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 How To Interview

As a resident or newly trained physician, chances are good that you will be going on one or more job interviews soon. How can you ensure that you get the most out of an interview and that you make the impression you want to make? Here are a few tips:

Know What You Need. Before you go on the interview, have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a practice and community—the type of setting, level of autonomy, work load, schedule, types of patients, real estate options, educational options, recreation, etc. The best way to examine an opportunity during the interview is to know what you are looking for. For more information on this subject see Three Keys to Practice Selection. The key is to differentiate what you may want in a practice (skiing and surfing within an hour) and what you truly need (a solid patient base, specialty support, established referrals.)

Insist on a Proper Interview Set-up. Most of your questions about the practice and the community should be addressed on the front end of the interview. You should spend hours on the phone asking questions of recruiters and obtaining information. If you are married or in a long-term relationship, your spouse or partner should also talk extensively with the recruiter. Don't think of the interview as an exploratory trip. You should have so much information before you go on the interview that the interview itself is simply for personal confirmation of previously discussed details.

If you are working with a search firm, make sure that the search consultant you are working with has actually been to the opportunity and has profiled it personally. Avoid firms that do not have first-hand knowledge of the practice and community. Those which cannot answer detailed questions about the contract, the medical community, cultural, recreational, educational and other matters relating to the opportunity should also be avoided. For more information on this topic see "How to Work with Recruiting Firms."

Make Sure Your Spouse or Partner Joins You. Hospitals, medical groups and other recruiting parties should encourage you to bring your spouse or partner on the interview. This is in their interest because it can avoid the need for a second interview. Recruiters should speak with the spouse extensively before the interview because in many cases spouses make the final decision whether or not to relocate.

In addition, it often is useful for your spouse or partner to have his or her own itinerary during the interview: to visit schools, churches and places of possible employment. However, remember that you are the one being interviewed. A spouse who becomes too involved or who speaks for the physician too frequently can undermine an interview.

Write Your Questions Down. During the intensive interview process, it is easy to forget the things you wished to say. Write down your questions in advance. Questions to ask include:

"What indication do you have that another physician is needed here?"

"What sort of payer mix can I expect?"

"Who will my patients be? White collar? Blue collar? Where will they come from?"

"What is the general work level? How many patients will I be expected to see?"

"How much of my time will be spent at the office? The hospital? Satellite locations?"

"What personal qualities are you looking for?

"Do you need an extrovert who likes to greet the public and enjoys practice marketing?"

"What do physicians like best about practicing here?"

"What do they like least?"

"What is a day in the life of this practice like?"

"What is the path to partnership?"

"Are local physicians in support of this recruitment?"

For more suggestions regarding what to ask see:

A Look at U.S. Physician Supply and Demand Trends

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