Episode #224 – Your Animal Health or Veterinary Interview, Part 9: Questions and Salary Negotiations

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #224 - Your Animal Health or Veterinary Interview, Part 9: Questions and Salary Negotiations
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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 and Veterinary industries. 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 employers hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, 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, last week we addressed making a good first impression during the interview, and now we’re heading into the heart of the interview, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right Julea. Last week we talked about how you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. And then today’s podcast episode explores the heart of the job interview, and that’s because we’ll be discussing the topics of asking and answering interview questions and also negotiating money. This is the part of the job interview that Animal Health and Veterinary professionals are interested in the most, and that makes sense. That’s because this is when the important decisions are made, both by the candidate and also by the employer.

And it’s important to point out at the beginning of today’s episode that candidates must be prepared to both ask and answer questions during the job interview. Their job is not just to answer questions, but also to ask them. We’ve touched on this before, but it’s important for a couple of reasons. First, by asking questions, you’re able to gather more information, and if you have more information, then you can make a better decision about the position if the organization eventually makes an offer of employment to you.

And second, when you ask questions, it shows to the hiring manager that you are both interested in the position and also that you have initiative. Employers want to hire people who are proactive and show initiative and asking questions during the interview is one way to show an employer that you are that kind of job candidate. The interview is a two-way street.

Julea: That makes sense Stacy about the interview being a two-way street. I’m curious, are we going to talk about some of the most common interview questions today?

Stacy: Yes, but before we do that, I’d like to set the stage by addressing the best approach and mindset for asking and answering questions in an interview setting. One of the things that we’ve discussed during this podcast series about the job interview stage of the hiring process is preparation, and that applies to this part of the interview.

Julea: How can Animal Health and Veterinary professionals prepare for asking questions and answering questions during the interview, at least mentally or from a mindset perspective?

Stacy: That’s a good question you asked about mindset and I have five tips for doing this and then we will get to the most common job interview questions, and the first tip is to be prepared to provide complete answers. First, let me say that you don’t want to ramble on and on when you give answers. Instead, try to answer the questions as completely and succinctly as you can.

Julea: How can you do that and still answer the questions completely?

Stacy: Answer the question with one sentence first and then expand upon your initial statement. Focus on relaying your point and then conveying the message in an efficient manner. When you finish, you can ask if there are any other details they’d like for you to provide.

The second tip is to provide examples and/or proof to back up your answer, when possible.

Your answers should include concrete examples of your accomplishments. It’s always better to prove that you’re the best candidate for the position rather than just claim that you’re the best candidate. Specific numbers are even better, since you’re quantifying the value that you provide or have provided to your current and former employers. This will help to make your answers more impactful and more memorable after the interview is over.

Julea: That makes sense Stacy. What’s the third item on our list?

Stacy: Our third item is to ask researched and thoughtful questions. Our first two tips dealt with questions that professionals are asked during the interview, and our final two tips deal with questions that a professional would ask.

When it’s your turn to ask questions, this is your chance to impress the people who are interviewing you. This is also where you can separate yourself from the competition. Remember that you’re competing for this position with other candidates; you need to set yourself apart any way that you can. To accomplish this, you’ll need to research the company, the other people in the interview, the position, and everything else you possibly can about the organization.

And this third tip dovetails nicely into our fourth and final tip on our list.

Julea: Great, which tip is that Stacy?

Stacy: The fourth tip is to use your opportunity to ask questions as a way to help steer the course of the interview.

Julea: Stacy, are you talking about the questions that a person prepares beforehand?

Stacy: To a certain extent, but more so in terms of the questions that a person may ask while answering questions. For example, if you believe that the interviewers are missing key areas of your work experience or skill set, then you can steer them in that direction with the questions you ask. One way to do this is by asking about the duties and responsibilities of the position.

If there’s one thing that professionals must remember is that they are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing them. The interview is not a one-way street like I mentioned earlier, even if some hiring managers might think that it is. In fact, the Veterinary profession is very tight right now in terms of talent and hiring. Top candidates have just as much leverage in hiring situations right now as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Julea: So, since candidates have the leverage, they’re in a position where they should be interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing them.

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct! However, we’re going to start exactly where an actual interview would start, and that’s where the employer is the one asking the questions. That is typically how an interview begins, so that is where we’ll begin, as well. In fact, I have five common questions that a hiring manager might ask during an interview.

First, “Tell me about yourself.” Keep your answer to this question to the professional realm only, not the personal realm. Review your past positions, education, and other strengths.

Second, “What do you know about our organization?” If you’ve done your research, you should have no problem with this one. Be positive about your answer.

Third, “Why are you interested in this position?” Relate how you feel your qualifications match the job requirements and express your desire to work for the organization.

Fourth, “What are the most significant accomplishments in your career thus far?” Pick recent accomplishments that relate to this position and its requirements.

