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Show Interviewers that You are a Credible Professional

April 20, 2011

Healthcare professionals must not only be competent clinicians but they must consistently project an image that fosters respect for them and their profession. It’s all about credibility and trust. Clients need to feel that they can place their trust in their healthcare provider to provide quality healthcare services to them or their loved ones. At interviews, the employer wants to see that you are a credible professional, that you will be a credit to the company or clinic, and that you will foster trust and respect from co-workers and clients alike. So what does professional credibility encompass? In addition to your actual professional credentials and attitude, it encompasses your appearance, your body language and your use of language.


At interviews, assume it’s necessary to wear business formal attire. It shows the interviewer(s) that you are taking the interview seriously. This means a jacket, pants, dress shirt and a tie for men, and a conservative dress or blazer/blouse and pants/skirt for women. Of course, cleanliness and well-groomed hair are a must. Leave the perfume and aftershave for social events. Smokers need to take extra care that their clothes are fresh. As for tattoos and body piercings - consider concealing or removing them unless they are important to your self-image. Many managers, esp. in healthcare, are conservative in nature, and may not be able to see you fitting in with the existing staff or appearing credible to clients. Be sure that your shoes are in good condition too. It can be embarrassing to cross your legs only to realize that the hole in the sole of your shoes is now readily apparent to the interviewers.

Body Language

Remember that a straight back, firm handshake, and a sure step suggest confidence, while slouching and shuffling feet suggest laziness and self-doubt. During the interview, sit up straight, but feel free to lean forward slightly when you’re engaged in some particularly interesting part of the discussion. Don’t fidget, wring your hands, pick your fingernails, or touch or cover your face with your hand as these movements can be distracting or suggest disinterest or dishonesty. Make eye contact with each interviewer, and look at the interviewer when you answer his or her questions. Looking elsewhere can suggest dishonesty. If a gesture adds positive emphasis to what you’re saying, then use it. Interviews are not something that most people have much practice doing, so it’s understandable if you feel uncomfortable doing one. Remember to breathe – it will help relax your muscles, and keep you thinking clearly. Look ‘open’ rather than defensive – avoid crossing your arms. You want to look engaged but relaxed, and open to hearing what the interviewers have to say.

Your Use of Language

Slang and bad language are never helpful in gaining employment in any profession. If you are in the habit of saying certain phrases overly often, such as “like”, “whatever!”, “awesome”, “sick” or using poor grammar in general, work on eliminating overused words or phrases, and on improving your use of language – and not just for interviews. Your credibility as a communication professional is reflected in your use of language. Your clients will not trust their child’s language therapy to someone who appears to need it herself. During the interview, take a few moments to form your thoughts before starting to answer the questions, as this will help to ensure that you respond using complete sentences with well-considered content. Stop talking once you’re satisfied with your response. If silence ensues, don’t fill it in. The interviewers may just be thinking up their next question or processing what you’ve just said. We each have our own communication and interaction styles. Some of us are more expressive and bold, suggesting a very confident nature, while others are more conservative in expressing themselves. You can be yourself while still conveying energy and genuine interest in the job. Even a quiet person can show his depth of interest and engagement in the role by asking meaningful questions during the interview.

Leave a Great Final Impression

Most interviewers will close with something along the lines of, “Well, do you have any questions you’d like to ask us?” If you do have questions that weren’t answered during the course of the interview, then ask them now. It’s perfectly acceptable to bring a notepad with you with your list of questions on it, and it looks like you really have given the job some serious consideration. Don’t ask about salary or perks during a first interview unless the interviewers bring up the subject first. Many interviewers are not human resources professionals, so they may be both untrained and inexperienced conducting interviews. They may have left out some important details such as hours of work, days/weekends or a need for shift work. Once you’re satisfied with the information you’ve received, it’s time to get up and go. Shake each interviewer’s hand warmly and confidently and look them in the eye when you thank them for taking the time to interview you. Say you look forward to hearing from them, and leave smiling.