5 Top Tips to Follow When Interviewing for a Medical Aesthetics Job
When you’re ready to interview for a Medical Aesthetics job, you’ll want to give serious consideration to the advice of Emily Anne Scalise, M.A., Director of Business Development and Operations at two leading dermatology practices in Connecticut.
Scalise joined her current practice in 2015, after graduating cum laude from Loyola University Maryland and receiving a master’s degree at Columbia University. Today and after six years with the practice, she leads all team development, staff training, and culture-building events, as well as overseeing community involvement, including hosting and attending events and leading the company’s philanthropic efforts.
Scalise’s passion and expertise for the aesthetic industry go beyond the office. She’s an expert speaker for physician-dispensed skin care companies and has written for aesthetic publications such as Practical Dermatology. In 2019, Scalise was named as one of “Connecticut’s Top 40 Under 40” for her leadership and influence in the community.
Read on to learn Emily’s tips for helping land a job in the Medical Aesthetics industry, starting with the interview.
Tip #1: Demonstrate a track record of excellence.
You might think relevant experience is your strongest qualification, but according to Scalise, practices also value a personal history of success. “Maybe you won an award at your last job or have had an extraordinarily high GPA at every school you’ve been enrolled in,” she says. She also looks at your tenure in prior positions as a measure of success. “Because it might not have been your dream but you’ll be able to show evidence of your commitment to a Company and the excellence you have achieved in the role.”
Scalise relays the story of two injectors who came to the job with less than 12 weeks’ experience and, according to a major aesthetics company, ended up in the 90th percentile of injectors within two years. “I’m really proud of that; it demonstrates how important their commitment was to learn, and their desire to be successful,” she says.
Sometimes relevant experience as an injector may even be a detriment, as you might need to unlearn ideas and techniques that don’t align with your new practice. “We have a technical, detailed onboarding process for three months with everything from anatomy to patient consultations to injections that includes studying, to observing, to doing,” Scalise explains. When you don’t have related experience, she says, “rather than re-educating you, we’re able to mold you from the start.”
If you’re applying for an administrative position, Scalise looks for someone with “client-facing social intelligence” which she says is “somebody who knows to put the client first, who is an excellent listener, who understands hospitality. We give patients the finest care and personal service, and that starts on the phone—you have to be a good communicator.” To Scalise, the keen sense and ability to cater to the patient is more important than experience. Be ready to explain how you might manage conflict in a patient care setting, and how you’d treat VIP clients as well as difficult clients. In interviews, she might ask how you’d handle a less-than-positive review of the practice. “It gives me a ton of insight into your problem-solving, your confidence in your ability to hear somebody out and to know what on-the-job projects could be,” she says.
Tip #2: Show your passion.
After past success, Scalise looks for commitment to the field. For example, if you’re a healthcare provider who wants to become an injector, have you had an internship? Have you been following Instagram accounts? Have you been studying anatomy? Did you take the right elective courses? “Maybe a job hasn’t opened up for you yet or maybe you were waiting to finish school, but studying anatomy is the most fundamental thing you can do to show your commitment and how serious you are about joining a cosmetic dermatology, dermatology or plastic surgery practice,” she says.
Consider bringing in a special project or asset to the interview that supports your commitment to cosmetic dermatology. One candidate brought Scalise a photo of stitches she’d done after a Mohs surgery. Scalise thought, “We don’t do that here,” but the candidate told her, “I want to show you the level of care I was able to provide, that I can handle this kind of pressure: suturing a patient’s face and saving their life.” Emily was impressed with her proactivity and it made the candidate stand out from others who were interviewing for the same position.
Tip #3: Come with your own questions and be prepared to answer theirs.
Before the interview, Emily suggests reviewing the practice’s website—reading about the founders and their mission, checking out the employees and how long they’ve been there. Also look at the practice’s Instagram account and read reviews of the office. Formulate educated questions about the practice and your role in it. Scalise suggests the following thoughtful queries:
- Does the practice have a mentorship program and what does that look like?
- What’s the onboarding process like?
- Is there ongoing staff training?
- What is a typical day on the job?
- Which treatments do you do most often here, and which will I do most in this job? “Sometimes there’s a disconnect,” Scalise says. For example, “when an applicant tells me they’re most interested in a treatment we don’t offer, or someone tells me they want to offer a treatment that is beyond their scope.” It’s important to know what the office does most and what you will do most. Make sure your goals are aligned with those of the practice.
