In my last article, Finding a Job, I shared the best approach to finding opportunities as a young dentist. Today, I would like to share some insight on how hone your interview skills.
I can still remember my first interview. It was my senior year of dental school and a dental corporation was hosting an “interview day.” This is where they invited anyone who was interested in working for their company to come interview with them. I was hoping that I would be able to get a job working in a private practice but I figured that it would be good to see what they had to offer.
They had several tables set up in a large banquet hall at a nearby hotel. When your name was called, you entered the room and they pointed you to the next available interviewer. When they called my name, I stood up and tried to put a happy, confident look on my face in hopes that it would draw the attention away from my trembling legs. I sat down and began to talk with the woman who was assigned to me. We talked about my likes, dislikes, hobbies and interests. Things were going well… until they asked me a question that caught me completely off guard.
“How long does it take you to prep a crown?”
My face froze as a whirlwind of thoughts went though my mind all at once. I have no idea. Why does that even matter? Does that include time to make the temporary? Is this question a sign that they only want to hire dentists who do lots of crowns? Will I not be able to practice conservatively? Am I going to get fired from the job that I don’t even have yet if I refuse to do lots of crowns? Which tooth number? Does she mean on a dentiform or a human? Probably about 15 hours!
Hoping that my internal panic wasn’t showing all over my face, I finally just threw out a number. “Forty-five minutes..?” I still don’t know if that was answer that she was looking for, and I have not been asked that question in any interview since, but I now know that it usually takes me twice that time to do it well.
Looking back on this memory now, it is clear that I lacked experience needed to interview well. I was interviewing like a dental student and not a dentist. So how do you interview like a dentist? Well, if you are a dental student, then you can’t. You can’t be something that you’re not. But you can get there quickly. The best way to do that is to go on as many interviews as possible. Even for new dentists with some experience under their belts, interviews can be stressful and advance preparation is really important.
While you may have lots of head knowledge about dentistry, (probably too much) you lack the experience of working as a dentist in the dental field. As a result, even though you might be a very skilled clinician, you probably have not seen the inside of enough dental offices to know on your first impression if you would be happy working in a certain office.
Perhaps you only interviewed at one office and felt like it was a perfect fit. Great! You should take the job. But keep looking to see what other opportunities are out there. Do not feel bad about going on interviews while you are employed. This is how you get experience. Even if you never take the second position, you’ll get to see inside another practice and learn from how they do things. You also get the opportunity to evaluate if you are being compensated fairly at your current position. Finally, you just might build relationships with the dentists that you meet which can be very valuable if you need a job down the road.
Even if you are happy where you are and your employer is treating you well, it can’t hurt to know what else is out there and to brush up on your interviewing skills.
As you gain more experience you will get better at interviews because you will know more about yourself as a dentist. In the meantime, students can look at interviews as you would look at a practice test. You want to take as many as possible so that when the real exam comes along, you are prepared.
In my next article, I will be sharing some of the questions you must ask and some red flags to look out for in any dental interview.
Dr. Drew Byrnes is a New Dentist Now Guest Blogger. He graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 2013. His practice, Dr. Drew Byrnes Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, can be found at 199 E. Welbourne, Ste 200, Winter Park, FL 32789, 1-407-645-4645. In his free time, he enjoys running, spending time with his wife and volunteering with his church and in his community.