7 Simple Strategies for a Successful Associateship

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

7-simple-image.jpgComing out of dental school, many graduates seek advice on how to best approach an associateship and the responsibilities that lie within the position. Despite the confidence that comes from getting your degree, there is still a new world in dentistry to explore: working with a mentor, dealing with more patients, and applying yourself to the everyday hustle of a practice. However, there are many ways that you can either improve or learn new skills that will ensure that your associateship is a success. With time, you’ll be on your way to becoming a leader, and potentially be in a position to manage a practice of your own.

Take every advantage you can to become the best associate dentist possible. Courtesy of Dr. Bianca Velayo, a recent THE NEXTDDS webinar entitled “7 Simple Strategies for Successful Associateship” highlights seven ways one can positively impact the practice.

1. Cover Important Topics During the Interview

We’ve previously covered important qualities that practice owners want to see in potential associates, namely being eager and coachable, while remaining humble and ethical about your practice philosophy. We’ve also presented questions you should prepare for in your interview. During your interview, source some important leading questions that give you a better sense of the practice:

  • What type of patients are seen and how is the treatment being presented?
  • How long do associates usually last?
  • What is the compensation?
  • What type of technology are you exposed to?
  • What does the typical day look like?

2. Recognize and Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Communication is key to many aspects of your associateship: how you interact with patients, how you lead your team, and how you approach mentoring with your supervisors. Communication has several aspects to it: body language, tone, and the choice of words. Better understand how you can approach this important aspect of life. Are you choosing your words wisely and in an appropriate manner?

3. Building Patient Trust & Rapport

Working with your patients on case acceptance and compliance is another ongoing challenge for many less-experienced associates. There are many things one can do to make sure that patients trust you and your diagnosis. Work on educating the patient rather than selling them a treatment, and truly believe in your diagnosis. Respond gracefully to rejection by giving the patient options, your own medical opinion, and leading them to long-term success and production.

4. Be True to Yourself

Keep your priorities in line. What matters the most to you in life and your profession? Know that the associate dentist position has a learning curve. Manage your expectations in accordance to both this position and your own personal career goals. Don’t get too ahead of yourself and take this time to learn. You have to learn how to walk before you can run!

5. Improve Your Time Management

If you feel like you are having difficulty managing your time, go to your employer dentist or another experienced member of the team and ask how he or she manages time. What small changes or workarounds are they doing that you can leverage? Building up your hand speed is also a manner of time management. Track how long it takes you to do a procedure, and continuously chop at that time to set personal bests. As you note this, you’ll be able to easily recognize that you are indeed getting faster over time.

6. Providing Excellent Patient Care

To provide better care for your patients, look into continued education opportunities. Be a sponge that soaks up as much knowledge as you can to translate it into your approach chairside. Sometimes, practices offer such opportunities to staff members who seek continued education. Additionally, begin a mentor relationship with your senior dentists to better shadow their schedule and see how they go about their day. Join associations, study clubs, and other organizations both in and out of school that might help you continue this educational pursuit.

7. Readying for the Transition

As you prepare to leave dental school and find the next chapter awaiting you, grab your future by the reins and take advantage of the last resources available to you as an impending graduate and future alumnus. Network and explore events that allow for recruiting and potential employment opportunities, take a look at your financial profile and how you can best assess your future student loans. As you begin your associateship, continue to build your confidence practicing more dentistry, and you’ll be on the right track.

Overcome the challenges of an associate dentist position by taking a look at these seven steps. What can you improve upon? What have you not considered that may be worthwhile to explore? Build your confidence and skills and you’ll transition perfectly to your next career step. Good luck growing towards career prosperity!

Watch the "7 Simple Strategies" Webinar

Tags: associateship, interviewing, interpersonal skills, building trust, building rapport

5 Questions You Should and Shouldn't Ask During Your Associate Interview

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Sat, Sep 10, 2016 @ 11:15 AM

bigstock-Young-Girl-Gives-Her-Cv-edited.jpgThe unpredictability and nuances of interviews can be, without a doubt, stressful and hard to master. It takes practice to easily handle everything that an interview can bring, from being properly dressed, to being on the ready for what questions you’ll be expected to answer by employer dentists. The first impression you make in your interview is as important or even more important than elaborating on your experience and describing how well it fits with the practice owner.

Practice owners are always aware of your presence, cadence, and conviction during an interview, so it’s important to remain confident, kind, and reasonable. Here are the correct questions to ask (and not ask) during an interview:

Five Questions You SHOULD Ask:

What is the practice culture like? – Asking what kind of culture is fostered in a practice will both widen the grasp of where you fit in, while also letting the practice owner know how serious you are about the position offered.

