Career Hunting: How to Prepare for Your First Physician Job Interview

physician interview

Interviews are nerve-wracking at all levels of the medical profession, but they are especially stressful for aspiring physicians, who must field questions about everything from specific medical procedures to medical ethics. Fortunately, even the worst interviewer can improve with practice. Keep the following considerations in mind as you discover how to prepare for a physician job interview.

Research the clinic or hospital

The more you know about the culture of the practice or hospital in which you hope to work, the better you will understand how and why you are a good fit. Personal research should extend beyond merely glimpsing at the practice’s website and Facebook page. Experts at the New England Journal of Medicine recommend that all job candidates conduct in-depth internet searches to determine which other clinics the practice is affiliated with, what types of studies it has been involved in, and how its staff members are perceived by patients and medical professionals practicing elsewhere.

Be prepared for common interview questions

No two interviews are exactly alike, but certain themes tend to emerge again and again. The following questions are especially common: 

  • Why did you choose to go into medicine?
  • Why are you interested in this particular position?
  • Are you currently seeking employment at any other medical practices?
  • How do you handle pressure in a professional setting?

You should be prepared to answer these questions, you also will need to avoid sounding overly rehearsed. Think long and hard about your goals as a physician and use this passion to guide your responses.

Practice answering unusual questions

Although the questions listed above are bound to come up as you learn how to prepare for a physician job interview, the interviewer may also ask several very specific questions designed to assess your medical expertise and your problem solving skills. You will need to develop an ability to respond quickly and succinctly to challenging and unexpected questions. The best way to hone this ability is to pair up with a fellow job seeker or former medical school classmate and ask each other purposefully difficult questions that you’ve drafted for the sake of practice.

Prepare a few questions of your own

Interviewers do not look favorably upon job candidates who, when asked whether they have any questions, fail to show that they’ve done their research. Thus, it is imperative that you prepare a handful of detailed questions that demonstrate your medical expertise. These questions will differ greatly depending on the nature of the organization with which you hope to work, so avoid the temptation to follow a one-size-fits-all approach and use the same questions during every interview.

Stick with conservative business clothing

The question of how to prepare for a physician job interview is not merely answered with good questions and research. Attire also plays an important role. If your outfit is too casual or too formal, it really doesn’t matter how well you answer questions; interviewers will come away only thinking of your inappropriate attire. When in doubt, opt for conservative business dress. This means a standard business suit for men, and either a skirt or pant suit for women. Medscape advises interviewers to keep jewelry and cologne to a minimum. 

A good interviewee is professional, knowledgeable, and passionate. A great interviewee possesses not only these qualities, but also a confident demeanor. The best way to acquire this confidence is to conduct thorough research and to practice interviewing as often as possible. 

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