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Physician interview etiquette: Minding your P’s and Q’s

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Making a favorable first impression as a physician on an interview is about more than just showing up on time. Throughout your entire site visit experience, keep job-seeker etiquette at the top of your mind—and follow these helpful tips.

Etiquette refresher 1: Examine your online profile.

Search for your own name online. For better or worse, you should have full knowledge about where, what and how your name is being documented, associated, affiliated and commented on by others. To ensure a proper impression of your professional identity, clean up those social media photographs of yourself and comments you don’t want a potential employer to see.

Etiquette refresher 2: Research your potential employers before you meet them.

As you begin to collect information about the hiring practice, pay particular attention to their affiliated health and hospital systems. The organization’s national and regional presence may provide insight into referral patterns, marketplace positioning, financial stability and their preparedness for the future of healthcare.

You’ll likely uncover patient reviews in your research. Remember that reviews are subjective opinions, not necessarily facts. I suggest focusing instead on details found on the clinic’s website about each providers’ education, expertise and medical interests.

Take note of these key facts, as they may serve as nice conversation points during your interview.

For instance, perhaps you discover that a physician in the group is an alumnus from your residency program. Or maybe you identified an area of your skill set that would benefit the practice. These nuggets, when shared in a conversationally appropriate manner during an interview, set you apart as a gem while simultaneously aligning you as an ideal match for the practice.

Etiquette refresher 3: Ensure the location is somewhere you’d like living.

In addition to collecting facts about the professional aspects of the opportunity, investigate the community’s offerings other than its proximity to the nearest city or international airport.

A reasonable introduction to the community’s shopping, restaurants, schools, tax climate, local businesses and recreational venues can be found on the town’s Chamber of Commerce website. Often overlooked—but critical to a relocation decision—is identifying the major employers in the service area. For a new physician seeking to build a practice, the vitality of the local economy, unemployment rate and financial stability of the community is paramount. Once you are properly prepared with facts about the opportunity, you are now ready for the next step: the on-site interview.

Etiquette refresher 4: Don’t let nerves ruin your judgment.

The evening prior to your interview, make sure your attire is pressed and professional. Get plenty of sleep (avoid interviewing post-call), have a succinct list of questions prepared to ask the interviewers, rehearse your answers and practice talking points.

On the day of your interview, ignore those nagging thoughts that give you pause, create doubt or are negative. Know that practice administrators and recruitment directors only extend site interview invitations to candidates with whom they have a sincere interest and hope to employ at their facility.

Take the pressure off yourself by redefining “interviewing.” Think of it not as a formal process in which you are being judged for selection, but as a conversation between individuals to help you both gain a better understanding of a potential partnership.

As you stroll into the entrance of the building, your interview has unofficially started. It is essential to create a positive impression with each person you encounter.

Etiquette refresher 5: Brush up on your table manners.

Make no mistake: Your academic accomplishments, knowledge about the opportunity and interpersonal communication skills should be credited for the invitation to interview on site. But once you’re there, the lasting impression you leave will be the direct result of the way you carry yourself and treat others throughout the interview.

Throughout my recruitment career, post-site interview feedback from clients nearly always includes comments about the interviewing physician’s preparedness, conversational style and table manners. Yes, table manners!

Most site visit itineraries incorporate a social component, such as a dinner with the department’s physicians, the hospital’s executive leadership team or physician spouses.

If fine dining isn’t on your typical to-do list, here’s a helpful tip from the Emily Post Institute: Put your hands out in front of you, palms down. Touch the tips of your index fingers to your thumbs to make a lowercase ‘b’ with your left hand (that’s where your bread and butter go), and a lowercase ‘d’ with your right hand (that’s your drink side).

Etiquette refresher 6: Remember to say thank you.

As the evening concludes, remember to thank your hosts and hostesses for a delightful evening and for their hospitality. Conclude your day with an email to your interviewers offering your sincere gratitude and interest in taking the next step in the process.

Congratulations for a successful site interview day! Now get some well-deserved slumber—you might have a new practice opportunity to consider in the morning.

Patrice Streicher ( has 26 years combined healthcare experience in physician recruitment and patient care delivery systems. She is Associate Director at VISTA and has served on the National Association of Physician Recruiters (NAPR) Board of Directors since 1996.


Patrice Streicher

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