Top tips for dental job interviews from the candidate’s perspective
The cofounders of this dental job site want dental professionals to have successful job interviews and find the dental practices of their dreams. It can happen, with the proper preparation and interview skills.
This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.
In the past, dentists posted available jobs in journals or newspapers, and dental job seekers replied to the ads and hoped to be granted an interview. Things are a bit different today. Finding employment in today’s dental marketplace has evolved into a multistep process comprised of development, research, communication, and closure. Before attempting to get a job interview, it’s best to do the necessary preparation to make your interview more productive and positive.
You need to develop your brand. By that, we mean that you need to find a way to separate yourself from the pack. Are there any skills that you have developed? Are you trained in a specific dental software program? Do you have any special certification? Were you trained in CAD/CAM? Digital impressions may be second nature to you, but your potential employer may be impressed by your advanced technological skills. Try to think outside the box.
Once you’ve created your brand, make sure that your resume or CV reflects that brand. If you’re trying to showcase your technological skills, perhaps an online CV would be most impressive. Make sure the CV is organized and neat, and includes some visual aids such as a photo of yourself or before-and-after pictures of cases you’ve completed. If you’re applying for dental jobs online through an online algorithmic dental job matching service, you’ll want to spend time on developing your profile so that your assets are prominently displayed at a glance.
Before you interview, you need to do some research in two areas. You need to find out what you can about the practice, the personnel, and the position to determine whether or not the culture is one you will enjoy. You also need to identify the areas in which you can contribute positively so that you can establish the added value you offer beyond that of other candidates.
During the interview, make eye contact. Sit up straight. Put your phone away. Practice active listening. You have seven seconds to gain trust, so you need to use that time wisely. But remember that not only are you being interviewed, you are also interviewing. In addition to finding out what you can about the practice in advance, you need to prepare questions so that you can develop a complete picture of the job you’re considering. Some important questions are:
1. Will you be paid as an independent contractor or as an employee?
2. Are there any benefits?
3. Is there room for growth? Is there someone who would be willing to mentor you? If this is an associate position, will it lead to partnership?
4. What types of dentistry does the practice perform?
5. What is the character of the practice? Is it preventive in nature, or is the philosophy to aggressively drill and fill?
6. What is the patient load? How many patients are seen per day?
7. What is the amount of time given for each procedure?
8. Will there be a written agreement?
You might find it difficult to ask questions like these, so it would be wise to practice. Communication is a skill, and there’s nothing like practice to develop and enhance skills. Don’t forget about nonverbal communication. You need to observe the culture of the office to determine if this is an environment in which you want to spend the bulk of your waking hours.
When the interview has ended and the doctor has thanked you for your time, make sure you reiterate why you would be the best candidate for the position. What services can you offer that others cannot? How will you enhance the culture of the practice? Be sure to communicate your assets and enthusiasm to the interviewers before leaving. When you’re back home, send an email and written note to thank the interviewers for their time and to reiterate your assets and enthusiasm. If you have not heard anything within one week, call your interviewers to remind them of your interest in the position.
Good luck! But we’re hoping that with the proper preparation, you won’t need it.
Eric S. Studley, DDS, and Ivy D. Peltz, DDS, MSEd, PhD, are the cofounders of Doccupations, an algorithmic dental job matching website. They have been in the dental recruitment industry for more than 20 years, counseling students and clients on how to navigate finding the right dental job or hiring the right dental candidate. Doccupations delivers a dental recruitment management tool to both dental job seekers and dental employers with a real-time matching product. Drs. Peltz and Studley are GP directors and clinical associate professors at New York University College of Dentistry, where Dr. Studley is the director of the practice management curriculum.