Throughout your career in the veterinary industry, you will likely have to undertake numerous interviews for everything from work experience opportunities to senior positions in a veterinary practice. Preparation for these interviews is essential if you want to be successful, and understanding the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked is a key part of this.
In this article, we cover some of the most common vet interview questions that you’ll get when applying for positions as an intern, a vet assistant and a vet nurse. We explain what these questions are looking for and suggest how best to craft the ideal answer to impress your interviewer.
Vet Internship Interview Questions
- What path do you see yourself following to get into the veterinary industry?
This is an important question for a vet internship candidate because it allows the interviewer to gauge how serious you are about a career in the industry and the steps you are planning on taking to get there. An internship is often the first practical experience that a vet student gets from working in a professional environment, and the best candidates for these opportunities are ones that have a clear idea of what they want to learn from this experience and know how it will benefit them on their career path.
- What are some of your key skills that will help you in the veterinary profession?
This is a classic veterinarian interview question that gives you the opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer and illustrate why you are suitable for the role. You should have a minimum of three skills ready to talk about in the interview, all of which should be relevant to the kinds of tasks you will be expected to undertake as a vet intern.
When you are asked to list relevant skills in an interview, you should always back these statements up with an example of where you have demonstrated this skill in real life and how it helped you in a situation. This makes your answer more believable and shows that you know how to apply your skills to your work in order to perform well.
- Can you give an example of a time you analysed a situation to find a solution to a problem?
Another classic question in a veterinary interview involves telling your interviewer about a time when you solved a problem by using analytical skills to evaluate a situation and find the best solution. This skill is important when working as a vet intern as you will need to take initiative in a variety of situations and work around obstacles or setbacks, and the interviewer will be looking for candidates who are confident doing so and can talk about the processes they have followed to overcome challenges in the past.
- What makes you unique from other candidates for this internship?
Demonstrating your skills and competencies isn’t enough to secure a vet internship; you need to stand out from the other candidates to ensure that you are chosen for the opportunity. A common vet internship interview question is around a candidate’s unique selling point or individual qualities that they feel make them special, so it’s important to prepare an answer to this question which illustrates that you know what makes you unique and can argue why this makes you the best candidate for the opportunity.
- How do you keep up with what’s happening in the veterinary industry?
The most successful vet interns are ones who have a real interest in the industry and are already demonstrating a passion for the latest developments and approaches. An interviewer may ask you how you keep up to date with this kind of news, and will be looking for candidates who spend their free time reading blogs, newsletters and publications related to their line of work so that they stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry.
- What are you hoping to get out of this internship?
Both you and the veterinary practice you do an internship with are going to get more out of the experience if you have a clear idea of what you want to gain from the opportunity. If an interviewer asks this question, they are looking for a candidate who clearly understands how an internship is going to benefit them and is keen to get involved however they can, as well as someone who has clearly done their research about the place they hope to work in.
Vet Assistant Interview Questions
- What is your favourite kind of animal to treat and care for?
One of the most common questions for vets in an interview is about their favourite kind of animal to work with. Working in a general veterinary practice means that you have to interact with all kinds of animals, but being able to talk about your favourite breed or type of animal illustrates a passion for veterinary work and also gives the interviewer a better idea about what kind of vet assistant candidate you are.
- What kind of veterinary work do you feel most comfortable with and where do you feel your skills need improvement?
This is one of the most commonly asked veterinary job interview questions, as it requires a candidate to demonstrate self-awareness and the ability to talk about their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Vet assistants are required to undertake a wide range of tasks, and talking about the ones you feel most comfortable with will help the interviewer to understand where your talents lie as an assistant and get an idea of how well you would fit into their team of veterinary technicians.
Talking about the areas of your job that you would like to improve your skills in is also a very important part of a vet assistant interview, as this shows that you have a good perception of your abilities and also want to build on your existing skill set. When talking about areas you would like to improve, try and demonstrate that you are already taking steps to work on these, instead of just accepting that you’re not very good at certain kinds of tasks.
