Job Interviews: How Doctors Shoot Themselves in the Foot

Gail Garfinkel Weiss, MSW


February 24, 2011

In This Article

3. You started off on the wrong foot.

Before you enter the room where the interview will take place, you're making an impression. "The receptionist, the nurse, the person you checked in with are part of the interview process, because their feedback reaches the physicians and other decision-makers in the practice," says Patrice Streicher. "Some practices send out an evaluation to everyone who had contact with an applicant."

Mary Barber agrees. "Be sure to greet the nurses, midlevel providers, and technicians with the same courtesy as you greet your peer doctors," she says. "Don't ignore administrative and operational staff; you never know how much their opinions matter. Be pleasant to everyone. The person standing next to you in the elevator may be a visitor or the spouse of the Chief of Staff."

"Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, and use the interviewer's name early and frequently," says Patrick Alguire. "Memorize the names of the other associates and staff you have met or communicated with, and use their names during the conversation."

Perception equals reality during job interviews, says Streicher. "How you communicate, or lack of communication are important," she notes. Some of the candidates Streicher has worked with were eliminated because they were too quiet or shy, raising the interviewer's concern about how they would interact with patients. "They just weren't conversational, and during an interview you're demonstrating not just your medical skills but how you interact with other people," Streicher notes.

4. You asked inappropriate questions.

Interviewers almost always offer job candidates an opportunity to ask questions, so have some in mind when you walk in. "Ask about practice philosophy, a typical workday, anticipated responsibilities, teaching responsibilities, and opportunities for practice growth," says the ACP's Patrick Alguire.

"Learn about your expected role in the practice, and what will be done by the practice to help make you successful. Getting an idea of staff, including physician turnover, and length of employment, can reveal much about the workplace atmosphere. Beyond the usual polite small talk do not ask personal questions -- marital status, how much money a person makes, and so forth.”

Cejka Search's Mary Barber concurs that no question is too small, but some are inappropriate. "Avoid asking questions relating to the personal status of coworkers, staff, or superiors. Never comment on race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or physical traits," she says. Instead, Barber suggests questions that will help you gauge the organization's culture and philosophy, determine what they expect of you, and find out about things that will affect your everyday practice:

  • What is the hierarchy and reporting structure, both clinical and administrative?

  • What levels of support staff will you work with?

  • How technologically advanced is the organization, that is, what tools and resources will you have at your disposal: EMR, onsite imaging, and so forth?

  • What support and tools will you have for routine tasks?

  • Can you choose your support staff?

  • What are the peer and quality review processes and expectations?

  • What are the call coverage rules?

  • What are the daily and weekly patient volume, size of patient panels, and productivity requirements?

  • What is the orientation period?

  • If you're moving to a new area, what are the licensing requirements and admitting privileges?


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