How to ace an interview: Top 5 questions to ask a potential employer

DATE: September 2020
AUTHOR:
Susanna E. Scherer R.D.H., B.S.D.H.

At a time when we are all facing change in our lives, many dental hygienists have found themselves wanting or needing to find a new position. During the pandemic I made the choice to not return to the dental office I had practiced in for over 16 years. With that decision came the need to look for a new dental office position.

It had been 16 years since I interviewed for a clinical position. I knew I needed to prepare myself for the RDH interview. I updated my resume, made a list of all the reasons I left my prior place of employment and all the qualities I hoped for in a future place of employment, researched the offices that I was sending my resume to and created a list of questions to ask potential employers during an interview. If you have found yourself searching for a new RDH position, here are 5 questions you can ask your potential employer to ace the interview:

  1. What do the day-to-day responsibilities look like for your dental hygienists?

    It is important to determine if you and the potential employer see eye to eye on the RDH’s daily responsibilities. The Glassdoor Team states, “success and happiness in a job boils down to contentment with the nitty-gritty of the everyday.” In order to find fulfillment in the daily grind, it is important to be comfortable with the employer’s expectations of day-to-day responsibilities.

  2. Can I please see the schedule?

    We have all heard or seen it asked before, “How much time do you get for an SRP, how much time do you get for an NP, how much time do you get for a re-care appointment?” Seeing the office schedule will allow you to determine if you will be able to meet your own clinical standards in this setting. It is OK to know that you aren’t built for a fast-paced office, or to know you prefer a fast-paced one. It is best to be honest with yourself about that from the start. Trying to convince yourself you can make it work in an office that does not suit you will only lead to burnout in a few months.

  3. How would you describe the office culture?

    Office culture is extremely important because “the right tone and environment can improve employee productivity and happiness tenfold.” Get Hired RDH recommends that when asking the interviewer this question it’s best not to focus “on their words.” Instead, “watch their body language and other cues” and “take note of their reactions as one piece of a much bigger puzzle.” If your interviewer seems uncomfortable or hesitant to answer this question, it could be a sign that there is an unresolved internal conflict. However, if your interviewer expresses how well their staff works together or how they enjoy each other’s company outside of the office, it reveals a healthy culture.

  4. What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?

    For some employers, success may be an RDH who has excellent rapport with patients and the dental team. For others it may be based on successful treatment plan completion. Measuring success could range from simple observations to quarterly reviews of office production. Again, you must know your own clinical standards and what you value as success. When your views are in alignment you can continue to move forward in the hiring process.

  5. What steps are next in the interview process?

    Asking about next steps shows the hiring manager you are optimistic and want the job. You can also mention you would be interested in a working interview. This will allow you to see the office culture for yourself, get a feel for the patient base and see if you are able to practice to your own ethical standards.

    Asking the right questions will allow you to get a better picture of potential employment opportunities. It will also reveal that you are a strong oral health care professional who values your role on the dental team. Be true to yourself, know the things you value most about being a dental hygienist and do not sell yourself short. The right office is out there, sometimes it just requires a little patience to find the right fit.