Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 03 Job Interview 1

Offbeat but important tips for finding your dental dream job

March 23, 2017
Everyone is aware they must stand out in order to get a dental practice interview in today's tough market. Did you land the interview? How do you handle it so that you get the position?

Everyone is aware they must stand out in order to get a dental practice interview in today's tough market. Did you land the interview? How do you handle it so that you get the position?

Sometimes the thought of landing one of the best dental jobs can seem so far away that you may not think it will even actually happen. Sure, it’s tough out there at the moment. I’m not denying that. But there are ways you can improve your chances of brightening your employment prospects.

Most articles I read about finding a dream job discuss important tips, but they don’t mention the real-world events that most people deal with. I'm calling these the offbeat yet important tips of finding a dental job, such as what to say if you've ever been fired, if you never received your degree, or, one of the most common issues, "job jumping."

Let’s get started!

Have you ever been fired?
Don’t worry if you’ve heard that horrible, confidence-shattering word. It happens to the best of us, and for some it can be the shot in the arm they need to pursue their dream job. To start, find that ideal job opening. It might not be absolutely perfect, but this can be used as a stepping stone to improve your chances of progressing to the level where you see yourself.

If you get an interview, spend a few hours researching the dental practice on the Internet. I guarantee that such preparation will pay off! It will show the interviewer that you’ve taken a real interest and are keen to work there. If you know the name of your interviewer, visit LinkedIn and research his or her history. Sure, it may seem a bit “stalkerish,” but the more you know, the more ammo you have for the interview.

Becca, a dental assistant in Boston, is a good example of how this can work. She wrote, "I was applying for a dental job outside of Boston. During my interview research, I found out that the dentist who was to be interviewing me was in the Hall of Fame for his middle school at football. I shoehorned that in to the interview, and he was like putty in my hands. I I got the job!"

Did you not complete your degree?
Let's face it. Life can throw many hurdles and barriers at us on a daily basis. No one should judge unless they’ve actually walked in your shoes. Sometimes priorities change, including education.

I have several friends who either delayed completing their degree or never finished school. If this comes up in a negative manner when talking with a potential employer, simply be honest. Tell the person directly why and provide some context, but not all. Employers appreciate honesty, which shows a true sign of integrity. The most important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself and try to commit to finishing that degree. I believe education is the door to almost anything.

Do you look professional?
Before heading off to the interview, make sure you look sharp. Dress appropriately, pay attention to your appearance such as hair and nails, and wear a watch for the interview so you won’t be late. Yeah, its basic, but if you’re late it will create a poor first impression that will be difficult to recover from. Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before interview time. This will give you time to take a few deep breaths, comb your hair, and have a drink of water. If you’re going to be late, phone ahead. Don’t just turn up late without telling anyone.

Are you a job jumper?
Some say resumes are not the most important part of a selection or interview process. However, for job jumpers it is, unfortunately. A job jumper is someone who holds a position for a very short time and then jumps to another job, and another. It may be for a good reason, but employers seeking the best candidate may not view job jumping positively. So how can you combat that?

First, a cover letter is crucial. In the letter you can get very specific and personal regarding some of the reasons you’ve held so many positions. If there’s a good reason, that's one thing. But if you're moving down the street for another 50¢ an hour, you should consider not leaving your next position until you gain good experience and a foundation.

Second, format your resume to show your career history by job title instead of by office or job. For example, you may have had worked in eight offices since 2009, but your resume simply needs to say Dental Assistant 2009 to present, followed by descriptions and accomplishments. In a different section list the offices so you pass the "eye test" with potential employers. But don't think for a moment you're going to trick the employer if you don't have solid ground for leaving these practices. Be prepared to speak to each one and why you left.

Third and probably most important, be sure you provide a reference, preferably in writing on practice letterhead, from every practice. Never burn a bridge because you never know when you'll need that reference again, and dentistry is a small, small, world. Trust me when I say that!

Fourth, try using a recruiter that can open a door for you and explain to an employer some of what people might see as issues. Recruiters and dental recruiting firms have d experience reading through resumes and walking solid candidates through the interview process.

First impressions count
When meeting someone for the first time, give a firm handshake and look them directly in the eye. Create a rapport right away. Share some small talk prior to the interview to relax yourself and the interviewer. Oh, and make sure you smile! Any negativity the interviewer spots will be a real kick in the teeth (no pun intended) to your chances of landing the job.

I hope these tips will help you land that dream job! To find local job openings, check out

For the most current dental assistant headlines, click here.

For the most current dental headlines, click here.

Peter Cargill is an entrepreneurial, executive leader and founder of DentReps, The Dental Jobs Site, and DR Recruiting, Dentistry’s Recruiting Solution. Peter has spent the past decade primarily in the dental industry, both domestically and internationally. He has a MBA from Boston College and Loyola University Chicago, as a well as an Executive Certificate from the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business. Peter is a volunteer at Boston Children’s Hospital and is certified to work with children of foster care and adoption. Email [email protected] or call (781) 987-1365.