The ABC’s Of Interviewing For A Job In Veterinary Medicine

The ABC’s Of Interviewing For A Job In Veterinary Medicine

by Barbara Schick, RVT
Hospital Administrator, Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners


What makes a candidate’s resume stand-out when applying for a position?

Academics are a big thing. Where someone went to school matters and I look for someone who took their GPA seriously.  How involved were they while in school and do they have outside interests? Also, I like for the candidate to have a connection to the area, when I hire someone I want to know they are going to stay.

What are some red flags?

If someone has a low GPA or they have jumped around a lot, those are definite red flags for me.

What should a candidate wear to an interview?

Professional appearance matters. When someone comes in for a meeting they should not be wearing scrubs or jeans.  A candidate’s dress is connected to the image they are projecting. I also notice body odor, the person should obviously be clean but they should also refrain from wearing too much perfume or cologne.

How can someone who is nervous about interviewing put their best foot forward?

I recommend that candidates find something positive to internally focus on. Think about how you feel when you are in that environment (like the beach or with friends) so that you externally look as relaxed as possible.

What topics should you avoid talking about when meeting a potential employer?

Keep your personal life out of the interview process. So instead of saying “I am married with three kids,” say, “I have family in the area.”

During interviews both parties are trying to make decision. What should candidates be looking for when interviewing a clinic?

You need to be looking for a practice that aligns with your moral compass. There are differences in opinion on issues like euthanasia.  I recommend candidates think ahead of time about their negotiables and non-negotiables. Think about how the practice fits into list.

Work/life balance is a very important issue right now. How can you gauge if a veterinary practice values balance?

While PTO should not be one of the first questions you ask during an interview you can rephrase the topic as, “tell me what the schedule should look like.”

What questions should you ask in terms of benefits?

The first question is: are you comfortable about making benefit decisions on your own? A lot of students coming out of school have been on their parents’ plans and do not know a lot about insurance. To me, good benefits say a lot about how a business values their employees. In addition to health insurance you should also ask about short-term and long-term disability. Does the employer offer some type of 401k? This shows that they are invested in your future and how you will be cared for. Benefit packages coincide with the overall vision of the employer.

Top 5 Tips for a Successful Interview

1) Make sure you spend a day or two at the practice to see if you fit the culture. Don’t accept a position without meeting staff and seeing what the atmosphere is like during peak hours.

2) Have an idea of your short-term and long-term goals. Be ready to answer the question: where do you see yourself in 5 years?

3) Know the range of salary you are looking for. The GVMA and other industry websites can provide examples.

4) Send a follow-up note or email after the interview. If you don’t send a follow-up note it shows employers that you are not invested in the job.

5) Remember that the veterinary profession is a tight community. Avoid burning bridges during the interview process as it can affect your reputation throughout the industry.

Interested in a new career? Check out the GVMA Career Center!

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of The GA Vet, the GVMA’s quarterly magazine. Click here to access more GA Vet articles.