Tips And Tricks For Physicians Preparing For Job Interviews

Alisha Shibli
October 16, 2020

A job interview is the perfect opportunity to “sell” yourself and learn about the hospital or healthcare institution that you’re planning to join. It’s a crucial step in landing the job of your dreams and also one of the best opportunities to determine if you’re making the right move for your career.

Whether you’re working in locum tenens or are in a different kind of role, mastering the art of interview is one of the greatest skills that you can develop as a professional who’s ambitious about their career goals.

Like any other skill, performing well at a job interview requires guidance and a lot of practice. This article covers tips that physicians preparing for job interviews can keep in mind along with doctor interview questions, what to do after an interview to follow up, and what not to do after an interview.

Tips For Physicians Preparing For Job Interviews

1. Practice The Smart Way

It’s not about how many times you practice, it’s about how you practice. When you want to go to the next level, you don’t just do the same thing over and over again. Instead you find out a smarter way to do it. When practicing for an interview, engage in what’s called a deliberate practice.

Break down different components of your job interview and work towards improving them one at a time. Some example of these components include:

  • How you begin the interview
  • How you talk about yourself
  • What kind of examples you share
  • How you address a hypothetical question
  • How you react when caught off-guard by an unanticipated question
  • How to wrap up an interview

If you try to practice all of these things two days before an interview, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed and not get anything right. Have a clear plan of action for each of these components. Practice them and when you feel confident about one, move on to the next.

2. Be Thorough With The Job Description

Most of your interview answers are already there in the job description and an interviewer can tell in seconds if you haven’t read it properly. Most interviewers ask questions that tell them that you have all the skills and qualifications required to do the job effectively.

It’s always best practice to read the job description thoroughly and be familiar with the selection criteria. This will help you understand what the interviewer is looking for in an ideal candidate. Not to mention, it might reduce any surprise questions that may come up in the course of the interview.

3. Have Good Examples Ready

Study the selection criteria and when preparing your answer list down all the examples that could be a good fit. This will give you a sort of framework to use when you’re trying to decide how to answer something when faced with an unexpected question.

Try to start your answer with the phrase – “Yes, I can actually think of an example that demonstrates that specific issue.” Of course, not all questions will demand an example. However, if you can provide one, even for a hypothetical question, it’ll show the interviewer your competency in that particular area.

4. Prepare For The Most Common First Question

“Tell me about yourself.”

Irrespective of the industry or field or level of seniority you’re in, the most common opening question to any interview is a version of giving the interviewer an overview of your strengths and competency for the job position.

Even if you’re going through multiple rounds of interviews, you’ll have to prepare for questions that briefly and smartly communicate your fitness and strengths for the role that you’re applying for. So, it’s best to be well-prepared with the answer.

5. Prepare For The Logistics In Advance

An important factor to maintain calmness on the day of the interview is to handle the logistical matters in advance so you don’t have to stress about them on the important day. For example, things such as:

  • What outfit you’ll wear
  • How  you’ll commute to the interview (metro, car, cab)
  • What documents you’ll bring 
  • Knowing the name and a little background of the interviewer

Having all this information in advance can help you manage your mindspace by feeling better prepared, letting you  concentrate on other aspects of the interview.

6. Don’t Arrive Too Early

Arriving late for the interview is out of question but you’ll likely make an equally poor impression by arriving too early. 

Arriving more than 30 minutes before the scheduled time could lead you into bumping into other candidates which could make you anxious. It could also annoy the interviewer or the receptionist as they’ll be obliged to entertain you.

If you do arrive a bit early, let them know that you’ve arrived but then tell them that you’re going to go for a quick walk and stretch your legs for a bit. 

Aim to arriving 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time.

