Interview

17 Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a respiratory therapist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Respiratory therapists work with patients who have difficulty breathing—from newborns with underdeveloped lungs to elderly patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They may work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, or home health agencies.

If you’re interviewing for a respiratory therapist job, you can expect to answer questions about your experience and skills. But you’ll also need to be prepared to answer some questions about the nature of the respiratory therapist job. Read on to learn more about the types of questions you may be asked and how to answer them.

Common Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions

Are you certified as a respiratory therapist?

Employers may ask this question to determine if you have the necessary qualifications for the job. If you are not certified, they might want to know what steps you plan to take to become certified. You can answer honestly about your certification status and explain how you plan to achieve certification in the future.

Example: “I am not currently a respiratory therapist. I do have my bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, however, so I will be taking the exam soon. In the meantime, I would like to gain some experience working as an entry-level respiratory therapist.”

What are the most common respiratory conditions you treat on a regular basis?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have experience working with their facility’s patients. It also helps them understand what types of conditions you’ve treated in the past and how you helped your patients overcome those issues. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a few common conditions that are prevalent at the facility you’re interviewing for and explain how you would treat each one.

Example: “The most common respiratory conditions I see on a regular basis are sleep apnea, COPD and asthma. In my previous role as a respiratory therapist, I worked with many patients who had these conditions. For sleep apnea, I used CPAP machines to help keep the patient’s airways open while they slept. For COPD, I used oxygen therapy to help improve the patient’s breathing. And for asthma, I used inhalers or nebulizers to administer medication.”

How would you handle a situation where a patient was not responding to treatment?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to remain calm under pressure. In your answer, try to highlight your critical thinking skills and how you would use them to find a solution to the situation.

Example: “If I encountered a patient who was not responding to treatment, I would first take a step back and evaluate their current condition. If they were still in danger, I would call for help from my colleagues or other medical professionals on staff. However, if the patient’s condition was stable, I would discuss the issue with them and their family members to determine what could be causing the lack of response. From there, I would work with my team to develop a plan to address the issue.”

What is your process for documenting your work and maintaining accurate patient records?

The interviewer may ask you this question to understand how you organize your work and maintain accurate records. Use examples from your experience to explain the steps you take to document your progress, including how you keep track of patient information and treatment plans.

Example: “I use a digital record-keeping system that allows me to enter all relevant data about my patients’ treatments. I can access these records at any time, which is especially helpful when I’m working with multiple patients in a day. In addition to entering data into the system, I also print out hard copies of each session’s notes for my supervisor to review. This helps ensure accuracy and provides another layer of accountability.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to educate a patient about their respiratory condition and treatment.

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your communication skills and ability to educate patients about their treatment. In your answer, try to show that you can be patient-centered while also being informative.

Example: “When I first started working as a respiratory therapist, I had a patient who was very anxious about her condition. She asked me many questions about the treatment plan and how it would help her. I answered all of her questions in a way that she could understand and reassured her that we were doing everything possible to improve her health. After our conversation, she seemed much more at ease with her treatment.”

If a patient needed to use a ventilator, how would you ensure they were comfortable and able to get a good night’s sleep?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your bedside manner and interpersonal skills. Your answer should demonstrate that you are empathetic, compassionate and able to communicate effectively with patients.

Example: “I would first make sure the patient was comfortable in their surroundings. I would also ensure they were well-fed before going to sleep so they could get a good night’s rest. If the ventilator is noisy, I would try to distract them from it by talking about something else or playing music. I would also explain what the machine does and why it makes noise so they can understand.”

What would you do if a supply of oxygen ran out unexpectedly during a treatment?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would respond to a crisis situation. In your answer, try to highlight your ability to think quickly and problem-solve under pressure.

Example: “If this happened during my shift, I would first check the oxygen tank’s gauge to see if it was empty or if there was still some left in it. If there was no more oxygen left in the tank, I would immediately call for another supply of oxygen from our storage room. While waiting for the new supply to arrive, I would continue treating the patient with what little oxygen we had left until the new supply arrived. This is why it’s important to always have back-up supplies on hand.”

How well do you perform under pressure? Can you provide an example of a time when you had to prioritize multiple patients?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to work under pressure. This is because respiratory therapists often have multiple patients they need to care for at the same time, so it’s important that you can perform well in these situations. In your answer, try to explain how you manage stress and prioritize tasks effectively when working with a large workload.

Example: “I find I do my best work when I’m not stressed out about having too many things to do at once. However, if there are several patients who need my attention, I will make sure to prioritize them based on their needs. For example, if one patient has an emergency situation, I would focus all of my attention on them until they were stable again.”

