Questions Every Physician Should Ask in an Interview

Health Care

If you’re looking for a new physician job with a group practice or health system, you’re probably already anticipating some questions that an interviewer, or interview panel, may ask you.

But are you prepared to ask them the right questions, as well?

What they’ll ask you

The most common questions posed to physician candidates will cover a range of topics—from career motivation, clinical skills and experience, to personal strengths and weaknesses, including how you handle conflict.

Recruiters report that behavioral interviewing and questions that evaluate emotional intelligence are becoming a larger part of the physician interview process.

In essence, interviewers want to know: “Why should we hire you, and what will you bring to our team or practice?”

And they have a right to be concerned.

Patient outcomes, practice reputation and team dynamics are hanging in the balance. Health care employers need to be extremely careful that they “hire well.”

Yet physician candidates need to be just as careful as they evaluate each job opportunity.

What you should ask potential employers or partners

Employers also want to know that you are invested in the interview process and expect to hear a few questions from you. And you’ll want to be sure that this specific job is a good fit at this point in your career.

As the physician job candidate, you should prepare some thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer(s)–and anyone else you meet at the organization who may contribute to the hiring process, or is part of the clinical team.

So, do your homework ahead of time. Get some basic information about the organization, including size and location, the services it offers, the size and composition of the staff, etc.

If you are working with a physician recruiter at Merritt Hawkins, he or she can help provide a lot of the basic information. They can also share more about the job posting and the employer to make sure you understand what the organization is looking for and what this particular physician job entails.

Then you should prepare some questions that will help determine whether you and the organization will be a good fit for each other.

8 Questions to Ask During Your Physician Interview

No matter how you word the questions, the following topics should be on your list to address during the course of your job interview:

How would you describe your organizational culture?

Ask about the culture of the organization and/or department, and what makes it distinctive or special. How might other physicians describe the culture? You could also ask about the organization’s place and reputation in the surrounding community.

What is your organization’s vision for the future?

Where is the organization headed in the next few years? What initiatives or plans do they have in place to get there? How do they assess whether they’re making progress toward their goals?

What is your decision-making process?

Who makes the decisions, and are there opportunities for you to be involved in that process? Along those lines, you might also inquire about the relationship between the administration and the physician staff.

What are the biggest challenges currently facing the organization?

What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges in the next few years? Every health care organization has some challenges. Their answers to these types of questions can help you get an idea of the environment you may be entering, and how the group addresses problems.

What is my role and how does it fit in the organization?

Ask more about this physician job, and the role of your specialty, in the organization. How does this particular job fit into the organization’s current plans and its plans for the future? What will be expected of you? How will you be reviewed or assessed?

What kinds of opportunities are available for physicians?

Ask about what kind of professional development and leadership opportunities are available for physicians. Will you be required to serve on committees, lead any initiatives, or mentor other physicians? If so, how would that work? If it is a group practice, is there partnership potential?

What would be included in my compensation?

Many experts suggest waiting until the interviewer brings up this topic, but you should be prepared just in case. Find out as much as you can ahead of time from your recruiter about salary, benefits, opportunities for bonuses, profit-sharing (if applicable), and student loan repayments. If you are offered the position, that is generally the best time to negotiate.

How do you support physician wellness amid daily demands?

Ask questions about patient loads, support positions, work scheduling and on-call duties, if you haven’t already tracked down this information prior to your interview. If you have the opportunity to meet with any of the organization’s physicians, you might ask their experiences and how they approach the issue of work-life balance.

If you’re interviewing with a group practice, you should also prepare some questions that specifically deal with the way the practice functions, including their structure and management issues. You might also inquire about relationships or affiliations the organization has with other practices and hospitals in the community.

While the candidate should let the employer drive the conversation, it is important to remember that every physician interview is a two-way street, and an opportunity for both parties to get to know each other and make a sound evaluation.

Being prepared to ask the right questions–and listen closely to a potential employer’s responses–is just as important as being ready to answer their interview questions.

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