As dental students, you’ve learned how to prepare for each challenge that comes your way. It should come as no surprise, then, that the best way to ensure that you will do well at a job interview is to prepare. In the short time allocated for your interview, how can you convince a prospective employer that you’re the best choice?
Start by making an impression before you walk through the door. Brand yourself and then disseminate your brand. Using social media is one easy way to do this. Answering the following questions will help you determine your personal brand:
- Which of your characteristics distinguish you from your peers?
- What do you have to offer that can benefit your future employer?
Once you have identified your outstanding qualities and prospective contributions, make sure to highlight these distinctions in your social media posts. Future employers will check to see what you have posted and will appreciate a professional page with a consistent message.
Aside from thoughtfully curating your social media brand and image, begin developing the following items:
- A portfolio including well-cropped, HIPAA-compliant before and after photos of your clinical successes
- A personal statement
- Letters of recommendation from patients and faculty
- An updated CV
Your CV should outline procedures learned in dental school, as your prospective employer may have been trained decades ago and may not be aware of or proficient in more current procedures. Make it a habit to continually update this document with any new accomplishments.
Before attending an interview, make sure you want the job. Research the practice, and try to determine whether your practice philosophies are aligned with those communicated to prospective patients. Figure out what you have to contribute to this specific practice. Are weekend appointments offered? Perhaps you can extend the office hours. If you’re proficient in new procedures, you can offer an expansion of services.
Plan to dress professionally, and in order to avoid a last-minute wardrobe crisis, make sure to take out your clothes and try them on several days before your interview. Hone your communication skills by role-playing with others. Remember that your employer is not the only one making a decision; you need to determine whether the practice is right for you. Prepare questions you want to ask that will help you figure out if this is the best job for you.
If you are offered a working interview, keep in mind that you cannot practice without a license in that state, and you should not practice without malpractice insurance, regardless of which procedures you are performing.
Finally, follow up your interview with a handwritten thank you message. If nothing else distinguishes you from the others, that should do the trick!
~Drs. Ivy Peltz and Eric Studley, Doccupations