Do you have experience working with children?

Some facilities may have a pediatric unit, and the interviewer wants to know if you’re comfortable working with children. If you do not have experience working with children, explain that you are willing to learn how to work with them.

Example: “I worked in a hospital setting for three years before moving to my current facility, so I’ve had some experience working with children. However, I am always open to learning new things, so I would be happy to take any training courses necessary to help me better understand how to work with children.”

When performing a physical assessment, what are the key areas you examine?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the physical assessment process. They want to know that you are familiar with the key areas and how they relate to a patient’s overall health. In your answer, try to list all of the major body systems you examine during an assessment.

Example: “During a physical assessment, I check for signs of respiratory distress in the lungs, heart rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry levels, temperature and lung sounds. These factors can help me determine if there is any underlying cause for the patient’s symptoms or if it is simply a matter of adjusting their treatment plan.”

We want to improve our compliance with infection control procedures. How would you implement new procedures to improve our current practices?

Infection control is a vital part of the respiratory therapist’s job. The interviewer may ask you this question to see how you would implement new procedures and ensure compliance with infection control policies. In your answer, explain that you would create an action plan for improving current practices and ensuring staff members follow through on their responsibilities.

Example: “I would first assess our current infection control procedures to determine where we can improve. I would then develop a comprehensive training program for all staff members so they understand their roles in maintaining infection control protocols. Finally, I would hold regular meetings with staff members to discuss any concerns or questions they have about the new procedures.”

Describe your process for cleaning and sanitizing equipment and supplies after each use.

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your attention to detail and how you ensure the safety of patients. In your answer, describe a specific process for cleaning equipment and supplies and why it’s important to follow these steps.

Example: “I always clean my equipment after each use because I want to make sure that all surfaces are sanitized before storing them away. For example, if I’m working with a patient who has an infection, I don’t want any germs from previous patients to contaminate their treatment. To clean my equipment, I first wash my hands thoroughly and then remove any items from the room where they’re stored. Then, I disinfect everything using a germicidal solution and allow it to air dry.”

What makes you stand out from other respiratory therapists?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your skills and abilities as a respiratory therapist. They want to know what makes you unique from other candidates applying for the position. When answering this question, think of two or three things that make you stand out. These can be specific skills or experiences that you have.

Example: “I believe I am one of the most compassionate respiratory therapists in my field. In every role I’ve held, I’ve always put my patients first. I also feel like I’m one of the best communicators in the industry. My ability to communicate with both patients and their families has helped me build strong relationships with everyone I work with.”

Which computer programs or software have you used in the past to enter patient data and update records?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your computer skills and how you use them in the workplace. If you have experience using specific programs, mention those in your answer. If you haven’t used any particular program before, explain that you are willing to learn new software or programs if necessary.

Example: “In my previous position as a respiratory therapist, I used several different types of software to enter patient data into our records. We primarily used an electronic medical record system that allowed us to update patient information quickly and efficiently. In addition to that, we also used a database program for tracking patients’ progress over time.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of your job as a respiratory therapist?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your priorities and how you view your role in the healthcare team. Your answer should show that you understand the importance of each aspect of your job, including patient safety, teamwork and communication with other medical professionals.

Example: “The most important part of my job is ensuring that I am providing quality care to every patient. It’s also vital that I communicate any concerns or questions I have about a patient’s treatment plan so that we can make sure they’re receiving the best possible care. Another important aspect of my job is working well as part of a team. Respiratory therapists work closely with many different medical professionals, so it’s essential that we are able to collaborate effectively.”

How often do you perform maintenance on respiratory equipment?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your experience with equipment maintenance. They want to know if you have the skills and knowledge to perform regular maintenance on respiratory equipment, such as oxygen tanks or ventilators. In your answer, explain that you understand how important it is to keep equipment in good condition. Share a specific example of when you performed maintenance on equipment.

Example: “I regularly check my equipment for any damage or defects. I also make sure all parts are securely fastened and there aren’t any loose connections. If I notice anything wrong with the equipment, I will fix it right away so I can continue providing care to patients. For instance, once I was working with a patient who had an oxygen tank with a loose connection. As soon as I noticed it, I fixed it so they could get their treatment uninterrupted.”

There is a shortage of supplies in the supply closet. What is your next step?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills. You can answer this question by describing the steps you would take to solve the issue and how you would ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Example: “I would first check if there are any supplies in storage that we could use. If not, I would contact the supplier to order more supplies. In addition, I would make sure all staff members know about the shortage so they don’t request additional supplies during their shifts. Finally, I would place a sign on the supply closet door informing patients of the shortage.”

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