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Episode #229 – Animal Health and Veterinary Interview Mistakes Employers Can NOT Afford to Make

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #229 - Animal Health and Veterinary Interview Mistakes Employers Can NOT Afford to Make

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 companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we will be discussing Animal Health and Veterinary interview mistakes that employers cannot afford to make. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here with you. It has been two weeks since we recorded our last podcast.

Julea: Yes, it has been two weeks and I was looking forward to being back in the podcast studio with you so I’m glad we are back here together today…..

Stacy, we recently finished a podcast series about the interview stage of the hiring process for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals and candidates. And during the past two weeks, we’ve looked at the Animal Health and Veterinary interview stage from the point of view of employers. Are we continuing with that this week?

Stacy: Yes, we devoted quite a few episodes to the interview process from the point of view of Animal Health and Veterinary professionals geared towards the candidate side of the process. But the employer side of the process is just as important, and for those organizations that want to hire the best candidates in the marketplace, it’s critical. And the reason that it’s important is because the margin for error for employers is very small. In fact, you could almost say that the margin for error is non-existent.

Julea: Stacy, that is because talent is scarce and it’s difficult to find and hire the best employees, especially in the Veterinary profession right now with the number of positions that are open.

Stacy: That’s exactly right. There is a minimum of effort that is required for organizations to hire the best candidates. Anything done—or not done—beyond that minimum is considered the “margin for error.” Another way to put it is this: the number of mistakes you can make in a situation without those mistakes actually hurting you is the “margin for error.”

I have a sports analogy that helps to illustrate this. If one of the best teams in the National Football League is playing one of the worst teams in the league, the first team has a greater “margin of error.” Why? Because they have superior talent, skill, and experience on their side. They can use those assets to overcome mistakes and still win the game.

Julea: So in the same way, top candidates have superior talent, skill, and experience on their side. Is that also part of the analogy?

Stacy: Yes, absolutely! There is a great demand for top talent in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, especially in the Veterinary profession. What’s also true is that there is a lack of qualified talent for many of these openings, especially technical roles. There is also a shortage of veterinarians.

The majority of mistakes that employers make occur during the interview process, and many of those mistakes are made during the face-to-face interview.

Julea: And as we’ve discussed, the Animal Health or Veterinary interview is one of the most important parts of the hiring process.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. For multiple reasons, the interview is one of the most pivotal stages of the hiring process, from the point of view of both the employer and the candidate. That’s because both parties are attempting to “sell” to each other. In our previous podcast episode, we touched up on the fact that some hiring managers and veterinary practice owners aren’t aware of the extent to which they must “sell” their opportunity and their organization. And that’s when mistakes can happen, mistakes that employers cannot afford to make, especially in this current competitive job market.

Julea: What kind of mistakes are we talking about?

Stacy: There are two kinds, actually. The first deals with how the interviews are set up and run and the second deals with what actually happens during the interviews.

There are three main mistakes in our first category. Those mistakes are holding too many rounds of interviews, holding marathon interviews, and constantly rescheduling interviews. We touched upon these briefly in our previous podcast episode.

Julea: Why are those considered costly mistakes?

Stacy: Because they brand the organization in a negative light. Some employers may think that four, five, or six rounds of interviews are necessary to adequately screen candidates, but there’s a point at which it does more harm than good. That point is when top candidates in your process have decided to drop out because it’s lasting too long or because they accepted an offer from another employer. Marathon interview sessions don’t help, either. Unfortunately, I’ve seen employers interview candidates for an entire work without allowing the candidate a break for lunch and in some cases without offering to buy them lunch.

Julea: Wow, I can see why that would be poor employer branding. If I were a candidate in that situation, I would not feel like the red carpet was being rolled out for me.

Stacy: Exactly! And constantly rescheduling interviews is another mistake, starting with the fact that is an inconvenience for the candidate, who has already made plans for the interview when it was originally scheduled. Outside of the inconvenience factor, there are other ways that constantly rescheduling interviews is a branding nightmare for employers.

Julea: Tell us more Stacy.

Stacy: When an employer keeps rescheduling interviews, it sends a negative message about its organization. In fact, it’s sending three negative messages.

The first negative message is that the organization is disorganized.

Rescheduling multiple times can be interpreted as a lack of foresight. If top candidates are going to leave a good employment situation, they want to feel as though they’re going to a great situation. In fact, that’s the only reason they would leave. Top candidates are looking to improve their situation and go to something better. They don’t want to go somewhere that seems in chaos.

The second negative message is that the people in the organization are inconsiderate of other people’s time.

Candidates believe how they’re treated during the hiring process is how they’ll be treated once they become an employee. If they think that your organization inconsiderate of their time when they’re a candidate, then how do they think you’ll treat them once they’re hired? It’s kind of like dating.  Those annoying things you notice in the dating process often become even more annoying during the marriage process. It’s the same with employers.

The third negative message is that the organization’s company culture is suspect.

Company culture is a huge consideration for the best candidates. They know they can command top dollar just about anywhere they go. That’s why they want to work for an organization that can deliver on the intangibles, including a culture that makes them feel at ease. If they believe that your company is unorganized and/or inconsiderate, then they won’t think too highly of your culture. So that’s strike three, although as we’ve been discussing, you only need one strike to lose out on top talent in this market.

Julea: I can see why an employer might overlook something that seems as simple as rescheduling interviews. There is a lot involved!

Stacy: There is. Now, you might be tempted to think that these candidates are being too dramatic or that they’re overreacting to a “small inconvenience.” However, that is not what is happening at all. Branding is a two-way street. Candidates brand themselves to employers during the interviewing and hiring process, and employers brand themselves to candidates at the same time. This is a reality of the marketplace, not a figment of someone’s imagination.

