You’re sitting in the waiting room, bright and early to your scheduled job interview, dressed to the nines and read to put forth your best smile and firmest handshake. You rehearse the standard social pleasantries, “Nice to me you too mr/mrs so-and-so, thank you for the opportunity”. You make a list of potential small talk in your head. 1) weather, 2) traffic, 3) … whatever that should be enough. Oh crap here they come. Your interviewer approaches. “Hi how are you?” “Thanks you too” Damnit.

You nail the interview and get the job. Hooray! First week in you realize this place is a hot mess. Scheduling is garbage, front office is unorganized, your coworkers are miserable, and the management sucks. It’s a complete 180 from the facade that was put up during the job interview. How could this happen? Now you’re stuck for as long as you can handle. No one wants to be the employee that quits one week in. How do you prevent this from happening to you?

The standard social construct of a job interview makes it feel like the employee is the only one under the spotlight. That it’s YOU who has to perform, impress, and sell yourself to the employer who most generously offered you a portion of their time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A job interview is 50/50. It’s absolutely as much an opportunity for the worker to screen a potential job as it is vice versa. The clocks ticking, and you only have a hour, maybe two, during the interview process to pick up on the verbal and non verbal cues to make sure this organization is a good fit for you. In this episode, I’ve broken it down so next time you know what to look for. Don’t let your your dream job turning into a nightmare before it even starts.

“I want you to think about a job interview as just as much an opportunity to vet a potential job as it for the job to vet you as a potential employee. Usually its look at as you’re the one in the hot seat, you’re the one who is sitting there being asked the questions, and seeing if you’re a right fit for that organization, but it’s just as much the other way around.” Mike Frasso, PT, DPT
Before The Interview

In the age of the internet and social media, no disgruntled customer or employee goes unheard. Whether the organization is a good or bad place to work, there’s usually some kind of trail online. My recommendation? Do some digging, but don’t let it predispose you to a certain opinion. Even the best products on Amazon get 1 star reviews, and the best restaurants on earth have angry, dissatisfied Yelp-ers.

First, check out Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a company that provides job listings and a growing database of millions of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, all shared by real life employees. It is a great resource for employees to see what current and past workers really think about the organization they work for. Bigger organizations have a profile and ranking compared to their competitors, but if the company is too small they may not be included. It’s worth a look anyway.

Almost all businesses now have a google business profile, complete with reviews from customers. Again, take it with a grain of salt, happy employees rarely take the time to write happy reviews, especially on google. Open up google maps and search for the facility. If you don’t find it, thats your first red flag. That signals a business out of touch with the current internet based economy, an oversight which may translate down to other parts of their organization. There’s a easy 5 star review system that can give you some insight into past experiences of customers and workers

Facebook or other social media platforms are another place you can get some insight into how the business is run. If they have a profile that’s a good start, and if active with reviews, can given you even more insight on the inner workings of the business.

While You Wait

When you arrive for the interview, depending on the facility, you may be waiting longer for your interview than you expected. I once was interviewed 1.5 hrs after our agreed upon time. I just sat in the waiting room what seemed like an eternity, my disdain growing with each passing minute. This should have been an immediate red flag, as if my time wasn’t valuable. Turns out, after a few months in this position, I occured to me that my opinion wasnt valuable either. I ended up quitting after not too long. The interview process is as much of a first impression for you as it is for them.

During this time, however, it’s very important you don’t get lost in your thoughts or scroll through your facebook feed. Be very observant. You’ll most likely be waiting in the patient waiting room, this affords a perfect opportunity to observe the front office, clerical, and/or secretarial staff. This is SUPER important. Make note of the interactions they have with you, patients, and each other. Do they seem bored, disconnected, unorganized? Are they annoyed when you arrive? Are they not particularly friendly? They typically won’t be outright rude, but subtle social cues you pick up are usually indicative of how they feel about the job or organization they work for. The front office staff has no desire or inclination to put a happy face on for a potential hire because you’re not a customer. Their attitude and communication can be very telling.

Looking past the front office employees, make note of the administrative procedures. Does the office seem unorganized? Do calls go unanswered, are patients pissed about scheduling or insurance issues? Is there clutter, papers and charts everywhere? How does the front office handle issues? Improper organization is a problem that stems directly from management, if they’re not able to get this stuff down pat, how smoothly do you think patient care managed? Basically if the place is a hot mess then you can blame the management and assume the rest of the business is run the same way, and while these front office issues are not a deal breaker, they can be invaluable when determining if you’re a good fit for this organization

The Interview

Asking the right questions here is key. They may start with you, who you are, what drives you, why you applied , etc. This is not a lesson on effective interviewing, but get through these questions quickly so you have plenty of time to talk about the position itself. They’ll likely give you an overview; hours, pay, expectations, but you need to dive into specifics. I don’t know enough about each healthcare discipline to tell you what exactly to ask, but from a PT’s perspective I’d ask several specific questions and ill list them below. This list is meant to give you some ideas if your interviewer does not already cover them, but is not necessarily comprehensive. Ask as much as you can.

  • Training/onboarding period – Will you be thrown to the wolves or have a few weeks to get your feet under you?
  • Patient caseload – types of patients, productivity requirements, patients per day, time allowed for evals, time allowed for treatments, expectations on type of treatments (more manual or more exercise), use of modalities.
  • If they’re not your direct supervisor, who is? It’s important you meet them BEFORE you agree to take the job. Will they be on site all the time? Make sure they have a personality that jives with yours, if not your workdays could get very long.
  • Documentation – system, requirements, and expectations. Do they require notes to be done by a certain time? Is there a computer for each employee? I once had to hide a company laptop in my desk locker because it was one of the few that worked in the whole office
  • Are shifts or hours flexible – what’s the call off procedure, blackout dates, is starting earlier or later an option? What happens if your kid is sick at school?
  • Float requirements to other facilities?
  • How many therapists (or anyone at the same professional level) are there in the department?
  • Dress code – personally for me professional dress ( tie) is a dealbreaker. I’m not interested in spending hundreds on dry cleaning and updating my wardrobe.
  • Equipment used – if its different from what you’re used to , will there be training?

Asking the right questions in the interview and really diving deep into the day to day happenings will give you a way better idea on whether or not this job is a good fit for you

Meet A Current Employee

If this isn’t already part of the interview process, request it. It’s very important you have a brief IN PERSON conversation with a current staff member (without the boss in the room). Make sure this individual is in a similar or the same job you will have. Dont feel weird asking for this , most often a potential employer with applaud your initiative. It’s also important to make sure this individual is not a manager or onboarder. Ensure they’re not just another facade. Really dig deep and get to the grunts. Have a casual conversation with them, but don’t interrogate them. Discuss what they like about their position, what they dislike, things they wish were different. If they tend to be disconnected or short with you, it may be an indication of either fear of saying the wrong things, or higher employee turnover. It takes energy to meet and develop a relationship with new people, if you’re just another potential new hire they assume you (or they) will not last long, so investing time and energy into cultivating a lasting relationship is not necessary. Something else to note is the tenure of existing employees. If its a clinic full of newbies, the facility may have a turnover problem. Several long term employees is indicative that the job has good staying power. This alone gives you a lot of unspoken insight.

A job interview is both your time to shine and demonstrate your value, but the same is true for the employer. If they don’t make a good first impression, you need to do some more digging before you take the job. Don’t get stuck in a position you hate because you didn’t ask enough questions. There are plenty of fish in the sea. If this one doesn’t work out,  you’ll find another.

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