17 Sterile Processing Supervisor Interview Questions and Answers

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

Sterile processing supervisors are responsible for the cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing of surgical instruments and equipment. They also ensure that all supplies and equipment are properly inventoried and accounted for. This is a critical role in any hospital or surgical setting, which is why interviewers will ask a range of questions to determine if you have the skills and temperament necessary for the job.

To help you prepare, we’ve gathered some of the most common questions asked in a sterile processing supervisor interview, along with sample answers.

Common Sterile Processing Supervisor Interview Questions

Are you familiar with the different types of sterilization processes that are used in healthcare?

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your knowledge of sterile processing and how it relates to the healthcare industry. Use your answer to highlight your understanding of sterilization processes, including their advantages and disadvantages.

Example: “I am familiar with several types of sterilization processes that are used in healthcare facilities. One process is steam sterilization, which uses high-pressure steam to kill bacteria and other pathogens on medical equipment. Another method is chemical sterilization, where a solution is used to disinfect equipment. Lastly, there’s radiation sterilization, which uses ionizing radiation to eliminate germs from equipment.”

What are some of the most important factors that you consider when developing new sterilization processes?

This question can help the interviewer gain insight into your critical thinking skills and how you apply them to your work. Your answer should include a few examples of factors that are important in developing sterilization processes, such as cost, time constraints or safety concerns.

Example: “I consider several factors when developing new sterilization processes. First, I look at the budget for each project so that we can create effective solutions within our financial limitations. Next, I make sure that any new process is safe for patients and staff members who will be using it. Finally, I always ensure that the process is efficient enough to meet production deadlines.”

How would you handle a situation in which a staff member was not following proper sterilization procedures?

Sterile processing supervisors must ensure that their staff members are following proper sterilization procedures at all times. This question helps the interviewer determine how you would handle a situation in which one of your employees was not following sterile processing procedures and assesses your ability to lead by example. In your answer, describe what steps you would take to correct the employee’s behavior and ensure it does not happen again.

Example: “If I noticed a staff member was not following proper sterilization procedures, I would first speak with them privately about my concerns. If they continued to violate sterile processing procedures after our conversation, I would document the violation and schedule a meeting with the employee and human resources department. I would also make sure to follow up with the employee regularly to ensure they were adhering to sterile processing procedures.”

What is your process for ensuring that all of the equipment in your department is properly labeled and stored?

The interviewer may ask you this question to understand how you prioritize your work and ensure that the department’s processes are efficient. Your answer should demonstrate your ability to plan, organize and manage multiple tasks at once.

Example: “I have a system for labeling all of our equipment so I can easily find it when I need it. For example, if I’m looking for a specific piece of equipment, I know exactly where to look because I’ve labeled each drawer with a color-coded sticker. This helps me save time by not having to search through every drawer in the sterile processing unit. In addition, I also use barcode scanners to track inventory levels.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to manage a budget for your department and explain what you did to reduce costs.

Interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your leadership skills and how you can help their department save money. When answering, try to think of a specific example that shows your ability to manage a budget while also showing the interviewer what you did to reduce costs.

Example: “In my previous role as sterile processing supervisor, I had to create a budget for our department each month. One way I reduced costs was by reducing overtime hours. We were spending too much on overtime because we didn’t have enough employees to cover all shifts. So, I hired two new sterile processing technicians to fill in the extra shifts.”

If you had to choose one area of the healthcare industry to specialize in with regards to sterilization, what would it be?

This question is a great way to determine the applicant’s level of interest in working as a sterile processing supervisor. It also allows you to see what they consider to be their strongest skills and abilities. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention an area that you have experience with or one that you would like to learn more about.

Example: “If I had to choose just one specialty within sterilization, I would definitely say infection control. This is because I find it fascinating how much work goes into preventing infections from occurring during surgeries and other medical procedures. In my previous role as a sterile processor, I was able to take on some infection control responsibilities, which allowed me to gain valuable insight into the process.”

What would you do if you noticed that the equipment in your department was starting to show signs of wear and tear?

The interviewer may ask you this question to gauge your problem-solving skills and ability to make decisions. Your answer should show that you can use critical thinking skills to solve problems, prioritize tasks and communicate with others.

Example: “If I noticed the equipment in my department was starting to show signs of wear and tear, I would first assess how much longer it could continue operating at its current capacity. If there is a chance that we might need to replace some of our equipment soon, I would start looking for funding options so we can purchase new equipment before we need it. Otherwise, I would focus on repairing or replacing any damaged equipment as needed.”

How well do you perform under pressure?

This question can help interviewers assess your ability to work under pressure and make decisions when time is of the essence. Use examples from previous experiences where you had to perform under pressure, such as a tight deadline or an unexpected situation that required you to act quickly.

