How to Prepare for a Physician Job Interview

Courtney Marie L.
October 4, 2019

Once you’ve got a physician job Interview lined up, this is typically when your nerves start to kick in. While being nervous is both natural and expected, what can you do to feel more prepared and less anxious?

Besides the obvious tips like dress nice, have references available and don’t be late (we’re guessing you know all that), make sure you remember all the great things you’ve already done and all the things you still want to do.

Don’t forget, your physician job interview is not just about you, this is also your time to evaluate them and see if what they’re offering matches your expectations. Below you’ll find a list of questions and skills that you’re going to want to make sure you talk about, as well as 10 Interview Questions for Doctors and how best to answer them.


Prepare for Your Physician Job Interview by Creating a list:

If you want to make sure you’re really ready consider writing down exactly want you want to mention about your skills and the questions you have about the job. A lot of people think they shouldn’t bring these notes into the interview, but it’s only going to make you look prepared. Recruiters we spoke to said it’s not shunned upon.

Keep in mind, it’s important to set the ground for what you want and not be shy to follow through with specific questions you might have. For example, you could create a list of questions that will help you understand exactly what your responsibilities in that specific role would be. That way, you can start to evaluate what your day-to-day would like look and if you could picture yourself working there. Remember that this is also your time to evaluate them. Luckily though, if you’ve targeted your resume, then likely this physician interview is one that aligns with your career goals.

It’s also a good idea to review the job posting, or any emails that were sent between you and the recruiter, before your interview. Try to get a good sense of what they’re looking for and then jot down a few things that make you a good fit for the job.

Tell them about:

  • Your hospital/clinic training and what interests you about their facility/the role.
  • Your leadership/teaching roles or any achievements you’re most proud of.
  • Your specialty and your philosophy of medicine.

Be Ready to talk about:

  • Parts of the job that you don’t like.
  • Working in teams, working alone and how you react to opinions that are different than yours.
  • A difficult time (such as a misdiagnosis, stressful situation, etc.)

Make sure to ask:

  • Why they have an opening?
  • What will your schedule look like? What is the volume of patients you can expect to see?
  • What are the goals of the facility and how can your role help towards achieving them?
  • If the position is in a group, association or department, what will you be responsible for? What workload is expected? What will the on-call responsibilities be?
  • What is the decision-making process?
  • Ask about compensation and what payment model you’ll be on, benefits, and contract start/end times.

This is a great time to really dive in and try to get a better understanding of the group culture. 

When speaking to recent Internal Medicine grad, Dr. Mino Mitri, he said to remember that it can be flattering to feel wanted and that sometimes the interview may go really well and it might sound very exciting BUT to remember that a lot of places need extra help so things might sound better than they are.

It’s important to evaluate the position after the interview by listing the pros and cons of the job. After that, if it’s something you’re still excited about, Mino says you should ask around to see what other doctors have to say about it, or try contacting someone who works there to get their personal feedback. In his experience most people are honest and will be able to give you valuable information. If after that, you’re still interested, send a follow up email expressing your interest and openness to meet or chat again.

Physician Job Interview Follow Ups

After your interview, if you found the opportunity exciting and it’s a job you really want, send a follow-up email. Try sending one right after the interview, thanking them for the opportunity and asking them to get in touch if they need anything else. This helps show an appreciation for their time and to reassure them that you’re interested. Something short, like this, would do:

Hi (their name),

Thank you for taking the time this morning to talk to me about the open position at (name of place). It was great to learn more about (either something you spoke about or just the culture of the place).

This sounds like an opportunity I don’t want to pass up. I know I could add value to the team with my experience in (insert your experience, or something you want to re-enforce about your skills). 

I’ve attached (references, certificates or details about something you may have mentioned during the interview). Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or need anything else. 

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks again for your time.

Best regards, 

(Your name).

When you leave the interview, always remember to ask when you can expect to hear from them again. If they’ve set a time, for example a few weeks, make sure you follow up a second time within that time frame. Send them a quick email to let them know you’re still interested and haven’t forgotten about it.

Hi (their name),

I thought I’d check in quickly to see if there are any updates on the (name of the position). 

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Best,

(Your name).


10 Interview Questions for Doctors & How to Best Answer them

Every doctor job interview is unique, since everyone has a different set of skills and experience. However, there are some common questions that most likely will come up, in some form or another, during an interview. Below are the top 10 most common physician job interview questions, with a sample of how best to answer them.

