Scared Of Dental Practice Job Interview

Are you terrified to look for a dental job?

July 22, 2014
Don't be scared of looking for a new job in the dental profession, despite what you've been told. Lisa Newburger offers advice for getting started on that job hunt.
My dentist is 70 and still going strong. (Hallelujah!) Talk about job security. He hasn’t even started thinking about succession planning, or at least he hasn’t told me what he’s thinking. I’ve worked for this dentist for the past 23 years. The writing is on the wall. What I’m really curious about is … how often does a dentist die while in the office? OK, that’s a little morbid, but a girl does wonder.

A girlfriend of mine was in a similar situation, and she elected to leave for another job. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. She underwent a working interview and really liked the new dentist. But, five days into the position, she got fired. It turns out that it was a tough office that goes through staff like bottled water. They focus on getting patients in the door and making as much money as possible off of them.

This happens in some practices. (I can be honest here, right?) We all like to think that these things don’t happen, that they really aren’t that common. But let’s face it; dentistry is a business. No matter how you look at it, there are bills and salaries to pay. The problem is that if you’re focused on how much money you bring into a practice, you don’t remember the people involved – the people who are your patients.

If practices focus on patient care instead of money, it would make a massive difference all the way around. Staff morale would be higher, patients would be happier, and the business would run more smoothly.

But, I’m wondering what to do. My friend’s experience scares me. I’m happy where I am. In fact, I don’t even have a resume. How can I start my job search when I just don’t want to do it? I want to make a move to a new dental office without having to face all the disappointments.

Here are a few suggestions for getting back into the job market.

Get your resume together ASAP – The writing is on the wall. Ask to see the resumes of your friends. Go online. Call dental offices and ask if you can see a job description. It’s best to create a resume backwards. What does the job want? This way your resume can answer the question instead of having to connect the dots in your interview.
Talk to your dentist – Find out if the dentist plans to sell the practice or bring in someone. Is there a job for you? It’s OK to ask these questions. Don’t be scared. You don’t want any surprises, right?
Contact everyone you know in the industry and get your resume into their hands ­– The best way to get any job is word-of-mouth. Once a job is posted, you will have competition. Eliminate the competition by being proactive. (Do you know that there are software packages that look for key words in resumes so that no human has to read your resume if you don’t have what they want?) Send the resume electronically so that it can be forwarded on.
Follow up­ ­– Don’t wait for the phone to ring after you send your resume. Funny thing – it won’t ring. You have to man up (“woman up” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). Face the fact that you will be rejected over and over again. People use email and tend to think that’s the answer, that it softens the blow of rejection. But look at it this way. Email also prevents you from connecting with the dentist, which means you may not get the job. You will be rejected several times. But, you only need to have one job offered.
In preparing for an interview, do your due diligence – (I fondly call it stalking the practice online.) Google them. Look them up on LinkedIn. If you aren’t on LinkedIn, get on it. It’s the social media for professionals. Learn as much about the practice and who the players are before your interview.
Be on time, dress professionally, and be attentive – You want to show from the minute you arrive that you are a professional. (Lose the water bottle.) Take the interview seriously. They will.
Finally, write a thank you card afterward ­– I’m not talking an email. (That’s what most people do. YOU aren’t “most people!”) Stand out and send an actual handwritten card. They will remember this when they compare you to other candidates.

These are the things you need to think about, particularly if you haven’t looked for a job lately. Times have changed and competition is tough. But, don’t give up. Just because it isn’t something you enjoy doing, don’t put off looking for a new position. That dentist might retire pretty quickly, and where will that leave you?

If you want to share your job search stories, email [email protected]. I’ll talk to you next month.

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There are some tough topics out there that some authors are afraid to address. Lisa Newburger, LISW-S, aka Diana Directive, is not among the timid. She has tackled a multitude of tough topics head-on, with humor and enthusiasm, in order to help dental professionals. Lisa provides humorous ways, including through workshops and articles, to deal with difficult topics in the dental world. Check out her website at