Episode #223 – Your Animal Health or Veterinary Job Interview, Part 8: The First Impression

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #223 - Your Animal Health or Veterinary Job Interview, Part 8: The First Impression
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today on our podcast, we will continue our series focusing on the job interview stage of the hiring process for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals.

Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here with you.

Julea: Stacy, we’ve been discussing job interview best practices on the podcast for the past several weeks, especially preparation for the interview, and it appears as though we’re about to address the beginning of the interview. Is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct, and what we’ll be discussing specifically is making a good first impression. Because as the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Julea: And, Stacy, making a good first impression is all about personal branding, right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right Julea and the face-to-face interview, regardless of whether it’s a virtual interview or an in-person interview, is the perfect opportunity to brand yourself in a positive way.

Julea: Stacy, I believe we’ve talked about this before, but the job interview stage of the hiring process is the most important stage of the process. That’s why we’ve devoted an entire series of podcast episodes to it.

Stacy: That’s correct. The ultimate fate of your candidacy depends upon how you perform during the job interview. If you perform well in the job interview, your candidacy has a good chance of surviving. If you don’t perform well, then . . . well, you can probably guess what happens. And yes, this is one of the reasons why we’ve devoted an entire series of podcast episodes to this topic. I want to give Animal Health and Veterinary professionals every edge to be successful in succeeding at job interviews so they can continue to advance their career.

Julea: Stacy, I don’t mean to play “devil’s advocate” here, but there may be people in our listening audience who believe that being considered for a position is more about skills and experience than anything else and those things are more important during an interview. What would you say to that?

Stacy: Yes, I would agree that some people believe that the job interview is about how much experience they have. Some believe that it’s about the specific skills they have. Some even believe that it’s about how smart they are. While all of these things certainly play a role, what’s most important is how much of a fit you are for the position. That’s why you must have the proper mindset before the interview even begins. This means focusing on HOW you are the best fit for the position. I’ve seen situations where the least qualified candidate was selected for the position or the most junior person because they interviewed well.

Julea: Stacy, you talked about focusing on HOW you are the best fit for the position. How does one do that?

Stacy: There are three main parts to showing that you’re a good fit for the position. They involving showing:

  1. That you have a desire to carry out the duties of the job
  2. That you have the ability to carry out the responsibilities of the job
  3. That you would be a good addition to the company culture and would be able to work well within it

All three of these things speak to value, which we’ve discussed numerous times before. Employers are seeking candidates who offer the most value, especially in regard to the three things I mentioned. That’s because the candidate who offers the most value is often the one who’s considered the best fit.

Julea: So, this is the mindset that a candidate should carry with them into the interview? They should focus on the value they can provide to the employer.

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. Employers are going to hire the candidate who is the best fit and provides the most value.

Julea: And if they have that mindset of providing value and being a good fit, what can they do to make a good first impression?

Stacy: I have a list of three things that they can do. The first tip is to keep your introduction brief. This is where preparation is critical, and we’ve spent a lot of time on preparation during the past few weeks. You should know what you’re going to say and in what order you’re going to say it. You don’t have to include everything about your background, education, and experience—just those things that help show that you’re a good match.

The second tip is to strike a positive tone. You want the people conducting the interview to associate you with a positive attitude, and by extension, a positive experience. People who provide positive experiences for others are more likely to be considered a fit for any position.

And our third tip is to make engagement a priority. There are a number of ways that you can accomplish this. Shake the interviewer’s hand firmly. Look them squarely in the eye. Smile as much as you can, but make it genuine. The goal is not only to catch the hiring manager’s attention, but also to hold it, so follow this up with engaging dialogue.

Julea: Stacy, some people aren’t that outgoing. Some people are more introverted than extroverted. Might that pose a problem for them?

Stacy: It might, but if you’re an introvert, then I would recommend practice making a good first impression during your interview. Considering how important the interview is and what it could mean for your career and your life, it’s worth the time and effort.

Julea: The first impression really does have much to do with cultural fit than anything else, including skills and experience, doesn’t it?

Stacy: Absolutely. A hiring manager won’t necessarily be assessing you in terms of skills and experience when they meet you for the first time. They’re assessing you in terms of a potential cultural fit.

Julea: Stacy, what other advice do you have about making a good first impression?

Stacy: Well, I have some body language mistakes, and it’s important to discuss these because people often don’t realize they’re making these mistakes. There are two ways that people communicate with one another, verbally and non-verbally, and you can send the wrong message with both forms of communication.

And also keep in mind that most of the tips that we’re discussing today are just as relevant to a virtual interview as they are to an in-person interview. In fact, it’s even more important to make a great first impression during a virtual interview because it can take more energy to make that kind of impression when you’re using that platform.

Julea: That makes sense. What body language mistakes do you have for us?

Stacy: Believe it or not, I have 10 of them, and I’m going to run through them briefly.

