Job Interview Tips to Help Ace Your Allied Health Job Interview
Need some coaching before going to your allied health job interview? Take a look at some job interview tips below to help you prepare for that all-important interview!
Before Your Interview
Be prepared! Get all of your paperwork ready.
- Create a professional résumé that profiles important coursework, clinical experience and any early allied health career highlights. List your job positions or clinical rotations, key responsibilities, accomplishments, rewards, recognition, credentials, licensing and education. Ask your school advisor or other mentor to review your résumé for content, grammar, format and overall effectiveness. Once you’ve finalized your résumé, be sure to print out multiple copies and keep them in a folder with your other documents.
- Make a list and check off all of your credentials, immunization and identification documents. Make sure to include education and credentialing documents, additional certificates from any advanced training programs, driver's license, immunization record and social security number. Bring the original documents and multiple copies of each to give to the HR department and the hiring/interviewing manager.
- Bring a current copy of your specialty skills checklist(s) for any departments where you’ve worked. Be thorough, but don't exaggerate your abilities. These lists demonstrate your clinical competencies and can help employers match you to the right job and training situation to begin your allied health career. When you work with Club Staffing, we’ll provide you with skills checklists that can be completed for your job interview.
- Have at least two copies of your references available—one to leave with the human resources representative and the other for the hiring manager. Verify and update the names, titles, facility designations, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of clinic managers, allied health faculty and personal references. (If you have reference letters, bring them along. Most employers use them as supplemental material, not as a substitute for references.)
- Anticipate being asked for permission to conduct a criminal background investigation. The permission form may require you to list all of your prior addresses for the past five to seven years, so keep this information with you.
Think, “What would the interviewer ask me?”
- Find out as much as you can about the facility where you'll be interviewing by visiting their website or picking up literature from your school's career center. If you have any contacts who work at this facility, take the time to ask them about the staff, the corporate culture and general procedures.
- Prepare answers for standard on-the-job type interview questions:
- How would others describe your skills as a team player?
- What is your approach for getting along with difficult staff members?
- How do you handle problem patients and/or families?
- What is your method for dealing with the workload when your unit is short-staffed?
- How do you give a treatment that you have never administered before?
- Develop an answer for one of the most common open-ended questions: "Tell me a little about yourself." This question is designed to evaluate your judgment. This is not the time or the place for a chronological biography or any self-critical remarks. It's your opportunity to reveal key details about yourself that validate why you’re the right person for the job. Use this opportunity to point out the unique skills, talents and attitudes you bring to the facility, backed up with specific examples. For instance, if you talk about your teamwork or leadership skills, give an example of when you demonstrated these qualities.
- Practice answering questions in a way that shows you’re a problem-solver. Staff shortages and new employee training can be a source of stress for the manager and the other workers, so show that you can be part of the solution. Provide examples from your allied health career—no matter how short—that demonstrate how you've picked up the slack, organized workflow and contributed in various ways to make things more efficient.
- Craft answers to negative situations, but frame them in a positive light. Review your experience and write down pertinent examples that show how you overcame adversity and gained new insights. Even if you faced some difficult situations at your last job, refrain from speaking negatively about a previous employer, department or manager. You don't want to come across as someone who blames his or her situation on others or offend the hiring manager by mistake. Emphasize the positive and highlight how these challenging experiences strengthened and shaped your skills and your allied health career.
Practice, practice, practice!
- Practice answering all of these questions until you feel comfortable and at ease. Don't just say what you think the interviewer wants to hear; be true to yourself. Otherwise, you could be hired into a position that's not a good match. Your goal is to prepare answers that best reflect your skills and personality. Remember to be sincere, professional and show how you've excelled in your allied health career.
- Give these job interview tips a test run and stage a mock interview. Ask a colleague, friend or relative who is familiar with the interviewing process to do a "mock" interview with you. Have them ask the same thought-provoking questions they would ask their candidates. Don't let them go easy on you; the tougher their questions the less stumped and more prepared you'll be when it comes time for the real interview. Your Club Staffing recruiter is the perfect person to do a “mock interview” with! With years of experience in the allied health interview process, your recruiter has great insight and can give relevant feedback.
- You should also practice greeting your interviewers with a smile and a firm handshake, either with friends or in front of a mirror. Keep at it until you exude the warmth, confidence and professionalism that you want. It may feel strange at first, but it can help you alleviate jitters and appear more polished on the day of the interview.
- Don't forget to get plenty of sleep the night before your interview to help you look rested and feel more alert.
During the Interview
First impression counts!
