How to Prepare for an Interview at a VETERINARY Practice

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The Importance of Correctly Preparing for an Interview

Begs the question; how to prepare for an interview at a veterinary practice. Applying for a new job is the first step in opening new doors for your career. But what happens after you knock and you don’t know what to say when that door opens? 

how to prepare for an interview

When you apply yourself and prepare for an interview, you are more likely to be granted a successful opportunity. However, sometimes this also calls for a little introspection and research into exactly where you would like this new door to lead you to.    

Our 12 Must-Have General Step Guide to Preparing for Your Next interview

Preparing for an interview can be quite daunting, so here are 12 easy steps to help get onto the right track:

1. Job Description analysis

Objectively assess the job listing and use it as a guide to determine if you are indeed the right candidate for the job. While doing this, remember to avoid nit-picking qualifications, qualities, or background specifications that could make you disregard important factors that may exclude you from the list as an ideal candidate.

If you feel that the listing details align with what you and the employer are looking for, consider those key talking points for the interview.

2. Interview qualification and purpose

If specific qualifications are stipulated in the listing, ensure your training or degree is recognized or accepted by the employer. You will need to motivate why your qualification sparked an interest in the position and why you feel you would be the ideal candidate. 

Before the interview, make sure you understand the intention behind the interview. For example, is it for clarification of interest in the position, or is it for character and qualification vetting?

 3. Research the company and the role

Researching the role and the company during the application process is very important before you grant an interview. The preparation allows you to gain more knowledge about the position and the company. In addition, it will show a prospective employer that you are interested in the company and will also provide content for an interview conversation. 

Look into reviews, websites, social media content, and online presence to get a feel for the company and its brand identity, as well as customer or previous employee experiences. 

By showing an interest in the company’s past, you can gain insight into your possible future employer and present it as an edge on the competition, especially if you have constructive input. 

Researching the company’s products or services delivered

Becoming familiar with a company’s overall business is essential even if the role you are applying for isn’t directly linked to the company’s products or service delivery. 

You are looking at joining a team, and expressing interest in a company’s entirety may potentially reveal desirable qualities not listed in the job description, which could put you ahead of other applicants. In addition, if you have used or experienced the company’s products or services, it can boost more talking points for the interview itself.

Research the role

Is this really what you want to do? Before you enter an interview, ask yourself this question because many interviewers quickly pick up an applicant’s enthusiasm for a role. Ensure you thoroughly read the job description and carefully consider the requirements and responsibilities. 

If you reflect on the role, you can ask thoughtful, targeted questions about the position, allowing the interviewer to see that you’re invested in the opportunity and have carefully considered it.

If you have never held a position that you’re currently applying for, take some time to research similar positions and reviews from other individuals who have. By asking the right questions, you will make it easy for yourself to understand the role and easy for the interviewer to see that you would be willing to accept the position should it be offered to you. 

Research the company culture

Company culture is vital in today’s world as it sets the tone for your future working environment. Visit the company’s social media platforms and get a better impression of whether or not you would fit in with the values and other personalities in that company.

Family-first practices focusing on work-life balance have a very different atmosphere than academic specialist facilities that seek ambitious, dedicated professionals focussed on their careers first. 

In your interview, also address the workplace environment, culture, personality, or values because they are critical when determining if this is the right position for you. 

Human Resource-related questions that are extremely important to ask include policies on vacation, sick leave, family obligation leave, and maternity/paternity leave. Salary questions must also include travel allowance, CPD allowance, insurance costs, tax, and other potential deductions.

4. Consider your answers to common interview questions

Often nerves can overwhelm you in an interview, and you can feel like you are not giving succinct answers or that your responses do not reflect your intention. It is easier to form basic answers that can be elaborated on in the interview itself by preparing for common interview questions.

If the interview may contain specific clinical case questions or theoretical scenarios, simply approach it in the same way you would in practice. In this situation, treat the interviewer like you would treat a client. Start with a good history, minor medical, and extended database – list possible differential diagnoses and do not let idiolepsis creep in. Also, it’s okay not to know the diagnosis more often than not; it’s about your clinical approach, not the diagnosis. 

If a question takes you by surprise, you can always ask if you can think about it – reflection is a powerful tool, and it shows your interviewer that you can humbly step back and consider something before answering.

5. Practice your speaking voice and body language

The manner in which you express yourself is key in an interview, as your first impression really counts. Try to be yourself but remember that you come across as respectful, confident, and approachable. Body language also plays a key role, so remember to be open and pay attention to your stride, posture, and greeting. 

male and female body language

6. Put thought into your interviewer questions

Make a list before your interview of questions you may have about the position, write them down to ensure you don’t forget them so that you can confidently ask them. A few examples of questions can include:

  • How would you describe a typical day in this position?
  • Why do you enjoy working in this company?
  • What other opportunities are employees afforded regarding CPD, specialization, mentorship, or even partnership (if that’s your ambition)?

