As a potential paramedic student, there will several situations in which one must pass an interview. Many schools conduct interviews as part of the acceptance process for paramedic programs, and acing the interview is essential when it comes to getting enrolled in medic school.
Once the student has completed the paramedic program and taken the NREMT exam, he or she will also find oneself faced with a number of career-making interviews while attempting to find the right company fit. A paramedic license and degree will not guarantee a professional a position after graduation, so a successful interview can only come from preparation.
Whether it is a student preparing for the entrance interview to a paramedic program or a licensed professional seeking employment with an ambulance service or hospital, it is important to follow a simple and effective three-step process for preparation. At each stage of preparation, the candidate should gear himself or herself to successfully answer paramedic interview questions to achieve the goal of field employment or acceptance to a desired school.
Preparing for Paramedic Interview Questions
Even after a student has met all of the school’s requirements, which may include an essay and entrance exam, many programs will include an interview process as the final stage of elimination. If the school is in high demand, they often find they have more applicants than seats to fill and must only accept the best candidates. It is essential the student come prepared for the interview if they wish to be one of the few chosen.
During the meeting, the interviewer will ask a series of questions that will be a mixture of open-ended inquiries and knowledge reviews to better get to know you. Some possible questions may include:
- What have you done to prepare for paramedic school?
- Why should you be chosen over other potential candidates applying?
- Why have you chosen this field for your profession?
It is essential that the applicant know the answers to questions involving personal goals, achievements. Personal questions are often where candidates stumble, as it is difficult for most people to talk about themselves during an interview. Students should start by writing down such items as:
- Where do I want to be in five years or ten years?
- Why have I decided to be a paramedic?
- What do I already know about the nature of paramedic work and how to I fit in?
- What can I offer the school or employer I’m sitting down with?
In addition, it is equally important to know the basics learned in a paramedic prerequisite course, as some questions may test the student’s ability to retain vital information. Spend some time reviewing notes from the course to fully prepare for these questions. Some basic questions may involve numbers such as drug dosages and conversions so it is better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough.
Also, take a moment to do a little research on the particular school or employer before the day of your interview. Interview questions can vary depending on the school environment and classroom experiences, so just as with a potential employer, it is essential to know who a student is interviewing for.
Preparing for a Potential Employer Interview
Often the resume is the first impression a potential employer will receive of a prospecting candidate, but the interview will be the final decision.
In the career field, an interview has two main purposes which include getting to know the potential employee personally and determining if they have the necessary skills to be an asset to the company.
The basics of a successful interview apply to any career type and paramedics are no exception. Having a strong resume, dressing for success and being on time and answering the toughest interview questions successfully are the main keys to gaining employment in the paramedic field.
Ready for Your Paramedic Interview?
The toughest questions candidates find during the interview process stem from the personal variety and are likely the reason a paramedic is turned down for a position. The professional questions should be far easier to answer permitting the paramedic studied hard during schooling and understands the field. Some of the most difficult personal questions paramedics often fail at answering include:
- Tell us about yourself?
When asked this question, most candidates often resort to a chronological description of education, achievements, and in-field experience. What the interviewer really wants to know, however, is who you are personally and what you value in life.
The best way to answer this question is to highlight strong points using one or two word descriptions like “energetic” or “quick-thinking” or “reliable.” Do make sure to follow up your strong points with a examples, as well.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
While there is no right way to answer this interview question, an employer wants to know that the candidate is goal oriented, ambitious and has a future with the company. The best answer is one that demonstrates a desire to continue forward in the career path and highlights a committed attitude.
Other potential interview questions may include such items as:
- What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?
- Why should I hire you?
- What motivates you?
Specific questions geared towards professional experience may include scenarios such as:
- How would you handle the situation if your partner came to work clearly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs?
- Describe the proper steps for administering morphine through an IV for a pediatric patient and how would you complete the dosage conversion?
- How would you negotiate a heavy patient from a particularly difficult or even dangerous situation?
Before any interview, it is important to prepare for both types of potential questions in order to produce successful answers. Spend some time in reflection and write down the answers to some of the toughest personal questions or recruit a close friend or family member to practice with you.
In addition, review course materials, drug cards and calculations to assure you do not stumble during technical questions. Avoid at all times saying anything negative, such as putting down a previous boss, training partner, instructor, or past co-worker and focus on your strengths, hopes, and goals. Each new question is an opportunity to show the interviewer why you are a perfect fit for the position.
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