We know a search for a career can be a nerve-racking process and it may take you several interviews to find the best fit. As you begin preparing for an interview, take a moment and pat yourself on the back, you have graduated (or are graduating) from the finest optometric institution in the country—Congrats! You have passed numerous practicals, and have had many consultations with your attending doctors. You are more than prepared, so give yourself some credit!
Here are nine tips to prepare you for a successful interview:
Be yourself and allow your personality to shine. If it’s a good fit, you will feel comfortable with the philosophies and/or needs of the hiring doctor—you’ll know it’s a good match. No need to be too nervous, you have already accomplished the hard part
Never ask about $$$
This probably goes without saying, but it is a complete and total turn-off for the hiring doctor. According to doctors who have posted ads with ICO, they tell us time and time again they don’t like it and can lead to an interview going downhill quickly. Always wait until there has been some sort of commitment, callback, and/or a signal of an offer being set in place.
Always bring additional copies of your CV
While you may think your e-mailed and/or faxed copy is sufficient, you can never be too certain or over-prepared. You also may be meeting with more than one doctor or hiring authority. We recommend having at least three copies of your CV with you at all times, including cover letter. Presentation is always important, so consider investing in some really good e-friendly, recyclable paper products and stock.
Thank you notes, follow-up notes, and reaffirmation notes and letters are a MUST!
From our experience, hiring doctors (and their staff) take kindly to a candidate who goes the extra mile. It’s important to take time after the interview to assess and reflect on the value of your experience. Follow-up and thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule to speak with you, selecting you out of countless other applicants and to confirm your interest in the position. In your follow-up, you may also want to touch on key pieces of the interview, such as common goals, ideas, values, concepts for practice, or points that will be unique to only you as a candidate.
The interview is a learning experience
You are there to learn about the doctor, the business, the practice, the staff, the patients, and the patient base. Remember, this is your first meeting and you are being critiqued on how well you listen, assess, evaluate and interpret the information dispensed.
Be yourself, but follow the lead of the hiring doctor. You don’t want to appear overambitious, too aggressive, and/or over-zealous. The subsequent interviews may include your concerns including benefits, scheduling, etc. Please keep in mind, even on second or third interviews, you are still being critiqued. Professionalism is first and foremost.
Note: We would advise you to not consume alcoholic beverages during an interview, even if the hiring doctor is having one. You are still being interviewed, observed and critiqued, so might want to wait until after you are hired to celebrate.
Impressions whether first, second, or third are lasting ones,” said ICO Professional Career Development Counselor Tracy Faulkner. “I always tell students, your CV and any communications you have with a potential employer should be the best possible representation of you available in your absence.
Answer questions with a positive attitude
You don’t want to say anything negative or be less than favorable about topics that are discussed during an interview. Again, optometry is a very small, close and tight-knit community. For example: if you are asked what you disliked about your externships, an appropriate response may be: that they ended, or that they weren’t long enough.
Remember your interviewer is generally an experienced professional who is committed to lifelong learning, like you. Don’t try to impress by overindulging. Be truthful. It’s okay to have to research an issue or question and get back to them. It shows you are honest and that you are research-oriented. You are a new and recent graduate, so you are not expected to know everything.
It’s also okay and appreciated for you to admit shortcomings. For example, “if I could revisit my educational experience, I would have chosen a residency in a specified area, or would have done more observing, or would have worked more with local volunteer/service organizations.” Your potential colleague will appreciate your honesty and just may surprise you by sharing some of their own.
Know your business
You are an optometrist. At this point, you should have full command of the most current, terminology and trends in industry. If there are some words that you are not familiar with, research! Consult your colleagues, instructors, professional trade journals and publications, and other private practice doctors, and veteran practitioners. In some instances, you may be asked to shadow or observe as part of the hiring process—this is where you need to shine, so be the best possible doctor available.
Go prepared with References
We recommend that you include the references on a separate page at the end of the CV with names, addresses, phone numbers, and email information. Make it easy for the person who will be giving you a job....do not make them work TO HIRE YOU!
Also, only use references you have contacted beforehand and who are willing to give you a GOOD reference! Do not use anyone you’ve never worked with, who doesn’t know you or remember you, or who doesn’t think you are a good doc! There is an official ICO request for references letter form that can be accessed through the Student, Alumni and College Development office.