I have participated in some disappointing interviews. Cases where participants clearly did not prepare, or did not care, or said the wrong things, or otherwise shot themselves in the foot. For vet school, internships, and residencies, the interview is a small piece of the puzzle, but still an important one. For faculty positions, the interview is probably the most important consideration in hiring. Regardless of the position to which you are applying, here are some basic rules for a successful interview.
Be interested. I considered writing ‘appear interested’, but if you’re applying for a position you’re not interested in, stop and withdraw your application. You should at least be interested at the start of the interview. That may change by the end, but you need to begin with enthusiasm. This is manifested by responding to what you’re told and asking questions. It kills me when I am in an interview setting and we ask, “What questions do you have for us?” and get “Uhm, none really, thanks.”
Be prepared. You should spend time on the organization’s website. For vet school, do you know what tracks there are and when you get to touch live animals? For internships, what specialties are at the practice? For residencies, who are the people in the program and their backgrounds? For faculty positions, you need to do so much research that I have a separate post about it. This research should inform the questions you ask.
Be engaged. Ask the interviewers questions as you go. A back-and-forth conversation is more natural and will get you better answers than a barrage of questions at the end.
Dress appropriately. In veterinary medicine, this is a suit. For men, a suit and tie. For women, pant- or skirt- suit with a nice blouse. No exceptions. More conservative colors are better- black and navy blue. You should know what color shirt looks good on you. You do not need a vest or pinstripes, but these are acceptable if they are within your style and suit your frame.
Be timely. Get to the location no later than 5 minutes before your scheduled time. If you don’t know the area, leave plenty early. You can sit in your car if you get there very early. Don’t enter the location more than 15 minutes before your scheduled time. Watch the clock when you are talking with interviewers to make sure you have time to ask the questions you want to ask.
It’s not a long list, but it is amazing the number of applicants who do one or more of these wrong. There are just the basics, we will cover how to do a great interview elsewhere. But you have to nail these without exception. Walk before you run. What other baseline, core rules do you think belong on this list?