7. Practice makes perfect, so do mock interviews

By practicing mock interviews, you can relieve some anxiety and boost your confidence. Try to practice a mock interview with someone you are comfortable with, and that can provide constructive feedback.

Suppose you don’t have someone to practice with; try to record yourself and watch it to hear your answers or questions and watch your body language. This provides you with the opportunity to refine your answers and commit them to memory, allowing you to feel more confident.

8. Print a hard copy of your Veterinary resume

Consider that your interviewer may have a digital copy and possibly may not have access to it during the interview process. Therefore, come prepared with a few copies or bring along your tablet to provide quick access to your resume should you need it. 

Be prepared for your resume to be scrutinized and be open and honest if there are any queries. Address any awkward or critical questions with diplomacy and try not to answer hastily. If something is asked or critiqued and does not bode well with you, always respectfully mention that you do not agree or that your opinion differs. Professionalism always comes first.

9. Prepare your travel arrangements

Ensure that your travel arrangements are in place to get you to your interview on time. Check the address and map it out beforehand to determine travel time and routes. If you are late, remember it is a courtesy to inform your interviewer as soon as possible.   

 To avoid unnecessary stress or anxiety, here are few tips to prepare for your commute:

  • Leave early – even if you arrive too early, you can use your time to go over your notes or unwind after your commute. If you have enough time to arrive early, any minor hiccups like traffic, accidents, missed connections, or getting lost shouldn’t affect your punctuality.
  • Save the interview location details and the interview contact details on your phone and on a hard copy.
  • Research the location and plan your commute – if you need a shuttle or lift, ensure you have a back-up as well. Then, discuss the trip with your interviewer in case you are concerned about any details.

10. Promote yourself and your skills 

Selling yourself often makes people feel uncomfortable as it can feel a bit narcissistic but presenting yourself accurately and positively doesn’t have to feel like boasting. Your professional skill set and experiences can set you apart from other candidates, so it’s acceptable in an interview for you to acknowledge them to your potential employer.

When preparing, ensure that you choose your most applicable skills and focus your experiences on the most positive and relevant information during the interview. Modesty is always a great virtue, but if an employer inquires about what sets you apart during an interview, it is an ideal opportunity to put your best foot forward.

11. Respectful candidates make for successful interviews

An interview is not just about you and the interviewer; ensure that when you arrive, you take the time to greet the receptionist, company staff, or other potential candidates politely and respectfully. 

Also, remember that you never know who your interviewer may be or who they may consult after the interview, so be sure to maintain a professional manner throughout your time at the company and its surroundings.

12. Get ready to follow up after the interview

Once you have completed the interview try to follow up with the employer afterward by thanking them for the opportunity, their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them at their earliest convenience.

Here are a few guidelines for drafting a follow-up note:

Paragraph 1:  Mention the specific job title and thank your interviewer.

Paragraph 2: Note the company’s name as well as a conversation point and/or goal that seemed especially important to the person you spoke with. Connect that point to your experience and interests.

Sign off: Don’t forget to type your full name.

How to Dress for an interview – 8 Tips That Will Have You Looking Smart

  1. Look into the company dress code. 
  2. Choose an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident while also representing who you are. Don’t try to dress like someone else, as it may give you a sense of imposter syndrome.
  3. Always go with your own judgment – don’t let someone else try to dress you or overthink it. 
  4. Wear practical clothing that suits the job. Slogan t-shirts or sponsor shirts should rather be avoided in case there is a conflict of interest.  
  5. Consider the weather and season to avoid sweat patches, being overly cold, or getting wet without a raincoat.
  6. Check for snags, pet hair, stains, and holes – which are highly likely in the veterinary profession.
  7. Ensure your clothing is pressed and wrinkle-free.
  8. Have a backup in case a pet, child, or housemate accidentally soils your first option.
female interview dress code I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

The best way to determine office attire is to look at social media sites with in-house photos and gauge the level of formality. Remember, your resume and conduct matter the most, so don’t place too much pressure on your appearance. Instead, be presentable, take pride in your look, and be yourself, even if that means scrubs all day.

