THE RENDEZVOUS – Handling the Physician Job Interview
Private: Most physician job interviews for private medical practice are conducted over one to two days, one day being more common. The job interview of physicians is generally informal. During the day you can expect tour of the group’s medical office or offices and the hospital. The prospective physician employer tries to entice you with the grandeur and facilities of their working place. You can expect to be driven around the town in an effort to attract you to the area. Generally the spouse is also invited to the interview. Serious discussions take place at lunch or dinner in a good restaurant.
Academia: Interview for the academic physician job openings are more formal and conducted by multiple physician faculties either as a group or separately. These job interviews usually last one full day or two days at most. You will meet most of the senior physician faculty in their administrative offices and can expect questions similar to the one you answered during your residency program interviews. You will be given the tour of the institution but not of the locality. Lunch is usually provided during an informal session with other physician faculty giving you an opportunity to ask questioins.
Private: Private medical groups are not searching for the brightest guy. If you have the required credentials to practice medicine and you are a good fit into their group it is more than enough. They are least concerned with your academic merits or research activities. They are looking for someone who can work hard and survive in the business; someone motivated to advance the group’s dealings. If you are skillful at a generously paying medical procedure, consider yourself ahead of the game. They also want you to be flexible during unexpected staffing shortages. Being a team player is important.
Academia : Physician compensation in academic medicine is generally less than that offered by private sector. For this reason, they want to make sure you really want to be in academics by choice. Most of the questions would be directed towards this concern. Your academic merits, research projects, published articles and teaching experience matter the most here. Your ability to generate grants may become a serious concern for them especially if you are interviewing primarily for a research position. Also keep you list of references ready. Unless you are a senior faculty already or are applying for primarily a research position, the percentage of time you want for research activities is an important issue they will consider. If you are interviewing for a clinical position and you are asking for a significant research time, consider yourself out.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION
“A bad impression is the last impression”
In any job interview first impression may not be the last impression. But yes if you mess up somewhere, that will surely be a long lasting one. Interviews are like rock climbing. You may be doing quite well and you may be almost there. But make one mistake and you will slip all the way down to square one. Nevertheless first impression has enormous value. And here’s how to make a good one.
SMILE!! (Alright! not so profusely)
Eye contact (intermittently without making it look like a stare!)
Firm Handshake (Neither a limp handshake nor a bone crushing one is good. And never use a two-hand handshake. We are not at a funeral of our hopes.)
Don’t forget the small talk. (Don’t forget to ask your interviewer also ‘How are you’)
Always leave the physician job interview with a positive note. Do let the employer know that you certainly found the practice opportunity appealing and would definitely consider it strongly while making a decision. They may be keen to know how soon you will be able to make a decision, especially if they are interested in you. If you are offered the spot at the interview itself, do not get pressurized to accept it. In fact never accept it right away. You ought to go back to your room and think it over !
HOW DID YOU DO
Well unless an job offer is made it is very difficult to find out how you did. But certain cues are helpful in assessing your performance during the job interview.
If the prospective physician employer cancels the job interview midway for any reason chances are that he does not want to waste anymore time interviewing you. Sorry!
If the medical employer thanks you and would let you know about his decision in few weeks then you did well but he wants to take a look at other candidates.
If the medical employer is wondering when you will be able to make a decision or if he promises you that you will hear from him the next day or two then you have nothing to worry about. You made your point.