Understanding and Evaluating Associateship Opportunities
Tips on Effective Interviewing

Course Author(s): David G. Dunning, MA, PhD;Robert D. Madden, DDS, MBA

Tips on Effective Interviewing

Today’s dental associate marketplace is extremely competitive. Approximately 2,500 to over 3,000 graduates per year may be looking for some form of associate or employee relationship. The resume or CV you send to a prospective employer is one of dozens, perhaps even hundreds, subject to review. If you are fortunate enough to be granted an interview, you will still be facing some tough competition for the position. That’s where performing well during the interview process becomes extremely important.

An Interview Misconception

The biggest misconception you can make about an interview is thinking the interview will be primarily about talking about yourself. It is not. Going on an interview involves talking about how you fit into the corporate mission and culture of the practice company with which you’re hoping to work.43 You will need to do your due diligence with regard to the practice or company.

In an ideal world we would all be judged by our experience and the quality of our professional skills. Unfortunately, we live in the real world which is far from ideal. Regardless of gender, appearances do make a significant difference to employers. The bottom line is they see what the public is going to see. You get only one chance to make a good first impression. Your appearance must reflect you as a professional healthcare provider. You must not only be the part--you must look the part!

Tips of Effective Interviewing

What to Wear

A good rule of thumb to follow is to dress one step higher than you think is necessary. A good rule of thumb to follow for men would to be to wear a business suit or conservative sports jacket. Obviously a nice shirt and tie would accompany the suit or sports coat. Shoes should be shined. For women, a business suit would be appropriate. In both instances choose a conservative look. Navy blues and dark gray are always appropriate colors for a business setting. Part of your appearance also includes having a nice haircut/style. Finally, make sure your hands are clean and finger nails manicured. It goes without saying that you should have a healthy looking smile!

When to Arrive

Always be on time! That means arriving 20-30 minutes prior to the interview. If someone tells you that you are early, tell the staff member being early is one of your faults. Tell them you are always early! It is likely to make a favorable impression. Arriving early affords you the opportunity to meet and greet reception personnel. Don’t kid yourself: receptionists will be asked by the employer what they thought of you. By arriving early it will allow you to get to know key people in the business. Be gracious and respectful to everyone you meet. Carry on a friendly conversation. Compliment the employees on how nice the office looks and the friendliness of the staff members. By arriving early you will become comfortable with the environment and thus be more relaxed for the interview. Upon exiting from the interview, make it a point to once again address the people at the reception area. Tell them how impressed you were with the staff, the office, and the doctor. And clinch your exit with a sincere, “Thank you!”

What to Bring to the Interview

It is highly recommended you turn off your cell phone. Better yet, leave it in the car. This is not the time for interruptions in this crucial period in your life. Make sure you have all the necessary documents with you. They should include the following:

  1. Your resume and/or CV
  2. Reference letters
  3. Diploma, state license, DEA license
  4. Written questions to ask the employer
  5. Note pad and calendar

Tips for the Interview

Prepare mentally for questions you will almost certainly be asked such as: “Tell me about yourself?” “What are your goals in the next 3 to 5 years … 10 years?” “Tell me about your clinical experiences and skills.” “What are some areas of expertise you plan to improve in the next two years?” “What are your core values and beliefs, and how do these influence your practice of dentistry? Give an example.” “Describe a difficult case you’ve encountered and how you managed it.”

  1. Be open to a variety of opportunities.
    • The laws of supply and demand dictate the market place.
  2. Be open to other locations
    • Consider locating in communities outside of communities with dental schools.
    • Rural communities can be very profitable and offer great living conditions.
  3. Production numbers
    • Have some proof that you can do dentistry in a timely fashion.
      • This may be a letter from an instructor at your dental school stating your proficiency in delivering care.
  4. Prepare a “proof book”
    • This may include photos of cases you have done while in dental school or in a graduate residency program.
    • Letters of recommendation with regard to clinical and interpersonal skills.

In summary, do your due diligence relating to the practice or the DSO you are considering. Know your resume or CV inside and out. Look the part and be the part. Never bring up the topic of compensation unless the potential employer brings it up. As previously discussed, this means you need to know your personal budget. You also need to know your nonnegotiable deal makers and breakers with regard to the position. Last but not least - ask for the job!

Thank You, Thank You

After leaving the interview, take time to reflect on your performance. Write down what you think you did right and what you did poorly. These pieces of information may be useful to you in the future.

Take time to write a thank you note to the prospective employer. Make this an “old school” thank you sent via snail mail, not an email or a text. Remember your potential employer is likely to be someone 20-30 years older than you. Additionally, corporate interviewers will be impressed by the hand written note. Why? Because that is what they expect out of you when you send thank you notes to your patients! It shows you have class as a dental professional and just may land you the job!