Your Job Interview: How to Get the Offer

Koushik Shaw, MD

Disclosures

July 26, 2019

Why did you go into medicine? Possible responses include "I want to be part of a profession that focuses on helping others" or "I want to encourage people to lead healthy lives." Don't mention money. Although profitability is important, employers don't want physicians who put earnings first.

Be Honest and Specific When Answering

What would you bring to the practice? Without sounding conceited, highlight such skills as a strong work ethic, being a team player, or providing quality care.

How do you react under pressure? This is not the time to admit that you have problems when you're under pressure. Give an example or two of how you dealt with a tough situation.

Make sure your objectives align well with those of the employer, such as wanting to be part of a team, providing quality care, or improving patient safety.

What are your goals and objectives? Make sure your objectives align well with those of the employer, such as wanting to be part of a team, providing quality care, or improving patient safety. If you plan to reevaluate the job after three years, keep that to yourself.

What kind of salary are you looking for? This can put you in a quandary. Quoting too high a salary might take you out of the running, but quoting too low a salary might lock you into that amount. It might be useful to turn the question around and ask the interviewer to indicate what they're willing to offer. The good news is that this question provides an opening to talk about pay.

What's your greatest weakness? Interviewers are onto the old trick of citing a supposed weakness that's really a strength, such as "I'm never satisfied with my medical knowledge, so I am constantly reading." Instead, you might confess to a real weakness but use it to show professional growth. For example, if you admit to having trouble delegating tasks, you might say that you've come to see that teamwork is effective.

What are your greatest strengths? You might mention good communication skills, technology competence, honesty, compassion, patience, superior training, the ability to learn quickly, or working well with others. If asked, provide an example or two.

What other institutions are you visiting? Be honest if you are considering other places, but emphasize how important this organization is to you. If it's at the top of your list, by all means say so.

Why should we hire you? This question often suggests strong interest in you. Explain why you would be the best candidate. Be careful not to overstate your abilities, such as saying "I speak Spanish fluently" when you merely studied the language in high school. If you're hired, you might be up against expectations you're unable to fulfill.

"The truly best answer is heartfelt and honest," says Hertz. Some possibilities:

  • I am hard working and committed to delivering the finest in quality care.

  • I have known about this hospital since college, and this is where I have always wanted to practice.

  • I believe this group's mission and my personal mission are aligned. I think this would be a good fit for all concerned.

  • My spouse and I are from this area, we have family here, and we want to raise our family here.

During the Interview

It's customary for interviewers to ask their questions first. Holding off on your questions indicates respect and shows that you're a team player. At some point, the interviewer will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" Then it's your turn.

Most employers regard your questions as evidence of genuine interest in the job, but some questions might be tough to answer. Present these queries tactfully, and give your interviewer a chance to respond without interruption.

Stajduhar advises asking questions in a way that is thoughtful and meaningful but not demanding. In his view, "If someone refuses to answer a question—although I rarely hear this unless it violates confidentiality—let them know that it is important for you to gain as much information as you can during this interview so you can make a sound decision."

To establish an amicable discussion, start with an easy question, such as "Tell me a little bit about the culture of this practice." This will soften the impact of tougher questions, such as "Is the practice facing any exceptional risks?"

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