Winning the Job: Tips for Physician Interviews

Finding a job opening in your specialty and city can be challenging enough, but then you still have to impress an employer in the interview. Whether you’re meeting in person or over the phone, a few simple tricks can help you feel more confident and answer questions with ease. Here are six ways to excel in an interview:

Dress comfortably and conservatively.

Your appearance is the first thing an employer will notice about you, so make sure you make a good impression. Even if you’ll be wearing scrubs or a lab coat most of the time if you’re hired, wearing a sharp suit or blouse and dress pants shows you’re serious about the position.

Take time to iron your clothes and use a lint brush, and try on what you plan to wear a few days before the interview to make sure everything still fits. If it doesn’t, buy a new outfit or find something else in your closet that will work. Squeezing into ill-fitting clothes will make you self-conscious and uncomfortable during your interview. Change into clothes that fit you well and make you feel confident for phone interviews as well. You’ll notice a difference in how you feel and how you answer questions.

Smile and relax.

It’s easier said than done to be calm during an interview, but you’re much more likely to hold an employer’s attention if nerves don’t bog you down. Before you arrive at the office or pick up the phone for your interview, go to a quiet place and take deep breaths. Stand tall in a power pose (with your legs apart and hands on your hips) for a few minutes to reduce stress and feel more confident.

Once you’re ready to go into the meeting, smile at everyone you see. This extends beyond your interviewer(s). Other employees and even the receptionist can provide feedback that can help, or hurt, your cause. But more importantly, you’ll appear friendly and self-assured while helping to feel more at ease yourself.

Smiling works even if you can’t see your interviewers, such as in the event of a phone interview. A happy, confident tone comes through and makes a great impression.

Use bullet points to make your CV easier to read.

Once you’ve listed your work history on your CV, make sure to list three points beneath each job explaining some of your duties and accomplishments. Separate each with a bullet point, try to keep your explanations to one line, and use active verbs to begin each phrase. For example, under your job as a department head, you might say “Hired and trained 10 doctors in the emergency department.”

Come prepared.

Your interviewer should have your CV in front of him or her, but bring several copies of it in case more people join the interview or you’d like to refer to it yourself. If you’re interviewing over the phone, keep your CV in front of you and be close to a computer so you can email the file if you need to.

At least one day before your interview, research the company online and make sure you’re familiar with the mission and values, services they provide and types of care you would offer if you accepted a position there. Visit the company’s social media sites to get a feel for the culture and types of employees who work there, and reach out to colleagues employed at the facility currently or in the past to get more information.

An employer will expect you to have questions about your role, but showing you’ve done your homework and are familiar with the company makes you stand out and increases your chances for a second interview.

Don’t be afraid to be honest.

No matter how much you’ve prepared for your interview, the employer will probably ask you a question you don’t have the answer to, or don’t know how to answer tactfully. Rather than stumble through a response or think of what someone would expect you to say, be honest with the person interviewing you.

If, for example, someone asks you about your experience with a specific procedure and you have never actually performed that procedure before, say, “I don’t have experience with _________. However, I do have experience with _________ and would like to gain more skills in that area.”

Being honest and saying “I don’t know” can be refreshing in an interview. Just make sure to follow that admission with something positive that you do know about, or offer to email the person later once you have the answer and follow up as soon as you can.

Ask your own questions.

When the employer asks whether you have any questions for him or her, use this time to your advantage. The following can get you started:

  • What do you like most about your job?

  • What is most challenging/rewarding thing about working here?

  • What qualities are most important in the person who takes this job?

  • What have past employees done to be successful in this position?

  • What hesitations do you have about my qualifications for this job?

Asking the interviewer questions gives you more opportunities to show that you’re interested in the position and helps you get a better idea of what the job would require and whether you’d be a good fit.

Follow up.

Make sure to end the interview by thanking the employer for the opportunity and saying something like “I’m really excited to work at this company, and I hope I’m chosen for the position.” You can also ask about the timeline for hiring a new person and whether there will be a second round of interviews.

Sometime within the next 24 hours after your interview, write a sincere note thanking the people who interviewed you for their time and reiterating your interest in the job. A handwritten card is preferred, but email can also be an option, depending on the employer’s hiring timeline. This is a good way to leave a lasting impression and help the interviewer remember you.

Following these tips can help you feel and act more confident next time you have an interview, and impress an employer so you can land the job you want.

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