Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts: Part 1

Steve graduated from a well-respected respiratory care program. For the past five years he’s been a staff therapist at a large hospital in a southern city where the demand for therapists is still fairly robust.

A couple of months ago, however, his facility underwent some administrative changes that led to job cuts across the board, and Steve got caught in the net. He’s been on five interviews so far, but not even one call back. What’s he doing wrong? And just as importantly, what’s he not doing right?

Button pushers

If you’re in Steve’s position right now, you’re probably wringing your hands trying to figure out why no one seems to want you. There could, of course, be a thousand different reasons, but most likely you’re doing something during your job interviews that’s sending up a red flag to hiring managers.

To find out what pushes these managers’ buttons, we turned to members of the AARC’s Leadership & Management Section discussion list, and they had so much to say that we’re going to share their input over a couple of editions of our Career News.

Here’s Part 1 —

Julian Lewiecki, MS, RRT, Lakeland Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, Niles, MI

Do’s: I look for someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about working in health care. Personality is an intangible that I find very important. Really not concerned about experience or book smarts.

Don’ts: I have had people come in looking like they were wearing their pajamas and appeared very unprofessional. You can never overdress for an interview. I also like people to be engaged in the interview process and ask questions, especially when I ask if they have any questions near the end of an interview.

Jan Havard, MS, RRT, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, GA

Do’s: My motto is you can teach clinical skills, but you can’t teach someone how to treat others. There are many other qualities they have to have, like honesty, good work history, shows initiative, dependable, and is accountable for their actions. All of this is obtained through behavioral based questions and reference checks.

Don’ts: Exhibiting poor customer service skills during the interview, cursing or signs of anger or aggression, or admission to being terminated by another facility for getting into a verbal or physical altercation on the job would end the interview for me. There are many other things that would lead me to stop an interview but these are probably the most important ones.

John Campbell, MA, MBA, RRT-NPS, RPFT, St. Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, PA

Do’s: These days I’m looking for someone who is flexible and can adjust to change. They pretty much have proven that they have knowledge by graduating from school and obtaining their credentials. I want them to be willing and able to learn new things and take on new procedures and duties.

Don’ts: My absolute shortest interview lasted about two minutes. A new graduate sat down in my office and quickly told me that she could not work weekends, night shift, or holidays. The interview was over and she didn’t get the job.

Jacqueline Holloman, MA, RRT, St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Louis, MO

Do’s: The number one thing I’m looking for is the right attitude for patient care and teamwork.

Don’ts: The number one thing that would make me show someone the door is getting emotional and crying during the interview.

Michael Jones, MA, RRT, University Health System, San Antonio, TX

Do’s: I want someone who shows a genuine interest in the profession. They know what ventilators they have or are currently using, can speak about disease processes, and can form a complete sentence. One of my pet peeves is overuse of the word “like” that has become commonplace in everyday conversation among young people. A good work ethic is very important because our patients need us to give 100% all the time.

Don’ts: When interviewing, candidates should look professional and smell clean. Clothing should fit appropriately and jeans are a definite red flag. When it comes to tattoos and piercings, like it or not, they are not appropriate in the health care setting. We work with patients of all ages and seeing someone with too many tattoos and piercings can be frightening for some of our patients. This is especially true for our pediatric population.

Deborah Hammer, BA, RRT, Aurora Medical Center, Grafton, WI

Do’s: I’m looking for someone who is clinically strong and shows a willingness to learn.

Don’ts: Lack of professionalism, or appearing disinterested or too casual, like they don’t need to try, would make me show someone the door.

Kimberly Zaverl, MSHA, RRT, Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls, WI; St. Joseph’s Hospital, West Bend, WI

Do’s: I will hire attitude over skill any day. Skill/technique can be taught, attitude cannot. If I can carry on a conversation with ease during an interview, then I know this candidate can interact positively with patients and other disciplines. Patient satisfaction is on the minds of every leader looking to improve the “score” and not lose out on reimbursement.

Don’ts: I hold red flags for anyone who states they know or have seen everything — there is always something out there to learn, no matter how experienced one is.

Alan Roth, MBA, RRT-NPS, FAARC, Respiratory Care Board of California, San Diego, CA

Do’s: The first plus is being able to express oneself. Communication is key as part of a team.

Don’ts: The first negative is coming to the interview in shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops. Professional dress and grooming is key.

Wil Caliwag, BS, RRT, CPFT, Community Regional Medical Center, Fresno, CA

Do’s: I look for someone who is sincerely patient-focused. They say things like, they treat their patients like family.

Don’ts: I don’t want to hear someone say RT was a second or third choice as a career.

Heading to the New Era

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