Critical Questions to Ask Your Potential Employer

Koushik Shaw, MD

Disclosures

July 12, 2019

Say "thanks." Before hanging up, express gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for the job. Hertz suggests these words: "Dr (Interviewer), thanks so much for reaching out to me. I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and would welcome the opportunity to take this process to the next level."

Questions to Ask About the Employer

The employer may not provide transparent answers to the following questions, so it's a good idea to ask them of doctors and others who are not part of management, or who work in other venues.

  • How is the practice or organization regarded in the community?

  • Do the doctors get along?

  • Are the owners thinking of selling the practice to a hospital or health system?

  • How are new doctors treated?

  • Was the orientation process helpful?

  • How are patients assigned to doctors?

  • What is the referral network like?

Preparing Interview Questions

When you're compiling your list of questions, be selective. There may not be much time, and even if the interview is lengthy, a long string of queries might affect your ability to establish rapport with the interviewer. If you've been asking questions throughout the preinterview process, you won't need to ask much during the interview, and many of the questions you do ask would essentially be follow-ups to what you've already discussed.

Don't fill up your interview time with factual minutiae. Instead, ask some subjective questions, such as "What do you like best about working here?" "What bothers you most about the job?" and "What do you do for fun?" Questions like these can reveal a lot about the organization and your interviewer, who may be your prospective boss.

Because it's easy to lose your train of thought and forget key questions, bring a list of questions with you. Stajduhar suggests listing bullet points in a notebook, taking notes, and checking questions off as they're answered. "Occasionally take a peek to make certain you haven't missed anything," he says. "Asking the same question to several people will let you see whether you get consistent answers. Many times, it opens the door for people to share more with you."

Potential Questions, and Reasons for Asking Them

What is the onboarding process for a new physician? You need to find out what is expected of new physicians and consider whether these expectations are realistic. You might even ask to talk to someone who recently went through the hiring process.

What is your leadership style? The answer will help you understand whether you can work for the interviewer, assuming he or she would be your boss.

What is a typical workday like? This is a good way of getting a feel for the job. Here and elsewhere, you can ask follow-up questions.

How would you define success in this position? The answer ought to give you an idea of the workload and other expectations, such as taking call, weekend assignments, and working on committees.

What are the challenges of this position? Every job has downsides that you'll have to weigh. Perhaps there isn't enough support staff, or you might have to work odd hours. Be skeptical of interviewers who profess to a problem-free workplace.

How do you resolve physician-management conflicts? This is especially pertinent in large organizations. Ask for a recent example of a conflict and how the group dealt with it.

How would you define your group's culture? The answer will help you decide whether you can fit in. Do doctors go home immediately after work? Do they enjoy a lot of banter? What are the usual nonclinical topics of conversation?

Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? Asking this question signals that you are confident and willing to be coached. The interviewer may bring up concerns that you can then address.

What is the community like? Employers are usually ready to answer questions about housing, schools, cultural attractions, cost of living, and traffic, and may even offer to take you on a tour.

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