Applying for a vet tech job? Be ready for an interview that can be as wild as the job itself!
Many seasoned vet techs know that no two days of work are ever the same. With each and every patient and patient caretaker coming in with different needs, vet techs are stretched each day to adapt and respond to what is needed in the moment. Every day is guaranteed to challenge a vet tech to pull a different skill, piece of knowledge, or competency from their training and lived work experience.
The interview to become a vet tech can be just as unpredictable as the job itself.
Because each interviewer has different priorities, and each veterinary establishment serves a unique set of patients, it’s not always straightforward to predict what an interviewer will ask or where the interview focus will be. A busy clinic where the interviewer is also an employee may be direct and short. The interviewer may want to get straight to the point so they can return to their busy workday. In other circumstances, an interviewer may have the experience that taking the time to really get to know someone results in a better hire, and may want to spend more time getting to know you to see if you’re a fit for the organizational culture.
Depending on the size of the operation, you may not meet the DVM at your first interview, and may have to go through a series of interviews with administrative or office staff before you meet the vet. Depending on the culture of where you’re applying, the interview focus could be on skills, training, life experience, performance, temperament, passion, or a combination of everything. You may be interviewing for the opportunity to work for a probationary or observational period, or you could be interviewing for a permanent position right away.
While it’s impossible to predict exactly how an interview will go down, vet tech candidates preparing for interviews may have an advantage if they are familiar with common questions asked of vet techs during interviews. This collection of common (and some not-so-common) interview questions shared by former and current vet techs are here to help you prepare answers to help you ace your next interview and land your next vet job.
Before You Prepare Your Answers: Do Your Homework
Before preparing answers to interview questions, do your homework on the organization you’re applying to. Either through the organization’s website or by speaking with a current employee, try to find out the following about the organization:
- The vision
- The mission
- The values
- Common services
Understanding the vision, the mission, the values, and the common services offered by the organization you’re applying to can help you to create customized answers to interview questions. Instead of having generic answers that any vet tech would give, this process helps you differentiate yourself through answers that connect deeply to the actual place where you could end up working. Customized answers help the interviewer see as clearly as possible how you will benefit their specific organization and that you care enough to have looked into the organization before your interview. While doing this step requires more work, it can increase the likelihood you’ll be chosen for the position.
Q. “Tell me why…”
More than just sharing facts or correct ‘book answers,’ these open-ended questions require candidates to think a little deeper and share some of their personality and motivations.
- “Why do you want to work here?”
- “Why do you like animals?”
- “Why do you want to help animals?”
This is a great time to show your passion for your work and to paint a picture of how your passion as a vet tech intersects with how the interviewer’s organization is serving their animal and human clients.
Q. “What animals have you had in your life?”
This question was suggested by VeterinaryPractice.com as a way to let candidates share the role that animals have had in their lives and the type of role they played. Were they farm kids where cattle or sheep were raised and cared for or were they suburban kids who had a great relationship with a dog, cat, snake, etc.? Such a question can also indicate a candidate’s comfort level with certain types of animals. This question may be followed by a question asking if the candidate currently owns any pets.
Questions on Vet Tech Skills and Abilities
Q. “Tell me how…”
The Florida Veterinary Technician Association advises job candidates to expect to be asked technical questions, including to describe how they have or would perform certain procedures such as urinalysis; dental procedures/prophylaxis; acquiring and analyzing tissue samples; and about the imaging process.
While these might all be hypothetical, they can provide excellent opportunities for candidates to share their knowledge of the processes that would likely be part of their regular duties and demonstrate that they have learned and performed them properly. For instance, describing the urinalysis process can start with getting a sample, testing it using the correct protocol, re-checking results, and preparing a formal report. It can also include sharing the knowledge that results can possibly be affected by getting tests mixed up, contamination of the sample or testing area, or the presence of certain pathogens or medicines in samples.
These types of technical questions can also go beyond clinical answers and demonstrate familiarity with both procedures and personality: “This one time I was trying to brush a dog’s teeth and something funny happened…”
Q. “How do you deal with high emotion?”
People seeking vet tech jobs will likely be asked how they would feel and act in certain situations, including how to interact with scared pets or scared owners.
In animals and humans alike, strong emotions and high stress may quickly lead to other emotions, including anger or sadness. Like people, animals in pain may become more aggressive and less rational. Having the ability to recognize the signs of this, be aware of them, and not take things personally can all be useful skills. Knowledge of how to be soothing and calming to humans and animals can also go a long way.
Q. “How do you feel about death?”
Unfortunately, not all pets, service animals, or livestock can be saved. There are circumstances where euthanasia may end up being the most humane solution, even though it can be emotionally difficult and the opposite of why many people want to work in animal-related careers. So not only asking a vet tech about their thoughts and experiences with death but also if they would be willing to perform or assist in the task as part of their regular duties can be a suitable question at an interview.
The topic could be framed as a yes or no question, or as part of a longer answer about appropriate scenarios for euthanasia or even methods of how to provide comfort to grieving families on these occasions yet still remain professional.
Q. “What else have you done?”
Questions about past positions at public or private clinics or in related jobs could help a veterinarian or hiring manager learn what you may bring to the table beyond the standard skills of a vet tech.
This is an opportunity to share what you have to offer that perhaps other candidates don’t:
- Do you have experience with standard veterinary office software?
- Are you familiar with the care of more exotic species of animals, like reptiles or birds?
