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How to Ask Interview Questions That Reveal True Talent and Compatibility

I’m often asked, “What are your top interview questions?”

Some questions are better than others but I can’t tell you the best questions for every interview because each situation is unique. What’s important is to ask questions based on the position you’re hiring for and focus on determining if the person is a good fit for your practice. In addition to about 5 questions for all candidates, ask specific questions for veterinarians, managers, technicians, assistants, and CSRs so you can assess their skill sets.

Here are best practices for questions that apply to all candidates.

  1. Ask questions to learn more about the applicant. A good question is “Tell me about your current (or most recent job). Why do you want to change?” Other helpful questions include, “What is your ideal work environment?” and “What are your goals for the next 2 years?”
  2. Most of your questions should be behavioral-based inviting someone to share information about their past work history. You might ask, “Tell me about one of your greatest work challenges and how you handled it” or “Describe a time when you felt a co-worker wasn’t doing their job. How did you deal with the situation?”
  3. Ask questions to assess alignment with your core values. If Respect is one of your core values you might ask “How would you demonstrate respect when communicating with your co-workers?”
  4. Pose questions to determine if the applicant is interested in learning. Ask “Tell me something you’ve learned in your last job that you thought was really interesting” or “What is something you don’t know that you wished you did know?”
  5. Ask specific questions about proficiency. Here are examples:
  • “How many IV catheters do you typically set each week?” “How proficient are you setting catheters in brachycephalic breeds and cats?”
  • “What type of surgeries are you comfortable doing and which ones do you refer to a boarded surgeon?” “How would you work up a cat with bladder stones and a high calcium?”
  • “What are communication techniques you would use when a pet owner becomes angry?” “How do you show clients you care?”

Don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions after someone gives you an answer. Asking 1-2 more questions such as “Tell me more about that” or “Can you clarify what you mean by….” will help you gain a deeper understanding about whether someone is a good fit for your business.

Lastly, remember this is a competitive environment and everyone is looking for talent. Once you identify a qualified, desirable potential new hire, act quickly to extend your best offer of employment.

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About the Author: Amanda Donnelly
Dr. Amanda Donnelly is a sought-after speaker, author, business consultant, and second-generation veterinarian who combines her practice experience and business expertise to help veterinarians communicate better with their teams and clients. Well known as a dynamic speaker, Dr. Donnelly was the 2023 Practice Management Educator of the Year for WVC and has twice been named Practice Management Speaker of the Year for the VMX Conference. Dr. Donnelly is the author of the book Leading and Managing Veterinary Teams: The Definitive Guide to Veterinary Practice Management and a contributing author for Blackwell’s Five Minute Veterinary Practice Management Consult and Pet-Specific Care for Veterinary Teams. She also writes the Talk the Talk communication column for Today’s Veterinary Business journal.