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Surgical Tech Resume & Interview Guide 2023 | Trusted Health

Dec 23, 2022
Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN

Have you been looking to enter a new role as a surgical technician? Applying for jobs can be daunting. The resumes, the interviews, and the uncertain new environment you will be joining can all cause apprehension. 

But fear not- surgical tech positions are growing in need as our population continues to age. The trajectory of a surgical technician career is thriving, meaning you will have less competition for a job than the average person. Despite that, we want to help you construct the perfect resume and ace the interview with these tips from Trusted Health. 

Must-Haves For a Surgical Technician Resume

Resume writing may not have been part of your surgical technician training, but don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help make your resume stand out from a stack. We will help you showcase why you are the best candidate for the position.  

According to hiring expert Stephen Epling, VP of People at Outreach, the most important feature of a resume is to be clear, concise, and direct. Most hiring managers review a resume in less than 5 minutes and are looking for either direct relevant experience or an indication you have the potential to succeed in a new role. 

  1. Keep it brief. Resumes that span more than one page are often overlooked. Epling states, “make sure you're capturing relevant information in your resume and not every detail of every professional experience you’ve ever had. For instance, you may not need to include the first part time job you had in high school.
  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. If you have an old (and probably embarrassing) email address, sign up for a free email account using your first and last name if possible. Also, it's standard practice now to include your preferred pronouns as this helps the hiring manager address you in the way you prefer. 

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 is used to emphasize your hands-on knowledge. Kelly Jameson, ST, a surgical tech with over 16 years of experience in various operating rooms throughout Washington, Virginia, and Texas, recommends adding in any specialty teams you were on, projects you were involved with, and any accomplishments or achievements. For example, Jameson states, “In our OR department, we just earned an Award from AORN (Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses) for the Center of Excellence in Surgical Safety: Prevention of RSI recognition by AORN. We were the first hospital in the country to achieve this award. I would make sure that was on my resume.”

If you are a new grad or a surgical tech newbie, Jameson recommends highlighting your clinical hours as experience. She also adds that if you have a good relationship with your preceptor to use them as a reference.  

Education: Education can vary for surgical techs. Some surgical techs learn from on-the-job training, and some complete an accredited program. It's important to indicate on your resume any formal education you’ve had. Whether you are a surgical technician or technologist, you will also want to add in any specialized training you’ve completed. 

Skills: There are many skills you need to have as a surgical tech, but some that stand out to Jameson would be highlighting how flexible you are when it comes to last minute changes. The operating room is a dynamic area, and knowing that you can adapt quickly to these changes is vital to a smooth operation. Another skill to add into your resume is a positive attitude. All surgical techs are part of a team, and showing that you can be a positive component to that team is essential. 

In addition, Epling reminds candidates to make sure your professional pages, such as LinkedIn, are up to date for potential employers to gather more information about you if needed. Speaking of social media, it's also time to take down all those college party photos if you are job searching. Yes, employers do search social media to find out who you are, and you don’t want to be overlooked because of photos or posts that do not align with your future employer’s values.

Surgical Technician Questions and Answers

Jameson has had years of experience interviewing for surgical tech positions in different states. She mentions that because this career is high stress, “we always get asked in an interview how we would react in stressful situations or how we handle conflict.” Making sure the employer feels confident that you will be a proactive asset to the team is essential. 

Some questions you may be asked during an interview for a surgical tech position:

Have you ever made an error in the operating room and what happened?

Healthcare errors can have drastic consequences, and employers want to know that you will be truthful and have enough confidence to speak out if you see any mistakes happening. Be honest with your answer, but keep in mind that interviewers are specifically looking for evidence of how you handled the situation more than the actual mistake that occurred. 

Describe some of the surgeries you have assisted with.

This type of question can be prepped prior to the interview. Make a list of all the surgeries and specialites you have encountered. Be sure to mention what you enjoyed about each type of surgery as well. 

Why is it important to maintain a sterile environment? 

Although this could be catagorized as a technical answer, most healthcare professionals are looking for a simple answer- infection prevention. Expand on why this is so vital in an operating room. This shows your interviewer that you critically think about why you do things the way you do in your job. 

What do you think is the most important part of a surgical tech’s responsibilities?

As with all healthcare professions, patient safety is the number one goal. Although it may seem like it at times, being the best assistant to the surgeon is not a surgical tech’s most important role. Emphasizing your focus on quality patient-centered care will show the employer that above all else, your focus is on patient safety. 

Jameson adds, “we also get asked why we want to work at that facility,” states Jameson. She advises to always make sure to do your homework on the company and know their mission statement or vision to align your answer with these values.

Key Questions To Ask During a Surgical Technician Interview

Usually at the end of an interview there will be time for you to ask your own questions to the interviewer. Epling states, “the most important part of the Q&A is to come prepared with a large list of questions, so you have plenty of opportunities to ask multiple questions to each interviewer. If you're feeling stuck, inquire about the team, hospital, and what success looks like.” He adds, “the worst thing you can do when asked if you have any questions is to have nothing prepared.” When in doubt, a repeat question is better than no questions at all.

Here are a few questions that a surgical tech candidate should ask during an 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 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 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. 

Jameson adds, “When you are going in for an interview, it's as much an interview for the hospital as it is for you interviewing the hospital. Come prepared with your own questions like what specialties do they offer, do they have teams for specific specialties, how much call is involved? It shows you put in the effort and care about the facility you are hoping to work at.”

Trusted Health Can Help You Find Your Next Surgical Technician Position

If you’ve ever been curious about traveling surgical technician 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 surgical technician positions all over the country. Login today to discover a new and exciting surgical tech career path!