Nailing the Interview: Essential Tips for New Veterinarians

Nailing the Interview

Congratulations on landing the interview! Now what?!

Your upcoming job interview is your opportunity to prove you're the right person for the job. Here are 10 essential tips to make sure you put your best foot forward:

  1. Prepare in advance. Review the job description and think about specific examples of how it fits your experience and interests. Research the employer (again) and write down some questions you'd like to ask during the interview.
  2. Dress appropriately for the type of interview you're having. Whether in a clinic, lab, production facility, or online, you'll want to look professional. Not sure what that means? No problem. It's OK to ask the interviewer what's appropriate.
  3. Be on time. For an in-person interview, plan to arrive 15 minutes early, and try to test drive the route there in advance. For a virtual interview, be ready in the meeting room at least a couple of minutes ahead of schedule. You don't want to leave your interviewers waiting.
  4. From the moment you enter the building or the virtual meeting room, smile and be positive, confident, and enthusiastic. Warmly greet everyone you encounter.
  5. Silence or turn off your phone during the interview, and keep it stored away out of sight. Having your phone on the table during an interview can be a distraction even if it's not ringing.
  6. Answer questions thoroughly, but be mindful not to ramble. Use specific examples of your skills and past experiences as proof points.
  7. Ask questions that show your interest and enthusiasm for the position before asking about salary and benefits. If possible, let the interviewer be the one who introduces the topic of compensation.
  8. Listen thoroughly to the interviewer's answers. Wait for them to finish before following up with your own comments or more questions.
  9. Ask detailed questions about the organization, job duties, workplace culture, and performance expectations. This not only gives you clarity into what you can expect from the position; it also shows that you've done your homework.
  10. Maintain eye contact, and try to keep your body language relaxed and friendly. Breathe deeply and talk slowly to project confidence.

Preparing for questions you might be asked

Interview questions give the interviewer an opportunity to see how you think on your feet and handle yourself, in addition to exploring your past experience and skills. Be prepared for open-ended questions, like "Why are you interested in this position?" along with behavioral questions like "Can you tell me about a time when you were challenged by a difficult client, and how you handled the situation?" You also can expect questions about what you regard as your own areas for improvement.

The AVMA's Veterinary Career Center has practical examples of the types of questions you might be asked in interviews, along with concrete tips for how you can answer them. Be sure to check out Applying and Interviewing for a Job to get yourself fully prepared.

Now, take a deep breath and smile. You've got this.