INTERVIEW PREPARATION FOR PHYSICIAN CANDIDATES
CONDUCTING YOURSELF BEFORE DURING & AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Your impressive, well-organized CV and intelligent cover was
effective in getting your foot in the door. Or, perhaps you got it
through a networking contact. In any event, you have made it to the
interview process. Now what?
While you may
be excited, and maybe even a bit anxious over an impending
interview, it is critical that you be prepared to take your
appointment for employment seriously. The following is designed to
help you during the interview process < including how to prepare
beforehand, how to conduct yourself in the actual interview and what
appropriate follow up steps should be taken after your visit.
Practice or Hospital.
Research on the
place where you potentially will be working is imperative. Never
walk into an interview without doing your homework. Find out as much
as possible about the hospital or practice. The Internet is a
valuable tool in researching any practice or hospital, however, most
hospitals and practices will send you an information packet prior to
your interview. Call and request one if you donıt receive anything.
And, of course, thereıs always the most obvious method of asking
someone who already works there.
How can you
answer the inevitable "What can you offer us?" if you donıt know
exactly what it is they do and how they do it? Find out how the
organization is structured, its management, financials and if they
have affiliations with other Hospitals and Health Systems and
Medical Schools. What is the ratio of Primary Care Physicians to
Medical Specialists on staff? Be ready to put your research to work
for you. You need to show how your skills match existing programs,
but also should be able to demonstrate clearly how your skill set
and expertise might add something their current program is lacking.
Be ready and
willing to discuss your professional goals, objectives and personal
interests. Interviewers donıt want to only listen to a complete
rundown on your credentials and training. Thatıs what your CV is for
and all that should be covered there. However, if you are
particularly proud of something you have accomplished, or have had
the opportunity to work with some extraordinary people in your
field, you may want to mention that briefly as one of your major
achievements or career highlights. Donıt assume that the interviewer
is completely familiar with your CV. Often the interviewer is not
the same person who initially received your resume, be prepared to
summarize key points.
want to know what kind of person you are (what you care about, what
your interests are, what is important to you. In many cases, the
people interviewing you are potential co-workers, and they want to
know what it will be like to work with you. In discussing
non-business issues, stay away from religion and politics) no need
to offend anyone. Talking about things you care about (your
daughterıs soccer team, your work in a local clinic for the
underserved, your passion for fly fishing) is always a safe yet
Be ready to
Without being pompous, be prepared to sell your qualifications,
expertise and strengths. Also be prepared to answer any questions
that may arise regarding your CV, particularly any gaps in training
or job history, switch of residency programs or questions about
where you attended medical school. Depending on your answers, some
of these could be red flags to interviewers. However, often times
there are perfectly legitimate (even admirable) explanations. For
example, one young resident had a year-long gap between medical
school and residency because he took that year to attend theological
school in hopes of being better prepared to serve his patients.
selling yourself, that thereıs a fine line between being confident
and obnoxious < donıt cross it. As the owner of a practice or the
head of a department, your interviewer is looking for someone who
will be a positive reflection of his or her office. Often
interviewers will even ask themselves, "Would I want this person
treating my friends, family or even my children?"
Act like this
is the only interview that matters.
Playing hard to
get has no place in an interview setting. This doesnıt mean you
should hint at an offer in the first five minutes, but it does mean
you should act enthusiastic and genuinely interested in the
position. Few things will turn an interviewer off more than a
feeling that you are not at all interested in this job and that you
are wasting his or her time. Interviewers are not likely to hire
someone they believe is not enthused about their practice. People
want to hire people who want the job. Never go into an interview
confident that you already have the job (that attitude almost always
results in a non-offer.)
comprehensive list of questions.
One of the best
ways to appear enthusiastic about the opening is to ask questions.
Many recruitment specialists say the questions you ask (rather than
the answers you give) are the key to a good interview. Before you go
into an interview, write down a list of everything you need to know
in order to make a decision about a job. Of course youıll want to
know about the practice, but donıt forget to ask about the community
and quality of life in the area as well. Find out about employment
opportunities for your spouse, schools in the area and religious
institutions. Often, practices will arrange tours of local schools,
churches, synagogues, and other places of worship, as well as,
higher education institutions if you inquire prior to the interview.
positively about your experiences and donıt disparage former
matter how bad they were to you, do not, under any circumstances,
speak ill of former employers or managers in an interview. It will
make you (not them) look bad.
travel itinerary to ensure punctuality.
This may sound
like a no-brainer, but hospitals and strange towns can be confusing
places. If you are driving to the interview, check out the address
and parking availability prior to your interview. Or, if air travel
or trains are a part of your itinerary, confirm your travel
arrangements with the recruiterıs coordinator, and make sure you
allow extra time for unexpected travel delays or traffic.
Even if youıre
interviewing with a small-town practice that has a fairly casual
atmosphere, dress for success. No matter what the size or location
of the practice or hospital, this is a place of business. Present
yourself as if you understand that.
spouse, if invited.
If you are
married, a spouse can be an important part of the interview mix.
Your first job after residency often entails a move. Employers know
that a spouse can play a key role in the decision making process and
often will help in finding employment, schools, etc. Just a note: if
your spouse tends to dominate conversations, be sure to talk with
him or her prior to the interview. Remind your spouse that this is
your interview and that you need to do the majority of the talking.
Donıt avoid the
subject of money, but donıt dwell on it either.
In a first
interview, itıs perfectly acceptable to inquire about money,
although it is often recommended that you reserve this discussion
for the end of your session. This is not the time for hard-core
negotiation, but here are some questions deemed appropriate for your
What is the
I have a
guaranteed salary for the first two years, but what is my future
earning potential once I go off the guarantee?
