Many employers seeking a dental hygienist would have you believe it is they who can be picky about who they hire. Truth is, YOU can and should be picky, too.
As desperate as you may be to find a job, there are bad employment situations out there – plenty of them! I totally get that sometimes you can’t be too picky about who you work for. “A paycheck is a paycheck,” some might lament. But that should never be your approach to finding an employer to work for.
In my consulting work with dental hygienists, the objective is to create an outcome with multiple choices of who to work for. When you have choices as a job seeker, you have more than just a decision to make. You also have more confidence, more negotiating power, and you have a greater likelihood of long-term job satisfaction. And I might add that the employer also comes out a winner, too, in that they get a better employee.
All of the articles and tips I write about (found at my FAQ page) will give you the tools for creating an outcome of choices. If you want get there faster, you can also hire me. But, putting that work aside, let’s talk this week about the actual job interview itself. What questions are you going to ask THEM?
Here’s a sampling of great questions you can ask in job interviews, which will allow you become more picky in who you work for.
Q. Tell me about your ideal hygienist for this opening?
Why ask: There are two reasons to ask this question. First, it gives you some insight that will enable you to match the things they are looking for with the things you have and you can articulate those during the interview or in a follow-up thank you letter/note or post-interview document. Second, it allows you to pick up on some of the culture of the office. Ideally, they will give you some nuggets of information—maybe some things the previous hygienist struggled with or did well.
Q. Aside from revenue and profits, what value does a hygienist bring to your practice?
Why ask: This may give you some idea as to how much importance the doctor places on hygiene in general. Is the hygienist considered a valuable partner in the patient care process? What role does the hygienist play to that particular doctor?
Q. What were some of the best attributes about the hygienist that had this job previously?
Why ask: It would be great to know the worst attributes too, but knowing the best can sometimes be interpreted as some acknowledgement of what wasn’t working so well either. Either way, it gives you a chance to match up your strengths with those of what the doctor is really looking for (those will usually be at the top of his or her list – so listen carefully for those top two or three items).
Q. How would you describe the office culture?
Why ask: Every office has a culture. The interviewer, in this situation, is going to probably take the high road, so you really want to watch their body language and verbal cues on this one (things like pausing to answer, shifting positions in their chair, maybe their tone changes a bit, or they look away and have to think for a second). Those could be signals there has been some internal strife of late. A good employer will admit when improvements need to be made and will share with you how you can play a role in that. Assuming you want to pursue the job still, that’s an opportunity for you, once again, to talk about and demonstrate your ability to mesh well with personality types and even resolve conflict.
Q. Beyond the job description, what are some ways I can make a valuable contribution to the practice?
Why ask: This is just another way to get the employer to articulate what they really want in a hygienist—not just someone who is simply board-certified with two years of experience. And then you take what the doctor says and blend it with your language in describing your unique skills and abilities—your personal brand.
Q. What do you see as the biggest challenges to hiring a new hygienist and the key for me to successfully get through those?
Why ask: Not every employer is the same (duh!). Some want a cheap hygienist with a pulse (they aren’t very picky). Others have a specific thing or set of things they worry about when hiring a new hygienist. Find out what those are and then go to work explaining how you can overcome those challenges.
Q. What is your vision for the practice in 3-5 years?
Why ask: This is important because some may not really have a vision other than to stay the same and make their patients feel loved. Is that what you really want? Or do you want a job where the employer wants to open up additional days, or to expand their hours, or to move to commission-based compensation, or bonuses? This very helpful to know and it shows the doctor that you are not a short-timer—you want to find a practice where you can invest a large portion of your career.
Final Really Important Tip
If possible, turn all of these questions into a conversation. Don’t just ask the question, receive the answer and move on. Respond positively, ask follow-up questions, share insight and experiences – turn the interview into a discussion. This type of Q&A can be so productive for both of you leave you in good position to land a great dental hygiene job.