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Respiratory Therapist Resume & Interview Guide 2023 | Trusted Health

Dec 22, 2022
Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN

Looking to enter a new role as a Respiratory Therapist (RT)? Whether this is your first job right out of school or you are simply looking for a new environment, learn everything you need to know to create the perfect resume & ace the interview with these tips from Trusted Health.

So you’ve found the perfect RT position, now what? The universal piece of advice is to think like the hiring manager. What will they want to see on your resume? What answers do they want to hear during an interview? If you were the hiring manager, what types of personalities would you want to add to your team?

Read on for some tips to land that dream respiratory therapist job. 

Must-Haves For a Respiratory Therapist Resume

Crafting an engaging and attention-grabbing resume can be challenging. There are people who devote their entire career to writing profound resumes, so when it comes to putting together a one-pager that highlights your experience, don’t feel too overwhelmed. 

The primary goal of a resume is to land you an interview. It’s the interview’s objective to get the job offer. All a resume needs to do is get you booked for an interview. 

  1. Keep it brief. Resumes that span more than one page are often overlooked. Save the details for the interview and focus on highlighting the best parts of your experience. A resume is a snapshot of your past. 
  2. Make it easy to read. Most hiring managers are skimming your resume at best. Clearly identify sections and use bolded and larger typefaces to highlight key components. Don’t use fancy fonts, or make it sound like you looked up every word using a thesaurus. 
  3. Send as a PDF document. With all the different formatting options available, don’t be the one who submits their resume only to be opened by the hiring manager as a bunch of HTML characters. 
  4. Do not include your address. If you are applying for a position in a different geographical location, you wouldn’t want anyone to dismiss your resume since you will need to relocate. Include a phone number (with area code!) and a professional email address. Get rid of that sassylilgirl@AOL.com domain and sign up for a free email account using your first and last name if possible. Also, include your preferred pronouns, this helps the hiring manager address you in the way you prefer. 
  5. Add in your license number. This saves human resources from searching your credentials. They can quickly verify that you have an unencumbered license. You can also request an official credential verification letter which could be added as a beneficial attachment.

The key components to a healthcare-related professional resume are experience, education, and skills. Keep these headers in mind when forming your resume to keep it brief and to the point. 

Experience: This section can vary greatly depending on the years worked as an RT. For folks that have worked as an RT for 20+ years, this section will be bulked up with lots of experience. If you have more than 4-5 employers though, limit it to the last 10 years only. Employers want to make sure you are going to stick around. 

If you are a new grad or an RT newbie, what can you mention in this section? For starters, add in any clinical experience you have from internships or preceptorships. Think outside the box if you have no direct RT background. For instance, customer service is a critical part of healthcare- have you had any customer service experience? Helping customers, staying calm during stressful situations, multitasking..these are all things that transfer from a customer service job to an RT position and show your potential employer that you have essential expertise that are not necessarily taught in RT school. 

Education: This portion of the resume is pretty straightforward. Make sure to state the year you graduated from your RT program. If you are applying for a position prior to graduation, make sure to make that clear and include “Expected Graduation (month/year).” 

Don’t bother adding in your high school education. If you have completed an accredited RT program, it's implied that you at least have a GED. The only exception to this is if you did something very special during high school such as becoming valedictorian, or completed healthcare-related classes during high school such as college-level anatomy and physiology. 

Additionally, be sure to list any specialized training you have in this section. Have you become a Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist? Are you certified in pediatrics? Have you taken any training in CPAP fittings? All these extra professional developments will help amplify your dedication to your RT career.  

Skills: RTs inherently have lots of hands-on skills, and hiring managers want to know what they are. Make sure to highlight the equipment you are experienced using, which brands of machines you’ve used, also including any electronic medical record (EMR) systems you’re comfortable with. Finding a candidate that is already familiar with your EMR is a significant benefit to cut down on the onboarding process for a company. 

Respiratory Therapist Questions and Answers

The great thing about being asked to interview for a position is that you already know the hiring manager is interested in you. Now it's time to show them your personality. Interviews for an RT position will rarely focus on technical questions. For one, hiring managers assume if you have successfully completed a degree program, you are competent in the basic skills of an RT. Secondly, hiring managers most likely are not RTs themselves. They are managers who may not even have any clinical experience. In essence, they wouldn’t know what a correct technical answer would even be. Interviews are often a way to simply get to know a candidate’s character.  

