Interviewing for the Perfect Associateship

The interview is the single most important step in the process to finding the associateship that will set you off on your dream career. Targeted preparation combined with practiced skill will have you acing the interview, no matter the opportunity. The following tips will help to prepare you for the best interview experience possible:

Know your non-negotiables: Before you set foot into any interview or even begin applying for different opportunities, you must clearly define your goals for your first year out of dental school and the characteristics which any opportunity must have to be considered. It is also helpful to keep your five- and ten-year goals, written and clearly defined, in mind when considering positions to apply for. For example, if it is important for you to be near family which live in a certain city, then opportunities which are not driving distance from that city would not fit your “non-negotiables,” no matter how lucrative or alluring.

Start slow: Etiquette matters, especially in the interview setting, and there is a clear etiquette to follow in matters of pursuing different dental opportunities. Although it may feel taboo, it is important to know detailed information regarding production before starting an associateship, but there is also a time and place to ask about such proprietary information. During your initial conversation and meeting, stick to the following topics:

  • Your visions and ideas for growing the practice
  • Your hobbies and personal interests
  • Asking about their hobbies and personal interests
  • Your goals for learning and CE
  • Asking about opportunities regarding ownership

Understand the Iceberg Phenomenon: Just as only 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water, an interview will only show you 10% of the true inner workings of a practice. Everyone brings their best face to an interview including potential employers. Therefore, it takes a bit of detective work to truly evaluate a practice and find potential skeletons in the closet. In order to find out deeper information, you may:

  • Ask previous associates about their experience. You can connect with these associates by asking local reps, professors and other professional connections you may have.
  • Ask probing questions. You may ask the doctor questions like, “As a new associate, if I could solve one problem for you, what would it be?” Or you could ask staff, “As your new doctor, how can I create a more effective work environment for you? What do you need? What is your favorite thing about this office?"
  • Observe the relationships in the office, and find out how the doctor and staff treat one another and how busy their schedule is.

Questions to ask: Most information that helps a new dentist assess an opportunity is not readily provided, so you must ask. Go in armed with the right questions. Understand the information which you have a right to. Some questions you can ask about include:

  • Gross production and adjusted net production for the last three months: This helps you determine a pattern of growth if there is one.
  • Number of new patients per month for the last three months: This number varies based on location and other factors, but a healthy average is 15-25 new patients per month, per doctor.
  • A copy of the schedule for the past two weeks: This will give you a good idea regarding not only how busy the schedule is, but also which procedures are being completed.

For a list of additional questions, read the ASDA Blog post "Questions all new associates should ask."

This content was developed in cooperation with Dr. Amisha Singh, Colorado ’15, general dentist in Colorado.