Who is your ideal candidate? – Understanding his or her vision enables you to later explain how you are the perfect choice for the practice, allowing the practice owner to really be confident in choosing you.

What are the growth opportunities associated with this position? – The practice owner will more than likely want to have you in a position that has plenty of growth opportunities, so let him or her know that you are ready for that challenge right away.

What would you like to see me accomplish in the next 30/60/90 days? – The practice owner will know that you are ready to get to work right away, knowing what is expected of you from day 1, and how you can make the practice flourish.

How do you see the practice growing in the future? – Applying your skills to the areas that the practice needs most will allow you to be an integral part of its continued success.

Five Questions You Should NOT Ask:

Tell me about the practice? – A question that might signal to the practice owner that you haven’t researched the practice and done your homework will certainly be a turn-off.

What is the salary/benefits? – You don’t want to be too forward with asking about money or benefits, as most times it will be negotiated at the end of the interview.

What is your background? – It’s okay to get some clarification as to the practice owner’s experience in the practice, but don’t focus the interview on your potential employer, who is here to learn more about you.

What can you say about criticisms of the practice? – Coming off as critical of the practice is not a good move, especially when you haven’t even secured the job yet.

Would you like to see my references? – Practice owners will usually see your references after the interview when they are almost ready to hire you, so posing the question too early can reek of coming off too eager, or worse, desperate.

During interviews, sometimes you might feel like you’re walking on a tightrope. You most definitely want to present yourself in a professional and orderly way, but you don’t want to come across as desperate, flustered, or otherwise ill-prepared to take on the role for which you are auditioning. What do I say? you might be asking yourself. Well, if you do plenty of research beforehand, do a mock interview with a colleague or in the mirror, and jot down notes of some anecdotes you can get into with the practice owner, you will have no problem getting that job or associateship, and be on your way to growing in a practice!



Find more helpful information by enrolling in THE NEXTDDS


Tags: interviewing

Dress the Part for Your Interview

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Mon, Aug 08, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Business-people-waiting-for-interview.jpgOf course you look great in a pair of scrubs. You look professional and ready for action. Unfortunately, this isn’t appropriate for an interview for an associate dentist or a Specialty Program position. In fact, before you say a single word to the interviewer, you have already made an impression based on how you’re dressed, according to fashion consultant Karen Rose of Nordstrom, Inc.

The guidelines given here are commonly accepted as appropriate for interviewing for your first position as an associate dentist. While many dentists wear scrubs in the practice, how you dress at work has very little to do with how you dress for an interview. In addition, research has shown the importance that clothing has on how you feel about yourself and how you present yourself.(1)


Dress in a manner that is professionally appropriate to the position for which you are applying. In almost all cases, this means wearing a suit. It is rarely appropriate to “dress down” for an interview, regardless of the practice’s dress code policy. When in doubt, go professional.

According to a recent article in Vogue,(2) you should strive to “fit in” with your dress. Your ensemble should be professional and polished, with subtle colors and a conservative hairstyle. Spend a little time with a fashion consultant at a reputable clothing store to find out what cut of suit would work best with your physique, what colors would match your eyes, and what combination will help you project professionalism and integrity.

“Wear a suit that fits you well,” says Rose.” A carelessly-fitted suit implies carelessness on the job, not something you want from a dentist.” A dark-colored suit with a light colored shirt is your best option. Your suit should be comfortable and fit you well so that you look and act your best. Your suit should make you feel strong, confident, professional, and polished. As they say in show business, always out-dress your audience.

Avoid loud colors and flashy ties. “If you want to make a statement about your personality,” Rose notes, “show some creativity in your tie. I’m not suggesting a tie with a large fish on it, but something distinctive that the employer dentist and/or interviewers will remember.” Shoes should be well-polished and in good condition, and they should match your belt in color. You will get a great deal of use out of a good-quality pair of dress shoes in a traditional style. Ask the salesperson at the shoe store for advice.


Generally, you should wear a suit with a skirt or pants. Rose notes, “A suit is just more professional and it shows that you’re taking this very seriously. You have to put your best foot forward. If your outfit is well put together, it projects you as being well put together.” When in doubt, be more conservative. Your suit should be comfortable and fit you well. Just like men, a fitting suit applies to women as well, according to Rose: “A suit with an excellent, fastidious fit implies an excellent, fastidious professional.” Higher-end stores have sales associates with a keen eye for fit and fashion and usually offer free alterations when you purchase a suit.