The Do’s and Don’ts During the Interview Process

THE DOS

  • Be punctual and presentable – allow yourself enough time to visit the restroom should you need to freshen up.
  • Be courteous and respectful to the people you encounter during the process.
  • Offer a COVID-friendly greeting gesture, make eye contact, and have a friendly expression when your interviewer greets you.
  • Be sure to hear the correct pronunciation of your interviewer’s name and or title.
  • Maintain good eye contact during the interview.
  • Sit still in your seat; avoid fidgeting, repeating specific words such as “like” or “um” and slouching.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
  • Be thorough in your responses, but be concise in your wording. Being too verbose can sometimes appear pretentious.
  • Be honest and be yourself — your best professional self. If you feel the need to be dishonest, then this is not the position for you because should the truth be discovered, it is grounds for dismissal. A good match between yourself and your employer means being open with yourself and the interviewer, as this avoids future disappointments or misunderstandings. Pretending to be something that you’re not will only leave you or the employer discontent.
  • Try to be serious. Many people use humor as a coping mechanism when nervous but try to be professional and earnest during the interview.
  • Be the person you would like to work with and exhibit a positive attitude. 
  • Pay attention to the interviewer and how you are treated. Check the values and priorities of the organization to see if they align with your own.
  • Do expect to be treated appropriately with dignity and respect. Should you be treated inappropriately or asked inappropriate questions that made you uncomfortable, express your concern in the interview or politely ask to leave. Report unacceptable or improper behavior to the management if you see fit.
  • Make sure you understand the hiring process to clarify when and from whom you should expect to hear from next.
  • When the interviewer concludes the interview, offer a firm handshake and make eye contact. Depart gracefully.

THE DON’TS

  • Avoid making negative comments about previous co-workers, employers, or companies. 
  • Don’t falsify any answers or resume qualifications. 
  • Do not be nonchalant about the interview process, as it will appear that you may be wasting the interviewer’s time.
  • Don’t list superficial reasons for your interest in a position – for example, proximity to the beach or great parking. 
  • Salary should never be the first discussion point as it starts the interview off on the wrong foot.
  • Never appear desperate for employment or act as if any job would be fine. 
  • Don’t be indecisive about what you would like your role to be, as the interviewer is looking for someone to do something specific. 
  • Don’t allow previous interview experience, disappointments, or frustrations to be projected in an interview, as it can come across as a negative attitude.
  • Don’t go to extremes with your posture; don’t slouch, and don’t sit rigidly on the edge of your chair.
  • Don’t avoid the interviewers’ formal title. Always repeat your interviewer’s name and correct title if applicable to show respect and only defer from the formality should they request you to do so.
  • Don’t chew gum or smell like smoke.
  • Don’t leave your cell during the interview, but apologize for the inconvenience and silence the call or text if it goes off. Should it be an emergency, politely excuse yourself with an explanation. Do not take a call or scroll texts or social media in the interview.
  • Do not take along your parents, your pets (an assistance animal is not a pet in this circumstance), spouse, fiance, friends, or anyone other uninvited members to the interview as it is very unprofessional and portrays immaturity or insecurity.

Watch this funny video, of what not to do during an interview.

Types of Common Interview Questions to Prepare for

1. Tell me about yourself?

This is the opening line for a lot of interviews as it provides the first impression. It’s a balancing act between being insecure or pretentious. Try to prepare a short biography about your career and how it led you to this interview, and skip some of your personal history.  

If your interviewer is looking for more personal history, they will ask, and by not immediately disclosing your whole life story leaves room for discussion points. 

2. How did you hear about this job?

This question tells the interviewer if you were actively seeking new employment, you were referred for the position, or if it was an opportunistic discovery. Therefore, it’s a great time to sell your reasons for your interest in the vacancy and why you applied.

 3. Why are you looking for a job? Or, why are you looking for a different job?

This question is to weed out undesirable candidates to determine if you were fired, run out of options, or if you don’t like sticking with a job for too long. Focus on the positives and be specific. 

If it’s your first job after graduating, it’s fairly obvious, but be prepared to answer why you’re leaving if you are changing careers. 

If you are leaving for logistical or family reasons, get straight to the point. If there is a negative or awkward reason, be diplomatic about what you discuss. Keep the negative reason short and do not go into too much detail or be deprecating about a previous or current employer. 

Be open and honest if any legal problems are underway to avoid the employer feeling like you’ve omitted important information.

4. Why should we hire you?

This question is aimed at your skillset and qualification qualifiers that set you out above other possible candidates. Be specific and summarize your work history and achievements, and potential future ambitions related to your professional development.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question should not focus on personal goals, which many people often associate with, leading to an emotionally charged answer. Instead, try to align mostly your career goals to this answer to portray your ambitions and future aspirations.

If you are uncertain, do not say you don’t know rather, discuss that you feel this position will put you on the right path to present you with the best potential future opportunities.  

6. Tell me about a conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it?

This question is aimed at exploring your ability to acknowledge, resolve and avoid conflict in a business environment. If you have not had an experience with conflict in the workplace, simply explain how you would theoretically deal with it rather than say you’ve never had any disputes because this may make people think you cannot identify conflicts.

