Master Your Working Interview to Get Paid More

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienists, Dental Job, Dental Professionals | 0 comments

It’s no secret that offices are desperate for help.  This has driven the pay rate up $5 to $10 more an hour than what we were paying dental assistants and hygienists in 2019.  If you found yourself in the job market, now is your chance to greatly increase your pay rate.  And the BEST way to do that is to prove your worth in the working interview.  

In this post we will discuss how to master any working interview and when offered a position, how to negotiate pay to get what you want (within reason :)) 

What is a working interview?

Working interviews are paid interviews.  The office asks you to come in and work with the team for the day.  This could be all day or for a few hours. 

 The working interview is to give the office the opportunity to see:

a. What you know.
b. How well you mesh with the staff.
c. And how well you treat their patients.

A working interview gives YOU the opportunity to

a. Check out the commute.
b. See if you like the work environment.
c. And lets you know if the practice is the right match for you.

With this extremely competitive job market, I have seen more offices forgo the working interview and make an offer during the formal interview.  Which can feel a little off putting, so don’t be afraid to take a step back and ask for a working interview first.  

A working interview can be a tad nerve wracking if you are:

A. New to dentistry
B. Trying to get back into dentistry
C. Have been at your current practice for a long time and forgot how to interview
D. Always going on working interviews but never getting the job.

Luckily for you, this is a time in the dental field where the offices are wishing and praying that you are the perfect match for their job.  So if you fall into any of the above categories take a deep breath and keep reading because we got you. 

How to prepare for a working interview

Before you show up for your working interview you need to do a few things.

#1 Confirm and reconfirm

Before your working interview, make sure you have confirmed all the below items with the office:

  • Required Scrub colors
  • Where to Park
  • Pay rate for the working interview
  • Paperwork you need to bring to the interview (this usually includes your licenses or certifications and your passport or Driver’s license and Certificates). 

#2 Make sure you know where you are going

Please don’t be late to a working interview.  Especially if you plan to ask for the max amount of pay if offered the position.  If possible, do a practice drive over to the office so you know how long it is going to take you.  And still try to leave with a 30 minute buffer to be there on time.  I promise sitting in your car for 30 minutes waiting for the shift is way better than running in breathless just in time. 

#3 Be early and be prepared

Show up 7 or 8 minutes before the time they asked you to be there.  This will let you get started on any paperwork they might need for the working interview and will just impress the doctor and office manager.  Also have all your needed documents in a nice folder and offer to make them copies if they want to show you where the copier is. 

Now that you are prepared and early…

Let’s Nail your Working Interview

#1 Look your best

Even though you are working, this is still an interview.  Make sure to wear nice clean scrubs, have clean and simple hair that is neatly pulled out of your face, simple make-up and minimal perfumes.  Since this is dentistry, keep your nails short and clean.

I have had fantastic Dental Assistants and Dental Hygienists go on working interviews to have the office tell me they love them, but their perfume was too strong or their nails too wild.  AND THAT IS THE REASON THEY PASS ON THEM!!

Please don’t let something so controllable be the reason you miss out on the job.

#2 Be Friendly AND Professional

Be yourself in these interviews, however, be your professional self.  Try to connect with the staff and the patients, but keep the conversations light and fun.  If an employee starts to complain, don’t let yourself get sucked into her negativity. If you must, excuse yourself and go vacuum or something.

And don’t talk too much, make sure you focus on the doctor’s needs and if there is downtime, ask the Office Manager if there is anything that needs to be done, like tidying up a cabinet or scanning docs.

#3 Act as if you already work there

Jump right in.  Greet patients, answer phones, type notes.  Show them that you can take initiative and want to work.  They want to see that you want to be there and that you aren’t just dead weight.  And if in doubt on what to do, just ask.

#4 Make sure they know you want the job at the end of the day

When you are confirming your hours and getting paid at the end of the day, make sure to vocalize how much you enjoyed yourself.  Ask if there is any feedback on your performance or if there are any reservations about hiring you.

