3D’s: Do’s, Don’ts of Dental Hygiene Interviewing

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New graduate? Looking to change your office? Whatever situation you’re in, it doesn’t matter, it all starts with a job interview. Eww, the dreaded interview! Before I talk about key points in interviews, we have to start with how to get an interview.  Nowadays there are many ways to find a job: networking, asking people you know, job search websites, emailing local offices, advertisements, and even social media.

To get an interview you also need a solid resume. The key components of a good resume are making it clear and organized. The most common divisions to a resume are your contact information, your objective or a goal statement (which is further explained in a cover letter), education, and experiences. Further points to include are awards, skills – including all your licenses (the states you can practice in) and certifications (CPR, local anesthesia), other languages you speak, and possibly references (per request).

For new graduates, you must be thinking you have nothing to put on a resume, as you were in school and just got your license. You don’t have any dental office experience. Wrong! You can put any job experiences you have had; it doesn’t have to be dental. You could also include any community service, public health projects or programs you have created, awards/scholarships you have earned, and any clinical rotations you went on. For myself, I added that as a student in my second-year clinical rotation I visited a local nursing home and cared for that population. Don’t forget to add all your important skills you have learned in school and clinic or ADHA and local component memberships. Do not ever lie on a resume. If you aren’t proficient in Excel, don’t put that down! In a resume and interview, you are selling yourself to practices. Why should they choose you?

Okay, now you have perfected your resume and have an interview, there are a few steps before you shake hands with your possible future boss. You must prepare, prepare, prepare!

Here are a few ways you can… say it with me… PREPARE:

  1. Research the office you are going to interview at. How many dentists and hygienists are in the practice? Where are they located? Are they a specialty office, pedo or general?
  2. Practice what you will speak about. Tell them about yourself as a person and a professional. What are your goals and how can be achieved at their office? What do you bring to the table? What are the details of the position? Do you have any examples of questions for them? They always ask if you have any questions for them, so surprise them with a question or two.
  3. Do a drive by. A few days before your interview take a trip to the office, so you know exactly where it is and how long it takes you. Don’t be late! In fact, show up a few minutes early to make a good impression.
  4. Dress professionally; don’t wear you clinical scrubs. Be prepared with copies of your resume and licenses. First impressions are important.
  5. Always end your interviews with a thank you and I look forward to hearing from you (thank you letter or email).
  6. Be confident!  They would be lucky to have you as a dental hygienist.

With every interview, you gain experience for the next one. You will learn from your mistakes, and it will all work out. Be open to learn from each office and absorb as much as you can. The office doesn’t have to be your forever home, but it can be a building block towards your future success.

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Since a very young age, Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA, has always wanted to be a dental hygienist. She was the youngest student to graduate from her dental hygiene class in 2017. Since then, Kate has gone back for both her bachelor's and master's degrees. She is a faculty member at her local dental hygiene school, a clinical dental hygienist, and has been a part of Today's RDH since its launch. She is extremely passionate about homecare and loves her prophy paste and fluoride varnish. In addition, Kate loves to work with a local non-profit organization that helps fight against hygiene insecurity of all ages in her community. Kate is very involved in the profession as much as she can, including local and state-level professional associations. She loves to attend professional conferences when she can. When she isn't working, she enjoys traveling, sports, watching movies, and spending time with her amazing, supportive family.