And now I’d like to move to the second kind of interview mistake, the ones that take place during the interview.

Julea: Which of those mistakes will we be talking about today?

Stacy: I want to focus on the questions that employers ask candidates during their Animal Health or Veterinary interview, both the questions themselves and how those questions are asked. Questions make up the majority of any interview, especially the questions that the employer asks the candidate, so it makes sense that the organization would take special care to ask the right questions.

Julea:  There are questions that an employer should not ask.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right, and it’s those questions that I would like to address. Specifically, I have five questions that employers should not ask, starting with this one: “Why are you leaving your current employer?”

Julea: That seems like a logical question. What’s wrong with that one?

Stacy: You should not ask this question unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the candidate is planning to leave their current employer. After all, they could just be “testing the waters.” From their perspective, if your organization is not able to offer something that is clearly better than their current employment situation, then they’ll simply stay right where they are.

Just because they’re interviewing with your organization does NOT automatically mean that they’re unhappy with their current employer and planning to leave. Making that assumption could turn the candidate off.

Julea: Okay, I see what you mean. That question could come off as presumptuous.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. This is especially the case when the candidate has been recruited.  They may not have been actively looking to leave their current position but were sought out and recruited and asked to come in for an interview. In that case they are testing the waters to see what the opportunity is but haven’t decided to leave their current position.

I have some other questions that are illegal to ask or close to being illegal.

Julea: Which questions are those?

Stacy: I have four of them. The first one is, “When did you graduate from high school?”

Let’s be honest: this is just another way of asking “How old are you?” This is one of the oldest tricks in the book—so old, in fact, that candidates can see it coming from a mile away. There’s no good reason to ask this question.

The second question is, “Which holidays do you observe?”

This is another overtly sneaky question. The first question was designed to find out a candidate’s age, while this question is designed to uncover the person’s religion. Once again, this is not an appropriate question.

The third question is, “Which country are you from?”

You can ask if the candidate is eligible to work in the country where the job is located without sponsorship. That’s all. You can’t inquire about the country from which the candidate originally came from. There is such a thing as nationality discrimination and asking this question will put you at risk for such discrimination.

And the fourth question is, “Are you married?”

This might seem like an innocent question, but it’s not. It’s really what is called a “gateway question.” With the answer provided, the hiring manager can make all sorts of assumptions about the candidate’s family plans, including whether or not they have children or will have children in the near future.

As an employer, you can’t ask these during the interview.

Julea: All of that makes perfect sense. Stacy, what are some other mistakes that employers should be aware of?

Stacy: Well, I have a couple more, and they also deal with asking questions. The first one is asking the same questions over and over.

Julea: What do you mean by that? Do you mean asking the exact same question repeatedly?

Stacy: No, I mean I mean different people asking the same questions over and over because those company officials who are part of the Animal Health or Veterinary interview process are not sharing and comparing notes with one another. This stems from a lack of planning before the interview and then poor communication during the interview process. If candidates feel as though they have to repeat themselves for no apparent reason, they will grow weary of the process and question whether or not they really want to work for your organization. Once again, they will also feel your process is unorganized, and people do not want to work for an unorganized employer.

Julea: Stacy, you said there were two additional mistakes. What’s the second one?

Stacy: The second one is not asking the candidate if they have any questions.

Julea: Candidates should have an opportunity to ask questions during an Animal Health or Veterinary interview, correct?

Stacy: Yes, I tell candidates that they’re breaking a cardinal rule if they don’t ask questions during the interview. It can be a “red flag” for hiring managers, essentially telling them that the candidate is not interested enough in the position to ask even a single question. However, candidates usually wait to ask most of their questions until after one of the interviewers asks them if they have any questions. They might ask a few here and there throughout the interview, but they often wait until the end.

So, if a hiring manager does not ask if they have any questions, they may not ask questions.

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

Stacy: Yes, there’s one more thing that I’d like to add.

As an employer, you cannot rest on your laurels during the hiring process and especially during an Animal Health or Veterinary interview. And it does NOT matter if your organization or company is considered to be among the best within the industry. In today’s market, you still have to pay the proper amount of attention to the interview and to candidates who are participating in the hiring process. Just because your organization is considered prestigious doesn’t mean that you can “skate by” during certain parts of the interview or fail to prepare properly.

No matter what, your organization still has to “sell” itself to candidates, especially top candidates. They are not easily impressed and they’re already likely being taken care of quite well by their current employers. And remember that there are three main things that an employer must “sell.” They are:

  1. The opportunity itself
  2. The organization as a whole
  3. And the person’s opportunity for growth and advancement once they become an employee


You must “sell” all three of these things and “sell” them well and you must also avoid making mistakes during the hiring process and especially during the Animal Health or Veterinary interview.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information.

Stacy: Yes, and before we go. I want to let our listening audience know…. We have information about our executive search and recruiting services for employers, including a detailed breakdown of our recruiting process and testimonials from Animal Health companies and Veterinary organizations that have used our services and continue to use them. And since The VET Recruiter has a long track record of success during the past two-plus decades, we also have a list of positions that we’ve placed in the past.

I also recommend that those who visit the website also sign up for our monthly newsletter, which also contains hiring tips and career strategies. You can also follow The VET Recruiter on the various social media channels, including LinkedIn, and you can do that right from The VET Recruiter website.

And of course, you can get a quote of our services, submit a job order, or request a consultation. We would be happy to speak with you about your Animal Health or Veterinary hiring needs.

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, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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