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Interview Tips by Amber Auger, MPH, RDH

We spoke with Amber Auger about her first interview experience, how to leverage your work experience to get your dream job as a dental hygienist, what employers look for in a candidate and much more!

You may already know Amber from the series “Ask Amber” at PennWell – Dental hygienists can ask anything and Amber finds the answers for you. Because she is such a wealth of knowledge, I asked her to share some tips on interviewing, which are now included in the Interview Prep course at DentalToaster.com. In the interview, you will see that she actually did everything the course is about, to get the positions she wanted. She creates opportunities for herself and strategically navigates difficult situations. Here is the interview I had with my special guest, Amber Auger, MPH, RDH.

– Claire Jeong, MS, RDH

DentalToaster: Tell us about your first interview experience.

Amber:  I would love to! I graduated from the University of New Haven. The office was really close to the school, so it was ideal. The problem was that my own classmates, 5 of them, applied for the same job. So it was really important for me to “sell” myself well and prepare properly to get the job offer. I must say, I had one advantage. I worked as a dental assistant before, doing infection control front desk management and other tasks that I knew the dentist would like. However, the interview was not easy. I had to go through 7 rounds of interview with different people in the dental office. The interviews were divided into two days. The challenge was to cater to each interviewer. Each person is different, what they are looking in a new dental hygienist is different, so I had to actively ask questions to understand the interviewers. Then, I was able to answers so I can have a better chance of being offered the job.  

Dental toaster: Could you list things that you have done to become that one person who gets the job offer?

Amber: There are a number of things.

    • I leveraged my waitressing experience, showing them that I know how to do customer service.
    • I asked my professor to be a reference to me for the dental office position.
    • I actively asked questions so that I can come across as someone who is curious and proactive.
    • I made the impression that I like to learn and take feedback well.
  • I dressed professionally like I was going to “church with Grandma”.

DentalToaster: Can we talk about the waitressing experience? Because sometimes, we don’t have a lot of experience in the dental field and if you are a new grad, you probably are having a hard time understanding how you will stand out.

Amber: If you have a waitressing or sales position, summer job, or something similar, make sure that you mention it. I believe that those experiences prove that you are good at customer service because, in dentistry, we work with people all the time and need to please our patients. I tried to bring some examples that I could help the interviewer understand how I could transfer my skills to dentistry. For example, told them that I can read the customer’s body language and I am always proactive a filling up the customer’s water, to show that I care. We may not think that those small jobs translate into being an excellent Dental professional, but as you can see, you may already have more skills than you thought you had.

DentalToaster: Thank you so much for sharing the story. Now can we talk about references? You asked your own professor, to write a recommendation. Did you feel nervous to get help from your professor?

Amber: I actually asked one of my toughest professors to be that reference for me. Because she knew my work ethics and she would be able to tell the story to the employer. So don’t be afraid to ask your own professors to be a support for you. Even if you graduated school five years ago, school professors can still be fantastic references.

DentalToaster: What questions did you find difficult?

Amber: For one of my first jobs, the practice owner asked me, “Why dental hygiene”?  I knew I wanted to be in dentistry since I was a child, so I told the story. But I think it is important to think about this question before interviewing. This question is very vague and difficult to answer. So, formulate your story before you start interviewing.

DentalToaster: The employers, what do they look for in a candidate?

Amber: I believe that everyone likes to work with others who are willing to learn. No one wants dental professionals who are stuck in their ways and don’t take feedback. Also, employers look for someone who wants to grow, even if the job is 9 to 5.

Ready to get your dream job? Start here ->>>

DentalToaster: What questions did you ask the employers?

Amber: you need to prepare questions to ask the employer. They can be:

    • What do you find valuable in your practice?
  • What is your leadership style?

And if there are multiple employers, do your research each individual to cater the questions to that person. For example, if the dentist graduated from the University of Connecticut, ask him or her “What did you learn at school that you found valuable”?

DentalToaster: Yes! I can strongly relate. This is called investigative questioning. In the Interview course at DentalToaster, I have a worksheet that helps the interviewee investigate the office. And we also have a module on how to ask questions to the decision maker.

DentalToaster: How did you get the “you got the job” announcement?

Amber: The office called me, then, followed up with an email. After that, I had the offer in writing. Not all offices provide a written offer. But I would recommend anyone to get the confirmation in a written format. It can be formal, with legal terms, and a contract to sign. Make sure that the terms match the promises made verbally.

I know this from experience. I was happy to get the offer and to start working. However, when I saw the paperwork, the terms did not exactly match what the employer verbally promised. Do not assume that everything will be as discussed.

DentalToaster: Amber, you are a wealth of knowledge! Thank you so much for being with us!

Amber: Another tip. To the office owner, the office is his/her baby. However small or big the office is, it takes a tremendous amount of work to be a practice owner. For this reason, if we can show the owner how you respect the business and their leadership, you bet that the conversation will be so much easier.

Find out more by watching the full interview! >>>

About the author

Amber Auger, RDH, MPH is a practicing dental hygienist and clinical innovations implementation specialist. With over 14 years of experience in the dental industry, Amber provides customized protocols to allow the practice to thrive, refocuses on the patient experience, and utilize systemic approaches to Periodontal Therapy.

Amber is a monthly contributor to RDH Magazine, featured author for DentistryIQ, and host of #AskAmberRDH. Amber also provides preventive services aboard yearly and is always willing to have dental professionals join her team.

She can be reached at AmberAugerRDH@gmail.com.

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