Interviews can be scary. As you sit on one side of a big oak desk, people stare back at you from the other side. Pencils scratching away on paper as you answer question after question. I always wondered what they were writing. An interview is especially hard when you are just out of school and you don’t have much experience to discuss.
So how do you land a medical assisting job and how do you find one that is a good fit for you? It can take some work. Thankfully, because you chose a career in the medical field, there are steady jobs out there. To find a good one, I would probably start with your college, or wherever you received your training. Most schools have some form of job placement assistance. My college even had a “suit fund” for students–$500 each for a brand new suit or appropriate clothing for professional interviews.
Your school may not have a suit fund, but at the very least they should be able to give you some job leads. If you have graduated from an accredited program there is a better chance of finding work because employers prefer students from accredited programs. These employers may contact the career development office at your school when they have an opening.
After college, you may choose to search online databases like Indeed, Career Builder, or Monster. You may also go old school and print out your resume and take it door-to-door dropping them off with clinics around your area. Be patient and remember that you may need several weeks to find work, so make sure to submit applications to several places.
You may want to call some offices before dropping by with an application—get a contact name and ask if it would be okay to drop off a resume. When you do, ask for that contact person, and give your resume directly to them. Remember to dress professionally and thank them for their time.
Make sure that your resume is free from errors and that it highlights the best of who you are. Did you graduate with honors? Make sure your GPA is listed. If you were granted other awards or recognition, don’t forget to include that as well. Make sure your contact information is current, and have your references with you (printed on resume paper as well) but don’t submit those with your application. Hang on to them until a potential employer asks for them.
Once you are granted an interview, you may want to sit down and think about some things they may ask. What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths? Those two have always stumped me. So, I try to think through them and have some form of an answer in my head before I go in. You may want to video tape yourself—you will find you have lots of habits you didn’t even know about.
Have someone ask you questions and then you answer. I did this in college and found that I talk with my hands so much it was nearly impossible to hear anything I was saying. I have to hold a folder on my lap to keep from flopping around like a bird.
When you sit for an interview, remember to dress professionally, don’t chew gum and turn off your cell phone. Be personable and smile, but try not to be overly chatty. Answer questions directly and if you need a minute to think, ask for it. It’s okay to say “may I have a moment?” before you answer.
There is so much more I could say, but overall remember that you are a professional now—be confident in what skills you bring to the table and you will land a great job.
Rachel Ballard, RNC, BSN is a registered nurse with almost a decade of clinical experience in both acute care and public health settings.