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It’s finally time—you’ve aced your last exams, graduated from veterinary school, and are ready to enter the veterinary profession. Now comes the real test: the interview process.
Preparing for a Veterinary Job Interview
Approaching a veterinary job interview—especially for a position you really want—can be incredibly nerve-wracking. But preparing for it is the best way to set yourself up for success. Let’s look at a couple of interview tips for how to best prep.
Explore the Veterinary Practice with In-Depth Research
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview at a veterinary practice is to research it in advance. You want to be well-versed in the clinic itself—its history and culture—as well as the employees you could be working with.
How to research a veterinary practice:
- Read the Practice Website & Scroll through its Social Media Profiles: These are the obvious first places to start. Learn the clinic’s mission and values. Comb through their website and social profiles for recent news, blog posts, or updates that provide insights into the practice’s activities and priorities.
- Learn About the Team: Familiarize yourself with the veterinarians and staff members. These are potentially your future co-workers. Understand their expertise and specialties. LinkedIn profiles of key staff members are a great place to scope out information about their backgrounds and professional accomplishments.
- Client Reviews and Testimonials: Look for client reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and the practice’s website. This will give you a peek behind the scenes to see how well the practice values the client experience. It’s helpful to try to get a sense of whether patients feel well cared for by the clinic. You want to find a team that treats its patients with the utmost care and respect.
Rehearse Answers for Expected Interview Questions
It may feel a little silly to actually rehearse the questions and answers. But trust us, it can make a huge difference.
Here are a few tips:
- Practice Out Loud: And maybe even in front of a mirror. This will feel a bit hokey, but conducting a mock interview will help you articulate your thoughts more clearly and boost your confidence. The mirror will also allow you to focus on your mannerisms, body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice—all key elements to acing an interview.
- Tailor Your Answers: Having thoroughly researched the practice, think of ways to tie your experience and greatest strengths to the clinic’s culture and mission.
- Use the STAR method for behavior questions: When asked how you handle particular situations, use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your response. This keeps your storytelling focused and emphasizes your problem-solving nature.
As you practice, stay positive and confident. The goal is not to memorize your answers. You want to be authentic and relaxed in the interview. Do your research and rehearse your answers, but don’t get so bogged down that you lose your unique spark.
Veterinary Interview Questions New Grads Need to Ask
One of the best ways to knock an interview out of the park is to come prepared with thoughtful questions for the interviewer. This shows how proactive and engaged you are. And it easily sets you apart from the rest of the pack.
To help you prepare, here are ten questions to ask in an interview.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like in This Role?
This is a great question to ask, as it gives you a better sense of what your daily schedule will look like. But even more, this question helps you:
- Gain clarity on your potential job responsibilities.
- See whether the clinic is a cultural fit.
- Set realistic expectations of the workload and what will be expected of you.
- Understand work-life balance in the practice.
Can You Describe the Team I’ll Be Working With?
Time and time again, the people we work with make or break a job. Getting a sense of the team you’ll be working with is crucial for understanding how well you’ll like the job. By asking the interviewer to describe the team, you’ll gain insight into their personalities and overall team dynamics.
What Are the Opportunities for Professional Growth and Development?
As a recent grad, you have a long, wonderful career journey ahead of you. By asking about future professional opportunities, you show that you are:
All things that veterinarians want from the people on their teams.
How Do You Handle Emergency Cases?
This is a great question to ask. It will show you understand the realities of the industry, and it will give you an intimate insight into this particular clinic.
You want to hear that the practice is prepared to handle emergencies and has a robust set of protocols to manage them. Most clinics face emergencies regularly, and working in a well-organized and safe environment is important.
What are the Client Demographics and Common Cases You Handle?
This helps you understand the type of animals and cases you’ll most frequently encounter. Are patients primarily families with small animals and pets? Or are you working in a rural context with farms and large animals?
How is Success Measured in This Role?
Adjusting to the workforce is a big challenge. For years, you have received regular grades and feedback for how well (or not so well) you are doing in school. But that kind of structure doesn’t exist in the workplace. That’s why knowing exactly what is expected of you from the get-go is so key.
What Are the Most Challenging Aspects of This Job?
Everyone, of course, will have different workplace challenges. But this question helps you gain a realistic expectation of the role. It also gives you insight into some of the employer’s pain points. You could then share:
- Examples of how you would face the stressful situations
- Ideas for how to mitigate the issues
How Does the Practice Support Continuing Education?
Continuous learning is key in veterinary medicine. New research, technology, and best practices are constantly developing. Dynamic clinics and practices prioritize employee growth.
Look for clinics that offer mentorship programs, regular workshops, and seminars, and invest in continuing education opportunities.
What Are the Practice’s Values and How Do They Inform Your Work?
Since you have thoroughly researched the practice, you could also tailor this question to be more specific. I gathered the practice values X, Y, and Z. How does that inform your day-to-day work?
This will show you’ve done your homework and also provide the interviewer the opportunity to share their experiences. Please pay attention to how well the clinic implements its values and mission. You want to be part of a team that walks the walk.
Can You Tell Me About the Practice’s Approach to Work-Life Balance?
It’s no secret that many veterinarians experience significant burnout. As you interview for jobs and look for the right fit, keep a close eye out for those that prioritize work-life balance and employee well-being. Having rest and self-care built into the culture of the clinic makes all the difference.
What Else to Anticipate During a Veterinary Job Interview
By doing your research and practicing your answers, you will be well-prepared for the interview. Here are a few other tips for what to anticipate during a veterinary job interview:
- Technical Questions: Be prepared for questions about your veterinary knowledge, technical skills, and work experience. This may include discussions about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and general medical care.
- Client Communication Skills and Interpersonal Skills: Given the client-facing nature of veterinary roles, be prepared to discuss how you communicate with pet owners, explain medical conditions, and handle difficult situations (like the need for euthanasia) with empathy.
- Facility Tour or Observation: In some cases, you may be given a tour of the facility or have the opportunity to observe the daily operations. Use this as an opportunity to ask questions and better understand the work environment.
Once you’ve finished an interview, don’t forget to follow up. Email the DVM you interviewed with to thank them for their time.
As you apply for jobs and prepare for the interview, remember how hard you have worked to be here. You have spent countless hours studying and learning the intricacies of veterinary medicine. It’s now time to let your accomplishments shine.