Below are some questions I wished people had asked during interviews. Interviewing is like going on a first date. It is this weird ritual where both the candidate and employer display only their best highlights and characteristics, hoping not to reveal any flaws. Of course, every person and business has them, and it’s only after someone gets hired, the flaws on both sides come to light. As Veterinarians, you have invested so much time. money, and effort into becoming a doctor that it’s worth trying to get as much information as possible out of an employer before you decide where you will work. I hope this list helps and gets the juices flowing to ask even more questions during an interview.

  1. How long has your manager been in place and what are your manager’s strengths and weaknesses? From my experience, a good manager will make your life easy, and a bad one will make your life more challenging.
  2. What is the annual turnover percentage for your staff? What are the main reasons employees leave? Have any doctors left recently and if so, why? Not that you would necessarily get a straight answer, but if the practice has high turnover, it gives a glimpse into a workplace that has challenges, and you will be working in that environment.
  3. Is there a ceiling to the number of hours I might be working in a given week, pay period, or month? If the answer is no, ask the follow-up “What are the average hours worked by each doctor per week, per pay period, and per month?” I have worked with doctors, both associates and owners, who worked 12-14 hours days and 17 to 21 days in a row without a day off. My prior employer had practices open on Sunday. Much of it was due to a lack of available doctors, so many doctors were caught in some combination of guilt or obligation into covering shifts.
  4. What is your practice/organization doing to engage and give back to the community? I will play on some generational stereotypes here and say I have not had a Baby Boomer or a Gen X-er ask me about community programs or charities. But I had many Millennial doctors and Gen Z staff ask, which was great. Practices who integrate and become immersed in their community will most likely get the best doctors to choose from.
  5. How many times per month is the practice short-staffed, meaning short techs, or short doctors? Walk me through how you manage doctor schedules during these times? In speaking to doctors for 9 years, being short-staffed, both doctor and tech, led to more doctors leaving than any other reason. It is important to know what you are getting into.
  6. Could you explain how your practice manages upset clients and what steps are taken when negative reviews or negative social media involve the clinic? You are absolutely going to come across some crazy clients. How a practice handles those clients in person and on social media is important to know. It will give you an idea of what kind of reputation the clinic has in the community, as well as a peek into the types of clients who visit.
  7. What steps are being taken by the practice/organization taking to maintain positive mental health for Vets, in an effort to reduce burnout, compassion fatigue, or thoughts of suicide? It’s subject matter most of us like to sweep under the rug. If you ask this question and you get a blank stare from the interviewer, you may want to work elsewhere. Veterinary suicide and compassion fatigue issues are not going to magically disappear. It’s worth asking this hard question to see what thought has been given to the mental health side of your profession. There should be some plan or outline for time off, counseling, something. All medical insurance plans have some mental health component, but practices should have some type of guidance or idea on who to handle doctors experiencing mental challenges.
  8. Walk me through your practice’s Covid-19 protocols to ensure safety for doctors, staff, clients, and patients? Did you close, stay open, do curbside? Yes, the subject is a lightning rod, but the answer will give you insight into crisis management at the practice level. Also, depending on your personal views, how a practice has handled Covid-19 may or may not play a big part in whether you want to work there.

Written by Joric McLean