How to Find the Right Employer for You

The spring semester brings renewed focus on graduation and jobs. Future audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) approaching the end of their student journey are preparing simultaneously for finals, Praxis, and, potentially, rounds of job interviews. 

A critical piece of career exploration is determining how certain things—like an organization’s practices, workplace values, and culture—align or “fit” with your preferences by asking questions such as, “Is this school district, hospital, practice, outpatient facility, etc., right for me? Am I right for it?” 

But, what else should you be asking? 

We explored the topic of “fit” in this Q&A with Jennifer Lopez, MS, CCC-SLP, with SPG Therapy & Education, a longtime supporter of National NSSLHA events and programs. “As someone that interviews a large number of candidates looking for a clinical fellowship position, I often give a lot of thought about how a candidate will fit into our organization and how we can fit into a candidate’s professional goals,” Lopez said. She is presenting at NSSLHA’s Virtual Event, Clinical Fellowships and Externships: Put Your Best Foot Forward, on Wednesday, February 1, at 7:30 p.m., EST. 

Here’s more: 

Q. Why is finding the right fit such a critical part of job satisfaction? 

A. We are lucky to be part of a field that gives back in so many ways! Along with the rewarding work that we do comes an intense dedication to our clients and patients. You will spend a lot of time thinking about your caseload. A company that values your skills and appreciates your dedication is essential. Your job should be a place to find like-minded people that can enrich your life daily (and be a shoulder to lean on!). At SPG, we try to offer opportunities for you to connect with colleagues socially as well as during professionally related events. These types of events can be a much-needed break in your work week! 

Q. Are there specific questions or topics that can help a candidate determine fit? 

A. Consider asking:   

  • Does the company value a work–life balance?  
  • What is the average length of time an employee stays with the organization?  
  • What are some of their goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion?  
  • How is support provided on a daily basis?  

During the interview, I feel that these types of questions offer better opportunities to determine “fit.” At SPG, you will always interview with a practicing SLP, but that’s not the case everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak with a current employee. Make sure you ask the types of questions that will give you a hint of the day-to-day experience at the prospective employer.  

ASHA’s Career Portal has so many amazing resources! You can find articles—like this one—highlighting common questions that might be helpful as you prepare for an interview. These questions might be about caseload size, population, total compensation packages, and promotional opportunities. More important, this is a time to dig a little deeper into company culture. 

Q. How can a candidate get a sense of an organization’s culture and values while interviewing? 

A. I love this question. To get started, make sure you review the company website. Is there a company mission statement? What speaks to you about the company? I also encourage you to look at how the company gives back to the community. Are there volunteer opportunities that employees can be a part of? What does the company do to encourage mentorship opportunities? How can you contribute to these opportunities? As previously mentioned, asking to speak with a current employee can be key in determining a company’s culture. 

Q. How do you, as an employer, evaluate “fit”? 

A. I try to create a relaxed atmosphere during an interview. I remember how stressful the interview process can be! I ask the candidate how they found the field of speech-language pathology. It’s so interesting to see all the different ways we all came to this field! Once someone is more relaxed, I find that they are more willing to share what they envision in a position. Sometimes, I might ask, “When you close your eyes and see the perfect position for you, what does that look like?” While I am sure we can’t give you everything you are looking for, we are going to try our best to come pretty close! On the other side of that, I look for a candidate that possesses a love of learning, a collaborative spirit, good communication skills, and a willingness to grow. With those qualities, any employer would be lucky to have you! 

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