Working Interview (Part Deuce)

14 Apr

I feel very strongly about this subject.  See my first post [I think it’s titled:  The Working Interview:  A Concerning New Trend in Veterinary Medicine or something like that just type key words in the search on my blog] about it to get one (of at least 4) examples of my personal experiences with going through working interviews.  And it’s become totally commonplace in veterinary field.  And I’d like to comment how it’s unethical, and suggest different ways to forge that trust with potential employees–rather than exploiting them.

-Firstly, I’m not talking about your veterinary observation hours to beef up your application, nor am I talking about shelter volunteer hours for community service.  Finally, this is not a story about an internship for grades, school credit, or required experience where you know the expectations and are guaranteed to get something (NOT money, but letters, hours, recommendation, etc. . ., etc. . .) back.  I am referring to an additional interview where you perform duties and give your time to a for-profit business with the HOPE of receiving employment.

-Secondly, I feel like veterinary hopefuls want to feel righteous in giving their time away.  Like they have more passion if they are willing to work longer, crummier hours, for no benefits, and little/no money.  This is untrue–giving away your time and services doesn’t make you a better vet school candidate, show that you have more passion, or prove that you are a genuine, and better person–it only makes you more naive  AND helps the conditions at veterinary medicine stagnate.  By allowing these practices to continue by participating in them, remaining silent about them, or stigmatizing others for speaking out–YOU are contributing to unfair, unethical, and unsafe practices in a field that we all love.  Stop it!  Read some history about the industrial revolution and see how the workers who went on strike (against conditions appalling to today’s standard, and just well, standard practice back then) were emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically beaten down by big corporate, middle management, and peers–to see how the working interview is a repetition of by-gone times.

Job-hungry, interviewee, what to do If the WORKING INTERVIEW comes up:

-Most importantly, be aware what you are giving up if you agree to an interview.  Maybe you don’t care, in which case refer to #2 above.  Maybe you’re desperate for a job, in which case, I’m sorry.  I’ve been there too.

-Ask what to wear.  Chances are, if the potential employer requests you wear scrubs, they are expecting you to perform hands-on work, not just observe.

-Ask exactly how many hours and days will be required.  If they are non-committal or shady, I would think twice about working there.  Because, if they’re already trying to get work out of you before you’re even hired, what will it be like when you are totally dependent on that employment once hired?

-I never feel comfortable bringing up compensation, especially before you are hired, but if you have the guts (and are willing to gamble the job position) ask if you will be compensated for the time.

-DO ask what will occur if you happen to get injured during the working interview.  And don’t let them slide past the question without a firm answer.  Veterinary medicine is fraught with potential risks and harms, and you need to know how this will be handled.

-Ask what tasks you can expect to perform.  If you are uncomfortable doing any of those things as a non-employee, DO bring up why you are concerned, ie–I’m not certain I feel comfortable accepting the risk of monitoring antithetic when I am not familiar with your particular equipment or procedures.

-Don’t sign anything you are not comfortable with–and this might mean walking away from the job opportunity.  I signed stuff, and totally regret it.  It’s not right, and they know it.

-Lastly, get it in writing!  Make sure the above answers to your questions are in written form and both you and the business has a copy.  This is for everyone’s protection–and imperative.

-And the very worst part about the working interview:  Saying no to it is saying no to the job opportunity.  And that’s not ethical or right on the part of the hiring entity.

Of the employer/head vet/office manager requesting the working interview, I say:

-Would you feel comfortable defending your hiring practiced to the Department of Labor?  If not, than you need to adjust things, because you realize what you are doing now is NOT legit.  If so, proceed to my next question.

-Would you, and DO you tell your best, most particular client–this person does not work here, b/c we can’t trust the resume alone, and is going to practice technical skills on your pet?  If not–that’s not OK.  If you would–first, I give you props for having big kahonies, and 2nd continue to my third question.

-What are you going to do if this working interviewee gets injured while performing the duties of this “interview?”  This is a big question, and huge liability.

-And finally, what are you going to do if this working interviewee hurts/damages/kills a patient?

Ways for Employers to Circumvent the Working Interview:

-Look at your trusty volunteers or observers and hire the worthy.  I know the flakes are more common than not, and you should be hiring those that prove they are dependable over time.  You already know and trust them, AND they’re giving their time on their own accord.  Win-win.

-For added emphasis, I make this it’s own point.  Check out all references.  Actually talk to the people that worked closely with the candidate and listen carefully for subtitles/discrepancies.

-Make a test.  Time them filing a series of files (include business names starting with “the” and difficult ones like O’Hara, deWitt, etc…).  Have them write an essay.  Have them fill and label a prescription.  Have some math on there.  A whole thing, not just basic typing, but things they will actually need to know at your specific practice.

-Hire the good interview candidate based on resume, interview, and CHECKED references.  But do it on a fully-disclosed and discussed, paid, probationary period.  Have that person work, with highly-supervised guidance, and after a certain pre-determined, pre-discussed (PAID) time-period do a full evaluation/review where both parties talk about the good, the bad, and whether to continue the working relationship.  Honestly, this is good policy anyway.  I always had questions at jobs that I hadn’t anticipated at the interview, but there never seemed enough time to address them once I was already working.

-Hire the person, and if they don’t fit, do a shitty job, or mess up hugely–terminate their employment.  Yeah, it’s more trouble, but such is owning a business.

I would like to see the end of exploitation of all workers.  Even in the health care and service industries.  I don’t think that money is a good excuse to keep these kinds of things going–just ask Jeff Bezios or the Waltons/Lowrys how popular it is for them to keep it up.  Let’s stop making excuses and start finding solutions to change these things for the better.

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