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 How To Interview - Continued

There is no harm in carrying a notebook with you, referring to your questions, then jotting down information you wish to remember.

Clarify Income/Contracts on the Front End. Properly arranged, the interview is not about money, it is about meeting people. One of the most important purposes of pre-interview contact is to determine financial aspects of the practice in advance. Topics of discussion may include:

"How is income structured? Salary? Income guarantee?"

"What is the income amount? How does that compare with income surveys for your specialty?"

"How is the production bonus determined? Can you provide a real-world example?"

"What is the income potential in two years? Five years?

"What makes you think I can earn that much?"

"What is the signing bonus?"

"Is there an educational loan forgiveness option? Over what period of time?"

"What costs are paid for, what costs will I have to assume?"

"How are other physicians compensated in the group?"

For more information on this subject see the "Contracts" section of the Resource Library.

Review the Employment Contract Before the Interview Whenever Possible. Often, this will be a preliminary contract or pro forma contract used by the hospital or group that may be tailored to your individual needs later. However, the preliminary contract will provide you with a basis for discussion. Confirming contractual/income arrangements in advance allows for a much more relaxed interview process, in which the interviewing physician is largely confirming details, not haggling over them. In fact, we suggest that 70 percent of the interview be social in nature, with the remaining 30 percent devoted to business. Because you prepared on the front end, the interview is mostly about meeting people, exchanging philosophies and determining your comfort level with the practice and the community.

During the interview, you should be thinking, "I understand the contract, the hours, call, equipment, payer mix, patient base, etc. Now, do I fit in with these people? Can I see myself working with them? "

Be Prepared to Negotiate. Most recruiters will not offer you a "take-it-or-leave-it" work agreement. They know that most types of physicians are in demand today and have multiple practice options. The initial offer generally includes some negotiating room and there is no stigma attached to negotiating. If you feel you need better coverage or a higher guarantee amount, ask for what you think you need. Keep in mind, though, that negotiating is a two-way street in which both parties need to achieve a balance of what they want.

Tour the Area. The recruiting party should arrange for a community tour where you see all that you want to see of the area. Usually, we recommend taking the tour yourself or going with someone other than a real estate agent who does not have a financial stake in what house or neighborhood you may wish to see. If you or your children have particular interests, focus on those. For example, if your daughter is committed to gymnastics, you may wish to speak with the local gymnastics coach or teacher. It also is a good idea to socialize with physicians of your age group and interest level, if possible. If you are a recently married couple with young children, you will want to know what other families similarly situated do with their time.

Dress Appropriately. A surprising number of physicians appear at job interviews dressed inappropriately. Generally, they are dressed too casually, in jeans or other casual clothes, or their clothes simply do not make an appropriate impression. The rule of thumb is to dress conservatively in a suit or in slacks with a blazer and tie. Women should also dress conservatively in business attire with minimal makeup.

Make a Timely Decision. The physician search process includes a variety of people—recruiters, hospital administrators, board members, medical directors—all seriously seeking a qualified candidate. Many people are awaiting your decision and their efforts to find a physician are on hold until you decide. Do make a timely decision (one week to 10 days), so the search can continue if need be.

Most physicians find that the one to two days they spend interviewing are intense but rewarding. It is enjoyable to be courted, but remember you also are being evaluated. Employers will assume they are seeing you at your best, so be sure to put your best foot forward.

If, after a thorough review of the practice and the community, you feel favorably toward the opportunity, say so. A positive reaction will give the recruiting organization and community a sense of a job well done. If this is not the case, let them know that further work on the search may be needed.

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