Your Job Interview: How to Get the Offer

Koushik Shaw, MD


July 26, 2019

Editor's Note: This article was adapted and updated from the Physician Business Academy course "Finding the Right Physician Job" by Koushik Shaw, MD. Additional reporting by Gail G. Weiss.

The Interview: Asking the Right Questions

The questions you ask during an employment interview are key factors in getting the job that's best for you. Many interviewees who fail to elicit needed information end up in jobs where they're miserable. Don't let this happen to you.

Evaluating the interviewers' answers to questions will give you a clear idea of what you're getting into. Your questions should reflect your basic, important needs: an enjoyable work atmosphere, being part of a stable and financially strong organization, sufficient pay, and being able to balance work and private life. Shedding light on these issues requires understanding compensation formulas, health insurance, malpractice coverage, department budgets, and other aspects of the business of medicine.

"Asking questions demonstrates that you are truly interested in the opportunity," says Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search, a national physician recruitment firm with offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, and St. Louis. He continues, "It tells your potential employer what you are like and what things are important to you. Asking questions also helps them get a feel for your personality and indicates that you can converse with people. That will help convince them you will come across well with patients."

How to Prepare for the Interview

Set aside time to prepare for an interview. Even if you have outstanding social skills, it's not something you should try to do spontaneously. Human resource departments and employers in general have key questions they ask job candidates, and your answers are strong factors that can work in your favor—or work against you.

"Bring extra copies of your CV," advises Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE, a principal consultant with the Medical Group Management Association Health Care Consulting Group. "Prior to the interview, learn about the practice or institution. What is its history? What services does it provide? How many locations does it have? What hospital(s) is it affiliated with? Who are the physicians?"

Rehearse your answers. See this article's section on Answering Specific Questions and rehearse your answers. In addition, a day or two before the interview, review what you know about the employer, such as its founding members, culture, and mission.

Prepare for unanticipated questions. Make a wide-ranging list of what potential employers might ask about your life and work experiences, philosophy of care, aspirations, leadership skills, and ability to work with others.

Dress appropriately. Although casual clothing is more acceptable now than it was in the past, dressing down indicates you do not take the job very seriously. Hertz recommends a suit and tie, pressed shirt, and polished shoes for men; a modest-looking dress, longish skirt, or pantsuit for women. He notes, "It's important to look professional, so go with business attire."

Get a good night's sleep. Arrange a flight that arrives the day before a morning interview, so that you can be well rested and ready to go.

What the Interview Will Be Like

Interview formats vary. You could have just one interview or a series of interviews. It could be a one-on-one talk, or you could face a panel of people. For a job with a hospital organization, for example, the panel might consist of hospital administrators, the head physician, and the organization's recruiter.

Bring (and take) notes. Don't hesitate to bring notes on possible answers to interviewers' questions. Taking notes also shows you're engaged and helps you remember what has been said, such as assurances about the job that should be included in the contract.


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