MA Interview Questionnaire

We’re happy to provide this newly-updated  tool that dermatology practices can use during the medical assistant interview process. To open the “test page,” click the link below:

Try it out for yourself to see how it works!  To use during interviews, simply open the test page through the above link and ask applicants to complete the test as directed.  Let them know that when they’re done, they should leave the results page open so that you can view/print out the results. 
HINT – Be sure this webpage isn’t left open while the applicants are testing!

Here’s what the answers can tell you about an applicant…

Question #1
Please tell us a little about your qualifications to work in dermatology, and your career goals. Don’t worry about writing too much – just a brief introduction of a paragraph or two at most.

As it asks, it’s nice to learn a little bit about the applicant being interviewed.

Above all, though, this is an assessment of the applicant’s spelling and grammar. Anyone can provide a nice resume with the benefit of “spell-check”. Having the applicant provide a paragraph or two in a real-life setting can provide insight into how you can expect their notes and documentation to appear.

Question #2
Please place a check next to those devices which you feel comfortable using and/or operating.

Dermatology staff’s familiarity and comfort with the use of technology has never been more important. That said, each practice will need to determine the importance of the applicant’s ability to use the devices listed.

Question #3
Dermatology patients sometimes present with bleeding, infected, oozing, crusty, or unpleasant smelling skin conditions that the medical assistant must assist their provider in treating. Would this work environment “gross you out”?

While it seems like a funny question, it’s actually quite important. Those who have never worked in dermatology often have a mistaken belief that dermatology is all “facials and Botox”. A medical assistant that can’t handle the site of blood, an incision and drainage, or infected wounds should probably choose another specialty.

Question #4
Around which types of patients must “Universal Precautions” be followed?

Even those with the most basic of medical training should understand that “Universal Precautions” apply to everyone.

Question #5
Please go to the website

If your practice uses EMR, then this is one of the most important questions on the test! It actually provides us with insight about three different skills.

First, it tests their ability to follow instructions. The directions provided aren’t difficult to understand, but there are several steps involved.

Secondly, even on the most basic level, the applicant must know how to get on the internet and navigate to a webpage. If your office uses EMR, but the applicant doesn’t even know how to use the internet, then that would be an obvious concern.

Third, their typing speed is tested. If you’ve ever hired an MA only to later discover that she had unacceptable typing skills, then you can appreciate the importance of this question!

Question #6
Which of the following represents a potential HIPAA violation?

This is another screening question which is only fair (and applicable) to those who have medical experience. If they have medical training but are unable to recognize obvious HIPAA violations, then at the very least it will help you identify a topic about which they need additional education.

Questions #7-10
Where would the following text most likely be found within the visit note?

With the advent of EMR, dermatology practices are increasingly using medical assistants as “scribes” to assist in the documentation process. Therefore, having a fundamental understanding about where information belongs within the visit note is critical.

Question #11
What type of information is typically required when calling in a prescription to the pharmacy?

Another fundamental question that anyone with experience in a medical office should be able to answer correctly.

Question #12
The “Bactrim allergy” scenario.

This is another multifaceted question.

First and foremost, does the applicant recognize the risk presented to the patient – and take steps to prevent injury from occurring?

Second, does the applicant recognize the importance of protecting the practice? The patient mistakenly forgot to inform us that she’s allergic to “sulfa antibiotics”. Does their proposed documentation clearly (though tastefully) clarify that the fault does not lie with the practice or the dermatologist?

And last, how is their documentation? Apart from addressing the medicolegal aspects described above, do they even recognize that a telephone note would be necessary? Is it worded professionally and is it grammatically correct?

Question #13
What percentage of “non-sterile” items can be placed on a sterile surgical tray before it’s considered contaminated?

The concept of “sterile technique” is one which some find difficult to understand.  This question can assess their basic knowledge of proper sterile procedure.


A significant role that dermatology medical assistants play in many practices is to assist the dermatologist with entering pertinent information into the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR).

On the computer you’re using, please open a document program such as Microsoft Word or Notepad. Within that document, please create the following sections:
-OTHER – In the “Other” section, please document any information which you feel may be pertinent to the visit, though its section isn’t listed above.

At the bottom of this section, you will find an audio recording of a sample patient visit. Please be sure your interviewer has provided you with earphones or that speakers are available on your computer. As you listen to the audio recording, please document any information which you believe should be included in the patient’s medical record. Don’t forget to assign the information to its appropriate category (i.e., assign the pertinent information to its appropriate section of History, Exam, Assessment and/or Plan).

NOTE – You may pause/repeat the audio as needed. Also, medications prescribed are not mentioned by brand name, but instead are identified by “type” (e.g., “topical antibiotic”). If/when referencing those, please simply refer to them as described and don’t worry about indicating their exact name.

This last component is a new addition and I personally think a very valuable one. It goes without saying that each medical assistant’s history-taking and scribe skills have a huge effect on workflow. Poor documentation can also become a significant medicolegal issue. See here for the “key” for this item.

Hopefully you find this test to helpful in the hiring process. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. Thanks!

Timothy August, MPAS, PA-C
Author – ACDT Course Modules

P.S. – You may want to “bookmark” this page so that you can easily access the questionnaire when needed in the future.


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