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Interview skills help you find the winners


Tomorrow's seeds of success will be planted this year. And tomorrow's success depends on a clinic's support staff.

Tomorrow's seeds of success will be planted this year. And tomorrow'ssuccess depends on a clinic's support staff.

For those considering themselves strong or weak today, it all began weeks,months and years ago. To stay strong we must start today; if our practiceis weak, we must start today to strengthen it.

Ensuring success

Success and achievement are not to be taken for granted and we can helpensure success with a plan. We must find ways to attract, identify, hireand retain winning members for our staff.

We need a plan to obtain, train and retain those individuals with aninterest in animal care.

Where the profession is today is a good place to start and a little historyis helpful to understand where future success lurks.

The '60s were still dominated with "fire engine," agrarian-based veterinary practices.

Then we remember the emergence of professionalism in the '70s.

And we also remember the turbulent times of the business-dominated '80s,including the advertising mushroom.

Techno boom

And more recently we have seen the incorporation of modern day technologyinto veterinary clinical medicine in the '90s.

With the increase use of diagnostic technology came advanced surgicaland medical therapies. This increased demand on practices to find, trainand provide skilled technical support.

Our committees, bureaucracies and veterinary organizations are a tadslow to provide an educational infrastructure to help us do this training.

Weeds and flowers

Certainly a key to managing personnel is the interview process. It comesto this: the attentive practice manager will plant flowers in a floweringpractice and weeds in a weedy practice.

But how do we interview?

First the basics are addressed in the interview; name, rank, serial number,a review of the resume, and of course, the simple pleasantries of what anice sunny day it is.

Next comes the basics of why the candidate is seeking this job in yourpractice.

The job of the interviewer is to get to the next deeper level. We aretold to ask open-ended question that provoke a dialogue.

But just what does that mean?

To get deeper into a prospective employee's mind, or for the intervieweeto get into the mind of the employer, take these quotes and turn them intoa question.

In the series of questions that follow, the words in bold are what wewant the interviewee to discuss. Select only an appropriate few to ask thecandidate. Quickly you will find what page the interviewee is on and ifthat person will fit into your practice environment.

* Please discuss the idea behind, "knowledge outruns wisdom."How could new ideas test this concept?

* What does it mean when we consider that "Noah's Ark wasbuilt by amateurs, while the Titanic was built by engineers." Whatlesson does this hold for a practice?

* In the workplace do you agree or disagree with the concept,"If we can play together, we can work together?" How would thistake place in this environment?

* From a client's perspective what does, "They don't carehow much you know until they know how much you care." Mean? Can yougive me some specifics?

* It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, "Life is one indivisiblewhole, one cannot do right in one part of life while doing wrong in otherareas." Does this have any specific meaning for you?

* Discuss in a veterinary practice the meaning of "excellenceis as difficult as it rare."

* When going about one's daily duties, how does the concept, "successhas two partners- hard work and minding the store" affect activities?

* In this clinic, clients are "guests." So what doesit mean when we offer the concept, "When a guest has a problem, solveit?"

* Or this one, "Don't take guests for granted." Or this,"Say 'thank you' to guests."

* In the day-to-day life of practice how does"Heroes arepeople who rise to the occasion and slip away quietly," fit into thispractice?

* In our American society these days, we have few "normal"families anymore, so how would a concept of "it is never too late tohave a happy childhood" affect practice life?

* Please discuss the meaning of: "Success", or "Asuccessful career," "A successful professional relationship."

* Communication is considered the center of any successful relationship."What does listening have in common with communication?"

* So many folks try to find the secret to success. Please discuss,"Passion, not pedigree, win in the end."

* We all run out of talent at some point. What lessons have welearned from football player Doug Flute or bicyclist Lance Armstrong?

* Do you agree with, "There is no such thing as a normallife - there is only life," and what does this mean for life in a veterinarypractice?

* When dealing with clients and fellow workers, "it has beensaid, to be interesting is to be interested." How does this fit intoclinic life?

* There is a concept that offers, "one gets what one sendsout." What role does this play in relationships in the practice andwith clients?

* In a work environment it has been said, "Rewarded behaviorcontinues." Please discuss how "tough love" fits into thisconcept

* Communication continues to be the number one workplace issue,and "Psychologists tell us that about 90 percent of communication isbody language and 10 percent is verbal." Please address how body languagewill affect staff-client relations (and intrastaff relations).

* It has been said there are two kinds of folks in the world,"nourishers and drainers." How do you recognize these personalities?Which one are you? How does one cope with such folks?

* September 11th was a wake-up call for many folks: How did itaffect you from the concept of, "Be the change you wish to see in thisworld" or "Stop dreaming about your goals and start making itpart of reality."

* Worry is debilitating. Discuss the concept, "the best solutionfor worry is action."

* History serves as a model, and the concept, "those whofail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" is a well knownadage. What history lesson have you learned in the last 12 months?

A principle of management is: "We cannot complain until we train."What type of training works best for you?

* Please explain what, "do what you do and do it well"means to you.

* In considering the previous concept, Abraham Lincoln wrote:If I were to read much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this officemight as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I knowhow, the very best I can and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If theend brings me out wrong, then angels swearing I was right would make nodifference. What message does this statement make for us in daily medicine?

* Please identify "five specific talents" that you bringto this job.

* In a practice environment what does it mean to consider that,"a sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ."

* "If we did not have money, how would you measure your wealth?"

To prove it to yourself, ask some of these questions on your next fewinterviews, after you think the interview is concluded.

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