Interview suits should be simple and dark in color. Stick with dark solids like navy or black, or pinstripe. Stay away from brown or light-colored suits. Anything tight, bright, short, or sheer should absolutely be avoided. “Interviewers have been known to complain about the length of interviewees’ skirts; if you have any doubts, it’s probably too short,” says Rose. Knee-length skirts are best. Very long skirts, while modest, are also considered too trendy for an interview.

Wear a conservative blouse with your suit. Do not wear animal prints, or anything lacy, sheer, or low-cut. Rose noted, “Having said that, a woman wants to be remembered in some way. A tasteful flowered blouse, a unique broach, or a subtle attractive scent may help the interviewers remember who you were and says a little something about your personality.” Academic research supports this assertion. People who are interviewing are torn between choosing an outfit that fits the mold and an outfit that says something unique about their personality.(3) Given a little thought—and a good fashion consultant—you can and should do both.

Make-up and nail polish should be understated and flattering; shades that are neutral to your skin tone are generally advisable. Avoid bright or unusual colors or very long nails. Keep your jewelry and hair accessories to a minimum, and stick to those that are not flashy, distracting, or shiny. One ring per hand is best.

Shoes should be conservative and fairly low-heeled. Rose encourages pumps: “Don’t wear shoes with an open toe or back; any shoes you would wear on a date or to a club are probably inappropriate. A basic pump is flattering, versatile, and will stay in style forever.” Be sure to carry an extra pair of hose with you on the day of your interview.

Your hair should be neat, clean, and conservatively styled. “If you are one of several candidates being interviewed for the same position, you want people to remember you based on your blouse, your scent, or that little broach. Not the scrunchies or ponytails you wore,” says Rose. You may want to wear your hair in an updo, pull it back into a low ponytail, or wear a barrette. The idea is to look polished and professional, not to advertise the creativity of your hairdresser.

Men and Women

Think of your suit as your secret weapon. It is making powerful statements about you as a professional, allowing you to secretly check out the practice and the partners to see if this is where you really want to work. While it may be appropriate to dress more casually for a second interview, you must still dress professionally. It’s much better to be too formal than too casual.

These are the generally acceptable guidelines you should follow when deciding what to wear to an interview. Dressing professionally shows respect for yourself, the interviewer, and the practice. You obviously will not have to dress like this every day, but you are more likely to be taken seriously when you present yourself in a professional manner and take the time to attend to details. Dress to impress, and good luck!


  1. Grogan S, Gill S, Brownbridge K, Kilgariff S, et al. Dress fit and body image: A thematic analysis of women's accounts during and after trying on dresses. Body Image. 2013;10(3):380-388.
  2. Ward M. 7 Job Interview Tips Everyone Needs to Know. Vogue. 2016 April 6, 2016.
  3. Cutts B, Hooley T, Yates J. Graduate dress code: How undergraduates are planning to use hair, clothes and make-up to smooth their transition to the workplace. Industry and Higher Education. 2015;29(4):271-282.

Tags: interviewing, dress for success

Answers to Five Key Questions You’ll Field While Interviewing for Your First Associateship

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

bigstock-Young-Girl-Gives-Her-Cv-resize.jpgEvery job interview comes with a set of standard questions, and chances are they’re ones that you will come across at one point or another as you seek your first associate dentist position. Even if you encounter the same questions many times, you’ll still have to work hard and prepare beforehand. Every interview is sure to work organically.

Many of these questions can be tailored to your advantage. If the employer dentist or interviewer approaches them in a certain controlled matter, you will have a great interview. Take a step back and understand what exactly the interviewer is trying to learn from you when posing these questions.

What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

This is probably one of the most common questions, and in some aspect you’ll be asked at least one of this two-parter. For strengths, play back to your experience and qualifications, asserting your most important qualities confidently. Include some personal traits as well, things that dental school faculty or patients have said of you, and other relevant credits. This might be the easy part, but don’t take it for granted.

For weaknesses, it’s easy to think you’re winning them over with an answer like, “I’m a perfectionist,” but employers have heard that before. Be honest in your reply. The important part is describing ways in which you’re trying to improve your weaknesses, or planning to overcome them. If you lack experience in root canal preparation, for example, explain that you are taking the necessary steps pursuing additional training or exposure to similar procedures to improve your competency in endodontic treatment.

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

This question asks to see if you’ve done your research on the practice, the position, and the necessary qualifications. How quickly and easily will you be able to fit in their atmosphere? The name of the game is both the context in which you present the answer, and the tone in which you deliver it.

Hopefully you are eager enough about the position that you have not only researched the qualifications involved with the position and how you accomplish them, but also talk as if you really want to begin working at the position. Employer dentists will be able to tell if you’re just telling them what they want to hear, or if you are being genuine. Your excitement should show in your answer. If this is a position that you would like to start right away, you should have no problem answering this question.

