Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts: Part 2

You can find all kinds of job interviewing do’s and don’ts on the Internet. But who better to tell you what hiring managers in respiratory care are really looking for than respiratory care hiring managers themselves?

We shared our first set of interviewing tips from AARC Management Section members in the last edition of Career News. Here’s round two —

Robert Sigler, MBA, RRT, FACHE, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark, NJ

Do’s: Be honest about what you know and more honest about what you don’t know. I am more impressed by candidates who say “I’ve never done/seen that but would love to learn.” I also like candidates who can tell me a story about their past employment history. I’m not just interested in respiratory, especially with new grads. I hire a person, not just a therapist.

Don’ts: Don’t argue, don’t hide a gap on your resume, and don’t try to “fake it till you make it.” We hold people’s lives in our hands.

Charlie Friderici, RRT, St. Peter’s Health Partners, Albany, NY

Do’s: Be yourself and be honest. If you don’t know something, it’s okay — I would rather find out that we have training to do before you start than at three in the morning when you don’t know how to do something.

Don’ts: When you show up for an interview, don’t wear sweat pants and a sweatshirt. Take a shower too. Sounds simple really, but I have turned away more than one candidate in the past for these two things.

Matthew Trojanowski, MSc, RRT, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD

Do’s: The ideal candidate is someone who is capable of articulating the concepts and theories that underlie clinical interventions. In other words, I want a candidate who can answer “why,” not just “how” when it comes to making clinical decisions.

Don’ts: A major red flag during an interview is when an applicant claims to be proficient in a particular subject area, but is unable to support their claim. It’s okay to say “I’m not sure, but I know I can get you the answer.” To me, this shows a much greater level of maturity than someone who says “yes” to knowing everything but is unable to demonstrate it.

Jeffrey Davis, BS, RRT, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

Do’s: I’m always looking for the right “fit” in the department. Doesn’t have to have the best grades or be the smartest therapist, but the right attitude and personality. I also give a little more weight to the candidate who is a member of their state and national associations.

Don’ts: A lack of interest in advancing in their profession is a big negative. I expect applicants to have the RRT or be advancing to that level as a minimal requirement. If I were to see an individual not have this desire, the interview would end quickly. I would not even interview an experienced therapist who didn’t already have the RRT credential. It is a reflection of professionalism.

Bill Howell, MBA, RRT-NPS, Riddle Hospital, Media, PA

Do’s: I’m looking for someone with integrity who is engaged — someone with a “want to” attitude as opposed to a “have to” attitude.

Don’ts: A person without integrity or who appears lazy would not get far.

Rebecca Young, BSRT, RRT, Pasco Regional Medical Center, Dade City, FL

Do’s: First, I expect a solid, basic skill set — knowing the basic RT functions. Beyond that, I hire for attitude. My philosophy is that I can teach RT skills but I can’t teach what Momma didn’t! In the interview I look for enthusiasm in the profession, smiling, questions to me about the job, honest limits on flexibility, and interest in learning. If the candidate quotes “what the studies show,” they need to have actually read the research and studies, not cite what they heard someone else talk about. And if they stay current by reading the literature, I’m sold!

Don’ts: The No. 1 thing that will send the applicant away would be behavior that is argumentative, disrespectful, or blaming. The No.1 thing that will prevent me from interviewing an applicant is an incomplete application. Show me at least five years of work history and explain gaps. Also make sure you have contacted your references to get permission to give out their contact information.

Susan Barlow, MHA, RRT, CPFT, Mission Regional Medical Center, Mission, TX

Do’s: The number one thing I look for is enthusiasm and passion, then professionalism.

Don’ts: What would make me want to walk someone to the door is negativism, such as talking bad about a previous employer. I also don’t like candidates who appear cocky. There is confident, and then there is cocky.

Dan Engelhaupt, RRT, Children’s Hospital Central California, Fresno, CA

Do’s: I look for applicants who dress for success and know something about my organization. The best referrals come from my staff regarding RT students who show initiative, compassion, a strong work ethic, and a desire to learn. We try to pass along the message that a student rotation in any organization is a “working interview” for that student.

Don’ts: A couple of things that won’t get a job seeker’s application through initial screening are an email address that may cast a negative light on one’s character (i.e., partyheartyguy@…), or misspelling the word “respiratory” or other examples of lack of attention to detail. Other interview bombs include responding, “Because I need a job,” when asked “Why did you apply with us?”, or wearing jeans and tennis shoes.

Robert Pachilis, MBA, RRT, Trumbull Memorial Hospital, Warren, OH

Do’s: Dress appropriately, have a copy of the resume with you as well as at least three names and contact information for references, and relax and try to enjoy and grow from the experience.

Don’ts: Don’t wear jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sandals, or scrubs (unless it was already agreed you would be coming directly from work or clinicals). Don’t have exposed tattoos or piercings. Don’t tell me any stories about how you circumvented the rules to prevent getting into trouble, don’t show up without information on references, and don’t bad-mouth other professionals, especially the ones you currently work for.

Monica Bell, CRT, Wayne County Hospital, Monticello, KY

Do’s: The number 1 thing I’m looking for in a candidate is a willingness to be flexible with schedule and available, plus an eagerness to learn.

Don’ts: The number 1 thing I don’t like is bringing a cell phone to the job interview and seeming distracted.

That’s all great advice, from the people who know best – the RT hiring managers who hold your future in their hands.

Now we’ll leave you with a little chuckle. This one came from Marilyn Barclay, BS, RRT, CPFT, from Samaritan Albany General Hospital in Albany, OR: “Don’t bring your spouse or parent to your interview.”

Marilyn says she has actually had interviewees who did just that!