A line by line review of the CV’s contents makes for a tedious interview. If the interviewer is not the person who initially received the resume, be prepared to summarize it framing the information to match (without embellishing) the vacant position. If they have reviewed the CV carefully, it is still perfectly acceptable to highlight a specific accomplishment or an opportunity to work with some extraordinary people. Keep it brief and humble. Don’t assume that the interviewer is completely familiar with your CV. Often the interviewer is not the same person who initially received your resume. Be prepared to summarize key points.
Interviewers want to know what kind of person you are — what you care about, what your interests are. In many cases, the people interviewing you are potential co-workers, and they want to know what it will be like to work with you. In discussing non-business issues, stay away from religion and politics — no need to offend anyone. Talking about things you care about — your daughter’s soccer team, your work in a local clinic for the needy, your passion for art museums— is always a safe bet.
Be Ready to Sell Yourself
Without being pompous, be prepared to sell your qualifications, expertise, and strengths. Also be prepared to answer any questions that may arise regarding your CV, particularly any gaps in training or job history, switch of residency programs or questions about where you attended medical school. Some interviewers may see these as “red flags.” Frame your answers carefully and honestly. Gaps can have perfectly legitimate — even admirable — explanations. For example, one young resident had a year-long gap between medical school and residency because he took that year to attend theological school in hopes of being better prepared to serve his patients.
Remember when selling yourself, that there’s a fine line between being confident and obnoxious — don’t cross it. The interviewer is looking for someone who will be a positive reflection of his or her office or department. Often interviewers will even ask themselves, “Would I want this person treating my friends, family or even my children?”
Prepare a Comprehensive List of Questions
One of the best ways to appear enthusiastic about the opening is to ask questions. Many recruitment specialists say the questions you ask (rather than the answers you give) are the key to a good interview. Before you go into an interview, write down a list of everything you need to know in order to make a decision about a job. Of course, you’ll want to know about the practice, but don’t forget to ask about the community and quality of life in the area as well. Find out about employment opportunities for your spouse, schools in the area, and religious institutions (if that is important to you).
Act Like This Is the Only Interview That Matters
Playing hard to get has no place in an interview setting. This doesn’t mean you should hint at an offer in the first five minutes, but it does mean you should act enthusiastic and genuinely interested in the position. Few things will turn an interviewer off more than a feeling that you are not at all interested in this job and that you are wasting his or her time. Interviewers are not likely to hire someone they believe is not enthused about their practice. People want to hire people who want the job. Never go into an interview confident that you already have the job — that attitude almost always results in a non-offer.
Speak Positively about Your Experiences and Don’t Disparage Former Employers
It doesn’t matter how bad they were to you, do not, under any circumstances, speak ill of former employers or managers in an interview. It will make you — not them — look bad.
Don’t Avoid the Subject of Money, But Don’t Dwell on it Either
In a first interview, it’s perfectly acceptable to inquire about money, although it is often recommended that you reserve this discussion for the end of your session. This is not the time for hard-core negotiation, but here are some questions deemed appropriate for your first meeting.
- What is the salary range?
- I have a guaranteed salary for the first two years, but what is my future earning potential once I go off the guarantee?
- What might I be at risk for in the future?
These questions should give you an indication of whether the compensation for the job falls within your acceptable range. You can delve deeper into the money topic in subsequent meetings with questions such as:
- What are the benefits and perks?
- What are the patient demographics?
- What will my responsibilities be beyond patient care?
- How will my performance be measured and rewarded?
If it feels as though the interview is going well, you may want to explore the ethos of the practice. Here are some questions to consider using:
- How long has this group existed?
- Please tell me a little about its history.
- Is there a group mission statement? How would you describe the culture of this group?
- If there were one thing you could change about the group's culture, what would that be?
- What is the process you use to bring a new physician on board? What training, mentoring, and coaching would I receive, from whom and for how long?
- Who are the physicians in the group that are currently in this onboarding process?
- How much does the group believe that having a balanced life outside of your medical practice is important?
Send a Thank-You Note after the Interview
In a world full of e-mail and faxes, the handwritten thank-you note is in danger of becoming a lost art. Never underestimate the power of a brief, handwritten note. It shows you care enough about the position and the interviewer(s) to send a personalized thank you. Take the time to get the correct titles and spellings of the names of people you met — attention to detail will be noticed. Also, let it be known you are available to provide any additional information required or to answer any questions that may not have come up during your visit.
The bottom line is this: every new job is an important step in your career. Take the job search seriously. Never take any job for granted or discount an opportunity before you’ve fully explored it. At any interview, be sure to act as though the open position is the job for you. You never know, it just might be.