Interview Tips for Physicians & Clinicians
Whether you’re working locum tenens or any other type of assignment, mastering the process of the interview is one of the greatest skills you can develop toward achieving your career goals.
But like any other skill, mastering the art of the medical job interview requires practice and guidance. With that in mind, here’s an overview of what to expect in your next job interview — and some job interview tips to help give you the edge over the competition.
Step by Step Tips for a Successful Medical Interview Process
The Medical Job Interview, Phase 1: The Phone Interview
A medical job interview generally has two phases: an initial phone dialogue and a formal on-site meeting.
The first phase — the phone interview — is often thought to be unimportant, but this is a common misconception. Your initial conversation with a potential employer is your best chance to make a good first impression and may determine whether you are invited for a formal interview.
Some things to keep in mind during your preliminary phone interview:
- Be alert, attentive, and enthusiastic. Employers will use this phone call to get a sense of who you are as a person.
- Try to eliminate background noise and distractions. Create an environment similar to what you would experience during an on-site interview.
- Be prepared to respond promptly and concisely to any question asked of you, and ask questions of your own.
- Write down pertinent information (including the contact information of the caller), and inquire about the next steps in the interview process.
- Be prepared to commit to a date for a follow-up, on-site interview, in case you’re invited to one.
The Medical Job Interview, Phase 2: The On-Site Interview
Your on-site interview can be a stressful situation, but being well-prepared will give you the advantage. Here’s how to make the most of these crucial encounters.
- Research the job and the facility before your interview. Knowing the environment you are walking into gives you a key advantage when presenting yourself to potential employers.
- Be prompt and dress in a professional manner.
- Be thorough – bring extra copies of your curriculum vitae, confirm your appointments the day before, be prompt, and dress professionally.
- Sell yourself. Recruiters and administrators will want to know what makes you stand out from the other qualified candidates. Don’t be afraid to stress the achievements you’ve made in your area of expertise.
- Prepare a list of your achievements, setbacks, positive and negative attributes, and professional goals to help you guide your discussion.
- Use examples. Employers will want you to demonstrate that you have the ability to manage the job at hand. Come prepared with a list of experiences and use those to demonstrate your key selling points.
- Be courteous, respectful, and most importantly — be yourself! An interview should be a two-way conversation; it is okay to show your personality in a professional manner.
- Come prepared with a list of questions. Feel free to ask about the practice, the physicians and support staff you would be working with, and the office setting.
Common Medical Job Interview Questions
In a typical medical job interview, the potential employer will ask you questions based on the specific needs of the facility. Being prepared to answer any question put to you in a thorough and concise manner is a key skill. To that end, here are some of the most common interview questions.
- Why did you choose to go into medicine?
- Why did you choose the school you attended?
- Why are you changing jobs?
- What interests you about this position/location?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What do you feel you can bring to the group?
- Describe your strong points and your weaknesses.
- How do you describe your clinical judgment?
- What are your strongest clinical areas?
- Describe one of your most recent clinical triumphs.
- Describe a clinical scenario that did not go well and how you handled it.
- How did you resolve a major conflict with a patient?
- What do your patients like best and least about you?
- Describe your personality, work ethic and habits.
- How well do you communicate with patients and with co-workers?
- With what volume of work are you comfortable?
- What do you feel are the most important contributions you have made to your profession?
- Have you ever had any disciplinary actions, problems of professional competence, investigations or malpractice suits against you (past or present)?
- After what you have seen and heard, are you interested in the position?
- What level of compensation are you seeking?
- Don’t forget that an interview is a two-way conversation. The potential employer will expect you to ask questions regarding the position, the location, and the other physicians in the practice. Here are a few sample questions to consider asking.
- Specifically, what type of candidate are you looking for?
- What conditions prompted the hiring of another doctor?
- What is your practice philosophy?
- How does the practice assign patients?
- What is the demographic breakdown of patients at the practice?
- How many in-office hours will I be expected to keep each week?
- Are there satellite locations I will be expected to visit?
- How many patients will I be expected to see in a week?
- Will there be on-call hours? How often?
- Is this a partnership track position? What opportunities for advancement exist?
- Are there any costs I will be expected to assume? For example, malpractice insurance.
- How will my responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom? How often?
- What administrative tasks will I be expected to cover?
- How much staff support do physicians in this position currently have?
After the Interview: Following Up
Maintaining a connection with the potential employer after the interview is an important part of the medical job interview process. Keeping your name fresh in their minds can have a substantial impact on their hiring decisions. Here are some ideas to consider.
- Write a thank-you note. This may sound basic, but following up with a brief, concise note two days after the interview will reaffirm that you’re interested and enthusiastic. Hand-written notes are best, although email messages can be acceptable, if necessary.
- Keep a record of questions that you’d still like to address. The process from interview to hire can take months and it is important to not let important issues slide.
- Return any phone calls immediately.
- If you are not interested, be sure to decline politely and immediately.
- If you receive an offer, it is important to consider the pros and cons of the position before giving a response. Also, consider factors such as location, local culture and environment, compensation packages, and family concerns. You’re completely within your right to negotiate a contract – seek legal counsel to review it with you before responding. Be flexible and be prepared to compromise in order to achieve the best resolution.
With these interviewing skills in hand, you will be well prepared to excel in your next medical job interview. Interested in more Interview tips for Residents and Fellows?
Since 1991, AMN Healthcare has raised the bar in temporary physician and medical staffing. To learn more, contact us today.
This article does not constitute official financial, insurance, or legal advice on the part of AMN Healthcare.