And fifth, “Describe a situation in which your work was criticized.” Focus on how you solved the situation and how you became a better person and employee because of it.

Julea: Stacy, I would imagine that employers ask more questions than just those.

Stacy: Yes, that is correct. There are some other questions that employers may ask, depending upon the person who is conducting the interview. Everyone has their preferences, of course, but once again, it’s a good idea to be as prepared as you can possibly be before heading into the interview. So with that in mind, I have a list of 10 other interview questions that professionals must be prepared for:

  1. How would you describe your personality?
  2. What have you done to improve yourself during the past year?
  3. What did you like least about your last position?
  4. Why are you considering leaving your current position?
  5. What is your ideal working environment?
  6. How would your coworkers describe you?
  7. Are you creative?
  8. What are your career goals?
  9. Where do you see yourself in two years?
  10. Why should we hire you?

Again, I want to emphasize that these are not all of the questions that a hiring manager might ask during an interview. These are just some of the most common ones. I would suggest practicing the answers to these questions and think about how you can keep a positive attitude in your answers. And in the meantime, there is a more comprehensive list of interview questions on The VET Recruiter website at www.thevetrecruiter.com.

Julea: Yes, I’ve read about some employers that ask off-the-wall interview questions in an attempt to see how a job candidate will react to them.

Stacy: Yes, that does happen from time to time, and those questions are nearly impossible to prepare for, so I would not spend a whole lot of time trying to guess which off-the-wall questions an employer might ask.

Julea: So what questions should a candidate ask during their interview?

Stacy: I have a list of seven common questions that a candidate should ask a hiring manager during the interview. While you can certainly ask more than these seven, I believe these are seven questions that will show that you are genuinely interested in the position and also that you have initiative. As we discussed earlier in today’s episode, those are two traits that employers want to see in job candidates.

These seven questions are:

  1. Why is this position available?
  2. What are your goals for this position?
  3. What type of training programs will be offered to the person in this position?
  4. What obstacles must be overcome for the person in this position to succeed?
  5. How will my performance be evaluated?
  6. What opportunities are there for growth?
  7. What growth do you anticipate for the organization during the next 12 months?

Julea: Wow, those are some pretty direct questions!

Stacy: Yes, but you have to ask direct questions when you’re interviewing for a new job. As I said earlier, you are interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you. This is your professional life and your career that we’re talking about. It’s important that you ask the right questions so that you can make the best decision possible and the one that’s right for you.

And that brings us to the negotiation part of the interview.

Julea: Yes, I imagine that if a candidate is negotiating money during the interview, then things must have gone well for them to that point.

Stacy: Absolutely. However, a candidate must not wait until the end of the interview to think about negotiating compensation. Instead, it should be part of their preparation and thought process beforehand. And that thought process is part of the three tips that I have for negotiating money.

First, do not emphasize money too much during the early part of the interview. After all, if an employer is going to offer you a job, then the topic of money will be brought up eventually. If you focus too much on money, then you might not receive the offer at all. Hiring managers typically don’t want to hire a candidate whose top priority is money because they believe the candidate might accept a counteroffer from their current employer or leave as soon as someone else offers them more money.

Second, do not bring up money first during the interview. Instead, wait for the employer to bring it up. Your job at the interview is to “sell” yourself as being both qualified and interested in the position.

Julea: Stacy, I have a question. What should a candidate say if the subject of compensation is brought up by the hiring manager? Obviously, you don’t want to tip your hand and tell the employer the exact amount that you’re earning now or the exact amount that you expect to earn with them.

Stacy: That’s a good point. When an employer brings up money, the best way to answer is to say something like this:

“Obviously, I am looking for your best offer, but challenge and opportunity will also weigh heavily in my decision. You have a range in mind that you are planning to pay the person in this position. I’d like to be somewhere within your range based upon what I bring to the table.”

If you give a number that’s too low, then you’ll leave money on the table. If you provide a number that’s too high, then you’ll price yourself out of the range. You can give a range, but if you do, make sure that you’ll accept the low end of the range if that number is offered.

And our third tip is do not accept the first offer unless you’re working with a recruiter. That’s because an employer will not always make its best offer immediately. If you’re working with a recruiter, then they should know what your expectations are and what the employer’s range is. The recruiter will be able to negotiate a fair compensation package for both parties.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And there is additional information about the job interview on The VET Recruiter website, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. We’ve referenced The VET Recruiter website throughout this series of podcast episodes about the interview, and with good reason. We have many resources on the site for those in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, and those resources include tips and strategies about the interview stage of the hiring process.

But we have much more than that. We also have a library of articles and blog posts for professionals with even more advice for growing your career, and you can sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, as well. And last but not least, you can also submit your resume and fill out a profile, so that you’re considered for new job openings when they arise. Because you never know when a recruiter could have your next dream job, and if they have your contact information, they can serve that dream job up to you on a silver platter.

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!