I am currently in the thick of applying for jobs as an associate veterinarian. Lucky me! Of course, that means the nervewracking process of interviews. I have only had one so far, but it made me remember just how scared I was of my interviews for vet school. I know vet school interviews are a long way off, but if you’re applying this year — or searching for a veterinary related job — here are some general tips for success. I was accepted to 2 veterinary schools and waitlisted at a 3rd, so hopefully my advice is helpful.
1. Be prepared. Which may seem a bit impossible, considering they could ask you anything in the entire world. But there are some common question types:
- Personality match questions. Schools and practices, more and more, want to make sure you are someone who gets along with people. Medicine can be taught, people skills are more difficult. So be yourself. Don’t be arrogant. Be honest if you’re asked what kinds of people you find difficult to get along with, or what your hobbies outside of medicine are.
- Behavioral questions. These are also becoming more common. They ask you to illustrate examples in your life that show your abilities to improvise or overcome. I was asked in one interview to describe creative solutions I had devised to problems, instances in which I had been a leader, and a time I had followed my instincts. Coming up with specific examples for your life, that are true, interesting, and succinct, is a lot easier when you identify some of those examples long before the interview and write out or review them beforehand.
- Also, do your homework: check out the school or practice’s website to collect basic facts about them and note how they present themselves.
- Remember: everyone in this field likes animals, not just you! Remember that working with people is also a huge part of the job, between clients, fellow doctors, technicians, receptionists, and kennel staff.
2. You want to make sure they’re a good fit for you, too! Make sure to ask them about their practice or school. Examples:
- What do you like about working here?
- What is the biggest strength/weakness of the school/practice?
- What is employee retention/turnover like?
- Ask about things you are interested in. If you like exotics, what opportunities do they have for you? If you like fancy equipment, you should find out before you get hired that they don’t even have digital x-ray, let alone endoscopy.
3. Come up with unique skills or talents you might have. I mentioned, in every interview I’ve had, that I can spin fire. Does it have anything to do with vet med? No! But it helps people remember me. I mentioned this blog in my job interview, citing it as proof that I understand how to market myself and educate people through the internet — and they were impressed to hear I have nearly 350 followers, as they have recently started a clinic blog.
4. Be kind to yourself the day before. If you are like me, and you get very nervous before these things, here’s a few ways to take the stress off:
- If your stomach gets upset the day of interviews, take medication for it the night before. Don’t even give it a chance to be a jerk.
- Treat yourself to a favorite meal or snack the day before.
- Review all the ways you’ve prepared for the interview as above. Review your resume.
- Come up with a list of questions to ask the interviewer, so you show your interest in the position.
- Map out or if possible drive to the site of the interview before the actual day, especially if you live in the Los Angeles area and traffic is a bloody nightmare! You don’t need stress about being late on top of everything else.
- Remind yourself of all the ways you’re awesome.
- Do that last one again.
Hopefully that’s a bit helpful. And hopefully these tips will pay off and I’ll get that job I just interviewed for!