Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions and Answers

Respiratory therapists (RTs) play a vital role in the healthcare system. As an RT, you provide essential support to patients who need help with breathing, managing chronic respiratory diseases, and working through acute respiratory crises. As the demand for skilled respiratory therapists grows, it is important to be prepared for job interviews in this competitive field.

As a travel respiratory therapist especially, interviewing well is very important to impress potential employers and secure the best opportunities. One of the most challenging aspects of interviewing is responding to interview questions in the moment. Your response, however, is very important and demonstrates to potential employers who you truly are and how you respond under pressure. Whether you are seeking a position in a hospital, a clinic, or a long-term care center, we will help equip you with the knowledge and confidence needed to make a great impression.

Types of Interview Questions You’ll Likely Encounter

There are two core types of interview questions that you are likely to get while interviewing for an RT position. One is general questions that have the goal of giving the interviewer insights into you personally. This helps them know how hard you will work, how you will fit into their team, and how you handle interpersonal differences. While it is easy to dismiss these types of questions as not central to the role of a respiratory therapist, these questions are vital. How you function as part of a team and your approach to work is extremely important to any employer. Excelling in this area can help new graduates stand out, even without much experience.

The other type of respiratory therapist interview questions you are likely to encounter are technical questions. These questions will evaluate your competence and experience as a respiratory therapist. Demonstrating competence is essential, and discussing previous experiences is a great approach to doing this. If you have limited experience, you will need to draw more on your knowledge and clinical experiences during your schooling. While some questions may evaluate both your personal and professional fit for the position, most will be focused on one or the other.

Interview Questions About Personality and Soft Skills

General respiratory therapist interview questions will not be specific to your role as a respiratory therapist; instead, they will focus on you as a person to see if you will be a good fit for the employer’s culture. Some common questions you may encounter include:

  • Tell me about yourself – Provide a summary of your professional background, focusing on your experience and skills as they relate to the role, but in a personable way. While the focus should be on your professional background, you should also consider including some details about yourself as a person to build a rapport with your interviewer.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? – Share your personal and professional goals, demonstrating your commitment to professional growth and development. Be sure to demonstrate that you have a goal for professional growth, but avoid seeming so focused on your future that the role you are interviewing for isn’t important to you.
  • How do you handle disagreements at work? – Explain your approach to resolving conflicts professionally, focusing on open communication and finding mutually beneficial solutions. Use examples and avoid framing disagreements as conflicts, instead framing them as a barrier that is overcome through collaboration.
  • How do you cope with the emotional demands of your job? – Explain your strategies for managing the emotional aspects of the job, demonstrating that you are self-aware of the impact emotionally demanding situations have. Be sure to demonstrate that you are able to cope in a healthy way.
  • How do you handle a patient who is unhappy with their care? – Share your approach to addressing patient concerns, focusing on how you work collaboratively to find a suitable solution. This question can be an opportunity to highlight your empathy in addition to explaining your process for handling complaints.
  • Why are you interested in working in this role? – Share enthusiasm for the specific organization and role, highlighting their mission or values, as well as why the role appeals to you.
  • What is an achievement that you are most proud of? – Share a personal or professional achievement that highlights your skill, experience, or personality trait relevant to the role.

Technical Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions

Technical respiratory therapist interview questions are intended to see how skilled and knowledgeable you are in your field. If you have a few years of experience, answering these questions using specific experiences to illustrate your response is often ideal. Some example questions and potential approaches to answering them include:

  • What experience do you have working with respiratory patients? – Begin by outlining previous professional roles you have worked in, then move on to describing specific situations or cases where you have provided respiratory care, showcasing your hands-on experience and expertise.
  • Describe a challenging case you have encountered and how you managed it. – Share a specific case that highlights your problem-solving skills, clinical knowledge, and ability to adapt to complex situations. If you are a recent graduate, you may need to consider clinical cases you encountered during school.
  • What experience do you have with respiratory equipment and technology? – Discuss your familiarity with various types of equipment, focusing on the most advanced or rarely-used types of equipment that you have encountered. Be sure to be as exact as possible by identifying specific pieces of equipment or types of technology.
  • What is your experience with pediatric and neonatal patients? – Describe your experience working with younger patients, highlighting your ability to adapt your care approach to suit their unique needs. Make sure you demonstrate your understanding of the complexities involved with these populations.
  • Can you discuss a time when you had to advocate for a patient? – Share a specific example that demonstrates your ability to speak up for the patient’s needs and demonstrate a broader awareness of how you always keep the patient’s needs in mind.
  • What qualities do you believe are essential to be a successful respiratory therapist? – Discuss the key attributes you think are crucial in this profession, including technical expertise, while focusing on empathy and soft skills that center around the patient and their needs.
  • What respiratory conditions do you have the most experience with? – Provide an overview of the respiratory disorders you are familiar with, including both common and uncommon conditions. If you have specialized knowledge or experience in a particular area, highlight your expertise.
  • How do you prioritize your workload when managing multiple patients? – Describe your time management and organizational skills, giving examples of when you had to prioritize. If you are a new graduate, you can speak to this by giving examples of how you managed a challenging academic workload coupled with other demands.