1. Why did you choose your field of specialty?

This is a typical question that recruiters often use to try and see where your passion lies within your job. Answer this accordingly but try and steer your answer so that it highlights the parts of the job that are your favourite. For example, if you love working directly with patients, focus on that so they know that’s where your passion is. However, if you prefer analyzing tests or trying to figure out why something happened, go in detail about it.

This is a great time to talk about your curiosity within the field and things that you’d like do in the future, which might lead to question 2.

2. What are your goals?

A great answer to this would include both your short term and long term goals. Short term goals might be joining an organization with research opportunities or working in a patientcentered practice, while long term goals might be working in a leadership role.

Try to be honest about your future goals, which means it’s okay if you don’t have your goals set in stone, just try to phrase them so that they are aligned with the place you’re interviewing at. For example, if you know you’ll be working closely within a team, mention that you’re a team player and working with others in a close team setting is something you’re looking for.

3. How do you work to improve patient care?

In any physician job patient-care is extremely important so it should be expected that some patient-care questions will pop up. An important part of patient-care is listening and working with the patient instead of lecturing or ignoring how they’re feeling. Emphasis listening in any patient-care questions. Talk about how it can improve patient care by creating a safe space for communication.

4. How do you deal with stress?

The CMA released survey results showing that physician burnout in Canada remains a growing concern. Recruiters know this and will want to know how you’ve dealt with stress in the past or if you have a specific method of handling it on a day-to-day basis. Dealing with stress also includes how you react under pressure and stressful situations. This is a good opportunity to highlight your ability to think on your feet or to step back and quickly evaluate a situation before reacting. Asking this question also helps recruiters figure out if you can handle the stress of the current job that’s available.

5. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful or difficult situation and how you dealt with it?

It’s always good to go into any interview with a few examples of things in your career that have gone well and other ones in which didn’t go as planned. Have these stories memorized so that if you’re asked about a difficult situation or a stressful time, you’ll be prepared and ready to give an exact example, revealing what you learnt from the situation and what you’d do differently next time around.

6. Why do you want to work with us?

Usually someone asks this because they want to know if you’ve done your homework and know something about them. This helps communicate that you’re interested in that specific role/place and you didn’t just apply because there was an opening and you need a job.

Therefore, demonstrate you’ve done your homework by bringing up something specific they do, or offer, there and why it interests you.

7. Why did you leave/why are you leaving your job?

If you’re leaving a previous job, be honest about why you’re looking for a new opportunity, whether it’s just because you want to be closer to home, or maybe because you didn’t like your previous environment. However, don’t speak down about anyone or be too negative about one place. If you did have a horrible experience instead focus on what this new opportunity offers that the other one did not (example, an open learning environment).

8. Why should we hire you?

This might be a question you hear closer to the end of a physician job interview. Remember all your skills and the things you’ve learnt over the years, either in previous roles or through your education. BE CONFIDENT and remember to relate any experience you have back to the job posting and to what you know they’re looking for.

9. What makes you stand out from other candidates?

This is when you want to dig up any unique skills you have, maybe relate you goals to the practice opportunity again or talk about something specifically you’ve done, like a specific example of team work or a unique case you successfully worked on.

Try to relate your skills to the practice by giving an example. Say, you’re fluid in French or Spanish, share a story about when you helped a patient who wasn’t able to communicate fully in English.

10. What would your references say about you?

Before you ask someone to be your reference, it’s a good idea to ask them what they’d say about you. That way, you can reflect those answers and tell the recruiters exactly what your reference told you. You can take this a step further by asking your references what your weaknesses are so that you can bring those up and try and spin them in a positive light. For example, if you’re not the best at multitasking you might say you take on too much at a time.


Contract Negotiation

Congratulations! You’ve received an offer, but it doesn’t end here. Once you’re given a contract the next step is to go over it and see if there are any areas you might want to negotiate, like operating room time, research time, on-call expectations, etc. You are allowed to negotiate and it’s common practice so we highly recommend getting a lawyer to go over any contract before you sign it.

Every recruiter and doctor we spoke to emphasized that you’re in demand, to remember to ask for what you want, and that everything is negotiable.

You don’t need to say yes to the first job offer you get. Set your own grounds for the type of work you want and evaluate your options before rushing into anything. You have the ability to create your own schedule and positions are flexible, so ask about the things you want to see that aren’t on the contract before signing.


Have any questions or want to share some physician interview tips of your own? Let us know on twitter!

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