So you applied for a position as an Optometrist, and you secured an interview. Great! Now what?
We’ve all gone through it: the excitement, the anticipation, the anxiety.
How do you rock an interview, especially as an OD?
Preparation is key, and here are some tried and true ways to do it.
Start with appearance
First impressions carry a lot of weight. Starting off on the right foot is crucial to interview success, so there is a myriad of ways to prep for the big day.
Business professional dress (suits, “clinic attire”) is usually most appropriate, and will never be looked down upon. Clothing should be clean and pressed. Hair should be neat and groomed, including facial hair. Fingernails should be clean, and cologne or perfume is appropriate if applied delicately.
Imitate the office’s dress attire (show you fit in!), and always err on the side of dressing up rather than down. Be careful not to stick out by wearing wacky or distracting clothing; be remembered for your great personality and stellar interview skills, not the top hat and monocle you wore.
Do your homework on the practice and its people.
Get a grasp of the practice history, doctors, specialties offered, etc. – often the website will be very enlightening.
Employers expect you to actually know about them before you apply – shocking, right?
On the big day, make sure to arrive early. Map out the directions, determine how long it will actually take (depending on traffic and parking), and call ahead if you’re running late.
Turn off your phone or devices so as to minimize potential distractions. Consider bringing additional copies of your resume or business card with you – make things as easy as possible for the employer!
When you enter the office, be kind and courteous to everyone you meet. Often the staff is asked their opinion on interview candidates, so it pays to be nice to anyone you encounter; your interview starts the moment you walk in the door. Give firm handshakes, and smile!
The hot seat
It’s time for your interview! While some interviews are more off-the-wall than others, there are generally a standard set of questions that are asked.
While they may be phrased in different ways, interviewers usually want the same information. In the likelihood that the following questions are asked, think about your answers ahead of time. This will ease your mind and help keep your composure while being articulate.
Some common questions/prompts are:
- “Tell me about yourself.” Many people get thrown off by this “question.” What do you say? What is important, and what are they looking to hear? You should prepare what is called your “elevator pitch.” That is, in about 2 minutes or less, the interviewer wants to hear about you, your background including educational and work history, some personal traits, and what you are looking for in a job.
- “What are some of your strengths?” Self-explanatory. Highlight key skills or traits you have that are beneficial to you and others in the workplace, and make you a good clinician.
- “What is an area you could improve on?” Otherwise phrased as “What is a weakness/opportunity of yours?” Whatever you choose to talk about, make sure you put a positive spin on the issue. For example, if you are forgetful, mention that you take lots of notes to keep yourself on track. If you need more experience in ocular disease management, discuss how you regularly attend continuing education regarding medical diagnosis and treatment. Don’t get caught off-guard by this question and end up sabotaging yourself by saying something you’ll regret.
- “Tell me about a conflict you’ve faced, and how you dealt with it.” Translation: under pressure, how do you react? This could also be used as a situational question: “If X happened, what would you do?” Again, put this in a positive light. You…had an upset patient, but were able to calm him down using kindness and empathy, and he left saying it was the best eye exam he’d ever had. You…were given a tight deadline on a tough project, but were able to rally the team to get things done on time. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear that you and your boss/attending never got along, resulting in frustration, hurt feelings, and poor performance.
- “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Be a (wo)man with a plan. Successful interviewees know what they want and where they are going. No one has a crystal ball, but at least give the interviewer an idea of where you are heading.
- “Do you have any questions?” Always have questions. Script them ahead of time. Make them thoughtful to the nature of the work or the practice, and they should lead to a discussion.
I’m a real boy!
While interview preparation is important, the last thing you want to do is give over-rehearsed responses like a robot.
Your demeanor and personality are crucial parts of who you are, so make sure they shine through during your discussion. Use this time to brag about yourself – no one else is going to do it for you!
Be confident yet polite; you don’t want to come across as too pompous or self-deprecating.
Give concise and articulate answers that fully answer the question (no one-word responses), but don’t ramble. Interviewers need some time between questions to process and take notes, so don’t keep talking merely to fill the silence - it is their silence, not yours.
Highlight how your experience fits with their job description; e.g., drive home the message that your binocular vision residency put you in prime position to build their vision therapy practice.
When the interview is concluding, ask for the job. Seriously.
Unless they’ve already indicated they need time to decide on the best candidate, being direct can work wonders.
Try this: “Considering all we have talked about today, do you think you can offer me this position?”
This confirms your interest and saves you time waiting for an answer if they say no.
Lastly, send a Thank-You note immediately after the interview; snail-mail preferred, email if necessary. Set yourself apart from the crowd with your graciousness!
Practice makes perfect, and good luck!
- Bolles, Richard. What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2016. Print.
- Pinocchio. Dir. Ferguson, N. et al. Perf. Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, and Cliff Edwards. Disney, 1940. Film.