As a dental assistant or prospective dental assistant, you may be job searching for a variety of reasons. You may be striving to land your first job, to find the right fit for you, or to make a change for other reasons.

For example, Nancy F.’s dentist recently retired, so now she’s considering a new role. “I worked for a great office for 17 years, with good pay, but now I’m back to searching for another employer. So far, I haven’t found a job that would pay comparatively, or that even wants to interview me.”

Starrlyn K. agrees that sometimes, job searching as a dental assistant can be stressful. “Someone just recently told me how easy it would be to get a dental assistant job. This couldn’t be further from the truth!”

In actuality, the dental assistant job application and interview process can be challenging — even for those who are especially qualified and bring their “A-game” to the interview. Read about the job interview experiences below, and let us know if you can relate!

You Sent in Your Resume … but It’s 
‘Gathering Cobwebs’

Some dental assistants have had a tough time getting an in-person interview after sending their resume for consideration. This can be frustrating for job applicants who are eager to prove themselves in person as a top job candidate. Jackie C. commiserates: “These days, you often have to sign up for an account with an online job-seeker website and apply for the position through it. Then, you are lucky if the dental office even calls you. Most of the time, you receive an electronic rejection letter.”

To avoid what can be a waiting game to hear from the hiring manager, Jackie has sidestepped the online process and gone straight to the office to inquire about employment opportunity. This has been successful for her! “I’ve been a dental assistant for more than 34 years and have landed each of my four jobs ‘the old-fashioned way’ — dressing professionally, preparing my printed resume, and walking into the office in person,” she reports.

Monica B. agrees: “Walking in still works!”

Additionally, if you feel disheartened because your resume doesn’t seem to be getting attention from hiring managers, there are other approaches you might want to try. For example, consider seeking out the advice of a friend or family member. (Ideally, consult someone who has experience either interviewing for a role or interviewing others — or both!) They may have tips about how you can strengthen your resume to ensure it rises to the top of the pile rather than gathering cobwebs at the bottom.


You Don’t Seem to Click with the Hiring Dentist

For those dental assistants who have been brought in for an in-person interview, they may realize right away that they don’t seem to get along with the hiring dentist, or that their approach to working is different from the dentist’s. For example, Thornton M. once found during a job interview that her potential future employer was guided by some very particular beliefs. “They seemed more interested in my smile than my resume, and then referenced their motto, which was rooted in their belief system, not necessarily science,” she explains. “I never ran out of anywhere so fast!”

Sue H. also had a bad experience that motivated her to continue interviewing elsewhere. “Sometimes, you can immediately tell that they would be the wrong doctor and wrong practice for you,” she advises.


Your Working Interview Went Badly

Along the lines of not clicking with the hiring dentist, Lindsay B. shares having this realization — but while she was further along in the process, during a working interview. “I just did a working interview at an office where they told me my ‘job’ would be to schedule patients for things even if they didn’t need the actual treatment, because they wanted to make a profit,” Lindsay says. “I believe the dentist then did an unnecessary treatment on a child. This wasn’t the right job for me.”

Sarah D. also shared her working interview woes: “In my experience, usually after I complete a working interview, I do not get a callback. I’ve had to follow up with companies to send me pay for the working interview — and one potential employer didn’t pay very much.”


(Have you ever had a working interview? What was your experience like?)


You Got the Job Offer, but the Salary Seemed Low

Finally, some dental assistants have an extremely positive interview experience that culminates in a job offer — which is the ultimate goal! Unfortunately, at this stage, it can be possible for the offered salary to come in lower than desired.

For example, the hiring dentist making the offer once told Miranda M., CDA, she believed dental assistants aren’t producers and revenue generators in the dental office — and thus, if Miranda took the position, she wouldn’t be paid very highly. “The dentist seemed to be making an excuse about why she was low-balling the offer,” Miranda says. “Do you think I took the job? NO!”


You’ve read about some bad interviews — now, 
share your interview success stories!