- Have you worked with different types of providers?
Q. “What else could you do?”
Along similar lines, vet tech candidates may be asked what abilities and tasks they would be able to perform, above and beyond the typical duties of a vet tech. Such expectations could be especially common at a smaller clinic, where everyone may do everything, from answering the phones and performing clerical tasks to cleaning cages and mopping floors after closing.
This might also include working different shifts, handling pet food deliveries, or helping with community events. It’s usually a good rule of thumb, at least during standard interviews, to say “Yes—whatever you need,” and to say so enthusiastically.
Questions on Vet Tech Professional Challenges and Opportunities
Q. “What mistakes have you made related to this field?”
Although this question could initially sound negative or bring back some unpleasant memories from the past, an employer asking this is interested in hearing how you respond when things go wrong, and how you learn from mistakes in order to prevent them from happening again.
As a result, you should be prepared for follow-up questions such as:
- How did you make things right?
- What steps did you take to keep yourself or others from making the same mistake?
This may require some reflection on your part, but it could create a point of sympathy and solidarity; perhaps your particular mistake is a common one or may have also been experienced by the person interviewing you. It doesn’t have to be something terrible or unprofessional, but maybe an early mix-up before you had much training in the profession. Though embarrassing then, it could make an amusing yet cautionary tale now.
Q. “What kind of challenges are you seeking in this position?”
This question could allow for a more creative answer than the traditional (yet vague) question about a candidate’s career goals.
With this particular question, people can share specifics of what they hope to gain from being hired. It could be something missing from a prior position that a previous employer didn’t offer or something that’s present in this particular clinic:
- I’d like to have more of a leadership and decision-making role.
- I like this clinic’s approach to _____.
- I want to work with a larger/smaller team.
- I want to work with the public more.
- I’d like to be more involved in surgeries vs. admin tasks.
This also could indicate if someone likes learning one thing and moving on or may be willing to stick around and have longer-term objectives.
Q. “What kind of challenges do you see in the industry?”
This question can show that you try to keep on top of what is happening and that you can see the big picture:
- Are there controversies?
- Are there unmet needs at a state, regional, or national level? (e.g., more vets, more techs, more rules)
- Does the profession need more regulation or is it regulated enough?
You don’t have to get into partisan politics, which can be divisive, but you could discuss different laws and trends for the animal care field:
- Are people taking their animals to the vet more or less?
- Are cases of abuse growing or declining?
- Are animal diets getting better or worse?
- Are visits becoming more expensive?
If you find that you don’t really know the industry at this level, consider spending some time on the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) website, or the website of your local vet tech professional association. These organizations generally have their hands on the pulse of the industry nationally and locally and could help you to understand the greater system in which veterinary technicians work.
Q. “What could be a particularly difficult aspect of the job for you?”
This suggestion from InterviewStrategies.com suggests that some honesty could be required here, whether it’s busy work you aren’t very fond of or a difficult, unpleasant, or messy technical task, like giving pet injections or staying calm when tending to an abused animal.
Other Possible Vet Tech Interview Questions
Q. “Who do you admire about this profession?”
This question can be an opportunity to share information about people who may have inspired you to enter or do well in this industry. It could be a specific person in your local community who you might have interacted with. It could be someone from the past or maybe someone from a TV show who specializes in interactions with different types of animals. Someone considering hiring you might like to hear how you never missed an episode of “The Crocodile Hunter” as a child, or that you still always tune into Dr. Pol.
This can be a good way for a prospective employer to learn something about your passions, interests, and the type of work you’re interested in.
Q. “What part of being a vet tech most interests you?”
This could be another open-ended question that gives interviewees the opportunity to talk about their training and interests. It could also let a potential employer know which duties a candidate would be most eager to engage in, if given a choice, keeping in mind that as a vet tech you still might have to do a variety of tasks. This also allows you to get specific rather than saying “everything.”
Questions To Ask Your Vet Tech Interviewer
As the interviewer comes to the end of their questions, there will be the inevitable moment where they ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?” This is your chance to really examine if this organization is right for you, and show off your ability to engage in critical thinking. Beyond logistical questions (i.e. salary, hours, schedules, etc.), here are some questions you can ask at the end of a vet tech interview.
Q: “What is the relationship like between the veterinarian and vet techs?”
Each veterinarian will approach their relationship with techs differently. Understanding how the veterinarian approaches their relationship to vet techs can help you to understand if you can work effectively based on the vet’s personal style and approach to managing techs.
Q: “Do employees here have any struggles or challenges related to working here? What are they?”
Struggling is a part of all life and it is inevitable that there will be struggle anywhere you work. This question helps you to understand if the struggles of a place are the struggles that are right for you based on your personality and your skills.
Q: “What is the most important thing that a successful vet tech can bring to their work each day?”
This question has the possibility to open you to the pulse of an organization. An interviewer answering this question may speak to deficiencies, to what works well, to previous vet techs who were considered valuable, and more. How an interviewer answers this question can connect you more deeply to understanding if you have what the organization needs and vice versa.
Q: “What are the joys of working here?” or “What do you enjoy about working here?”
This question allows for the interviewer to reflect on why they like their job or their organization, which gives you a window into what current employees experience as positive or satisfying about their work. Because speaking to why a job is joyful can cultivate positive emotions inside the interviewer, this question can be a good one to end with – as it ends your interview on a joyful note.