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How do you stand out when interviewing for a job in equine practice? It is a good question, and it is important to understand that every interview situation is different. Even if you do not get the job, it does not mean that you interviewed badly.
However, here are some pointers that I have learned over the years, both as an interviewer and an interviewee.
Understand the role
Firstly, make sure you understand the role you are interviewing for, and do your research so you know what the job will entail.
If it is your first job, try to go to the practice for EMS, and if not, use any contacts you may have to gain a good understanding of how the practice works and what it is like to work there.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and see it from his or her side – would you fit in?
Some hard and fast rules of interviewing exist – turn up on time and make sure you are well presented. You cannot be too smart for an interview, but my advice is to wear smart, practical clothing. Remember, you want to make yourself easy to employ and present no barriers to that.
Interviewers will ask a range of questions and you cannot prepare for every eventuality – but good interviewers are trying to work out what kind of person you are and how you will fit into their practice, as well as gaining an understanding of your clinical competency.
One question that people often find hard to answer is “What is your biggest weakness or failing?” My advice is to try to avoid disingenuous answers such as “my biggest failing is that I am a perfectionist”. Instead it is good to offer something that demonstrates you are self‑aware and looking to improve – for example: “Time management is my biggest failing, so I am always trying to do better at that.”
You might be asked about your clinical competencies, and it is important that you are completely honest. If you have areas you are very strong in then sell them, but if you have areas you wish to gain experience in then do not hide this.
Remember, employers want to have obvious areas that they can help you progress in. Understanding your limitations is key, but so, too, is demonstrating that you have scope, desire and enthusiasm to progress. It is important you allow your character to show when answering questions.
Every interviewer may be seeking different qualities, but in equine situations I think it is important to be enthusiastic, a good communicator, patient and resilient, and show a willingness to learn and develop. Think about ways you can demonstrate, and give examples of, these qualities.
At the end of an interview, it is common for you to be asked if you have any questions. It is important that you can ask a couple of questions, but avoid basic ones about salary, holiday entitlement or sick pay – all of this should have been covered prior to you interviewing.
Instead, ask about expectations you may have of the practice, such as how does the interviewer envisage your career progressing? What is the overriding ethos of the practice? Is there clinical guidance and what kind of CPD does the practice support?
Asking insightful questions demonstrates how you want to improve and that you want to contribute – not only clinically, but also to the team as a whole.
Good luck, and remember – if you have got to an interview then they like you and will be hoping that you interview well.
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