We’ve offered several pieces of advice on preparing for a healthcare interview in the past, and we’ve even provided tips for acing remote interviews. We stand behind all of this advice, and it will definitely come in handy when you’re prepping for your next interview.
However, wouldn’t you rather hear it directly from an interviewer? We thought you might, so we brought in an expert to answer some of our questions and to give guidance to potential interviewees and interviewers alike.
Joe Baker, MA, CCC-A, is an audiologist and owner of Hearing Science in Westlake, Ohio. He’s experienced in the audiology side of the industry, and he also spent several years as a recruiter. Simply put, when it comes to interviews for audiologist positions, Joe Baker’s opinion matters.
We asked Baker some questions about interviewing, and he very kindly provided us with some valuable advice. You can read the full interview below.
Tell us about your background. What do you do?
I have a rather unconventional professional background for an audiologist. Most audiologists, especially in this era, took the traditional route of high school, undergrad, then grad school. My introduction to audiology was at age 19 as part of the required training for ENT technicians in the U.S. Army.
I have to admit, I thought audiology – compared to working directly with ENT doctors – was supremely boring. All the quiet, dark rooms and routine audios were enough to make my ADD brain explode. But I found my niche in hearing conservation while at Fort Dix, New Jersey, monitoring the HC program, conducting research, and training. Still, by the end of my four-year enlistment, I was quite clear with everyone that I would never, not ever, do another hearing test.
Fast-forward a few years, and I’m on the audiology staff for a neurotologist in Cincinnati, Ohio, while finishing undergrad in Communication Disorders. Without a lot of hearing conservation opportunities, I chose to focus on adult hearing aid fitting while in grad school and even started my mobile hearing aid service.
What I’ve left out of my answer is a period of years I was not practicing as an audiologist but followed an HR and recruiting path. As a recruiter, I conducted more interviews than I care to count – over the phone, Skype, and in-person. Being on the other side of the interview desk can sometimes be as intimidating as being the interviewee. I learned a lot.
Currently, I’m in private practice in Westlake, Ohio, near Cleveland. I see a mix of patients for diagnostic and hearing aid fitting.
Considering your current position and your recruiting background, what do you think are the key traits and qualities to focus on in private practice when hiring an audiologist?
There are a few broad areas I would use to evaluate each candidate: Basic Competencies, Core Competencies, and Situational Fit Factors. Each of these consists of more specific traits, such as Skills, Experience, and Achievements under Basic Competencies. Each practice is different but can follow these general concepts.
The audiologist I hire should have sufficient experience with a patient base similar to mine. With primarily an adult population, hiring an audiologist with mostly pediatric and/or CI experience wouldn’t make sense, regardless of how much I like them or how badly they need the job. I’m also going to look at achievements, both as a student and a professional. I want to hire someone smarter than me and at least as ambitious. If your proudest achievement was finishing school, or you can’t name something you’ve done that you absolutely loved doing, I will have a hard time justifying moving you to the next stage of the interview process. And these are just the Basic Competencies! These should stand out in your resume and cover letter.
When you get to the phone or video interview, it gets real. Now I want to know how you perform under pressure. No tricks. I’ve heard stories about interviewers who purposely provide an incorrect phone extension or change the time at the last minute. That is a poor reflection of one’s management style. But I will expect the candidate to be well-prepared with a physical copy of their resume and anything else they’ve sent to me; in case I have a question, and they need to reference the material.
The phone/video call is when I learn more about your work experience and your ability to work without supervision, as well as your team-leadership, time-management, and problem-solving skills. Of course, I can’t learn this by asking, “Are you good at problem-solving?” So you’ll hear what are called behavioral questions, such as, “Tell me about a time you had to stop a test because the patient was exaggerating their hearing loss.” You should expect more probing questions based on your initial response. And I’m listening as much to how you respond as I am to what you say.
In your opinion, what are the most helpful questions to ask an audiologist who is applying for a position in a private practice?
My first question is going to be, “What makes you want to work with me?” This isn’t so they can stroke my ego. I want to know how much they know about my practice and my treatment philosophy, among other things. What can they tell me, looking from the outside, that I might not know? The answer that gets you to the next step in the process is one that relates how your interests and experiences intersect with mine. I’m not looking for a carbon copy of myself, but we should be on the same page – or at least in the same chapter! I’m also going to ask behavioral questions to gauge your problem-solving experiences and technical ability. If it’s on your résumé as a skill, it’s fair game for a “tell me about a time” question.
To follow up, are there any questions to avoid?
I never say, “Tell me about yourself.” I have never liked answering that question, and everyone is already prepared for it, so all you will get is a two-minute rehearsed monologue that doesn’t accomplish anything.
[Steps down from soap box.]
Are there questions that the candidates should ask the interviewer?
Absolutely! No matter how well you prepare for an interview, you will always have more to learn.
Great questions, especially if you’re interviewing with a practice owner, could be asking how they see you as an asset to their team. Or, even better, ask how you could be included in their community outreach efforts. If you learn they don’t do community outreach, offer to make that one of your first projects. No matter what you ask, think ahead about potential answers, and have at least one relevant follow-up question. Do remember to keep your questions related to the role and responsibilities.
How do you ensure a candidate fits into your organizational culture?
Organizational culture needs to be considered, but it is one of the more challenging aspects to evaluate. During my years in recruiting, nearly every resume included “goal-oriented self-starter” somewhere near the top of the page. Even though those are traits we value, you can’t assess them by reading a résumé.
Prepare questions to learn the candidate’s work habits, such as their interpersonal communications with front office staff and superiors, or how they schedule their daily work activities. Observe their posture, their choice of interview attire, and if they ask informed and thoughtful questions.
In matters of culture, it is important to remember that your questions absolutely must stay within the realm of the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has guidelines that must be followed to ensure candidates are not unfairly denied a job. Awareness of and adherence to these are important, not only to keep from violating the law but to avoid passing up an excellent audiologist because of a real or perceived difference.
An excellent workplace is one that mirrors the world in its diversity.
Thank you so much for your time!