Interviews Are Not Interrogations

No time for the “third degree”

As we close out another year and begin to lay the groundwork for a new one, I would like to address an area that seems to be more and more prevalent—that is the purpose of the initial face to face interview and what my observations have been this past year. I’m uncertain if this is the result of anxiety of the process itself, entering into it with a negative outlook rather than an open mind or simply an impatience to collect quick answers rather than garnering valuable information in order to make an educated decision for both the potential employee and employer which enables both to gather important facts to lay the groundwork for the rest of the process.

While the purpose of an initial interview is to share and gather information between the potential employee and employer, we must not lose sight of what this meeting is to accomplish. “I love being interviewed” or “I love conducting an interview” are statements that are rarely if ever stated by the interviewer or interviewee. The face to face encounter is a very important segment of the interview process and one we shouldn’t take lightly and rush through. It is the time for both parties to get their first exposure of one another and the first opportunity to share information regarding the practice culture, style and philosophy along with the skill sets, abilities and temperament. This hour or so is meant to be an uninterrupted time to capture some valuable traits, so preparing well and making sure it is a safe place to share is important.

One of the very first considerations is to set “the stage” for the interview. This requires creating an environment where it is safe and comfortable and where the exchange of information is open and honest. You want to establish an atmosphere that promotes openness and complete honestly as the approach taken will make a tremendous difference for both the job seeker and interviewer. What I am experiencing are verbal exchanges that are clearly causing a smokescreen that will often cause job candidates to run the other way and potential employers chose to move on to other candidates. How does this happen? It occurs when the “tone” of the conversation becomes more of an interrogation rather than a healthy and informative think tank.

“Why did you leave your last job?” “I’m concerned that you have never worked with our software.” “It is important for you to understand exactly how we set up for an implant.” While these are all valid questions that certainly need to be addressed as the process moves forward, there is more to discuss and establish up front. And job seekers, questioning salary, benefits, vacation arrangements and sick pay are subjects that should not take precedence during this initial interview. When statements of this nature monopolize the discussion, it tends to become more of an interrogation and less of a “getting-to-know-you” opportunity. What about– “What interested you in the field of dentistry?” “What are your long- and short-term goals for your career?” or “Doctor, what is it that you hope I will bring to support the health and growth of your practice?”

Sadly, many great employer/employee connections have been known to come to an abrupt halt based on focusing on topics that should be managed later in the process. Perhaps my bringing this to your attention will cause many of you to look at the purpose of the initial interview in a different light, thus rescuing what could be the perfect, long-term hiring commitment based on the ability to identify the strong viable candidates and the practice cultures that are ideal for the new team member.

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