Example: “In my current role as sterile processing technician, I am responsible for ensuring all sterilization procedures are completed within the allotted time frame. If any equipment malfunctions during a procedure, it’s up to me to troubleshoot the issue and get back to work as soon as possible so we don’t fall behind schedule. In these situations, I remain calm and focused on finding a solution to the problem while also communicating with other team members to ensure they’re aware of what’s happening.”

Do you have any experience training staff or developing training programs?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your leadership skills and how you can help the team members under you develop their skills. Use examples from past experience where you helped train staff or developed training programs for new hires.

Example: “In my current role, I have been responsible for developing training programs for new hires as well as helping existing employees with training on new equipment and sterile processing procedures. In one instance, we hired a new employee who had no prior experience in sterile processing. I worked with them over several shifts to teach them the basics of our sterile processing methods. They were able to complete tasks independently after only two weeks of working with me.”

When performing a sterilization process, what is the correct way to position the equipment?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your knowledge of sterile processing equipment and how it’s used. Use examples from your experience to explain the proper way to position sterilization equipment, such as autoclaves or steam sterilizers.

Example: “When positioning equipment for sterilization, I always make sure that all surfaces are clean and dry before placing them in the sterilizer. For example, if I’m preparing an operating table for sterilization, I would remove any linens or other items and place them in a separate bin. Then, I would wipe down the surface with disinfectant and allow it to air-dry completely before placing it in the sterilizer.”

We want to be able to meet the needs of our patients. How would you go about finding out what equipment they need sterilized and when?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to see how well you can work with other departments and teams. Use your answer to show that you are willing to collaborate with others, even if it’s not in your job description.

Example: “I would first talk to the patients themselves or their families about what equipment they need sterilized. I would also speak with doctors and nurses who use the equipment to find out when they need it ready for use. This way, we can make sure we have enough time to complete all of the sterilization processes.”

Describe your process for ensuring that all of the equipment in your department is properly labeled and stored.

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your attention to detail and organizational skills. Your answer should include specific steps for labeling equipment, storing it in the correct location and ensuring that all of your team members understand how to properly label and store sterile processing equipment.

Example: “I have an extensive process for labeling and storing sterile processing equipment. First, I make sure that each piece of equipment is clearly labeled with its name and number. Then, I organize all of the equipment by type and place it in designated storage areas. Finally, I train my staff on how to label and store equipment so they can continue these processes after I leave.”

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications for the job. They want someone who is confident in their abilities and can perform the duties of the position well. Before your interview, make a list of all your skills and experiences that relate to the job. Think about what makes you unique from other candidates.

Example: “I am highly organized and detail-oriented, which are two important qualities for sterile processing supervisors. I also have five years of experience working as a sterile processing technician, so I know how to work with different types of equipment and chemicals. My previous employer even asked me to train new employees on our sterile processing procedures because they were impressed by my knowledge.”

Which sterilization process do you prefer to perform and why?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience in sterile processing. It also helps them understand which processes you enjoy and which ones you may not prefer to perform. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to mention a process that is relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Example: “I have performed all three sterilization processes—autoclave, dry heat and radiation—and I find autoclaving to be my favorite. This is because it’s the most effective method of sterilizing equipment and supplies while using the least amount of energy. In my previous role as a sterile processor, we were able to reduce our energy costs by 20% due to my expertise with autoclaving.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of being a sterile processing supervisor?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you have a strong understanding of what it means to be a sterile processing supervisor. Use your answer to highlight your leadership skills and ability to prioritize tasks effectively.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of being a sterile processing supervisor is ensuring that all employees are following proper safety procedures at all times. Sterile processing is a very safe environment, but there are always ways we can improve our processes to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our patients safe. I also think it’s important to make sure that my team members feel comfortable asking questions or expressing concerns they may have about their work.”

How often should you perform a sterilization cycle?

Sterilization cycles are an important part of the sterile processing department. The interviewer may ask you this question to see how familiar you are with the process and how often you perform it. Use your answer to highlight your knowledge of sterilization cycles and their importance in a healthcare facility.

Example: “I believe that performing a sterilization cycle every time I enter or exit a patient’s room is the best way to ensure sterility. This helps me avoid any mistakes, such as forgetting to turn on the equipment or leaving something inside the unit when I’m done. In my last role, we performed a sterilization cycle before each procedure and after each patient left the operating room.”

There is a shortage of supplies in the supply room. How would you resolve this?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills. You can answer this question by describing a situation where you had to resolve a shortage of supplies and how you did it.

Example: “In my previous role, there was a shortage of sterile processing equipment in the supply room. I first asked other employees if they needed any equipment from the supply room. After that, I checked with suppliers to see if we could get more equipment sooner than expected. We were able to get new equipment within two weeks.”


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