Where Do You See Yourself in 5/10/15 Years?

Another mainstay to the job interview, this question is a test to see what you’re working on now that you hope to expand upon in the future, what clinical skills or interpersonal traits you’re looking to improve upon, and other things that show your work ethic. It shares with your potential employer dentist your vision of practice ownership and potential impact on his or her own plans regarding the future of the practice.

It’s important to also focus this question on the employer. Where do you see yourself advancing in the position that’s being offered? Being modest and without getting too ahead of yourself, how are you going to make an impact on the practice in the long term? This is what they’re after.

Why Should We Hire You?

What a better time to shine during the interview! This might he posed during the tail-end of the interview. This is a good opportunity to do two things: initiate discussion of your clinical and/or diagnostic experience and qualifications, and pair that alongside what the employer dentist is seeking.

This is where all the preparation pays off. Confidently assert the experience you have, relevant to the practice for which you are interviewing. Combine your experience with the requisites you’ve researched through the job listing or description. Emphasize how that experience will meet any and all requirements they need.

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

This question is the dagger at the end of an interview. Sometimes, when you’ve done all the research beforehand, you find yourself at a loss for questions that might be useful to pose at the end of an interview. Always write down a list of possible questions that you could ask. If you’ve read the job description or outline, that will be a good place to start to find questions relating to the job or practice itself. Asking about the timing and notifications process associated with the hiring decision is always pertinent.

Note more questions than you’ll need, as some may be answered during the interview itself. It’s good to have at least one or two to pose at the end. Sometimes as you’re working through an interview, a question may arise from something the employer said, even if it’s a clarification about a point that they’ve made. Make sure you’re paying close attention during the interview. If your potential employer dentist has not already shared his or her philosophy of patient care, be sure to solicit during the interview as understanding this outlook will be important to your compatibility.


There’s no doubt that employment interviews are stressful, and no matter how hard you prepare, it all comes down to how well you perform under pressure. There’s no guarantee as to what your potential employer might throw your way. One thing is for sure, however: you will come in contact with these questions at some point as you look for employment. The more interviews you go on, and the more you become comfortable and confident answering each question, the better chance you’ll have at securing a position with a practice.

Tags: associateship, interviewing

6 Important Keys to Interviewing for Dental Students

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Nov 04, 2015 @ 01:00 PM

Nicole LaMantia, UCSF DDS Candidate, presenting to fellow classmatesGetting prepared for interviewing is key. How do you do it? Anticipate questions, prepare responses but remember to stay relaxed . Interviews are for them to get to know you but also for you to see if you will be a good fit. Interviewing in a lot of ways is like a first date. You have to see if you are compatible.

1. Be yourself.

Easier said than done.

A good way to prepare is to reflect on what you’ve done, and how it’s equipped you to move onto residency. One of my favorite sites that offers advice on prepping for interviews is The Muse. Even though their articles are not directed toward medical or dental residencies, the information is on point. Check out their article on how to answer the prompt, “Tell me about yourself,” which is often one of the first and more challenging prompts at an interview.

2. Look for compatibility.

In order to have a successful and satisfying experience in residency, you want to be at a program that jives with your expectations and values. There is no perfect program, but there are many which offer a variety of attractive attributes to prepare you for your future.

3. Balance is fundamental.

In the interview, it is important to maintain professionalism and respect, without a doubt. However, do not be afraid to share your personality. If they don’t ask you questions directed at your hobbies, goals, or interests, find some way to work it in. Having a life outside of dentistry isn’t just practical, it is important for showing community, social skills and well roundedness.

4. Confidence with gratitude.

Everyone at the interview has already demonstrated on paper that they deserve to be there. It’s important to carry yourself confidently and be clear in your answers, however also remember that it is a privilege to get an interview, that should not be taken for granted.

5. Crash with friends or use house renting sites.

I am a huge advocate for reaching out to friends or friends of friends to have a place to stay. However, when I did that I realized that sometimes your friend’s place is not as close or convenient, and can make your commute to the interview longer or more stressful. Just remember that you want to allow plenty of time the morning of the interview to allow for traffic, parking, public transportation delays, and finding your way around the building.

6. Take names, take notes.

After your interview, be sure to make notes on what you liked and what you did not. Additionally, you want to remind the program of yourself even after the day is over. Make sure you write a thank you card or note to the program after the interview. Showing gratitude and appreciation is professional but also shows you truly care. Mention the strengths of the program and how you see yourself fit in.

Overall, interview season can be stressful. If you are well prepared, you will be more calm and focused when it comes time to interview. Good luck!

Find more helpful information by enrolling in THE NEXTDDS

Tags: interviewing, dental school

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