15 Interviewing Tips for Physicians

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When you walk into a first interview, what do you need to be thinking? How should you dress? What should you ask? How should you relate to the interviewer? These are all critical questions you should answer to present yourself in a way that will impress and build rapport with a potential employer. They are the most important things to keep in mind when preparing for a first interview with a hospital or private practice. If you follow these principles, you will be well on your way to finding the perfect career fit.

1. Know what you want in the job.

Think ahead about the money, benefits, location, type of practice, setting, patient load and practice philosophy.

2. Write down your questions based on what you want.

Having questions, even in a first interview, shows you are prepared and serious about the position.

3. Bring your spouse.

If you are married, it is wise to ask the practice if you can bring your spouse along on an interview trip. If the practice is unwilling, it could be a red flag. One of the major reasons physicians leave jobs is an unhappy spouse. Let your spouse get a feel for the area. Ask to introduce your spouse to employees and partners at the practice and to show him or her the facilities. This is a significant part of the interview process and will greatly affect your decision.

4. Dress appropriately.

Many assumptions will be made about you based on the way you dress, so this is important. Two key principles should guide your choice of dress… professional and conservative. Men should wear charcoal or navy suits. Blue or white shirts are the best option to match the suit. Women should wear conservative business suits as well, and avoid anything tight or revealing. Do not wear anything high fashion. This will quickly be interpreted as unprofessional. Also, do not wear too much cologne or perfume, because this will lead to quick negative judgments as well.

5. Engage the Environment.

Show up early, and as soon as you walk in the door begin carefully observing and engaging. Talk with the office staff warmly and ask them questions to show interest, because you never know when a good word from a member of the office staff will make a difference. Also, take note of honors, plaques, pictures and other items in the interviewer’s office, then ask about the ones that spark a particular interest for you. This will show you are interested and will encourage the interviewer to be more at ease and comfortable with you. Always watch and match the posture and level of seriousness of the interviewer. The goal in all of this is to be kind and respectful, and these two things go a long way in making an impression in the initial interview.

6. Bring new, professional copies of your CV or resume to offer if needed.

7. Always tell the truth.

If something you have to tell doesn’t sound positive, figure out how to communicate it in a positive light.

8. Never badmouth your previous employer.

This will make you seem like a potential problem employee and damage your credibility. It might take some effort to resist the temptation to do so, but you must.

9. Keep your answers short and to the point

But always make sure you are answering fully.

10. If the interview is taking place during a meal, make sure you eat lightly, avoid alcohol and carry mints.

11. Clearly state your interest in the position.

If two candidates are equally qualified, the one who shows more interest in the job will likely receive the offer.

12. Know and emphasize what makes you unique.

If you have a story that makes you memorable or a particular skill or quality you believe gives you an edge, find a natural way to share it in the interview. You want your name and qualities to be what the interviewer remembers easily when the practice is making a decision to extend an offer.

13. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to admit it.

Once you admit you don’t know, you can then offer what you believe, based on what you do know, without coming across as overconfident and uneducated. The interviewer will respect honesty, and often will throw a stumper or trick question at you to see how you respond.

14. The initial interview between the physician and the potential employer might not be the best time to begin contract negotiations.

During the interviewing process, it is generally more appropriate to focus on developing a good working relationship between the prospective employer and the physician candidate, which could carry over into the contract negotiation. During this interview process, it is critical that you keep copious notes of all employment offerings and arrangements made with the potential employer.

15. When the interview is over, make sure to show your gratitude in person, and then obtain a business card from your contact at the practice or hospital.

The business card will be helpful for you later when you send a personalized thank-you note, which is always a good idea.

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