Your Job Interview: How to Get the Offer

Koushik Shaw, MD


July 26, 2019

Ask open-ended questions, such as "What is a typical workday like?" and "What's your practice philosophy?" A query that only requires a yes or a no reply reveals little about the organization.

Asking the Tough Questions

Some questions could put interviewers on the spot and should be handled tactfully. Here are some examples:

Introducing compensation. Refrain from asking how much you're going to make until late in the interview because money shouldn't be seen as your chief priority. You might wait for an interviewer to bring up the issue. Be prepared for a complicated explanation of payment formulas and bonuses. This is where knowledge of the business side of medicine is especially helpful.

Requesting special arrangements. If you want to ask for a 4-day workweek or a reduced call schedule, suggest an equitable solution. For example, if you prefer a shorter workweek, say you'll do three or four long workdays each week.

Asking about potential problems, such as the practice's overhead, income distribution, and debt levels. If you haven't asked these questions during the preinterview, broach them late in the interview when you have established rapport.

Bringing up your investigative work. If you uncovered allegations of high turnover, poor management, or similar problems, raise them in a friendly manner and give the interviewer a chance to explain. These problems may turn out not to be deal breakers.

Addressing broad claims. When an interviewer makes an unsubstantiated claim, such as "We have very good quality scores," ask for an example.

Dealing with pushback. If you encounter resistance to a query, politely explain why the topic is important to you and rephrase the question. If you still can't get an answer, let the matter drop and consider investigating it afterward. There may be nothing there, but stonewalling in itself indicates poor management style.

What happens if you want to leave? Asking this question suggests you're not planning to stay for the long haul. Still, the answer is important. You might want to delay this topic until contract negotiations when it's less likely to raise eyebrows.

What questions should you refrain from asking? According to Stajduhar, "There is an old saying in recruiting: Don't discuss religion, politics, or money. Add to that no off-color jokes or comments to seem funny. People have differing opinions on humor, so be careful. It is great to get to know people and find out what you can about personalities of those you will be working with. Just remember there is a fine line that crosses into TMI. Try to make sure all of your questions are thoughtful and pertinent to your decision."

"Last and most important," Stajduhar says, "interview to get the position. Make sure they feel you are the one they need. You can always turn the job down, but you won't have that option if you don't make yourself the obvious choice."

After the Interview

Inquire about the next step. Ask your interviewers who will contact you and when. What will you be expected to do next?

Write down your thoughts. Take time to record your thoughts, experiences, emotions, reactions, and other content of the visit. It's much easier to refer back to your notes than to try to piece the experience together later.

Follow up with your own interviews. Consider getting in touch with one or more doctors who currently work at the organization or used to work there, and ask them to provide their views on the organization.

Learn from your mistakes. You may not be successful in your first interview or even the next one. Take missteps as lessons and not as defeats.

Getting an Offer

Getting a job offer is a great ego boost even if you've decided not to take the job. If the job is offered during the interview, even if you're inclined to accept, thank the interviewers and tell them you'll get back to them. No one expects you to accept the job on the spot.

As you think about whether to accept, ask yourself big-picture questions: Did you get a good feeling from the physicians you met? Do you like the way the organization is run? Do you like the duties you would be taking on? What do you think of the community?

In Hertz's view, "This is a process. Honesty and integrity are crucial. Be clear about yourself and your expectations, as well as those of your family. Listen more than you speak. As the saying goes, seek to understand before being understood."

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.


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