The first mistake is not making eye contact with people. When you don’t make eye contact, it’s assumed that you’re lacking confidence, and confidence is an attractive characteristic.

The second mistake is a weak handshake, although this may not apply in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are simply not in the habit of shaking hands anymore.

The third mistake is invading personal space. There was an episode on the Seinfeld show many years ago about someone who was labeled as a “close talker,” and they invaded people’s personal space. You don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable during your interview, although once again, if it’s a virtual interview, you have nothing to worry about.

Julea: I remember that episode of Seinfeld! And I agree, “close talking” can definitely make you feel uncomfortable. What other body language mistakes do we have?

Our fourth mistake is slouching or poor posture. Doing this sends the wrong message in a couple of different ways. First, it makes you look as though you’re not really interested in the position. Second, it makes you look lazy and lethargic. Employers want to hire people who appear energetic and dynamic.

The fifth mistake is crossing your arms or legs. This is considered to be a confrontational, non-verbal behavior, especially the crossing of your arms.

The sixth mistake is having a nervous gesture or tic. These come in a lot of different forms. For example, some people bite their nails. Other people play with their hair. These are distracting gestures and they can also be seen as a lack of confidence.

Our seventh mistake is using excessive hand gestures.

Julea: But it’s okay to make some hand gestures, is that right? It seems like it would be almost impossible not to make them.

Stacy: Yes, making hand gestures is okay to a certain extent, but you don’t want to let it get out of control. Once again, this can become distracting to the people conducting the interview, and pretty soon, they’ll be more focused on your hand gestures than on what you’re actually saying. They should be thinking about what a great employee you would be, not the fact that you’re flailing your arms every time you answer a question.

Julea: Wow, there certainly are quite a few body language mistakes to keep in mind, especially when you consider some people don’t even realize they’re making these mistakes. It can be a lot to keep track of. How many do we have left?

Stacy: We have three more remaining, and they all have to do with a person’s eyes.

First, do not roll your eyes during the interview, for any reason. Even if it’s a harmless gesture or you’re discussing a funny subject or it feels like it would not be taken the wrong way, avoid doing this.

Second, never get caught looking at the clock, whether it’s a clock on the wall or a watch on your wrist. This also sends the wrong message. You want the interviewers to know that you are fully engaged in what is happening during the interview, to the exclusion of everything else.

And that brings us to our 10th and final body language mistake, which is looking at your phone.

Julea: That just might be the toughest body language mistake to avoid!

Stacy: Yes, which is why I suggest not bringing your phone into the interview at all. If it’s an in-person interview, leave your phone in the car. If it’s a virtual interview, leave it in another room. The only way to make 100% sure that you don’t look at it is to remove the temptation to look at it completely.

There are negative connotations associated with looking at your phone during an interview. It sends the message that you are easily distracted, and employers want to hire people who are NOT easily distracted. In fact, that’s one of the most sought-after characteristics in the current marketplace. Worse than that, looking at your phone can be construed as a sign of disrespect, and if the people interviewing you believe that you are disrespecting them, then they are not going to want to hire you.

Julea: There is definitely a lot that goes into making a good first impression during the job interview. I didn’t realize there was so much involved.

Stacy: There IS a lot involved! There is a lot to remember and a lot to keep track of, and as I mentioned earlier, this includes both verbal and non-verbal communication. You can’t forget about the non-verbal aspect of the interview. It’s important too.

Julea: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Do you have anything else that you like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I do. Organizations are comprised of departments, which are like sports teams, in a way. Viewed in this light, teamwork is critical to productivity, and by extension, profitability. That’s why organizations look for candidates who possess the potential for being stellar teammates.

What this means is that even if you’re not the most talented or the most experienced candidate for a position, you can still make a great first impression and put yourself in the running for the job by presenting the proper attitude. Keep in mind that I’m not suggesting being someone that you’re not, but everyone can have the proper attitude, regardless of personality.

Remember, though: if you “talk the talk,” then you also have to “walk the walk.” If you get hired, then you must maintain the attitude that you displayed during the interview. If not, then you’ll brand yourself as someone who says one thing, but then does another. And that’s one of the worst ways that a person can brand themselves.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information Stacy, and I know there is more information on interviewing on The VET Recruiter website.

Stacy: Yes, I there is more information on The VET Recruiter website for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals about job interviews. We have tips about the various parts of the interview, including asking questions, answering questions, how to “close the interview,” and what to do after the interview is over.

And that’s just part of what we have on The VET Recruiter website. We also have an extensive library of articles and blog posts for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals with advice and tips about growing your career. In fact, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter while you’re on the site, and I also encourage our listeners to follow The VET Recruiter on the various social media channels. We’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we’re always sharing information, including hot jobs in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

And of course, if you visit the website, you can also submit your resume and fill out a profile, so that you’re considered for new job openings when they arise.

Julea: Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It’s been my pleasure Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider, which will be the next episode in our series about the interview stage of the hiring process!