- How do you plan, prioritise and organise your work?
A vet assistant has a wide array of responsibilities, so it is important that candidates for the role are good at staying organised, completing multiple tasks in a day and understanding how best to prioritise the work that needs doing. This is a key assistant veterinarian interview question because it instantly highlights candidates who have the necessary organisational skills to succeed in the role. To make your answer more impactful, try and use multiple examples of how you have planned, prioritised and organised tasks in previous roles so that the interviewer feels confident in your abilities.
- Can you talk about a time when you dealt well with a stressful situation?
The nature of veterinary work means that there will be instances in the job where you have to deal with stressful situations, no matter your position. A vet assistant needs to be able to work well under pressure, so this question assesses your suitability for the role and helps to gauge whether you’ll be a useful member of a team in emergencies where there may be a lot at stake.
- Can you talk about a time when you successfully assisted a coworker to solve a problem?
Vet assistants also tend to work as part of a team of others in similar roles, so being helpful and working collaboratively are essential abilities for the role. This vet nursing interview question requires you to come up with an example of a time when you solved a problem by helping a coworker who was struggling, which not only indicates that you are good at overcoming challenges but also that you are an effective team player.
Vet Nurse Interview Questions
- Can you describe the most interesting case or procedure you have worked on in your career so far?
The role of vet nurse is a relatively high-up position in a veterinary practice, so you will be expected to have had a fair amount of experience in your career when interviewing for this role. Many interviewers will ask you to talk about a situation that you found particularly interesting as a way of gauging where your specific interests lie and also getting an idea of the kinds of cases you have previously dealt with.
- Can you tell me about a case that you learnt something from?
This veterinarian interview question not only gives an interviewer more idea of the kind of experience that a vet nurse has already had in their career, but also is an opportunity to gauge your ability to learn from your work and admit to gaps in your knowledge. Talking about a case or procedure that you learnt something from shows how you have developed as a veterinary nurse and also shows the interview that you are keen to continue learning in your role.
- What tactics do you use to keep animals calm during checks or procedures?
Being good with animals is an essential skill for a vet nurse, and this is a very common interview question for a vet. You should be able to talk about the different tactics that you use to keep the animals in your care calm, and also ideally give examples of where you have used these tactics and how they have been successful.
- Can you talk about a time you had to deal with a difficult owner and how you handled the situation?
A vet nurse has to deal with pet owners just as much as they have to deal with animals, and there will likely be points in your career where you will have to interact with difficult people who are angry or just upset. The ability to keep your emotions in check and maintain a calm and professional demeanour when speaking to someone who is acting out is very important in this role, so being able to talk about a situation where you did so will be beneficial in a vet nurse interview.
- How do you provide comfort and reassurance during emotional situations?
As well as having to handle angry pet owners, there will be many instances in your career as a vet nurse where you will be required to provide comfort to people who are upset or want reassurance about their pet’s condition. This question for vets is often asked in interview situations as a way of assessing how empathetic a candidate is and understanding how well they will cope with situations where they have to deliver bad news.
- What do you do to avoid compassion fatigue?
Compassion fatigue can be common in vet nurses who spend a lot of their time delivering care to sick animals and providing emotional support and reassurance to their owners. Talented vet nurses are good at both of these things but are also aware of how it can affect their own mood and energy levels, which could ultimately impact their performance in their role.
Interviewers will be looking for candidates who demonstrate an awareness of compassion fatigue and who clearly understand the best self-care methods and preventative steps they need to take to avoid getting burnt out.
Knowing the best way to respond to common vet school interview questions partly comes with practice, but it is also very useful to have an idea of the kinds of things you’re likely to be asked when applying for roles at different stages of your career. The heart of your interview preparation should include understanding your key skills, unique talents and most valuable experience, which will all feed into the answers you give for many of the questions we’ve listed above.
If you’re looking for job opportunities in the veterinary industry and would like the help of a specialist recruiter, get in touch and find out about the kinds of roles and support Vet Finders can give you.