A lot goes into finding a new job. First, you have to sift through the open positions, find the one that fits your schedule, and apply. Next, there is a formal in-person interview during which your potential employer inquires about your job experiences and education, and you get a chance to ask about the practice and the dentist’s philosophy. Then comes the working interview. While perhaps a little anxiety provoking, the working interview is also the most insightful part of the process for both you and your prospective employer.
A working interview is a great opportunity to showcase your skills and personality to the dentist, while evaluating whether the working environment is a good fit for you. During the interview day the dentist gets a glimpse of your chairside manner as well as how you adapt to the flow of the practice, communicate with the staff, and how well you adhere to office protocol. You get to evaluate how the dentist treats his or her staff and if your values are aligned with those of the practice.
Having been a hygienist for more than a decade, I have had my share of working interviews. I’d like to offer a few tips that can help you stand out from other candidates and leave a great impression on the dentist and staff.
STARTING THE DAY
It’s a good idea to arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early on the day of your interview. The staff and dentist will likely be there early and this will allow you time to introduce yourself to the team, gather your PPE, and set your room up. Take a few minutes to look through your schedule and charts so you can identify any potential issues and ask the dentist any questions you should have. This is also a good time to establish how the dentist likes to be alerted when he/she is needed for an exam.
SHOW YOUR SKILLS
A few little details can go a long way when trying to make a good impression. Along with providing excellent clinical treatment to patients, the dentist will greatly appreciate and take note of any way you can make the recare exam go smoothly. Here are a few ideas on how to help the exam run well:
- Separate the cleaned mirror and explorer from the other instruments on the tray. Leave a fresh 2×2 gauze on the tray as well.
- Have X-rays and perio chart readily available.
- Be sure to take a PA of any problem teeth the patient might have before the exam.
- Let the dentist know if the patient has any outstanding treatment or specific concerns.
- Bonus: have a fresh pair of gloves waiting for the dentist on the tray.
SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY
The working interview is a chance for everyone in the office to get to know you. Even if you don’t get to connect with each team member, they can still pick up on your personality by overhearing your conversations with patients and other staff. Often the dentist relies on feedback from the staff on your performance; he or she will be with patients all day and won’t really see you in action. Make a point of making small talk with your patients throughout the day. Ask about their weekend plans or their hobbies. It will give them a chance to ask the same of you and the dentist and staff will be able to see how you connect with the patients and learn a bit about you as well.
The practice may reach out to some of the patients you treated for feedback. You want them to remember their experience positively. Small things like asking if the patient is comfortable in the chair or offering water after the treatment can make a lasting impression. Give constructive self-care suggestions and try to say something positive about each patient’s teeth or oral hygiene.
DO YOUR PART, AND THEN SOME
There may be some time in the day when you have downtime. You may be running early or have a cancellation. If you are all caught up with charting and setting up, ask other staff members if they need a hand. The front desk may appreciate a moment to step away, or maybe the assistant could use help cleaning a room or perhaps you notice sterilization is backing up. Just jump right in. This will show that you’re not afraid to take initiative and that you are a team player.
ENDING THE DAY
How you end your day is just as important as how you start it. Be sure to replenish supplies in the operatory you worked in. Set up the chair the same way you found it and complete all your charting. This is also a good time to check in with the assistant to see if there is anything else you can do to help.
Before leaving for the day, thank everyone for their help throughout the day. Take a moment to thank the dentist for having you in and mention that you had a great experience. It also couldn’t hurt to throw in a compliment or two about how smoothly the practice runs or how nice the staff and patients are.
I hope these tips make your next working interview a little less stressful and help it run smoothly. Best of luck landing your dream job!
Veronica Bonta, BS, RDH, has been in clinical practice since 2007 when she made the switch from dental assistant to dental hygienist. She has worked in pediatric, general, orthodontic, and prosthodontic practices. Bonta is currently working at a family practice in sunny San Diego, practicing four days a week. She loves educating and building rapport with patients! Bonta is also a contributor to Dimensions of Dental Hygiene’s Student Site. Follow her on Instagram: @verbonica.