Situational Interview Questions

  • How do you respond to an emergency situation with a respiratory patient? – When asked about handling emergencies, emphasize your ability to act swiftly and decisively. Stress the importance of staying calm under pressure and adhering to established emergency protocols, highlighting how these practices ensure effective and safe patient care in critical situations.
  • Describe a time when you had to work closely with other healthcare professionals. – Focus on your teamwork skills and emphasize the importance of teamwork in your practice. Discuss the value of clear communication and a collaborative approach in a healthcare setting.
  • How do you stay updated with the latest in respiratory therapy? – Display your commitment to lifelong learning and staying current in your field and discuss specific activities like attending relevant workshops, engaging in professional forums, and reading up-to-date publications.
  • Explain how you handle a situation where a patient refuses treatment. – Answer by using a specific example if possible. Highlight the importance of respecting patient autonomy, keeping patients fully informed, and ensuring you have done everything possible to get them the help they needed. Talk about the significance of empathetic communication, ethical consideration, and offering alternative options to aid patients’ decision-making process.
  • Describe how you would handle a high-stress, high-volume work environment. – Emphasize your organizational skills and ability to prioritize effectively. Discuss the importance of maintaining focus on patient needs while managing a heavy workload and how staying composed ensures efficiency and quality in patient care.
  • How do you ensure patient safety and quality care? – If possible, provide a specific example of a time that you helped ensure patient safety. The best way to answer this question involves not only focusing on the day-to-day aspects of improving patient care, but also emphasizing your involvement in facilitating systemic changes, such as participation in a patient care-related committee.
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond for a patient. – Give a specific example that focuses on your dedication to patient care. Expand on the example to emphasize your commitment to the importance of empathy and taking the initiative to ensure high-quality care for patients.
  • How do you handle receiving constructive criticism? – Approach this question by emphasizing the importance of being open to feedback. Discuss how accepting and learning from constructive criticism is crucial for personal and professional development and how it ultimately enhances your skills and patient care.

5 Most Common Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions with Sample Answers

Most common respiratory therapist interview questions.

It is normal to get a little nervous before an interview but thinking about how you want to answer the questions can help you feel more comfortable. Here are a few of the most common interview questions for respiratory therapists:

1. Why did you choose to become a respiratory therapist?

Explanation: Employers ask this question to understand what drives you in this field. It is an opportunity to share your personal journey and motivations, whether they stem from life experiences or a particular interest in the respiratory therapy field. By focusing on your personal inspirations and professional aspirations, you have the chance to demonstrate the foundation behind your commitment to your career choice.

Sample Answer: I chose respiratory therapy because of a personal experience with a family member who struggled with asthma. Witnessing the challenges they experienced and the difference the care they received made in their life inspired me to pursue a career where I could make a direct impact on patient care and respiratory health.

2. What are your strengths as a respiratory therapist?

Explanation: This question allows employers to assess your self-awareness and how you perceive your role in patient care. Highlighting your expertise in respiratory conditions combined with a compassionate approach demonstrates how you bring value to the role. It is vital to include a balanced focus that includes both your strengths as a professional and as a person.

Sample Answer: My strengths include detailed knowledge of respiratory conditions, strong technical skills with various equipment, and a compassionate approach that focuses on each person as an individual. My balanced and holistic approach towards patient care ensures I deliver the best treatment tailored to each individual’s needs.

3. Can you describe a time when you had to adapt quickly to a new technology or protocol?

Explanation: The ability to adapt to new technologies and protocols is crucial in healthcare. This question probes your flexibility and eagerness to learn. Employers are interested in how you handle change and integrate new methods into your practice. Your response should reflect your willingness to embrace innovation and how it positively impacts patient care. If possible, use a specific example.

Sample Answer: Recently, our facility trialed a new inline CO2 monitoring system. I took the initiative to learn it quickly, which not only enhanced patient care efficiency, but also allowed me to assist my colleagues in adapting to the change. By adapting quickly, I ensured the safe and effective use of this new technology.

4. What do you find most challenging about being a respiratory therapist, and how do you manage it?

Explanation: This question aims to uncover how you perceive and overcome difficulties in your role. It is an opportunity to discuss the demands of working with critically ill patients and how you utilize your training and communication skills to manage these challenges. Showcasing your ability to remain composed and effective under pressure can demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Sample Answer: The most challenging aspect I find is dealing with critically ill neonatal patients in emergency situations. I manage this by staying calm, relying on my training, and maintaining clear communication with my team for the best patient outcomes. I also take time to decompress and process everything on shifts where I deal with neonatal patients who code.

5. How do you approach educating and communicating with patients and their families about respiratory care?

Explanation: This question assesses your communication skills and your ability to assess and engage with patients and their families effectively. It is an opportunity to demonstrate your empathy, your ability to convey complex information in an understandable manner, and your commitment to patient-centered care. Highlight how you tailor your communication to meet the diverse needs of patients and their families, ensuring they are well-informed and comfortable with the care process.

Sample Answer: I believe clear and empathetic communication is key to educating patients and their families. I am always proactive in taking the time to explain respiratory conditions and treatments in a way that is accessible and reassuring. For instance, I use visual aids and simple language to ensure understanding, and I encourage questions to ensure they feel supported, understand what is happening, and are actively involved in the care process.

Ace Your Next Respiratory Therapist Interview

By arriving prepared with a respiratory therapist resume, anticipating the questions you are likely to be asked, and preparing answers that highlight your skills, you will be well-equipped to ace your next respiratory therapist interview! See what opportunities await you by searching our open RT jobs.

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