4th Year Optometry Students, Here’s Optometrist Interview Advice

Feb 15, 2017
8 min read

In this video and article, Dr. Brett Kestenbaum helps 4th-year optometry students with simple tips and tricks to 100% nail any optometrist interview.

One Simple Trick to Nail Your Job Interview

Most people cringe at the thought of a job interview. We get nervous, and we worry we won’t know the answers to an employer’s questions. What if we don’t have an opportunity to shine? Worse, what if we totally bomb the optometrist interview, and leave feeling completely shattered?

If interview nerves are keeping you up at night, you’re not alone.

People are so nervous about interviewing, it is one of the main reasons that they choose to stay in jobs they cannot stand. Just remember, fear is a powerful motivator, but it’s also an unhealthy motivator.

Dr. Brett Kestenbaum, co-founder of CovalentCareers, notes that an optometrist interview is your best opportunity to make yourself stand out from the other job candidates. “Your resume is your entry into the game,” he says. “But your interview is what actually gets you the offer.”

He shares his best piece of advice to ensure that an interview goes smoothly: practice.

“Fortunately, interviewing is a skill” adds Dr. Kestenbaum. He is right; job interviewing is a skill that you can hone, like any other. Nobody became a concert pianist without spending some time practicing scales, and nobody ever became an expert clinician without poring over textbooks and spending long hours in the clinic.

You would never walk into an exam without studying the material in advance, would you? The same goes for an optometrist interview.

Before you start to practice, don’t forget to do your homework.

As soon as you land an optometrist interview, start preparing. Think of this stage as the “getting your study materials together” stage. You might have a few days to prepare, or you might be lucky and have more time. Prioritize your interview and clear your schedule to prepare and practice.

Some employers ask optometrist interviewees detailed questions about their business to test applicants’ level of commitment and preparation. Other hiring panels will ask technical or clinical questions. Your job is to be prepared to handle whatever the interviewer might throw at you with grace.

Read as much as you can about the employer. Study the company’s website. Peruse any printed material you might have. Ask any friends or relatives what they know about the company. Follow the organization on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Glassdoor has a section where you can look up interviews, which can help you anticipate the type of questions you’ll encounter.

Another tip is to look up any community or philanthropic involvement in which the employer is involved, and be prepared to make connections to your own charitable interests (if applicable; don’t be a phony!)

Now that you have your study materials together, it’s time to “study the flashcards.” This is the practice phase. Dr. Kestenbaum suggests that you take the following approach:

Use a video camera

Dr. Kestenbaum points out that practicing in front of a video camera is the best way to see the nuances that an optometrist interviewer might perceive as shiftiness, lack of confidence, or even arrogance. “Look at your body language,” he advises. Do you slouch, cross your arms, or instinctively hunch your shoulders? When asked a question, do you smile warmly as you answer?

A video camera can also highlight issues that convey a lack of confidence, such as an overly quiet voice or saying “um” or “uh” frequently. Annie Lam PT, DPT recalls the first time she filmed herself performing a mock interview. “I couldn’t believe how much I used the word ‘like’,” she exclaims, adding, “I thought I was so polished and prepared, until I heard myself saying ‘like’ over and over.”

Practice often

Practice makes perfect. You might feel a bit despondent when you watch your videotape of yourself and realize that you look like a total goof. But the more you practice, the better you’ll sound.

Just like when you spent those years in school, studying and studying the same flashcards, your hard work will pay off. When you sit across from your interviewer, you’ll feel calm, poised and polished.

Melissa Victor Totah, LPC-S, is a licensed professional counselor and career coach in Austin, TX. She works with a myriad of clients, including strongly introverted and shy job applicants. She notes that “by practicing often, introverts can feel quite confident and come across as highly engaging.” She adds, “interviews are inherently nerve-wracking situations, and with the right preparation, nervous energy can be channeled into dynamic enthusiasm.” 

Practice difficult questions

It’s easy to practice discussing your greatest strengths. But think about those toughies, such as “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake, and how you corrected it.” Unless you’ve prepared for those questions in advance, they can really catch you off guard. When you practice, tell your buddy to ask you the toughest (applicable) questions he or she can come up with, preferably ones they’d use to weed out candidates of their own if they were filling a job.

While there’s no way to predict the exact questions an interviewer will ask, having practiced numerous tough questions will at least prepare you to look poised (rather than a deer caught in the headlights) when you go to answer the question. You can also practice stalling techniques, such as saying, “That’s a really good question! Let me think about that for a moment.”

Practice with a family member or friend

Once you have practiced a few times in front of a video camera, buy a friend dinner and ask them to spend an hour or so drilling you with some tough optometrist interview questions. Dress up like you’re going to the interview and arrive with your resume in hand.

By practicing with a real person, it enables you to get a feel for how your resume holder really performs (‘Oh my gosh, my black resume holder totally attracts cat hair!’) or see in advance that your flattering blue oxford shirt sports some serious pit stains.

A family member or friend will also help you feel more comfortable in an interview setting, helping you to feel better about really opening up and talking about yourself.

Practice with a professional

Lastly, consider applying for jobs you might not normally consider. “Don’t start with your dream job,” advises Dr. Kestenbaum. He recommends that you apply for a few jobs that you might not want, but for which you’re clearly qualified. This gives you the opportunity to feel what it’s like to sit across the table from someone who is asking you questions.

Engaging in interviews that aren’t for “dream jobs” is quite beneficial. It allows you to prepare for phone interviews by ensuring that your technology (such as Skype or Facetime) works, your mobile phone performs well in the sport where you’ll be located during your conversation, and that you have a good setup for taking notes or doing a quick google search for company details on the fly.

Similarly, an in-person optometrist interview is invaluable. Dr. Kestenbaum argues that there is no substitute for actual optometrist interview practice, as you get a feel for sitting at a table, and you can understand what types of questions you’ll be asked.

Do be respectful of potential employers’ time, though. Rather than applying for jobs that you’d never consider, Dr. Kestenbaum concludes by recommending that you practice by “interview[ing] for positions that you may or may not want.”Once you feel confident with your interviewing skills, go for the gold.

But you never know; you just might find your dream job while you’re practicing :)

Don’t let worries about the optometrist interview process paralyze you with fear to the point that you’re afraid of making an important career move. This self-sabotaging behavior can hold you back for years, robbing you of opportunities to grow your skills and increase your earnings.

Check out the eyecare jobs on CovalentCareers, where you can browse employers in your area who are looking for candidates like YOU!

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About Meredith Victor Castin, PT, DPT

Meredith is the co-founder of NewGradPhysicalTherapy.com and the founder of The Non-Clinical PT. She is originally from Tyler, TX and attended UPenn for undergrad, before graduating with her DPT from USA (San Diego) in 2010. She has worked in …

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