- Like the old adage says, "You only get one chance to make a good first impression," the success of your interview may depend on those first few moments. Studies have shown that managers often make hiring decisions within 30 seconds of meeting a candidate. It's that initial impression that stands out in the interviewer's mind when they are evaluating you vs. another candidate. This is why attire, grooming, a clear speaking voice and a winning smile are important.
Dress to get the job.
- What are you going to wear? If you do not know the personality of the hiring manager or the corporate culture of the healthcare facility, dress in professional business attire. The degree of formality and what's acceptable varies around the country, but it is better to err on the side of being too dressed up than to come across as less-than-professional.
- Whatever clothes you choose, make sure they are impeccable; freshly cleaned and pressed. Don't forget to shine your shoes and make sure they’re in good shape. Dressing in neat, professional clothes shows respect for the facility and your allied health career. Hiring managers pay attention to these details since they reflect a candidate's diligence.
- Remove or tone down personal accessories that could be considered distracting or distasteful; avoid flashy nail decor, heavy makeup and clunky jewelry. The emphasis during the interview process is to portray a professional and neat appearance, not broadcast your unique style.
- Style your hair so it is pulled back and off your face, a mirror of how it will be when you are working.
- Avoid any scented lotions, perfume or after shave. It could trigger an allergic reaction and make a less than favorable impression.
Get there early.
- Punctuality at your first meeting with a potential employer is crucial! It is a mark of your dedication and professionalism, and sets the right tone for the next step in your allied healthcare career. So start out early and allow plenty of time to make it through traffic, find the facility, park your car and walk to the interview location. If possible, get directions ahead of time and ask about parking and access to the place where you need to interview.
- Plan to arrive early just in case an accident or something unforeseen might slow you down. This pre-planning will also allow you to arrive at the interview relaxed and prepared. If you're very early, you can use the time to review these job interview tips and rehearse your answers to common questions.
Smile! Greet your interviewer warmly.
- Make eye contact, smile warmly and shake the interviewer's hand. This "connection" can help set the tone and get the interview started on an upbeat note. Maintain frequent eye contact throughout the interview to show your continued interest.
Relax, listen, and respond during the interview.
- It's only natural to be a little nervous, especially during your first interview. So don't worry if you stumble on your first sentence or don't immediately get your full point across. Look for the opportunity to provide more details and demonstrate your strong points.
- Relax, take a couple of deep breaths and maintain a calm, even conversational tone. Listen carefully to each question and respond to what is being asked, not to what you anticipate will be asked. Ask for clarification if needed and be careful not to rush through your answers.
- Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions, so use this opportunity to show your interest in the position and find out key details about the workflow. Feel free to check your notes, but avoid asking questions about items that are already spelled out in the interview literature you receive.
- You might ask questions about the facility, orientation and getting acclimated into the existing work group. It is also helpful to ask the hiring manager what skills they think are most important to succeed at this job, and then be sure to point out how you have demonstrated those skills in previous situations.
Extra things to do for extra credit.
- Discuss your professional association memberships and any committee positions which you've held. Mention research you've helped with, volunteer projects, published articles and continuing education.
- Let the hiring manager know if you're interested in extra responsibilities such as committee or task force memberships. Express your willingness to take advanced training in subjects needed to fill in clinical competencies in the unit.
- Ask for a tour of the facility and to meet some of your peers. This is a great way to get a feel for your potential workplace.
After the Interview
Always say thank you.
- Letter writing may be a lost art, but a simple thank you note shows your interest and thoughtfulness, which reinforces a favorable impression. So, if you want the job....say thank you.
- Thank the interviewers for their time and consideration. Keep the tone business-like, focused and warm. It should be a reflection of your personality, your professionalism and how you approach your allied health career. Mention a specific contribution you can make to address their current challenges and then wrap up the note by asking for the job.
- Proofread the letter and make sure there are no typos or inaccuracies. E-mail, mail, hand-deliver or fax your letter so that it arrives within 24 hours after your interview.
Not the job for you?
- Send a thank you note anyway. It shows good manners and thoughtfulness on your part. Hiring managers will appreciate your courtesy and might even suggest another position at their facility or at another location.
Haven’t heard anything from the hiring manager?
- If it has been a few days, call to convey your continued interest and check the status of the interviewing process. Find out when the decision will be made and ask if there is anything else you can provide. This could be an opportunity to supply additional references, paperwork or information.
- Follow up the day before the decision is supposed to be made. Be considerate of the hiring manager’s time and pressures associated with the pending decision.