An interview is not just an opportunity for a potential employer to ask questions and get to know you, it is also your opportunity to sell yourself – and find out more about the clinic and position you are interviewing for. Getting the balance right between being confident and being overconfident can be tricky, especially when you’re nervous.
Here are some tips ‘n tricks to help you out:
Documentation to Take
Take with you an extra copy of your cover letter and CV. If you have recently updated it since applying, this is even more important.
Also, it is a good idea to take with you any certificates you have, in case the employer wishes to view them (spare photocopies of these will never go astray too).
If you are currently studying, take copies of the assignments you are most proud of. Showing your work examples will demonstrate not only your knowledge to date but your enthusiasm for your studies (and ultimately the veterinary industry!)
Wear comfortable clothes.
Keep it simple, yet professional.
A dressy top with nice pants or skirt is just fine. Be careful with wearing heels – unless you are super confident in them, you wouldn’t want to roll your ankle whilst nervous!
Keep your hair neat, makeup professional and jewelry to a minimum. The key is comfort though – the more comfortable you are in your presentation, the more confident you’ll come across.
Do your research.
Check out the clinic’s website and Facebook pages before you go to your interview. Potential employers want to see that you are interested in them! Not knowing anything about a workplace you are applying to work at can be a death sentence!
Researching the clinic and staff will provide you with a good idea of the clinic’s personality, what services they offer, and provide you with information to help devise a few questions of your own, or weave your knowledge of the clinic into your answers.
Make sure you take note of the vets and nurses listed on their website, perhaps one is into behaviour and so are you. Find some common ground and weave this into your interview answers. Maybe the clinic sees lots of rabbits, and you have a passion for rescuing rabbits and rehoming. Do you find it inspirational that their main surgical nurse has her Diploma, as you are also aiming towards Diploma level study eventually too? There will be something you can use!
Prepare your interview answers!
Most employers will ask some standard questions, things like ‘why should we hire you’, ’why did you leave your previous role’, ’where do you see yourself in 5yrs from now’ ‘what are your strengths/weaknesses’ etc.
It pays to have a think of how you’ll answer such questions ahead of time so you don’t stumble to come up with an appropriate answer or say something silly.
When you answer a question, you should always try to link your answer to an example of previous work or experience you have. For example, if they ask you how you deal with change, don’t just say ‘Really well’ or ‘I thrive on change’. Go on to explain a situation where you had to deal with change and how you did that.
Prepare your interview questions.
At some stage in the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to get clarification on anything from wages, rosters, further training opportunities etc. Make sure you do have questions! Saying you don’t have any can make you seem disinterested.
Where you can, ask about veterinary nursing tasks or how you can fit into the clinic. Things like – “Do veterinary nurses get to perform dentals?” “Is there an opportunity to learn to scrub in to assist in surgery?” “I see Dr Smith runs behavioural consults, this is an area I am interested in. Is there an opportunity to assist her?” Again, it’s about showing your enthusiasm not just for veterinary nursing, but their clinic and what they offer!
Arrive early, you never know if there might be a parking issue or other delays. If you are super early, do wait outside until 5min before your interview. Going inside 30min early can place undue pressure on the staff.
Do however aim to enter the building 5min prior to your interview, this will give you a moment to compose yourself, look around the waiting room and get a feel for the clinic.
Be relaxed, friendly and polite.
Introduce yourself confidently by making eye contact, smile and shake hands if appropriate. A firm handshake of one or two pumps is enough and shows confidence. And remember, no one likes a weak handshake!
Be aware of any nervous habits you might have!
We all have nervous habits, but these can be counteracted if we are aware of them. Pay attention to yourself and think about if/why/when you are nervous, or have a think about previous times you were nervous and what nervous behaviours you had. You might swivel or rock chairs, fiddle, use slang words, say things like ‘um and ahhh’ a lot, or even get a dry mouth. Regardless of your habit, you should find a way to combat it. Nervous habits can cloud your thinking and you won’t interview as well as you wish to.
Consider taking a bottle of water if you get a dry mouth, make sure you sit straight and square to the interviewer whilst maintaining eye contact (glances away are fine, but careful not to stare out the window or at the desk whilst talking).
If you are a fiddler or chair rocker – taking a notepad and pen with you can give you something you can hold with your hand and more importantly – something to do. Taking notes can be seen as a good trait, whereas fiddling is not – but if you take notes to prevent your fiddling, suddenly fiddling isn’t obvious 🙂