What might I be
at risk for in the future?
should give you an indication of whether the
compensation for the job falls within your acceptable range. You
can delve deeper into the money topic in subsequent meetings
with questions such as:
What are the
benefits, incentives and perks?
What are the
What will my
responsibilities be beyond patient care?
How will my
performance be measured and rewarded?
Donıt put off
scheduling the interview. It looks like youıre not interested and
sends a bad message before you even have a chance to visit. Try to
avoid Monday appointments, as they are often too hectic for everyone
involved. Late afternoon interviews may also not be the best time,
as people tend to be more fatigued toward the end of the day, and
you will want to make sure you have the interviewerıs full
Send a thank
you note after the interview.
In a world full
of e-mail and faxes, the handwritten thank you note is in danger of
becoming a lost art. Never underestimate the power of a brief,
handwritten note. It shows you care enough about the position and
the interviewer(s) to send a personalized thank you. Take the time
to get the correct titles and spellings of the names of people you
met < attention to detail will be noticed.
Also, let it be known you are available to provide any additional
information required or to answer any questions that may not have
come up during your visit.
The bottom line
is this: every new job is an important step in your career.
Take your job
search seriously. Never take any job for granted or discount an
opportunity before youıve fully explored it. At any interview, be
sure to act as though the open position is the job for you. You
never know, it just might be.
THE TELEPHONE INTERVIEW
need to be prepared and put your best foot forward for a telephone
interview?...Yes, by all means!
Whether you are being interviewed for a prospective position, or
whether you are an interviewer screening a candidate, the telephone
interview is a critical part of the initial process. And you should
be prepared to put forth your best image. That means being prepared
and putting your best foot forward.
scheduled telephone interviews just do not take place. One party or
the other forgets...is called away...or has other priorities come
up. This leads to frustration.... discouragement...lack of
interest...and can hamper, even destroy, the potential opportunity
for both parties.
minimize the likelihood of an successful telephone interview, follow
these basic steps:
Agree on a definitive time. Do not set an appointment for "around
8:00"...be definitive. Set it for 8:10 pm. Be as specific as
possible. This will help to establish expectations.
Predetermine who is to call whom. You would be surprised how often
both parties screw this one up!
Secure an area where the call may take place without interruptions.
Babies, pets, kids, etc., screaming/barking do not lend "atmosphere"
to the interview process.
Make a list of your most important questions. You want answers to
these questions prior to taking the next steps.
Check your calendar for an appropriate time for a follow-up visit.
Select 2 dates that would work well, so as to offer an alternative
choice in scheduling.
Establish an objective: if the phone interview goes well, the
objective should be to schedule a site visit.
Limit the telephone interview to 20-30 minutes at the max. You
cannot cover all elements in a telephone interview, anyway. And some
elements are better left to deal with, in person.
Avoid detailed discussions about money, benefits, and compensation.
It may be premature to get into these elements, too early in the
Send a "thank you" follow-up letter that expresses continued
interest and/or confirms any understandings and clarifications that
may have been covered in the conversation.
Always maintain a professional stature. An interview, whether on a
telephone or in person, is a formal component of a hiring process.
Do's and Don'ts
On-Site Interviewing Do's and Dont's
Arrive 15 minutes early. Tardiness is never excusable.
* Clarify questions. Answer the interviewer's questions as
specifically as possible. Relate your skills and background to the
position requirements throughout the interview.
* Give your qualifications. Focus on accomplishments that are most
pertinent to the job.
* Be professional. Smile, make eye contact, and maintain good
* Anticipate tough questions. Prepare to turn perceived weaknesses
* Dress appropriately. Make your first impression a professional
* Ask questions. An interview should be a mutual exchange of
information, not a one-sided conversation.
* Listen. Concentrate not only on the interviewer's words, but also
on the tone of voice and body language. Once you understand how the
interviewer thinks, pattern your answers accordingly and you will be
able to establish a better rapport.
Don't answer vague questions. Ask the interviewer to clarify fuzzy
* Don't interrupt the employer. If you don't listen, the interviewer
* Don't be disrespectful. Don't smoke, chew gum or place anything on
the interviewer's desk.
* Don't be overly familiar, even if the interviewer is.
* Don't wear heavy perfume or cologne. The interviewer may not share
* Don't ramble. Overlong answers can make you sound apologetic or
* Don't lie. Answer questions truthfully.
* Don't express bitterness. Avoid derogatory remarks about present
or former employers.
Closing the interview
Job candidates often second-guess themselves after interviews. By
asking good questions and closing strongly, you can reduce
post-interview doubts. If you feel that the interview went well and
you want to take the next step, express your interest to the
Try an approach like the following: "After learning more about your
company, the position and responsibilities, I believe that I have
the qualities you are looking for. Are there any issues or concerns
that would lead you to believe otherwise?"
This is an effective closing question because it opens the door for
the hiring authority to be honest with you about his or her
feelings. If concerns do exist, you may be able to create an
opportunity to overcome them, and have one final chance to dispel
the concerns, sell your strengths and end the interview on a
A few things to remember during the closing process:
Don't be discouraged if an offer is not made or specific salary is
not discussed. The interviewer may want to communicate with
colleagues or conduct other scheduled interviews before making a
* Make sure that you have thoroughly answered these questions during
the interview: "Why are you interested in our company?" and "What
can you offer?" Express appreciation for the interviewer's time and
* Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can write a thank
you letter as soon as possible.
After your interview, follow-up is critical. When you get in your
car, immediately write down key issues uncovered in the interview.
Think of the qualifications the employer is looking for and match
your strengths to them. A "thank you" letter should be written no
later than 24 hours after the interview. And be sure to call your