How Doctors Botch Their Employment Interviews
Cejka, Sue, Medical Economics
Even the most sterling of credentials can't make up for these mistakes.
Many doctors seem to think that just showing up for an interview is enough to land them a job. They couldn't be more wrong.
Making a winning impression face to face is a lot like playing chess. Each move you make must be part of a logical sequence in a fluid situation. Think in advance about what you'll say, or won't say, and re-evaluate it as the interview progresses.
Actually, doctors think this way all the time-as clinicians diagnosing and treating patients. The same analytical skills can help them devise a successful strategy for job interviews. Yet many fine physicians fail to draw on those skills and, instead, blow interviews with senseless blunders like these:
They show up looking unprofessional. It happens more often than you'd suspect. The CV is impressive, the experience strong, the references glowing. But the candidate arrives for the interview dressed for failure. True, clothes don't make the doctor-but they sure can help get him the job he wants. A shirt with a yellowed or frayed collar, a sport jacket that resembles something off the rack at Kmart, or a tie with penicillin stains does nothing to impress an interviewer.
Here are the keys to make attire work in your favor: A man should wear a conservative dark suit, white shirt, shined dress shoes, and a sedate tie made of silk-the only material endorsed by fashion experts. A woman should wear a dress or suit in a dark or neutral shade, and low to medium heels. Never wear pants or clunky jewelry, and never go without spare stockings in your bag in case there's a run.
They don't bring a list of key questions. We sent a candidate to interview with an FP group in Colorado. "Do you remember all the points you need to cover?" we asked him before he left. He smiled smugly and tapped his head, as if to say, "It's all in here."
After hours of stressful interviewing and socializing, however, he realized that he hadn't asked about the job's on-call schedule or the cost of the practice buy-in. He'd even forgotten to ask about the group's vacation policy.
You're likely to have dozens of questions about any job. During the interview, it's easy to overlook some important ones, so jot them down beforehand. You needn't worry about creating an unfavorable impression by bringing a list of questions with you. Actually, it shows sincerity and attention to detail.
Don't count on the interviewer to share vital information without being asked. You may well be dealing with another doctor, one who's inexperienced at conducting interviews. That means you'll have to take the initiative.
You might, for example, present several diagnoses and ask how such cases are handled at the group or clinic. What are the doctors' treatment patterns? Their philosophy on testing? Their attitudes about managed care? How big would your patient load be? Only when you have those answers will you know whether you and the job are a good fit.
Another concern: The interviewer may take your failure to ask key questions as a sign of indifference, failure to prepare, or even lack of basic common sense. That, of course, can knock you out of the running.
They ask the right questions-at the wrong time. Asking right off the bat about salary or an employer's vacation policy may suggest that you lack a strong work ethic. That first impression can be tough to dislodge. Initially, your goal should be to learn as much as you can about the practice and its patients. …