If there are, try to overcome them or offer the office another day that you can do a 2nd working interview.

But if it simply wasn’t a good fit, thank them politely for the opportunity and part as friends.

#5 Follow up with a thank you card or email

In this market, most offices will offer the job at the end of the working interview, but some don’t.  In either case, a simple card or email thanking them for the opportunity leaves a wonderful impression on them.

Not sure what to write?  We got you. 

Here are two simple blurbs you can use.

If they offered you the position:

Dear Dr. Smith and team, 

Thank you for such a great day at my working interview.  I am so excited to be starting with your office on insert start date.  You and your staff are exactly what I was looking for on my job search and I know we are going to make a great team!  

Thank you for this amazing opportunity and I will see you soon!


Your Name

If you weren’t offered the position but were informed they would be in touch shortly:

Dear Dr. Smith and team, 

Thank you for such a great day at my working interview.  The positive energy and teamwork of your practice was amazing to see, and I would love to be apart of it.  As mentioned in my interview, my quality patient care and experience would fit right in with your practice.  

I look forward to hearing from you and I hope to be working with your team soon!


Your Name 

Please make sure to send a thank you email or card after every interview.  It is such a nice touch and moves your application right to the top of the list.  

Negotiating your pay rate

You rocked your working interview and now the office is dying to hire you, that’s amazing!  This is your time to negotiate pay to get your worth.  

Here is how. 

At some point you should have already talked with them about your desired pay rate.  So they really shouldn’t be shocked.  

If that is the case and they still offer you a pay rate that is less than what you are asking, simply reply, “I am thrilled to get this offer and I would love to work with you and your team, but my asking pay rate is $xx.xx, is that something you can do?”

If you really knocked their socks off, they are more than likely to say “Yes.”. 

If they say no, and you have other interviews lined up, then thank them for their time, get your paycheck and part as friends. 

If they say no, but you really want the position ask “Was there something I did during my interview that showed I wasn’t worth the amount I am asking for?”  If they say yes, ask what it was.  It might be something simple you can overcome.  You can also say “I will accept the position at $xx.xx (slightly less than what you really want) with a review after 90 days.  If you are happy with my employment we can renegotiate the rate of pay.  Does that sound like a plan?” 


If you are really want the job and you are feeling confident, you can tell them, you have to think about it.  Then call them in the morning and ask for your rate of pay again.  Sometimes if the office thinks they might have lost you, they will reevaluate and make the pay work.  

Somethings to keep in mind 

These are just some random thoughts I felt needed to be included in this post. 

Please don’t ghost or cancel last minute on a working interview.  

Usually the offices built the schedule around you being there for a working interview.  So even if you accepted another job, please call the office to let them know but tell them you would be happy to temp for the day if not having you there causes any issues. 

Please be reasonable with your asking pay rate

Dental Assistants, Hygienists and front office dental personnel are worth millions in my opinion.  Unfortunately, dental offices only make so much money.  So when deciding your desired pay rate, please make sure it matches up with what is being offered for your position in your area.  

And if an office is offering benefits that you need and want, remember those cost money, so you much be willing to take a slightly lesser pay, if the office is going assist with medical insurance and offer a 401k with a match. 

Consider bonuses as part of your pay

I am a HUGE fan of bonuses.  I feel like if goals are laid out and attainable, offering a bonus is the best way to incentivize your team. 

With that being said, I have offices that offer a phenomenal bonus plan with great benefits, but their pay is lower that offices not offering bonuses and benefits.  Ask for the office to walk you through their bonuses structure and do the math. Then ask the other team members how often they hit and get paid out on their bonuses.   

You might make way more pay, in bonuses, with an hourly rate that is less than what you are looking for.  

But be careful, some offices offer “bonuses” that are garbage.  

Ok, I will step off my soap box now.  I hope this post gives you some great insight on how to master your working interview and get paid more money!  Now go get em!


Holli Perez

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