Article Date: 6/1/2005

What You Say Says a Lot

Preparation and listening are the keys to successful interviews.

Some people are just good interviews. They answer even the most difficult questions clearly, calmly, accurately and concisely. If you're one of the other 2.4 billion of us, don't fret. You can possess many of the qualities found in the most charismatic personalities.

Interviews happen . . . often

For the purposes of this column, an interview is any meeting where a series of questions and answers are exchanged — on TV, in offices, at home, on any cell phone or through e-mail. The difference between success and failure often lies in two areas: preparation and listening.

Preparation. Let's say you're going to be interviewed on the subject of allergies. Whether the interviewer is a local radio show, a magazine or a patient, you need to prepare. Ask for questions or topics in advance. Even though you have the answers, you need to spend time to present them properly for the audience.

For example, the interviewer asks, "Why should an allergy sufferer go to an optometrist? Why not go to a general practitioner or just buy an over-the-counter remedy?"

The answer could fill volumes, but your audience has been raised on short, sound-byte sized answers. Talk about giant papillary conjunctivitis or the migration of leukocytes and you'll lose them. Here's a 15-second answer: "If you've ever had itchy, watery eyes, then you understand that allergies are an eye problem. As many as 80% of us who suffer from allergies have ocular symptoms. Optometrists are trained to understand allergies and prescribe the most effective courses of treatments."

The interviewer might seek controversy, asking, "Why do so many suffer from allergies when so many allergy medications are sold?" While you could criticize certain OTC drugs or people who self-medicate, you could also choose to diffuse any negativity: "There's no easy answer, other than to say that they've never been treated in my office — or the office of any qualified eyecare professional."

Listening. Interviewers often give you the answers, if you listen. A recent grad interviewed for a position at a hospital. The interviewer said, "We are the largest, most progressive healthcare provider in the area." Later, the interviewer asked, "What would you consider your ideal position?" The grad ideally wanted her own practice one day, but if she wanted this position at this particular time she should have answered, "My ideal position would be with a large, progressive healthcare provider."

Human resource managers tell me that I wouldn't believe how many candidates get that one wrong.


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2005