Win your Dream Veterinary Job in Just Five Minutes
Interviewing for a position at a veterinary clinic or animal health facility can be intimidating – even if you are a seasoned veteran. However, with a little preparation, you can transform the anxiety about your interview into newfound confidence. Whether you are a Veterinarian straight out of university or an experienced and savvy Vet Technician, you can bolster your chances of receiving a job offer by following a few key measures. Here is your 10-step plan to winning your dream veterinary job in the first five minutes of your interview…
1) Familiarise yourself with the practice prior to your interview
You can elevate your confidence by doing a bit of research on your prospective employers. Whether you are interviewing for a position at a small, established clinic or a large university-based veterinary facility, you should make a note to learn the following before your interview:
- Find out what types of patients you will be working with (small animals, large animals, or both)
- Do a little research on the facility and the backgrounds of the hiring manager
- Find out if your potential new employer has recently received any awards or special recognition
2) Greet the hiring manager with confidence and a positive comment
One of the best ways to take charge of the interview from the moment you walk in the door is to confidently greet the front desk staff and introduce yourself. When the interviewer approaches you, extend a smile and offer a positive comment that shows you have researched the facility. Here are a few examples:
- “Good afternoon. I was admiring the new addition to your facility. Is that where your new operating room will be located?”
- “Hello! Last month I heard the news about the clinical research award you received. Congratulations!”
- “Good morning. I have always admired your hospital’s dedication to animal welfare. It is a pleasure to be here.”
3) Highlight your special skills or certifications
Are you one of the few board-certified Veterinary Dermatologists in your city? Are you a Veterinary Technician with a decade of experience working in the equine industry? Or are you an accomplished Veterinary Practise Manager with years of expertise in procuring veterinary equipment? Regardless of the position you are seeking, you should not be shy about mentioning these special skills and certifications you have worked hard to acquire. Even if you have listed these items on your resume, it is a good idea to strategically work them into the conversation.
4) Dress appropriately for the position for which you are interviewing.
“Unless the interview is clearly defined in advance as a working interview, candidates don’t know if they’ll remain in an office or go into an exam room. Expressing anal sacs or taking urine from a cat could ruin nice clothes. On the other hand, arriving dressed to be running errands is unlikely to create the best first impression.”
– Phyllis DeGioia, The Veterinary Information Network
A good rule of thumb for interview attire is to dress as if you are planning to begin working in the position immediately. Overdressing may unintentionally send the message that you are not willing to “get your hands dirty,” while underdressing might be interpreted as a lack of interest in the position. Regardless of the position for which you are interviewing, there are a few universal guidelines that you should follow:
- Make sure you are clean and well-groomed
- Refrain from wearing excessive jewelry or perfume, as they can be distracting
- Wear shoes that are comfortable
5) Bring copies of your resume and letters of recommendation
Never assume that the hiring manager has your resume on hand. Daily life at a vet facility can be chaotic and paperwork can sometimes get lost or misplaced. Stay a step ahead of your interviewer by bringing several copies of your resume, pertinent certifications, and letters of recommendation.
6) Be positive
A positive attitude is one of the most attractive qualities you can display during an interview. There are many ways to convey positivity from the moment you walk through the door of a potential employer. A few ways to exude positivity include the following:
- Maintain an upbeat demeanor throughout your interview
- Refrain from disparaging your previous employers
- Express your eagerness to learn in your new role
- Remember to smile and convey positive body language
7) Let your interviewer know you are ready to start
Your willingness to begin work immediately could be the reason that an employer chooses you over another candidate. In some cases, the interviewer will ask you when you would be able to begin working. In other cases, you might need to be a bit more proactive. Do not hesitate to let your interviewer know that you would love to get started right away.
8) Share that you understand the unpredictable nature of veterinary care
Animal health emergencies are unpredictable and are not limited to standard business hours. A growing number of veterinary facilities offer evening hours, weekend appointments, and 24-hour emergency care services. You can separate yourself from other interviewees by voicing your willingness to be flexible when it comes to scheduling your roster.
9) Emphasise your ability and willingness to perform other tasks as needed
“An obvious benefit of cross-training: flexibility. If employees can handle various tasks, then you can shift people in and out of jobs as needed—without calling in temporary workers, running up overtime costs, or stinting on client services.”
– Bob Levoy, Veterinary Economics
The ability to perform other tasks as needed is one of the most valuable tools in a job candidate’s arsenal. Let your interviewer know if you are a Vet Technician who can also service veterinary equipment or a receptionist with experience building veterinary websites or managing social media. You will stand out from a sea of one-dimensional candidates.
10) Ask good questions
Asking compelling questions accomplishes several goals. First, it shows that you are interested in the position and the business. Second, you will often stand out from other applicants if you ask thought-provoking questions. Third, you will gain valuable insight into the work culture of the clinic where you are applying. Here are a few examples of good questions to ask:
- “Are there any special projects that you would like me to take on within the first three months?”
- “How is your clinic culture different than your competitors?”
- “What do you cherish most about working at this veterinary clinic?”
The Bottom Line
A fruitful interview at a veterinary care facility will usually not magically happen on its own. However, with the proper preparation, you can take charge of the interview process in a subtle manner that will impress your hiring manager. By following the ten tips above, you will certainly enhance your chances of winning the job during those crucial first five minutes of your interview.
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