In 2020, physician job interviews shifted temporarily to video platforms as hospital systems and medical practices adapted recruiting processes to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 environment.
As shelter-in-place orders locked down the United States, employers adapted to a new normal. Offers were made and contracts negotiated before physicians had met administrators and peers face to face. We got pretty good at virtual hospital tours and realtor virtual community tours, and candidate video interviews are now here to stay.
If you do not present well in a video interview, the employer may not invest the time and money on a full site visit. Here are a few virtual job interview tips from HCA Healthcare recruiters on making sure your video interview scores are strong.
Do a trial tech run well before the interview
Make sure you have the interviewing software loaded and tested on your device. Preparing your device is just like mapping out your drive to an in-person interview. When you join the interview on time, visible and audible and ready to go, you are setting the right tone.
Pay attention to your appearance
Use the best device camera you have for the interview. You may be surprised that your older laptop has a better video camera than your newest device. Prepare for less-than-optimal video quality. Don’t wear white; it often looks dingy and gray. Avoid stripes, which can “wobble” on a lower-resolution feed. Watch any lip liner pencil under lipstick, which can appear clown-like on camera. …And if you’re not wearing pants, don’t stand up to adjust the blinds!
Do a sound and lighting check
The most common problem on video interviews is poor audio. Only a sound check will show you that your device is too close to electrical interference or your laptop microphone is damaged. If your best video quality is on a laptop but the sound is not great, try earbuds or a headset, or dial in to the number provided on your phone. If you are using phone for audio and laptop for video, mute the laptop.
The most flattering light is indirect and comes from several sources. Move lamps, open blinds, change angles of your device and chair to test the effect. Particularly at nighttime, avoid having the glow from the screen light your face. Interviewers are looking for your professional presence—and nobody looks healthy and rested hunched over a screen and lit with an eerie blue/gray glow.
Frame your shot
This issue got the most feedback from HCA Healthcare recruiters. They recommend putting your device close to eye level by propping it on top of a printer, a box, a bookshelf…anything that will get the device off desktop level to avoid having the interviewer looking up your nose.
Do not be afraid to have personal items in the background. A completely blank background is boring. A typical home or physician office setting behind you is great. Pictures, awards, books, a guitar on a stand, sports memorabilia and plants are all fine. Move things that may be distracting or misinterpreted out of camera range. Odd items like a huge preserved frog, a cremation urn or a toy collection will have the interviewer wondering. There is a lot of potential for unusual backgrounds to detract rather than add to the overall impression.
Be sure to hide clutter completely. It is not uncommon for a camera to be jostled slightly in the course of an interview. A messy pile of bills, trash and a day’s worth of beverages are not a good surprise peek into your lifestyle if that camera pivots an inch.
Distractions are the number-one pet peeve of interviewers. Let family or roommates know you are in an interview. Help them avoid interrupting by taping a reminder to the door that lists the the start and end times you are not to be disturbed.
Be sure to turn off the TV in the interview room. Muting is not enough; it’s not flattering to see movement on a screen in the background or flickering light reflecting off the side of your face.
Make sure pets are in another room and distracted by another human or a new toy. Positioning yourself outdoors or near an open window is risky during a video interview because you have even less control of noise. The neighbor’s lawn mower, the garbage truck arriving on your street, even chirping birds can disrupt interviews. Earbuds or a headset will also reduce ambient noise.
Put your phone on “do not disturb” so that it does not ring or audibly vibrate. If you are paged, apologize and reschedule.
Be mindful of the camera
Smile when you introduce yourself! Human brains are wired to interpret a smiling face as friendly and relatable. Know where the camera is on your device. You can look at the interviewer’s face when they are talking, but look at the camera when you are responding to a question.
Check yourself periodically to make sure you are still in frame. We see candidates drifting off to the left or right as they get comfortable in their chair.
Don’t chew gum, and don’t eat. It’s fine to have water or coffee to sip. We would offer it to you in a face-to-face interview, so behave just as you would if sitting in our office.
Resist the urge to move around with your phone the way you might do with friends or family. Movement is very distracting and interviewers can’t help but wonder where you’re going and why. (And thanks to that now-infamous viral video of a conference call attendee using the toilet…we’re worried when you walk.)
Remember that this is an interview, not a screening call
Prepare for the call just as you would have done if you were flying in. Visit the organization’s website. Google your interviewer in advance, and have some questions prepared. Be ready for icebreaker chitchat, like how your training program is participating with your facility’s emergency response, or what you’ve been binge watching during COVID-19 lockdown.
It’s hard, we know…but we have to get to know you in a compressed amount of time. That’s difficult if you look defensive. We love our physicians, and we hope you will soon be one of them.
Therese Karsten is the division director for physician recruitment for the Continental Division of HCA Healthcare.