35+ Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions

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Respiratory therapists play a critical role in healthcare, supporting the well-being of patients with respiratory issues.

Both breathing-related impacts from COVID-19 and a growing elderly population have contributed to an increased prevalence of respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia and pulmonary disease. Coupled with growing healthcare workforce needs, the demand for respiratory therapists is high.

To find the right candidate for your needs, you need to ask the best respiratory therapist interview questions. But first, let’s take a look at skills.

What Skills to Look for in a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists must meet certain educational and licensing requirements. In addition, they need critical soft skills to work effectively with patients and other healthcare providers. Choose respiratory therapist interview questions that will assess the following skills:

  • Technical skills and proficiencies: Respiratory therapists need to conduct thorough respiratory assessments of their patients. They also must be skilled at managing mechanical ventilators, conducting intubation, and interpreting diagnostic data. In addition to having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, many states and employers require candidates to be licensed by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) examinations:
    • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
    • Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
  • Interpersonal communication: Respiratory therapists need to juggle communication with patients, families, and other healthcare teams while sharing complex medical information. Candidates should demonstrate empathy and compassion for patients. They also need strong collaboration skills to work alongside interdisciplinary healthcare teams.
  • Critical thinking skills: Respiratory therapists support patients across the spectrum of ages and medical conditions, meaning they need to be prepared for a multitude of situations. They should showcase their abilities to identify and address respiratory issues, as well as to troubleshoot equipment as situations arise.
  • Adaptability and time management: Respiratory issues can be unpredictable. Candidates should demonstrate time management skills when juggling competing needs and also show their ability to adapt care plans as needed.

Respiratory Therapist Interview Questions to Assess Candidates

When interviewing potential respiratory therapists, you’ll want to ask questions to assess a range of skills.

Questions for Technical Proficiency

Ask these questions to gauge a candidate’s experience working in a patient-facing healthcare setting, their prior background in respiratory therapy, and other technical proficiencies they would need to use on the job. Be sure to ask about their familiarity with any specific equipment used within your facility.

  1. Can you share your experience with ventilator management?
  2. What experience do you have with different modes of mechanical ventilation, and when might you use each one?
  3. Share your experience with airway management techniques, including intubation and tracheostomy care.
  4. Do you have proficiency in conducting arterial blood gas (ABG) analyses? How do you interpret and use ABG results to inform your patient care?
  5. Share any experience you have with pulmonary function testing (PFT).
  6. Discuss your proficiency in assessing and managing airway disorders.
  7. What is your familiarity with respiratory medications and experience in administering them through various routes?
  8. How do you assess the effectiveness of oxygen therapy, and what factors influence your decision-making regarding oxygen delivery methods?
  9. Describe a specific case when you had to troubleshoot and resolve issues with a mechanical ventilator.
  10. How do you stay updated on the latest advancements and best practices in respiratory therapy?

Questions About Interpersonal Communication

Ask these questions to understand how a candidate approaches daily patient and staff interactions, as well as more situational experiences. A candidate’s answers will also help you discover how the candidate both manages delicate conversations and juggles patient-facing responsibilities with clinical duties.

  1. How do you describe compassionate care for respiratory patients?
  2. Share successful steps you take to establish rapport and build trust with patients during the initial assessment.
  3. What steps do you take to educate patients and their families about their conditions and treatment plans? How do you ensure patients understand complex medical information?
  4. How do you tailor your communication style when conveying information to pediatric patients? What about a palliative care/end-of-life patient?
  5. Can you share a time when you collaborated with a healthcare team to develop a comprehensive respiratory care plan?
  6. How do you ensure effective communication with other healthcare professionals in a fast-paced clinical environment?
  7. Can you describe a time when you had to adjust your communication style to effectively interact with a diverse group of healthcare professionals?
  8. What is your experience supporting patients managing severe or chronic respiratory conditions? Share steps you take to provide compassionate care.
  9. How do you approach the treatment of conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or bronchiectasis?
  10. What steps have you taken or would you take to ensure that patients with diverse cultural backgrounds receive culturally competent respiratory care?
  11. Can you provide an example of how you ensure patient confidentiality and privacy in your interactions?
  12. Have you had patients who are non-compliant with their respiratory therapy regimen? How did you handle that situation?

Questions About Critical Thinking

By asking these questions, you can ascertain a candidate’s ability to think critically, especially in hectic healthcare settings or during respiratory emergencies.

  1. Share a time when you had to quickly assess a patient in respiratory distress and make immediate decisions. How did you assess under pressure? What was the outcome?
  2. Have you had to manage a complex respiratory case or manage patients with multiple medical morbidities? How did you adapt your care or advocate for their needs?
  3. Describe a time when you identified a potential complication related to respiratory therapy or intervention. How did you come to this conclusion, and how did you handle it?
  4. How do you approach situations where patients have conflicting medical conditions that impact their respiratory care?
  5. How do you find ways to involve patients in the decision-making process regarding their respiratory care, especially when there are multiple treatment options?
  6. Can you share an example of a time when you had to troubleshoot and resolve issues with respiratory equipment or technology during patient care? How did you manage the patient while addressing the technical issue?

Questions to Assess Adaptability

These respiratory therapist questions should help you gauge a candidate’s thought process when presented with new information or workflows.

  1. How do you stay calm when faced with unexpected emergencies or changes in a patient’s condition?
  2. How do you adapt your practices to incorporate new evidence-based interventions?
  3. Have you had to create an adaptive respiratory care plan to meet the needs of a patient with an uncommon condition?
  4. Share a time when you had to advocate on behalf of a patient’s care plan based on new clinical data or patient information.
  5. Describe a situation when you had to quickly adapt your respiratory care plan based on patient or healthcare staff feedback.
  6. Share any experience you have transitioning patients from acute care to home-based respiratory therapy. How did you adapt care plans for different settings?
  7. What steps have you taken to adapt care plans for patients as they transition from pediatrics to adulthood?
  8. How would you adapt your approach to motivate a patient who was wary of doctors and healthcare settings?
  9. Can you provide an instance where changes in a patient’s insurance coverage required you to modify their respiratory care plan? How did you handle it?

Streamline Your Respiratory Therapist Hiring Process

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that respiratory therapist job openings will grow 13% annually until 2032.

Hiring the right candidates takes more than just asking the right respiratory therapist interview questions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the hiring process, work with Insight Global to find the best respiratory therapists for your medical practice.