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‘There’s only one interview technique that matters… Do your homework so you can listen to the answers and react to them and ask follow-ups. Do your homework, prepare.’ -Jim Lehrer

Interviews can be tough. 

Although writing resumes and cover letters can take a lot of time and effort, interview preparation can be equally as extensive – if not more so. 

On average, interviewees only have 7 seconds to make a strong impression on an employer. Every second counts and applicants can’t afford to squander them. 

In this article, we discuss the veterinary interview tips every candidate needs to know, drawing from the expert advice of Dr Dave Nicol. Dr Nicol is a veterinary practice owner who has employed countless veterinary professionals over his career. 

Read on to learn more. 

Veterinary Interview Tips

Get to Know The Practice 

There are a few things veterinary professionals need to know before an interview. 

First, they need to know the practice’s background and culture. 47% of applicants failed the job interview because they didn’t know enough about the company, so this step is important. 

If a practice has social media, candidates should check it out. By comparing the tone of a practice’s feed to their values, they can get a good impression of the sort of ‘people’ the practice desires. 

Whilst it is inadvisable for candidates to try to change their entire personality to suit an employer, if a practice appears to be more informal, adopt this tone – as it will help create a rapport with the interviewer. 

To learn more about how to find a practice that aligns with a person’s values, click below. 

Prepare for Questions like a Pro

Whilst a lot of interview questions can be cliche, this can be beneficial – as it gives applicants an idea on what to prepare for. 

Common questions include:

-Why do you want to work at this practice?

-How would your previous employer describe you?

-What is your biggest weakness? 

When preparing for questions, interviewees should print out the job description and look at the desired skills listed. They should write down practical examples of when they demonstrated these skills, as it is highly likely they will be asked about them during the interview. 

It is also likely they will be given ‘situational questions’ such as:

-Tell me about a time when… 

When answering these questions job-seekers should stick to the STAR method (Star stands for situation, task, action, results). A practical example of this may look like this:

‘Tell me about a time when a client got frustrated at you.’

‘We had a patient at the clinic who was very frustrated with our wait times. I had her in for a consultation with her dog, so to diffuse the tension I apologised and clearly explained where the mix-up had been. By communicating clearly, I managed to diffuse the situation and calm the client down.’

Job-seekers should also prepare their own questions for the end of the interview. 

Good questions to ask include:

-‘Can you describe what your practice values are and can you give me an example of you living those values’.

-‘What’s important to you about the way this work is done’.

-‘Do you have any reservations about hiring me, and if so – what are they?’

-‘What can I do to make myself a stronger candidate?’

Although it can be very tempting to ask about salary early on in the interview -this should be avoided. This can reflect badly on an applicant’s intentions and therefore should only be asked about at the end. 

Dr Nicol also emphasises the importance of asking about practice’s values/culture. He says:

‘If they don’t meet your needs that’s not a disaster, because you wouldn’t have thrived there. So don’t just ask questions that you think will sound good, ask questions that are useful to you’. 

veterinary interview tips

Maintain a Good Attitude

‘Although it is important for a candidate to display that they have the right skills, it is just as important to know whether they have the right attitude’ says Dr Nicol. 

Though many employers assume that new hires fail due to insufficiencies in their technical skills, this is not the case. In fact, issues surrounding attitude and/or personality are generally the main drivers for hiring failures. 

It is imperative therefore for candidates to project a good attitude before, during and after an interview. 

For an in-person interview, the applicants should greet and converse with the front-facing team in a pleasant manner. Good interviewers will confer with other members of staff to get an impression of a candidate – so do not miss the opportunity to impress the staff as well as the interviewer. 

During the interview, interviewees should maintain a positive composure, answering questions (even negative leading ones) in a pragmatic manner. For example, if the interviewer were to ask:

– Name a time where you got into conflict with another staff member?

Though the question is negative leading (as in it prompts a negative answer) it can be answered in a way that allows the candidate to demonstrate their skills of relationship management and emotional intelligence. Of all the veterinary interview tips outlined in this article, this is a good one to keep in mind, as it often catches candidates out.

After the interview, interviewees should follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for their time. Not only does this leave a good last impression, but it conveys enthusiasm for the role. 

For veterinarians preparing to enter the workplace, this article is a must-read: ‘Soft Skills for Veterinarians: Why You Need Them

Veterinary interview tips

Takeaway Thoughts 

The key to performing well in an interview is preparation. The more an applicant prepares, the more confident they will be – and therefore likely to succeed. 

According to Job vites 2017 Recruiting Funnel Benchmark Report, the average conversion rate from interview to offer was 19.78%. Although this can be disheartening, interview experience is always useful for job seekers – and shouldn’t be squandered. It is also likely that in the veterinary market place, there will be much fewer applicants per position, meaning vets and technicians will find it easier to get roles. The real trick is making sure you get the right one!

If you found these veterinary interview tips useful, you should join our veterinary career success group. Our community shares and discusses key topics within the field of veterinary care, and is a fantastic place to network and engage with other professionals. 

Why wait? Join now by clicking the link here. 

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