Dental job interview

This article was originally published on May 30th, 2013. It was most recently updated on April 25th, 2022.

The average time it takes to find a new job is around three to six months – from the time you start searching, sending applications, and going to interviews to when you finally hear back that the job is yours. That’s a long stretch between looking for a new employment opportunity and successfully being hired!

Fortunately, if you’re one of many dental professionals looking to change jobs in the next 12 months, eventually, you’ll land that job interview that sets you on the path of finding that perfect-fit dream job. 

To most people, a pending interview might sound somewhat intimidating or nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. Preparation is key for nailing your next interview and securing that dream position, so it’s good to brush up on your interview skills. 

Read on to find out how you can pass that job interview with flying colors!

Preparing for Your Interview: Understanding Your Hard & Soft Skills 

The first step to becoming a job interview pro is knowing what interviewers are trying to find out about you through their questions. 

They often want to learn more about the clinical and technical skills that come from your qualifications; these are called ‘hard’ skills.  

For front office positions, which include receptionists, dental practice managers, and dental billing specialists, an interviewer will want to know the extent of your administration, billing, and insurance coordinator skills. They will also want to know about any specific or transferable dental office management software knowledge.  

Soft skills, on the other hand – how you do things – are often as critical as your hard skills. These skills make up the personal traits and qualities that influence how you like to work and interact with people. 

Review the job requirements listed in the ad, but don’t be put off if you don’t tick all the boxes. After all, a slightly underqualified applicant for a role is better than a position staying empty! If you are uncertain of your chances of being hired for a particular job, register an account and complete our free DentalPost assessments

Each completed assessment helps increase your chances of being found by a prospective employer searching the DentalPost job board, as it places you at the top of our search results and helps your profile stand out from the crowd.

Preparing For Your Interview: Are You the Right Fit?

Prepping for a job interview is more than just rehearsing and memorizing lines. You also need to use the time to decide whether the job you’re applying for and the company is suitable for you. Knowing as much as you can about the role will help you determine if it’s worth your time or if you should keep looking.  

Preparing For Your Interview: Acing the Interview Questions

Employers or interviewers will often ask five standard questions in an interview to learn more about you, your hard and soft skills, and your overall suitability for the job and the company. 

If you answer these confidently, you’ll leave an outstanding impression in your interview and boost your chances of an offer or a callback.

1. “So, tell me a bit about yourself?”

We all internally groan at this question. There’s nothing more stressful or awkward than being asked to talk about ourselves. Suddenly, all our prep work disappears, and we hit a mental blank. 

There’s a way around this, though, which still allows you to share insights into who you are without looking flustered or boring everyone to tears. 

  • Skip the spiel about your schooling and education; your interviewer has seen this information on your resume. Instead, talk about something genuinely interesting – maybe you spent some time abroad or worked in an exciting role? Mention what you learned from it or what skills you picked up. 
  • You can also talk about your personal life – what hobbies you’re into and enjoy doing. The interviewer wants to get to know you as a person, not just a professional candidate. 
2. “Why do you want to work for us?”

Another tricky question – if you haven’t done your research, that is. Use this opportunity to discuss why the job posting appealed to you and what stood out to you about the company. 

A practice’s website is an excellent resource for finding out about its values, attitudes towards patients, service range, and team members on staff. 

Describe the value you would like to add to the practice and don’t be shy to talk about your career aspirations in line with the job description.

3. “Why did you leave your last job?” 

If you’re currently unemployed, this question is bound to come up. Don’t be disheartened, though; it doesn’t mean it will hurt your prospects. 

It’s best to be honest when answering this question, but do frame your answer positively. Never say anything negative about a previous employer or manager. 

Good responses include:

Focus on the positive aspects of your previous role and what you learned from it, whether they’re professional or personal.

4. “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?”

Here’s your chance to show the interviewer that you mean business! Why should they pick you and not someone else? Play to your strengths here – what outstanding qualities do you possess that potentially make you stand out from other applicants?

  • Maybe you’ve overcome some personal challenges that have taught you to be resilient to pressure? Or perhaps you’ve overseen and managed co-workers that require dealing with different personality types in a work setting? 

Back up any strengths you mention with a quick example supporting your claim. For instance, if you’re great at managing people, give an example of where your skills were put to the test and what challenge or conflict you faced and successfully navigated. 

Whatever you do, don’t trot out cliches – things interviewers have heard a million times before. “I have X experience in Y,” or “I am a team player.”

You’ll Have to List One or Two Weaknesses As Well

Don’t be afraid about being honest here, but constructively frame your shortfalls. For example, you might find time management challenging sometimes, so you’d like to learn new ways to better plan and manage your time. 

DentalPost’s free online Skills Assessment and DISC Assessment can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses to prepare for this question.

5. “What are your salary requirements?”

You may feel uncomfortable honestly answering this question. It’s natural to feel awkward discussing salary expectations, but be careful not to undersell yourself and your skills. Think about your qualifications, your work experience, and your previous salary. 

It’s also important to look at the job’s benefits – does it offer paid vacation time, insurance, and healthcare compensation? If not, you’ll need to make sure you’re earning enough to cover these and other expenses. 

Have a specific salary range in mind, where the minimum comfortably covers your monthly expenses. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re not earning enough to support yourself. 

Use our salary data findings from our 2022 Salary Survey Report to look up the average income recorded for each dental position by state and benchmark your preferred salary amount. 

Preparing For Your Interview: Asking the Right Questions

Once the hard part of the interview is over – where you answer all the questions – it’s not necessarily time to stand up, shake hands and go. You now have a chance to ask any questions you may have about the company or role.  After all, this move isn’t about finding more of the same, or you wouldn’t be making it. 

Prepare some questions you’d like to ask beforehand. Don’t feel shy to ask directly about the job and what it requires. 

It’s ok to find out if the job offers:

  • A competitive and steady income to cover your living costs so you won’t need to take on extra or side work. 
  • A healthy, non-toxic work environment where you can thrive professionally and personally. 
  • Trust and appreciation not just from the patients you serve, but from your employer, manager, or supervisor. You should feel comfortable sharing any aspirations or concerns you might have with them and feel heard and respected. 

Some potential questions you could prepare:

  1. What does a typical day look like? Ask if you may see the schedule for the past few days.
  2. What are the practice’s top priorities and plans for the next few months?
  3. How does the team stay connected? How often do they communicate or have team meetings?

Let DentalPost Help You Land Your Perfect Job

What better way to prepare for an upcoming job interview than to understand your personality type and unique strengths and weaknesses?

Complete our free assessments today to help you: 

  • Know yourself and what matters most for your next job.
  • Rank higher in employer searches by taking assessments.
  • Match with employers who align with your core values and career path.

DentalPost is the number one Dental Job Board and Community for dental professionals and practices in the U.S. and Canada. Create or complete your online profile today to search and apply for your next dream job.

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