7. What is your dream job?

This is a guide for how realistic or ambitious you are – it also allows an interviewer to determine if you are invested in long or short-term goals. If you are using your current career to generate capital for investment properties versus money to fund a startup company – portray very different ideals and possible questions if you are focused on the position being applied for.

dream job I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

8. What do you expect out of your team/co-workers?

Laying out what you would like your ideal team to be like will give the interviewer an idea of whether or not you’d be a good fit for their specific position. For example, if you require mentorship or like to work collaboratively with other co-workers, working on cases independently makes a big difference in the workplace. 

9. How do you deal with stress?

In the veterinary profession, stress is a MAJOR factor. You need to have healthy and constructive coping mechanisms in place for stress to ensure you remain professional and productive. If you have a history of mental illness, you do not need to disclose it if you do not wish to.

10. What are your salary requirements?

This is a question gauged to determine what you value your worth – always give a range but do not over or undervalue yourself – use market-related figures or your previous salary as a baseline. You also do not need to divulge your previous salary unless you would like to.

11. Do you have any questions?

It’s important to be engaging in an interview, so always be prepared with a few questions so your own to show you are interested in the company and that you would also like to cover some bases to assess if the position is the right fit for you.

The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your interviewers

1. “How will you measure the success of the person in this position?”

This question allows you to gauge how your performance will be measured and what you need to achieve to do well in your position. The job description does not always describe the whole picture.

If the company uses a commission or turnover or statistics review method to measure performance – be sure you will be able to have access to the figures to monitor and evaluate your own performance objectively.

2. “What are some of the challenges you expect the person in this position to face?”

This opens up the reason as to why they possibly have a vacancy to fill in the first place unless they are expanding. It also allows the interviewer to put themselves in your position, objectively assess the challenges, and acknowledge them. 

3. “Can you describe a typical rotation and leave cycle?”

This gives you an idea of your work routine as well as your off time. Weekends and hours are essential to discuss to have open cards about what you are signing up for. 

If there is a lot of travel or admin involved, be sure to discuss time management and if it is included in the roster or if you have to put in extra hours. If you do need to put in extra hours, always discuss overtime compensation.

Also, if you are looking at this clinic or company to work alongside a specific person, be sure to ask if you will have the opportunity, especially if it’s one of the main reasons you are applying for the job.

4. “How long did the previous person in the role hold the position? What has turnover in the role generally been like?”

This question is key to determining the job satisfaction and expectations of the potential position. High turnover is a red flag and if you become aware of it, try to discuss the possible reasons openly. If the interviewer begins to bad-mouth the previous employees become suspicious of potential difficulties within the company.

Obviously, if the position is a new one, you can’t ask this – but in that case, you could ask about turnover on the team instead.

5. “What are you hoping the right candidate will accomplish in their first six months and their first year?”

This will give you a brief overview of what an employer aims to achieve and highlights any unrealistic expectations or potential changes in the near future.

This question can also draw out information about future prospects or projects you wouldn’t otherwise have heard about.

6. “What sets a good candidate apart from a great candidate that would excel in this position?”

Inquiring about how a great candidate would excel in this position means that you don’t just want to do what’s needed – you’re interested in going the extra mile, which shows that you’re diligent and driven. 

This question also opens up the topic of what it would take to excel in the position and whether or not it aligns with what you see yourself capable of.

7. “How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive here, and what type don’t do as well?”

Ensure that the answer to this question reflects what you have seen on social media or other employee accounts because sometimes owners or managers will describe their ideal culture. Still, in fact, it is not the current culture. Sometimes hiring managers are pretty bad at accurately describing the culture on their teams.

By asking what characters thrive or struggle, you can gain insight into what traits clash with the employer and how they feel about their best employees.

8. “What do you like about working here?”

By turning the table on the interviewer and asking them an introspective question, you will quickly be able to tell if they sincerely enjoy their job or if it’s just another day to get through. 

9. Ask the questions you really care about

Spend time thinking about what is the most important to you in a job and align your questions with what matters most to you.

10. “What’s your timeline for the next steps?”

This pertains to the next steps and when, how, or from whom you can expect to hear from. This just helps to avoid anxiety and gives you peace of mind. Be sure to check all the listed details for correspondence that might accidentally have been delivered into the wrong mailbox or phone number. 

I Love Veterinary’s Final Words of Advice

Starting on the road to new opportunities can be pretty daunting. Still, if you prepare yourself adequately and spend time researching, reflecting, and applying yourself before the interview, then you have set yourself up for success. 

The right opportunity means the best fit for you and your potential employer, so never be disheartened if the interview doesn’t go your way. A veterinary career is built to keep you humble through experience, so always allow room for growth and learning opportunities. The right door will open at the right time. Good luck.