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Put your best foot forward in dental hygiene interviews

Aug. 22, 2023
For that all-important job interview, this hygiene recruiter advises to know what’s most important to you, communicate it well, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Interviewing for a new job can be intimidating and stressful, whether you’re a new graduate just starting out or an experienced hygienist looking for a fresh opportunity. As a hygiene recruiter, my goal is to make the interview process as seamless as possible. I want to ensure that you find the right fit, wherever that may be. Here are a few tips to help your next interview go smoothly.

Identify your driving factors

Before you contact a new office, know your driving factors. I’m talking about those non-negotiable aspects of your career that are most important to you. Is it access to mentorship and career advancement? Is it extensive support or many different training opportunities? Maybe it’s schedule flexibility or your hourly rate. Whatever matters most to you, be sure you write it down so you’re prepared at the interview. 

Once you’re clear about your driving factors, disclose what you need from your potential employer. Don’t sugarcoat it—this is your livelihood, and you don’t want to waste anybody’s time, especially your own.

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Be your own advocate

By clearly communicating your driving factors, you’re acting as your own advocate, which is incredibly important, especially if you’re not working with a recruiter. It never hurts to ask questions, especially when it comes to something as significant as in-office shadowing. As part of a hygienist recruiting team, I try to bring potential hygienists into the office to get a feel for the workflow, the staff, and the overall atmosphere. 

You want to feel like you’re at home in your dental office. Consider partnering with a temp agency for a working interview to learn about the practice workflow and observe its culture while also getting paid for it. If you’re working with a recruiter, we’ll always keep your best interests in mind, but you need to be straightforward in advocating for what you want.

Practice your soft skills

Hard skills—all your clinical training and expertise—are crucial to being a hygienist. But mastering the soft skills can be the difference between acceptance and rejection. As recruiters, we first assess the soft skills via a screen before moving to an in-person or virtual interview. We want to know how you approach patient education, whether you’re a team player, how you communicate, and how passionate you are about putting patients first.

The best way to practice your soft skills is to be an active listener and engage in meaningful conversations. Don’t just respond to questions; make sure you also ask plenty of questions. We want to get to know you not only as a hygienist, but also as a person. 

Ultimately, finding the right fit is about connecting on core values and showing that you can easily connect with the team. This speaks volumes about your ability to work well with the doctors, the team, and most significantly, the patients.

Interviews are not one-sided

Remember that your interview is an opportunity for you to interview your potential employer. Come prepared with copies of your cover letter and résumé, but also bring a notepad with your questions written down. You don’t want to leave the interview feeling as though you didn’t get all your questions answered, especially when they pertain to your driving factors. Interviews are your chance to ensure that a potential employer is the right fit for you. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to build a relationship with a recruiter like me. We want to make the interview process as easy as possible so that both parties achieve the most beneficial outcome. When you can clearly articulate and communicate what you want, you’re that much closer to finding a job that aligns with your career goals.