Just as in most healthcare positions, experience weighs heavier than any straight-A’s during school. You can prepare for an RT interview by practicing your answers, however it’s important to remember that the interviewer wants to get to know you- not your pre-planned answers. 

Depending on the intent of the interviewer, questions can range from the standard “What's your biggest weakness?” to more ethical analysis such as, “What would you do if your patient was refusing treatment which would result in imminent death?” Expert interviewers are looking to determine how you think, rather than listing off experience from your resume. 

Here are some examples of complex interview questions that an RT might encounter and what an ideal answer would include.

Why did you become a respiratory therapist?

Was it for the money? Did you fail out of nursing school? Did you think it would be cool to wear scrubs all day? These are not answers you want to use. 

Maybe there wasn’t some enlightenment moment when you decided to pursue a career as an RT, but to help answer this question think back to one of your best days as an RT. What made it so good? Did you enjoy the camaraderie with the ER team? Did you see the eyes light up on your patient when they finally understood why they were prescribed a CPAP machine? Did you help ventilate a patient who had stopped breathing? Use the times you came home from work jazzed to do what you do- and explain that to your interviewer. It may not be the reason you became an RT, but it's the reason you are still doing it today.  

How would you deal with a difficult patient?

Unfortunately, we know this is an all too common occurrence in healthcare. However, interviewers are looking for an example of how you have successfully handled this in the past.

Use this question to tell a story of a time you kept calm and cheerful. Focus on showing your recognition that patients can become challenging in many times of fear, confusion, or unfamiliar surroundings. Showcase how you were patient and by showing empathy the situation was turned around. 

What equipment do you have experience with?

To be prepared for this question, write down prior to the interview all the machines, computer systems, and equipment you have experience with. There’s nothing worse than drawing a blank on what should be a simple answer. If you’re new to the profession, emphasize your eagerness and determination to master a new system. It’s important to highlight your willingness to learn something new. 

Have you ever disagreed with a doctor on a diagnosis and what happened?

Another chance to tell a narrative story about your experience, interviewers are looking for the ways in which you handle conflict. It’s pivotal not to come off as a know-it-all, but equally important to show interviewers that you are confident in your skills. After all, they are looking for someone to join a team, and want you to speak out respectfully using your specialized knowledge. Inform interviewers that you approach conflict with an open mind, receptive to new thoughts and new ways of doing things. Emphasize that you are an active listener. If you disagree with someone, make sure to note that you detail the reasoning behind your stance and respect differing views.   

Key Questions To Ask During a Respiratory Therapist Interview

Usually at the end of an interview there will be time for you to ask your own questions to the interviewer. Never say that you don’t have any. Prepare yourself by making either a mental list or bring along a printed list. This shows you spent time thinking and preparing for the interview. Here are a few questions that a candidate should ask during an RT interview:

What would a typical day look like for me in this position? This is an important question because subconsciously the interviewer will need to visualize you in the position to answer it.  

What is the chain of command for this position? Having a clear understanding of your direct superior is helpful to determine the position you will be filling. Will you have 5 different managers telling you what to do, or a clear communication stream for expectations? 

What do you like about working for this company? Flipping the questions on your interviewer can sometimes catch them off guard, meaning they will have to think of an answer on the spot. Do they mention anything about a positive work culture? Pay attention to the positives and probe further if they mention anything negative. 

What is the onboarding process? Be wary if the company does not have a planned and detailed onboarding process. You don’t want to be thrown into a position with no training. 

What are the company’s (or department’s) plans for growth and development? This question shows your intent to stay with the company for the long haul. If you are curious about the future of the company, you are implying you want to be a part of it for those changes. 

Trusted Health Can Help You Find Your Next Respiratory Therapist Position

If you’ve ever been curious about traveling RT careers, Trusted Health is now offering allied health jobs. We can help you every step of the way, ensuring a seamless transition to in-demand respiratory therapist positions all over the country. Login today to discover a new and exciting respiratory therapy career path!