List Of Doctor Interview Questions

In a physician job interview, the potential employer will ask you questions that are based on the scope of the job and the needs of the healthcare institution. Being well-prepared for the expected questions in a thorough and concise manner can give you an upper hand. Here are some doctor interview questions that you should prepare for:

a. How do you handle stressful situations or deal with personal stress in your job as a physician?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Your coping mechanism for dealing with stress
  • Your ability to calm yourself down
  • Your ability to make thoughtful decisions despite the stress

 

Example: “I take a breath and examine the situation from the outside calmly. I don’t ignore the stress. Instead, I reach out to my colleagues for support and professional guidance.”

b. Why did you choose to become a doctor? What aspects of medicine attracted you to choose this specific career path?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Examples that justify your passion
  • Long-term goal that has an emotional connect

 

Example: “One of my close family members suffered from a heart disease and that has encouraged me to become a cardiologist so that I can provide the care and support to patients.”

c. What special skills as a doctor will you bring to our institution? How would you use those skills to enhance the department?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Personality traits that complement your professional skills
  • Any special training or certifications
  • Accolades from your educational institution

Example: “I’ve a certification that allows me to work as a cardiologist, and I compliment that training with calm, well-thought decision-making skills.”

d. How have your skills helped you understand and diagnose your patients better? Have these skills made you a better doctor in other ways?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Example of forming a diagnosis based on patient information
  • Explaining medical information in a simple way
  • Offering emotional support when necessary

Example: “I’m a good listener. I attentively listen to the patient describe their symptoms and then use my medical knowledge to chalk out different possible scenarios. My patients have appreciated me for making time and being calm with them.”

e. Imagine there’s an emergency that has come up while you are consulting another patient. How would you handle such a situation?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Being able to stay calm and switch tasks immediately
  • Ensuring the current patient understands the situation
  • Coming up with immediate solution to the emergency

Example: “I would address the emergency but at the same time ensure that my current patient still feels cared for. I would ask my colleague to take care of the patient while I handle the emergency. I would follow-up with the patient once things have calmed down.” 

f. What would you bring to the practice?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Highlight what you’re good at
  • Explain how your values align with the values of the practice

Example: “I would bring a solid work ethic to the practice, a desire to be part of the team and the ability to provide quality care to the patients.”

g. How do you prevent committing medical malpractice?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Express how serious and dedicated you are to medicine
  • Highlight how you would handle such a situation (if it arises)

Example: “Before reaching any conclusion in terms of diagnosis or treatment, I ensure that I have thorough knowledge of the patient’s history. I will conduct additional tests and examinations if needed just to be sure. And in cases where I’m not entirely sure, I consult other doctors and see how they suggest I move forward. But I don’t take a decisive step until I’m confident that the path we’re taking will be helpful to the patient.”

h. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?

Here’s what to look for in an answer:

  • Your ambitions
  • Your honesty

Example: “Right now my only aim is to provide exceptional patient care and be the best I can in my speciality. However, I’m not entirely sure where I see myself in the next ten years. I’m taking it one step at a time ensuring that I give my best to the job and feel fulfilled in the process.” 

What To Do After An Interview To Follow Up

Maintaining contact with the interviewer after the interview is over is an equally crucial part of the job interview process. Your name should be fresh in their minds because that can have a substantial impact on their hiring decisions. Here are a few things you could do after an interview to follow up:

  • Send them a thank you note. Hand-written notes are personalized but emails can be just as effective.
  • List down the questions that you’d still like to address.
  • Return any phone calls or emails immediately.
  • If the job doesn’t feel like a good fit, ensure to decline politely.
  • If you receive an offer, consider the pros and cons before giving any response.

What Not To Do After An Interview

To ensure you get the best role possible, ensure to not make these mistakes after an interview:

  • Not interviewing with multiple employers – this will hamper your negotiation and you won’t have any other opportunity to compare it with and see if you’re actually getting the best deal.
  • Not taking notes – you won’t be able to retain everything you discussed in your interview. Taking notes will help you retain what was discussed and give you a way to compare different opportunities.
  • Not following up – Show appreciation for the interviewers’ time by sending a thank you note after the interview. 

Conclusion

Preparing for an interview can be nerve-wrecking. However, being nervous is natural and expected. In saying that, don’t fall into the impostor syndrome trap and remember that you’re in demand and you have all the qualifications to successfully complete the job.

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

Going into the interview with a positive outlook will ensure that you give your best.

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