Your emergency medical technician (EMT) training may get you an interview for a job, but you will need to prove that you have what it takes before you are hired. Interviewers want to assess whether you have the right qualities and skills, and they may ask you questions about your strengths and abilities. It takes a particular mix of skills to make a good EMT -- it is worth knowing what these skills are and how you will answer this type of question before the interview takes place.
Communication and Observation Skills
Good EMTs know how and when to listen, speak and observe. They often work in stressful situations and must be able to communicate effectively with all kinds of people. Assessing a patient's condition is not always easy; getting people to do what you need them to do can also be difficult. Good observational, instructional and questioning skills are therefore an essential part of the job.
Reasoning and Problem Solving Skills
EMTs need strong critical thinking skills to assess and diagnose patients logically and rationally. They should also have good deductive and inductive reasoning abilities. Deductive reasoning allows you to apply known rules to situations to solve problems. Inductive reasoning allows you to evaluate apparently unrelated information to find connections in the problem solving process. EMTs must be able to identify and assess problems rapidly, using their best judgment to find effective solutions.
EMTs care for many different types of patients, and it is important that EMTs have the empathy and interpersonal skills to relate to other people effectively in all kinds of circumstances. Team-playing skills are also vital. Effective care and treatment depends on the actions of a team, rather than the individual. In addition, some calls take EMTs into dangerous or volatile situations, and they must trust each other and work as a unit.
Ability to Work in a Changeable Environment
EMTs work in a nonstructured environment. Some shifts may be quiet or only involve routine calls; others may involve serious emergencies. Self-motivation and flexibility are both important qualities, and an effective EMT will be able to switch from managing routine calls to handling a life-threatening emergency with no notice. EMTs also have the ability to cope with situations that they themselves may find distressing, stressful or dangerous, ensuring that they prioritize patient care effectively and sensitively.
Additional Qualities and Skills
EMTs need good organizational skills. They must also document calls and complete required paperwork efficiently. The job can be quite physical, involving lifting, bending and kneeling, so EMTs need to be fit and to have good coordination. The ability to stay calm in stressful situations, focusing on the patient and not becoming distracted, is also a vital skill.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become an EMT or Paramedic
- Illinios Central College: Essential Skills and Abiltities -- Emergency Medical Technician
- ONET OnLine: Summary Report for: 29-2041.00 -- Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
- Mid-America Regional Council: Paramedic and EMT Careers in Greater Kansas City
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images