First, before the interviewing process begins, it is important to have a clear outline of what qualities an ideal candidate should possess.
This includes creating a job description that clarifies the necessary competencies and other desired skills or talents. By tailoring the job description to fit the ideal candidate, it increases the interviewer’s chances of finding the best fit. Below is an example of a possible spec sheet an interviewer might use during an interview to ensure the candidate has the desired qualities:
|What It Looks Like
|Reliable, honest, works with a sense of urgency and determination, admits their mistakes willingly and puts care into everything they do
|Works well with others, open-minded and focused on building relationships with team members to enhance the effectiveness of the business as a whole, as well as the employee experience
|Someone who routinely asks, “what else can I do?” and continuously looks for ways to improve themselves and the business
|Confident, upbeat personality that is patient centered, and driven to produce positive results
|Provides exceptional patient experiences through their enthusiasm, continues to ask questions and strives to expand their skill set and knowledge about the business
|What It Looks Like
|Dedicated to exceeding patient expectations, anticipating patient needs and finding solutions that inspire the patient to become a life-long client
|Able to explain difficult concepts effectively, good written and verbal skills, listens well, picks up on nonverbal cues and is able to manage own emotions appropriately
|Keeps in mind how decisions will affect the business as a whole, is able to anticipate possible outcomes and choose the most effective approach, can be trusted to “do the right thing”
|Creative at Problem Solving
|Thinks outside of the box, able to think abstractly and see the big picture, does not get discouraged easily when faced with difficult problems
|ABO certified, understands adjustment processes, deep understanding of lens options (including materials, coatings and progressive types), able to effectively troubleshoot patient RX issues and is comfortable teaching contact lens insertion and removal techniques to new wearers
So, What are Optical Employers Looking for?
The top competencies that employers are looking for out of new candidates are.
- Problem solving skills
- How the candidates work under stress
- Conflict management styles
- Communication strengths
In the optical field, experience can often be helpful in getting the job, but sometimes having no experience is preferred.Some offices, for instance, like to train opticians from scratch so that they can ensure the optician learns everything within the structure (and under the supervision) of that specific company. This can be quite helpful as the companies with larger training budgets are likely to pay for the ABO certification and send their opticians to different CE events throughout the year.
Some offices, for instance, like to train opticians from scratch so that they can ensure the optician learns everything within the structure (and under the supervision) of that specific company. This can be quite helpful as the companies with larger training budgets are likely to pay for the ABO certification and send their opticians to different CE events throughout the year.
Other, smaller optical businesses that don’t have as much budget allocated to training, may prefer an optician with years of experience who can hit the ground running. Thus, as an interviewer, it’s important to ask questions that help the candidate paint an accurate picture of themselves. Asking the right questions gives the interviewer a better idea of how the candidate should fit with the culture of the office.
Questions should be open-ended and non-leading. A leading question would be, “Can you read a prescription,” obviously, when asked this type of question the candidate is able to anticipate what answer the interviewer wants to hear.
Instead, either role-play and show them an RX to see if they can explain it, or ask, “what would you recommend as a lens choice based on this patient’s prescription?” By asking open-ended questions, the interviewer is ensuring that they get more out of the interview than yes or no answers.
An open-ended question can most quickly be recognized by starting with “show me, tell me, how, please describe, etc…” Keeping the core competencies in mind, it’s always a good idea to outline possible questions before the interview begins.
By having some questions ready, the interviewer will be sure to discuss the important topics necessary to gauge whether the candidate will work well in their office.
Though some interviewers thrive on organically asking questions as they come up in conversation, I prefer to be over prepared with questions and a well-thought out guide of exactly what type of candidate is needed for the position.
Examples of my MUST-ASK interview questions:
- Please describe a time when you went above the call of duty for a patient. What did you do, and how did it enhance the patient experience?
- What are you most motivated to educate patients about? Why?
- What was your most difficult decision in your last position, and how did that decision affect the business?
- What steps do you take to analyze a problem before making a decision?
- Describe what type of environment brings out the best in you.
- Tell me about a time you put yourself into a leadership position; what was it, why did you feel inspired to lead, what was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time that you went out of your way to help someone on your team. What did you do and why? How did it impact your team?
- Tell me about a time when you initiated a conversation with someone you didn’t know. What techniques did you use to create common ground and connect with them?
- Tell me about a time that you were given little or no direction to complete a task.