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Nail the Physician Interview to Land the Job – Preparation is Key to Success

Jackson Physician Search
August 26, 2020

The on-site physician interview is a pivotal moment for physicians seeking a new job opportunity, and it signifies that you’re one step closer to receiving a job offer. If it’s a coveted role – one that you’ve worked your entire career for – you would be wise to prepare as though you’re going to have to edge out some serious competition. Let’s review the steps you can take to make a great first impression and to put yourself in the best position to land the job.

Have a Game Plan and Conduct a Background Check

To use a sports analogy, prior to each game or match, the team prepares and studies its game plan. Interviewing for a job opportunity is similar in that while a potential employer is evaluating your candidacy, you should also be doing the same of them. This ensures mutual fit, and it assures the hiring organization that you’re serious about the opportunity.

Start by researching the facility online and reaching out to colleagues who may have worked for the hospital or medical group to see what you can learn about the leadership team, management style and workplace culture.

You can glean quite a bit of information about the leadership’s management style and your potential colleagues by reviewing what they post on LinkedIn, whether they’re well-published in industry publications or journals, or if they are frequently invited to speak at association events.

Jackson Physician Search learned last year in a physician survey that there are three attributes in an organization’s culture that physicians most value. They include: a patient-focused environment, autonomy within their roles, and true teamwork. Your research should give you some insight on how well the organization aligns with this.

Additionally, it is important to research the community and its unique amenities but do keep an open mind to opportunities that are outside your desired location. Sometimes boots on the ground can change your perspective.

Prepare Your Own Questions

Conducting your “background check” should bring up some questions you’ll want to ask during the interview. Here are a few examples:

About the Organization

  • How often is the medical staff asked about or surveyed on staff satisfaction?
  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  • What is the board’s plan for navigating this era of change and uncertainty?
  • How are physician and administration disagreements handled?

About the Job Opportunity

  • What skills and abilities are needed to succeed in this position?
  • Can you explain how patient scheduling is typically handled?
  • How often are formal and informal reviews given to new employees?
  • What supports are in place for physician career planning?

About Compensation and Benefits

  • Can you walk me through your compensation structure?
  • Do you incorporate productivity formulas? If so, can you explain?
  • Are there any plans to change the compensation structure in the near future?
  • How would my practice be marketed, and what role would I play in that?

By coming prepared with a list of thoughtful questions, you’re setting yourself up to be able to quickly make an informed decision to accept or turn down a potential job offer – ideally after the first interview.

Making the Best Impression

Up until now, all of your efforts have been on preparing your game plan and doing the pre-work necessary to make the most of this in-person opportunity. Now, it all comes down to execution.

First impressions are essential. You are a competent, skilled physician, and that should be the persona you portray as you walk into the interview process. Dress the part, come prepared with copies of your CV, and bring a notepad to write down your thoughts.

Culture and fit are increasingly important for most physicians, and not surprisingly, it has become a vital component of hiring decisions. During the interview, be genuine. There are many traits that make a successful physician, but typically, administrators will break them down into eight qualities.

  • Communication – Arguably, one of the most important qualities in a physician is the ability to clearly communicate. During the interview, it is critical to listen and to respond concisely.
  • Empathy – How predisposed you are to understanding and relating to your patients is a key quality that administrators look for in candidates. Being able to express how you accomplish that through your patient interactions is an essential aspect of the interview process.
  • Passion for the Work – The fire and drive you had when choosing to become a doctor is imperative to maintain over the course of your career. In the interview, be prepared to describe what drove you to enter the field of medicine and how that passion can set you apart from others.
  • Honest/Forthright – Being fast and loose with the facts is not the way to make a great impression in an interview, just as it would be a disaster in your patient relationships. Demonstrating that you are upfront with your patients and provide them with the information to help them make decisions about their treatment plans is vital.
  • Professionalism – Your actions and demeanor in an interview is an indicator of how you will be with your patients. Having appropriate body language, maintaining eye contact, and appearing engaged are all winning traits in both interviews and patient settings.
  • Being Respectful – When you walk into an interview, it is important to check your ego at the door. Being genuine and approachable are traits that come across during an interview. Job candidates who talk down to others or try too hard to demonstrate superiority are going to put off the interview team.
  • Knowledgeable – Everyone wants a doctor who is skilled and has mastery in the chosen specialty. Instead of relying on what you have learned and earned, talk about what you have done. Have examples of situations or cases when you relied on your skills and abilities to overcome or solve a perplexing condition. Another piece of advice is to be prepared to talk about a situation where you didn’t have the answer and the steps you took to reach a positive outcome.
  • Attention to Detail – Carpenters measure twice and cut once. Physicians don’t have that luxury when it comes to making a proper diagnosis. In your interview, demonstrate your process for managing the thoroughness required to reach a proper diagnosis. Obviously, a major part of that is your ability to listen to the patient, but also to ask the right questions. Your level of engagement and interaction throughout the interview process can be a good indicator of your attention to detail about the job, the organization, and where you see yourself fitting into the environment.

A Final Note About Compensation

Compensation is always going to play a major role in your decision to accept or reject a job offer, but it usually isn’t the number one factor in deciding if it’s the right fit. Resist the urge to spend too much time in your interview on this topic, as it can be effectively addressed during negotiations. Also, it could inadvertently give the interview team the impression that you value compensation more than long-term fit.

When it does come up, be prepared to discuss what best meets your present needs. If you’re early in your career, student loan forgiveness may be most desirable, while mid-careerists may be more interested in a partnership track.

When it’s all said and done, the goal of the on-site interview is information gathering and putting yourself in the best position to receive a job offer for you and your family to consider. Taking the time to thoroughly prepare for the interview increases your odds of achieving both.

If you are planning on entering the physician job market, it may be the right time to discuss your options with an experienced physician recruitment professional. Contact our team today and learn how we can make a difference in your career search. We also invite you to try our physician salary calculator. You can see compensation information based on the specialty, state, and rural versus urban location.

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