You’re sat opposite the interviewer and they ask: “Why do you want to be a vet?”
Naturally, your gut reaction will be to reply: “Because I want to work with animals!”
As much as that may be true, your interest in animals simply won’t be enough to convince the interviewer of your skills, dedication and passion for the veterinary field.
Notice that we say "interest in animals" instead of "love for". Our previous article, entitled "Is the veterinary profession for you?", explains that the veterinary industry is often very difficult for those who only find justification for their career choice in their love of animals.
Instead you need to focus your answer on the role the interviewer is recruiting for – along with some of the core skills that every veterinary surgeon requires to succeed.
To help you communicate why you are perfect for the role, and why you really do want to be a veterinary surgeon, we’ve put together ten ways you could answer this notoriously tricky interview question:
- You are passionate about working with animals, but can you work well with humans too?
Sometimes the most difficult part of being a veterinary surgeon is working with the human owners, as opposed to the pets themselves. Whatever environment you plan on working in, as a veterinary surgeon you will be required to work with other people, whether they are pet owners, farmers or even zookeepers.
Explain to the interviewer that you work well with other people too – both clients and colleagues. The interviewer will then want to see you demonstrate those confident and strong inter-personal skills.
- Are you passionate about science?
Veterinary medicine is all about science. Science in turn is about discovery, problem solving, research, evaluation, observation, knowledge and progression.
In every veterinary surgeon job you will be employing scientific skills so explain to the interviewer that your passion for science is integral to your drive to be a vet.
- Think about a veterinary surgeon’s role in health and welfare
Another interesting angle you could take could be to focus on the real impact a veterinary surgeon can make. Consider how a veterinary surgeon protects the health and welfare, not only of animals, but also the general public. Is this something you’re passionate about?
- Are you a keen self-learner and dedicated to ongoing professional development?
The veterinary field as a whole is dedicated to ongoing professional development. With PDP and CPD, veterinary surgeons will always need to invest in ongoing learning and development.
Your passion for learning and staying up to date will need to be apparent during your interview, and even more so be a reason for why you’re interested in the veterinary profession. Vets are given a huge amount of opportunities to invest in their own professional development, and it’s a big positive to employers if they see that you enjoy this aspect of your veterinary career.
- Why do you want to work specifically with…?
If you are applying for a specialist veterinary surgeon role, look at how you could tie your answer into the specialist area. Tailor your answer to explain exactly why you’re interested in that specific area of veterinary medicine.
Perhaps you want to empower farmers to care for and make the most of their livestock? Or you’re dedicated to helping owners care for and train their pets?
- Do you have a flair for business management?
This point is going to be particular relevant if you’re applying for a job in a veterinary practice. Working in a veterinary practice you will need to have an eye for ethics, budgets and the limits of medicines. You will also need to be ready to manage, train and communicate with a team of other veterinary surgeons, nurses, receptionists and technicians.
This point clearly ties into the first point; you’ll want to emphasise your inter-personal skills!
- What strengths will you put into action?
Will a career as a veterinary surgeon give you the opportunity to put your problem-solving abilities into action? Or perhaps your patient and understanding attitude will be put to good use? Will your energy and enthusiasm be an attribute? Whatever skills you see in yourself as being applicable to being a vet, let the interviewer know about them.
- What can the career offer you that another job might not?
Being a veterinary surgeon will mean you work outside an office, even outside in an agricultural environment perhaps. If this is something that appeals to you, explain so to the interviewer. Also consider whether the physical nature of the job is appealing.
- Will you find being a veterinary surgeon intellectually challenging?
A lot of veterinary surgeons are driven in their careers by the intellectually challenging nature of the industry. Are you one of them?
- Finally, be truthful
This final point is perhaps the most important one. Hopefully the previous nine tips will give you a little inspiration to answer the question “why do you want to be a veterinary surgeon?”
You may have a seen a few points and thought “that’s me!” However, don’t try to convince the interviewer of something you don’t believe yourself. Focus on your strengths and make them the highlight of your answer – don’t embellish your response with reasons that, despite being relevant, aren’t true to you and your career as a veterinary surgeon.
Interview advice for veterinary surgeons changing jobs
This post may seem a little off-topic for those of you who are changing jobs mid-career, having previously been a veterinary surgeon. However, the tips and advice above are still relevant, as you’ll likely find the question: “Why do you want to be a veterinary surgeon?” crop up in a different guise.
For example, they may ask: “what first inspired you to become a vet?” or “why are you looking to continue as a veterinary surgeon, as opposed to going into research or a commercial veterinary job?”
If you’re applying for a veterinary surgeon job then it’s clear that you’ve made a conscious decision to not go into a commercial or research role. However, the interviewer will still want to know why you made that choice. Use the ten points in this article to support your answer – and use your experience to your advantage too.