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Interview success equals career success

October 30, 2012

By Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcel Business and Career consultant

I had just received a call from the local coffee shop, and they wanted me to come in for an interview. It was summertime, and I was broke. No movies, no dates, and no pizza out with the guys, I was flat-out broke. So when I heard someone on the other end of the phone ask me if I would come in for an interview, I was more than willing to give the coffee shop the opportunity to have me as their newest barista.

A couple of days later, I showed up to the interview in my regular flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirt from last summer’s baseball season. They asked me a couple of questions and then proceeded to conclude the interview. I thought I did a great job. I told them all my strengths and hid my weaknesses. I didn’t even ask them any questions to waste their time. Unfortunately, I called back the next day, and they said I wasn’t a good fit for the position. Devastated, I went to my room thinking the coffee shop did a poor job finding great talent.

As a member of the workforce in America, you have probably experienced the situation above, either as the individual looking for a job or the one hiring. As an optometrist who has interviewed hundreds of potential staff members, you have probably experienced the PAIN of a bad interview. The PAIN that makes you change your questions in mid-interview so that you can give the applicant hope. The PAIN medicated by your thoughtful words of “it sure is a nice night” instead of “I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview you and feel you had a very good interview.”

Many of us would assume that as one is more educated they would correspondingly improve their interview skills accordingly.

If you have had the opportunity to interview potential associate optometrists, you know that interview skills are not correlated to higher education.

Optometrists are being hired every day for associate positions in the corporate world and in private practice. There is no reason that you can not be the next one.

Here are a couple tips in avoiding the PAIN of a bad interview.

1. Interview before the interview

The life of a professional is much like the life of a movie star on a much lesser scale. The smaller the community, the more obvious this becomes. As a potential associate optometrist, your reputation precedes you whether good or bad. Prior to the Internet it was easy to relocate should your reputation fall out of favor in your town. In today’s world of social media, you would not get out of the door in a bad situation before a negative Tweet has been read by thousands. Keep in mind that what you do today will effect who you interview with tomorrow.

2. Dress appropriately

This seems obvious, yet many associate optometrists do not get that their dress reflects who they are and what they think. Find designers who have great professional lines of clothing and dress accordingly. You can never go wrong with black as your base color.

3. Research the office/doctors

Become familiar with the office through its website and Facebook page. It is a good idea to know what optometry school the respective doctor attended. It is a good idea to comment during the interview about the office.

4. Anticipate the questions that will NOT be asked, but will be thought

Understanding what the office is looking for in a new associate is paramount to landing the position. If the office website is very kid-friendly, then talk about your interest in children and your family. They can not ask you questions about your marital status and children, but you can always volunteer answers that correspond to their potential needs.

5. Interview them

Respectfully find out why you would want to work at the place interviewing you. It creates a lose-lose situation if you accept a position at an office that is not a good fit for you. Use questions such as, “What makes your practice so successful?” “What motivates you and the staff to come to work with a smile?” “What does it look like to be a successful associate at your practice?” These questions help reveal the personality and culture of the practice.

6. Perception is reality

When you enter the interview with confidence and speak with confidence there is an assumption that your confidence will be present in the exam room. As patients, we want doctors who are confident but not arrogant.

6. Follow up

Communication is the key to relationships and moving further faster in life. Whether you end up being hired or they give you the same line the boy in the example above received, always find out in as much detail as they are willing to give as to why. You might say, “I understand I am not the best fit for the position, but I would greatly appreciate any advice you would have for future interview opportunities I may have.” This is the hardest question to ask, but those who desire to improve will improve and have a greater chance of being hired the next time. Some of the best interviews you will ever experience happen outside of a formal office with relatively informal questions. It behooves you to remember that life is an interview. Whether you are interviewing for a position as an associate optometrist or you are commenting on Facebook, life is an interview.

For more on this topic, join Dr. Fleming’s webinar series at AOAExcel this month. He will dig deeper into how the interview mindset changes according to your desired mode of practice.

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