The medical market is rapidly evolving
and a wide variety of practice settings are available to physicians today.
Now more than ever, physicians need to develop sound interviewing skills
to secure the practice that is right for them.
If you are seeking a position, consider
these interviewing tips:
wants from needs.
Most physicians or their spouse want to
live in a resort setting close to an exciting city or a “destination”
community. What you really may need, however, is a stable practice setting
with a solid referral network and a physician-to-population ratio that
will allow you to grow your practice without cutthroat competition. If you
have a family, your needs also could include favorable real estate prices,
low crime rates and good schools. Like most professionals, your quality of
life needs probably include reasonable access to cultural venues and
recreation. Before you interview, determine what you need to be successful
and content, then proceed with the commitment to get 80% of what you need,
rather than 100% of what you want.
a proper interview "set-up."
Most of your questions about the
practice and the community should be addressed prior to an actual
interview. You should spend your time on the phone asking questions of
recruiters and obtaining information. Don't think of the interview as an
exploratory trip. Do you really have the time to interview at a location
twice if it does not meet your needs?
You should have enough information before you go on the interview
that the interview itself is simply for personal confirmation of
previously discussed details. In short, interviewing is a serious, intense
process. Don't put yourself or others through it if you are not truly
interested in the practice and location.
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, or which
cannot answer detailed questions about the medical community, cultural and
recreational amenities, educational and other matters relating to the
community and practice. Again,
your time is valuable, do you want to spend it doing the preliminary
investigation of an opportunity?
Hospitals, medical groups and other
recruiting parties normally insist that you bring your spouse on the
interview. While you will
determine if the practice is acceptable, both you and your spouse will
have to agree on the location. Recruiters
should speak with the spouse extensively before the interview to provide
details important to her or him, because in many cases, it is the spouse's
decision that may be the most difficult part about the relocation.
In addition, it often is useful for the
spouse to have his or her own itinerary during the interview, to visit
schools, churches and places of possible employment. Remember, however,
that it is you being interviewed. A spouse who becomes too involved, or who
speaks for the physician too frequently, can be perceived as undermining an
During the interview process, it is easy
to forget the things you wished to say or the questions you wanted to ask.
Write them down prior to your visit.
Questions to ask include:
Why is there a need for another
physician of my specialty in the community?
What sort of payor mix (Medicare,
Medicaid, HMO, PPO, fee-for-service) can I expect based on other similar
Who will my patients be? White collar?
Blue collar? Where will they come from?
What is the expectation of the number of
patients I will be able to see?
How much of my time will be spent at the
office? The hospital? Satellite locations?
What do physicians like best about
practicing in the community and this hospital?
What do they like least?
Does the practice and/or hospital have
the equipment necessary for me to practice at my current skill level?
Is there adequate and acceptable office
space for me to practice?
What is the practice and emergency room
What are the current partnership
qualifications? When was
the last partner added to the practice?
In the last ten years, how many physicians did not make
Clarify income/contracts on the
front-end. Properly arranged, the interview is not about money, it is
about meeting people.
How is income structured? Salary? Income
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? Are the partners/other physicians earning this amount
of income? Are they doing
anything outside a normal practice that allows them to earn this income?
Is there a signing bonus?
Is there an educational loan forgiveness
option? Over what period of
What costs are paid for, what costs will
I have to assume?
How are other physicians compensated in
Review the employment contract before
the interview whenever possible. This 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%
of the interview be social in nature, with the remaining 30% 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.
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 a minimum of makeup.
Your recruiter should be able to advise you about what the norm is
for the community. First
impressions do create perceptions.
prepared to make a timely decision.
The physician search process includes a
variety of people, including other physicians, hospital
administrators, Board members, Medical Directors, all seriously seeking a
qualified candidate. Many people are waiting for your decision, so be
serious about the process and prepared to make a decision.
Most groups, individual physicians and hospitals expect a decision
within 10 days, or will move on to other candidates.
If you are not prepared to make a decision, or take weeks or months
to make one, you should ask yourself if you are indeed serious about
seeking a new practice.
Most physicians find that the one to two
days they spend interviewing are intense, yet rewarding. It is enjoyable
to be courted, but remember you also are also being evaluated. Employers
will assume they are seeing you at your best, so be sure to put your best
after a thorough review of the practice and the community, you feel
favorably toward the opportunity, say so. Your comments will give everyone
an indication of your interest, and lay the foundation to complete the
We recommend that you carry a notebook
with you, jotting down information you wish to remember and referring to
questions you have developed prior to the interview.