- Could I have a working day interview as part of the interview process? In Scalise’s practice, she invites every applicant to come into the office for 4-8 hours for at least 1-2 days to observe. “Because as much as we’re interviewing you, you should interview us,” she says.
Part of doing your homework pre-interview is coming prepared with answers to these common questions:
- How did you prepare for today’s interview? “It shows me your level of commitment,” she says.
- What motivates you? “Money isn’t necessarily a bad answer,” she says, noting that some of the hardest workers, and those most reliable in their attendance, are motivated to earn a good living.
- What do you think a typical day looks like at our practice? “That tells me if you did your research or if you think this job is easier than it is,” she says.
- Who inspires you and why? “I can get a lot of insight into how I might need to manage or motivate this person, their intellect, and where they are going,” Scalise says.
- What do you think success looks like here? “Because I want you to be successful—when you are, we are—but it’s not about just you,” she says. “Your vision of success tells me if you’re a team player or not.”
Tip #4: Know the nuances of what hiring managers are looking for.
Beyond the right degree, licensing and certifications, and training programs, Scalise believes that there are several qualities that will make you stand out as a candidate for these positions:
- For physicians, it’s a strong commitment to ethics, science, and education. “You have to have a consistent commitment to training and maintaining responsibility because you are the umbrella of the practice and its providers,” Scalise says. She’ll give applicants a real-life example of a tough situation and ask how they’d respond to gain insight into their problem-solving skills and whether their instincts align with those of the practice.
- For nurses and physician assistants, it’s someone who knows both what they can do—and what they can’t. “How will they handle being an autonomous provider but also being supportive to the practice?” Scalise says.
- For aestheticians, it’s having ethical standards, being reliable, and having a deep understanding of skin care brands and ingredients. “I’m looking for someone who knows how to sell and recommend products,” Scalise says. “We look to our aestheticians to explain which products work well together and which products can be replaced.” For example, a physician might know rosacea, but the aesthetician can suggest the specific at-home care products. “They are also the retail leaders of most cosmetic offices,” Scalise says.
- For medical assistants, it’s to be a right hand to the physician and an advocate for the patient. “That might mean flipping the room, doing laundry, easing patient nerves, applying numbing cream, or reviewing consent forms—whatever the physician is not doing during a treatment,” she says.
- For practice managers, it’s the ability to wear many hats at once, including training staff, approving schedules, reviewing pricing, managing financials, engaging the team, and more. But at the end of the day, it’s being trustworthy, Scalise says. “Their business ethics need to be strong. I believe a practice manager will make or break your practice.”
- For marketing/communications managers, it’s being wildly creative and understanding your particular practice and your brand, so they can properly market it.
Tip #5: Avoid these interview faux pas.
You may be surprised to learn what raises red flags for Scalise in an interview:
- Saying the job is going to be fun or easy compared to working in emergency medicine or a general practice. “It is fun, but there are a lot of hard trainings and there’s a lot of education,” she says. “I’ve never worked more than I have in my aesthetic job.”
- Asking in the interview about benefits, including how often you can get your own treatments. “You have to put your patients first,” Scalise says.
- Wanting to “do everything” in the practice without knowing whether it’s within the scope of your role. “If you come in and say, ‘I want to do lasers,’ I know you didn’t do your homework,” says Scalise, noting that aestheticians can’t operate lasers in her state of Connecticut. Know the state’s regulations.
- Thinking you can do this alone. It’s great that you trust yourself and you’re ready to dive in, but according to Scalise, “a big part of learning and success is collaboration between you and your mentor or manager, so I’m looking for a team player who listens.”
After the interview, Emily recommends engaging with the practice on social media. Also be sure to send a thank-you note, and if possible, include something you discussed, like an article you wrote. “It tells me how you’re impressive and standing out,” Scalise says. And if you want to check in again, consider forwarding an asset of some sort, like a certification from a recent cosmetic class. “Send something that can support your application. It’s a nice nudge without being a second thank-you note.”
Once you have a job, your first day should not be about proving yourself. “Don’t go in on day one trying to change or impress anyone,” Scalise says. “Just listen, be humble, be excited, and be there for everyone.”
About Emily Anne Scalise, M.A.
Emily Anne Scalise, M.A., graduated cum laude from Loyola University Maryland while earning a master’s degree at Columbia University. A celebrated leader, expert speaker, and writer, she was recently awarded “Connecticut’s Top 40 under 40” for her influence in the Medical Aesthetics community.