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interview picHow you handle an interview can make the difference between landing a job and continuing your search. Whether you applying for work in a hospital, nursing home, assisted-living facility, doctors office, or home healthcare agency, there are ways to gain an advantage when interviewing for a position in the healthcare field.

Tip #1 Be Ready to Dazzle
Research the company’s website if they have one and make sure of the location of the interview and allot ample time to get there. Know the name and title of the person with whom you will be interviewing. Gather copies of your current certifications, an exquisite copy of your resume and a list of references and letters of recommendation so you will have it available during the interview. Remember to take a copy of the job listing too.

Presentation is everything. Dress in “business casual” attire rather than scrubs. Make sure you are well groomed from head to toe (double check your fingernails) Men should wear clean trousers and a collared shirt. Women may wear slacks or skirt with a business appropriate shirt or sweater. Also a dress would be okay. Leather shoes are appropriate for men and women rather than the nursing shoes or athletic shoes worn on the job. Hair should be neatly groomed as it would be on the job. Body piercings and tattoos should be covered or minimized. Any jewelry worn should not be distracting. Women should avoid long dangle earrings because they can be distracting to the interviewer.

More than likely you will be meeting with a hiring authority. Depending upon the size of the organization, you may speak with other staff members too, perhaps members of the team you may be working with. You may be given a tour of the facility. While taking the tour, notice whether the staff seems friendly, whether the facility seems clean and well-organized, and whether the patients/clients seem satisfied with their care. After all, you are checking out the employer too.

#2 Exhibit Professionalism
It’s mandatory to be on time for an interview. Leave early enough to accommodate any last-minute problem that you might run into. Don’t chew gum at the interview. More listening and less talking is usually a good approach during a first interview. There is no need to fill an uncomfortable silence with words. Let them do the talking, and answer their questions thoughtfully. Remember good eye contact.

#3 Nail the Interview
You will probably be asked open-ended questions about yourself or past work experience. When answering these questions, remember that they are looking for answers that demonstrate your value to their organization. Provide answers that illustrate a good match between you and the company. It’s okay to ask about their expectations, the shifts you’ll work or the duties you will perform. Describe how you can help the organization meet its needs. Be as flexible as possible.

Also be ready to answer the following questions honestly and completely.
1. May we contact your current employer (and your references)?
2. Have you ever been disciplined or fired from a job (and if so, why)?
3. Why did you leave your past position?
4. What do you hope to be doing five years from now?

Keep in mind that if hired, you will be part of a team. Don’t underestimate the importance of the position for which you have applied. Convey the fact that you think every employee contributes to the success or failure of an organization. Specify your experience. Highlight your expertise and experience working with special cases and needs. Were you known at a past job for being able to do something especially well? If you are inexperienced, communicate your interest and motivation. Share a story that shows how you’ve gone above and beyond in the workplace.

You will be given an opportunity to ask questions. If not previously addressed by the interviewer, ask for such information as advancement opportunities and training/probation period. Things to not ask about during your first interview include questions about vacations or time off. Also avoid any questions about the race/gender makeup of staff or patients/clientele.

#4 Make sure you are making the right choice for yourself
Conditions at medical facilities, especially hospitals and nursing homes, can be vastly different from one shift to the next. Even if you are applying for an afternoon or night-shift position, your interview is very likely to take place during the day shift. Before accepting a position, try to visit the facility during the shift you will be working. Checking the internet for reviews may also give you some insight into a potential employer.

#5 Wrapping it all up
Be sure to thank the Interviewer, shaking their hand (no wimpy grips, please). Inquire as to a time it is appropriate to follow up with them if they haven’t mentioned it already. If they don’t specify a time, suggest a specific day and time in near future. Remember, the more people they are interviewing, the longer it may be before they separate the “wheat from the chaff.” Be sure to get their business card so you can follow up with a personal email, or even better, a handwritten note thanking the person who interviewed you. Mention a point from the interview that will set you apart from other candidates. Keep it short and polite.

Good luck in your job seeking!

Bo Ramsey is a CNA Instructor at Express Training Services, LLC at the Destin Training Center. ETS is home based in Gainesville, Florida and has several other training centers in Florida that offer fast-track instruction for certification in many healthcare occupations. For more information call 866-346-0660 or go to expresstrainingservices.com

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