helps you avoid unnecessary stress. Showing up early also gives you time to fill out an application, look around the clinic, and listen to how the staff interacts with clients and pets.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Your demeanor can be a deciding factor in an interview. Show optimism and positivity throughout the process. Act like you want to be there!
  • Keep calm and interview on! It's normal to feel nervous, but try to stay calm. Deep breathing and visualization techniques can help reduce anxiety. Make sure you aren’t hungry, thirsty, or tired before your interview.
  • Demonstrate empathy. Above all else, this is the most important soft skill to have if you’re working in veterinary medicine.
  • Show a willingness to learn. Since this industry is constantly evolving, it’s good to show the interviewer that you can handle new information and are eager to expand your skill set.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your passion for animals with the interviewer– that’s why you’re all there, after all. Your enthusiasm for animal care needs to shine through.
  • Showcase any specialized skills, whether it's experience with exotics or a background in animal behavior. If you have any skills that aren’t directly related to vet med but could be useful, mention them! Things like customer service experience, typing skills, and even experience working in human medicine are all good to mention.
  • Be truthful about your skills, experience, and areas for improvement. Don’t go into detail about things you aren’t good at or don’t know how to do, but it’s good to let them know what your competencies are.


After the interview:

  • Send a thank-you email to the interviewer. You are more likely to move forward in the interview process if you do this simple thing! You can send a thank-you note by snail mail too, but an email is perfectly acceptable.
  • If you haven’t heard from the clinic after a week, either email or call to find out where they are in the hiring process. You deserve to know if they’ve passed or you’re still in the running.


Read more: 10 Reasons to Become a Veterinary Assistant [Infographic]


10 Vet assistant interview questions and how to answer them

We asked Chandel DeLucca Farley, CVT; Vicki McLain, CVT, LATG, VTS-LAM; and Shawna Burke, LVT, B.S.VT–three Penn Foster vet tech instructors and veterinary professionals–what types of questions are usually asked at a vet assistant interview. They shared some tips with us on how to answer the questions and make a good impression. Here are ten questions you should expect to be asked, along with how to best handle the question and a sample answer to get you started.


1. "Tell me about a time you faced a difficult situation in a previous job and how you handled it?"

Tip: Choose a relevant experience where you encountered a challenge and demonstrate your problem-solving skills. Explain the situation, your approach, and the outcome or lesson learned.


Sample Answer: "In my previous role as a volunteer at an animal shelter, we once had a particularly aggressive dog that was difficult to handle. I took the initiative to slowly build trust with the dog through consistent and compassionate care. Eventually, the dog became more comfortable with the staff and was successfully adopted."


Read more: Vet Assistant to Vet Tech—how one working parent advanced her career


2. "What are your weaknesses?"

Tip: This is your chance to show self-awareness and a commitment to personal growth. Mention a weakness that doesn't directly impact your ability to perform the job and discuss how you're working on it.

Sample Answer: "One of my weaknesses is impatience. I can get antsy waiting for my patient’s lab results or a reply from a client or doctor. It makes me want to call them over and over or stare at the lab equipment until the results are ready. I am learning to channel this energy elsewhere while waiting more patiently for things I have little control over.”


3. "Why did you become a veterinary assistant?"

Tip: This question gives you an opportunity to showcase your passion for animals and the veterinary field. Share the motivations and experiences that led you to this career choice.


Sample Answer: "I've always been passionate about animals and their well-being. Becoming a veterinary assistant allows me to combine that passion with my desire to make a difference. I find it incredibly rewarding to be part of a team that helps animals live healthier, happier lives."


4. "How do you handle stressful situations and people?"

Tip: The interviewer wants to know if you can maintain a calm demeanor during high-pressure situations. Share a technique you use to manage stress and provide an example of a time you successfully navigated a stressful situation.


Sample Answer: "In stressful situations, I stay focused and prioritize tasks to manage the situation efficiently. For instance, during a particularly busy day at the animal shelter, I maintained a calm demeanor, organized tasks, and managed to care for all the animals effectively."


Read more: Q&A With a Veterinary Technician Graduate


5. "Describe your experience with handling animals?"

Tip: Share your experiences and skills in handling different animals. Provide specific examples to showcase your expertise and comfort level.


Sample Answer: "During my volunteer work at the animal shelter, I gained experience handling a wide variety of animals, from dogs and cats to rabbits and birds. I've administered medication, assisted with grooming, and helped socialize shy animals."


6. "What would you do if a pet owner doesn't agree with the vet's treatment plan?"

Tip: This question tests your communication skills and empathy. Highlight your ability to communicate effectively and understand the pet owner's perspective.


Sample Answer: "I would listen to the pet owner's concerns, empathize with their situation, and clearly explain the reasons behind the recommended treatment. If needed, I would seek further advice from the vet."


7. "What skills make you a good fit for this role?"

Tip: Discuss the specific skills you possess that align with the job requirements. This could include technical skills, soft skills like communication and empathy, or a willingness to learn.


Sample Answer: "I have strong communication skills, a compassionate nature, and experience in handling various animals. I'm also keen to continuously develop my skills in veterinary medicine."


Read more: How to Become Certified as a Vet Tech (State by State)


8. "Describe a time when you had to handle an aggressive animal?"

Tip: Share a specific incident where you dealt with an aggressive animal. Outline the steps you took to ensure your safety and that of the animal.


Sample Answer: "At the animal shelter, I once dealt with an aggressive cat. I used protective equipment, approached the cat calmly, and used non-threatening body language. I was able to calm the cat and perform the necessary medical check."


9. "How do you handle emotionally difficult situations, like euthanasia or severe illness?"

Tip: This question addresses the emotional challenges of the job. Show your understanding of the emotional demands of the role and how you manage them.


Sample Answer: "I understand that dealing with euthanasia or severe illnesses is a challenging aspect of this role. I handle such situations by maintaining professionalism, offering support to pet owners, and seeking emotional support when needed."


10. "What steps would you take to make a nervous pet feel more comfortable?"

Tip: Highlight your understanding of animal behavior and your ability to provide compassionate care.


Sample Answer: "I would approach the pet slowly and use a calm, soothing voice. I would also use positive reinforcement techniques and take time to let the pet get used to me."


Read more: What the Demand for Vet Techs Can Mean for Your Career


You’ve got this!

Remember, a job interview isn't one-sided, nor is it all about answering questions as the best version of yourself. It's about having a conversation about the role, the clinic, your qualifications, and if you’d be a good fit for each other. Be honest and open, and let your love for animals shine through. Even if you feel like you don’t have enough vet tech knowledge or you stumble on some answers, that’s okay! Practice managers are looking for a mix of experience and personality. Don’t forget to breathe, bring a copy of your resume, and be confident in your answers. Good luck!


Start your journey as a vet assistant today

Being a veterinary assistant is a rewarding and fun job! If you're eager to kickstart your career in this field, consider joining our NAVTA-approved Veterinary Assistant Program. Got questions or need assistance to get started? Our dedicated Admissions Specialists are just a call away at 1.888.427.6500.


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