Make the most of your investment in a new team member by asking carefully crafted questions.
When interviewing vet techs for a job opening at your practice, asking the right interview questions helps address retention by better ensuring an optimal fit. To that end, here are 10 recommended questions to ask vet techs during an interview.
1. Tell me why …
An open-ended introductory question requires a candidate to go beyond just sharing facts and stock answers and think deeper to share some of their motivations and personality. This will help you gauge how a candidate will gel with your team and how they align with how your practice serves clients and patients.
A few open-ended introductory questions:
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why do you like working with animals?
- Why do you want to help animals?
2. What are some of the animals you’ve had in your life?
The past-tense nature of this introductory question encourages vet techs to expand on their background and further shed light on how they may fit with your practice. How a candidate answers this question can help you gauge comfort levels against the types of animals that your practice commonly sees.
3. Tell me how …
Asking candidates technical interview questions such as how they performed specific procedures provides vet techs with the opportunity to share their knowledge of processes that would likely be part of their daily duties and demonstrate that they have learned and performed them correctly.
4. How do you deal with high emotion?
Dealing with an emotional situation is an inevitability for any candidate, and there are two sides to the equation. There’s the pet owner/pet side, where stress and strong emotions like fear may lead to anger, sadness, or even aggression. Then there’s the vet tech side, which involves how a situation emotionally impacts them and how they deal with it. Asking candidates how they would feel and act in certain situations helps determine whether a candidate is equipped to handle situations to maintain client relationships and your practice image, and (equally important) their own equilibrium.
- How would you interact with a pet owner who just learned their pet is terminally ill?
- What would you do if a pet owner said they cannot afford treatment?
- How would you deal with a pet owner who isn’t following veterinary recommendations?
5. What could be a particularly difficult aspect of the job for you?
Your practice has certain job expectations for vet techs, which may include difficult, unpleasant, or messy tasks. Against this, vet techs typically arrive at job interviews with their own expectations, which may not include certain tasks. This question invites honesty about an area of job responsibilities that may eventually cause a vet tech to become unhappy and think about leaving, and helps you avoid that by gauging answers against what you know the job involves.
6. Are you comfortable assisting the euthanasia?
For most vet techs (if not all), euthanasia ranks highest among emotional/moral stressors, and reactions can range from anger, sadness, and depression to darker hues on the reaction scale. Asking a candidate to share their thoughts and experiences with helping pets and pet owners through end-of-life procedures helps reveal how a candidate will feel when performing or assisting with euthanasia as part of their responsibilities, and how they will deal with any emotional impact.
7. What experience do you have with practice efficiency?
Your practice may be like others. Where practices are commonly understaffed and busy with appointments, veterinary teams with a collective knowledge of important tools and systems to save time and improve practice efficiency can leanly navigate toward the better tomorrow that so many practices now seek.
Asking candidates about what they bring to the table beyond traditional vet tech skills invites them to share what they have to offer that other vet techs perhaps don’t. In doing so, you have the chance to identify a potential team member whose experience can benefit many or all aspects of your practice, including operational efficiency, time-savings, client relations, profitability, and team well-being.
Make sure candidates know practice efficiency experience is not a prerequisite for the job (unless it is). You’re simply letting them know that you value the whole of their experience and you’re inviting them to share it.
- Do you have experience with practice management software?
- Do you have experience with automated client communication systems?
- Have you used a pet health education library to educate clients?
If a candidate doesn’t have direct experience with a particular system, ask them how they think a particular system might improve practice efficiency. This tells candidates that you’re a forward-thinking practice (which may differentiate your practice if a candidate is shopping around for such a practice) and informs them that you value their input, which is a retention factor.
8. What kind of challenges are you seeking in this position?
With this question, vet techs can share specifics about what they hope to gain from being hired and you gain further insight into retaining them if you hire them. It could be something missing from a prior position that a practice didn’t offer (e.g., a more active role in leadership or decision-making) or something you provide in your practice, which becomes an attractant and retention factor for a candidate.
9. What are your interests outside of work?
In addition to shedding additional light on a candidate’s personality, this question shows vet techs that you care about work-life balance, and you’re interested in what they do to help maintain it.
10. What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing our industry?
As difficult as it can be for some veterinarians and management to hear what vet techs really feel about the state of the veterinary industry, some vet techs believe practices/consolidators are unaware of (or choose to ignore) workplace issues that can cause vet techs to quit, either their job or the profession entirely. Asking candidates what they see as some of the biggest challenges facing the veterinary industry informs candidates that you care about a healthy workplace, that you value their voice, and that you can see the big picture.
Combined with whatever additional questions are appropriate for your practice, these 10 questions can help you identify both the right candidate for a vet tech opening and elements integral to retaining a candidate, because that’s part of the big question now.