Given today’s climate, dental hygiene job interviews can be pretty stressful. If you are fortunate enough to survive the 50-100 applicants and make it to the interview round, you still have the difficult task of winning at the interview stage.
There are lots and lots of potential interview questions you could get, but most employers tend to fall back to the same ones or a similar form of them.
This week, I’ll share five of the most common questions you could face and a little bit of strategy on how to answer them effectively.
1. Why did you leave (or are you leaving) your last job?
Usually, people leave jobs for multiple reasons – choose to share the one that is the least problematic and/or that doesn’t raise a red flag with the interviewer. Bonus points if you have a noble or logical reason for leaving you can share.
For example, “I wanted to further advance my career” or “I’m looking for something a little closer to home,” are great responses.
2. What’s your biggest weakness?
I wrote an entire article about how to respond to this and you can read that here. There are lots of strategies – one of those is to turn a potential negative into a positive. For example, “At times I can be a bit of a perfectionist” or “Sometimes, I am overly optimistic.”
Another strategy is to share something that is semi-unrelated or of little importance to the job. For example, “I really dislike watching training videos. I am more of a hands-on learner, so I prefer getting my CE credits through live conferences.”
It’s not entirely bad to share a weakness that would be a problem for your employer, but keep it really simple and be ready to counter it with the steps you have taken to correct it, and then back it up with an example of success. In the example above, you’ll note that I couched the weakness with a noteworthy solution or strength. That’s important because it also shows you are a problem-solver, which is a highly-desired attribute of employees.
Here’s another example you could use, “I have a hard time remembering names. But names are important to me and I’ve worked on this over the years and have created some triggers or mnemonic devices that have helped me recall patient names better.”
3. Why should we hire you?
There are two ways you can answer this question – good and best.
- Good: Talk about your top three strengths, what makes you unique (the essence of your personal brand). And then give an example or illustrate the top one with a story
- Best: Talk about their needs and then sprinkle in the strengths and how they address their needs.
When you acknowledge their problem, and then give them related reasons to hire you that counter those needs you are hitting at the heart of what they want to learn about you. If you simply share your strengths you run the risk of touching on things they don’t necessarily value as much as you do.
As such, knowing some things about your potential employer is really important – do a little homework on them. Talk to people who know them, or visit their social media pages and website. If need be, you can even ask them in the interview. Of course, another great source is the job announcement itself, where they will typically highlight what they need most in a new hire (which is quite possibly something either going really well or really bad currently). But these tactics will help you address their needs with your strengths.
4. How do you handle a situation where a patient is not satisfied?
Think this through. How have you handled it? What’s the right way? Be ready to respond and think creatively. This is a question almost everyone gets in almost every industry because customer service is so critical.
Some may say, “I just try and be really nice to them and bend over backward.”
That’s okay, but it’s better to be more specific and finish it with a story. For example, “I listen carefully, try to understand the core concern, and then help talk them through and resolve it. One day we had a patient come in that was really unhappy about our…” then outline those three steps of your approach within the context of your story or example.”
Stories are powerful tools of persuasion because it’s not just theory or your idea, it’s putting the idea into action – making it more relatable and more convincing.
5. What questions do you have for me?
Too many job seekers use this as an opportunity to focus completely on the what’s-in-it-for-me (salary, benefits, etc.).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for you to walk away knowing that. But when you begin with a question that helps them see you are interested in helping them solve a problem, you will create a much more appealing persona.
For example, “What are a two or three attributes you are looking for in a great hygienist?” This type of response gives you a chance to respond with their response how you are a great match.
The ultimate is to ask questions that stimulate dialog. Yes/no or rapid responses don’t give you a chance to really engage and connect with them. Functional employers and employees discuss and solve problems together and so the more you can create a comfortable mini-discussion with them, the more you can help them envision what it will be like to work with you.
On the other hand, if you don’t get that vibe from them that they are open to connecting with you, open to your thoughts and ideas, maybe that’s a red flag they aren’t the type of employer you want to work for.
Come prepared to answer these basic questions or some form of them and you will be well prepared for what they have to throw at you. In fact, you’ll have the chance to really sell yourself to them, while also having the opportunity to decide if THEY did a good enough job selling themselves to YOU.