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A Comprehensive Guide To Medical Career Interviews

Interviews are often  stressful—even for those who have gone on countless interviews. The best way to reduce the stress is to be prepared. These tips will help you through the entire interviewing process and ensure that you not only impress your interviewer but also know if the facility is the right place for you.
Preparing for the Interview 
Before you have that first interview it is important to identify your needs and preferences. What do you want to get out of a job? What does it need to do for you and what will you bring to it? Start by doing the following:
•List your strengths and weaknesses
•List your goals and objectives
•List your most important personal and professional needs
•Decide on areas of trade-off and compromise
•Develop desirable/undesirable job profiles
•Consider performing a self-analysis such as the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator
•List your family requirements, including preferences for school, religious affiliations, recreation, housing, employment for your spouse, and any special needs
Before the Interview 
Refer to the lists you’ve developed as you are interviewing. They will help you determine what is most important to you, and will assist you in evaluating and comparing specific opportunities.
Prepare and forward your CV with a cover letter. The employer will make an initial assessment of you based on your CV; therefore, you want to make sure to proofread it carefully and have it professionally printed. You should also prepare your references and confirm their availability to speak with prospective employers.
Research the opportunity and community as much as possible, being sure to contact local specialty organizations and healthcare professionals. You will want to gather information on:
•Reputation of the practice, including such information as malpractice suits, harmony and rapport within the group, and practice ethics
•Number of specialists in the community
•Entry-level salaries
•Physician/patient ratio in the area
•Resources
•Physicians in the community
•Local medical associations and societies
•Area hospitals
Take the following things with you to the interview: extra copies of your CV, a copy of your interview itinerary, a pen and notepad.
If you are interviewing in a distant location, plan to spend several days there. During your visit, arrange to tour the practice or hospital, meet the staff and partners, and even spend an evening with them if possible. You should also allow time to meet with a real estate agent and visit the local chamber of commerce. The night before your interview, drive to the location to know how much time to allow and where to park. Most prospective employers will cover interview expenses. If they do not offer the information up front, be sure to ask what their payment or reimbursement process is before making travel plans.
The Interview Itself 
Make a positive first impression by arriving promptly, dressing professionally, and displaying professional, courteous behavior at all times. Your body language during the interview is also important. Make a point to maintain eye contact, smile, sit up straight with your hands in a comfortable position, modulate your voice and keep a positive attitude.
You should allow the interviewer to control the flow of the conversation, but do not hesitate to ask questions when appropriate. Be sure to answer all questions in full sentences, and limit your responses to 2-3 minutes.
Keep in mind that the real purposes of the interview from your perspective are to present yourself in a positive light and to gather information about the opportunity. The employer’s main purposes are to determine your professional credentials and practice style, your behavioral characteristics, personality fit, “team-player” capabilities, and long-term goals and interests.
As the interview comes to a close, you will want to reiterate your interest in the opportunity, verify that you are still a candidate, and briefly discuss the next steps in the selection process. Finally, you should exit the interview as you entered, with a firm handshake and an expression of thanks for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
Questions You May Be Asked in an Interview
Take the time to review the interview questions you will most likely be asked. Prepare yourself using the list of common interview questions below.
•Tell me about yourself.
•Why did you go into medicine?
•Why did you select your specialty?
•What was the orientation emphasis of your training program?
•What attracted you to your residency program?
•Tell me about your ideal practice situation in terms of your professional and personal needs.
•Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
•Describe your experience and skills.
•What are your strengths?
•What are your weaknesses?
•What is your medical philosophy?
•What hospitals are you affiliated with?
•What patient volume are you comfortable with?
•Tell me about your surgical exposure (be prepared with numbers of procedures).
•What do you do if you disagree with a patient?
•Describe an interesting clinical case that you’ve had.
•Tell me about a time you misdiagnosed a case and how you resolved it.
•What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
•Walk me through how you present complicated information or instructions to patients.
•How have you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor?
•Describe a time you were faced with a stressful situation and demonstrated your coping skills.
•Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset patient or staff member.
•Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
•Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
•How much do you know about the opportunity?
•Why are you interested?
•Why should I hire you?
•What would you bring to the practice?
•How do you think you would fit in our type of practice?
•What do you expect to gain from the practice?
•What do you feel you could add to the practice?
•What other practices are you investigating?
•When do you want to make your decision?
•What is the single most significant factor in making your decision?
•What kind of salary are you looking for?
•What are your spouse’s and family’s needs?
Questions to Ask in an Interview
An interview is a two-way street. Ask questions. The employer should provide an opportunity for you to ask questions at or near the end of the interview. Be prepared with intelligent, relevant questions. The following list contains sample questions to give you a head start while preparing for your interview.
Sample Questions to Ask 
•What are the expectations of physicians in your organization?
-Practice hours
-Call schedule/cross coverage
-Patient load
-Rounding schedule
•How are patients scheduled and how much time is allowed per patient?
•Tell me more about your healthcare team.
-Midlevel support
-Nurse support
-Supervision
-Office staff
-Subspecialties
•What is the volume of the practice and what is the patient mix?
•How long have the physicians been in the group?
•How many physicians have left the group in the last five years? Why did they leave?
•Why you are hiring for this position?
•Tell me about the tenure and experience of the physicians in this practice.
•What are your goals for the practice/facility in the next 3, 5, 10 years?
•What can you tell me about the medical community here?
•How are referrals handled?
•How is quality assessed?
•What are you looking for in an ideal candidate, both professionally and personally?
•How and where would I fit into this organization?
•What are the proudest accomplishments of your practice/facility?
•What opportunities would I have as a physician to uphold the mission and values of your organization?
•How does your practice or organization support the community?
•What is the engagement level of employees here?
•In addition to my clinical responsibilities, what other responsibilities would I have?
•Ask any additional questions you may have about compensation, such as:
-Average earnings
-Overhead expenses
-Partnership opportunities
-Patient satisfaction scores
-Outcome-based reimbursement
-Productivity bonus
After the Interview 
Following the interview it is good to review what questions were asked that you had a hard time answering and which questions that you asked got you the best information or really engaged your interviewer. Make note of these so you can answer the tough question in the future and know what questions are best to ask.
In addition, follow up promptly by sending a letter or email to each person with whom you interviewed. Be sure to reiterate the reasons you believe you are qualified and thank them for their time and interest in you. 

M
Melissa Byington is president of the locum tenens division of CompHealth, the nation’s largest locum tenens physician staffing company and a leader ...