Even with a fancy degree like MD, PA, NP, RN, or DO, and despite a lot of evidence that shows the world you’re a competent, learned, responsible person, interviewing for a potential job can still be anxiety-provoking. It can be paralyzing. In one of my interviews for residency, my larynx went on a coffee break. The interviewer was the department chairperson – Dr. G—-diere. He was known as “G—-bear.” My vocal cords quit. Not a sound came out of me. That sounds ridiculous, like something you’d see in a cartoon. It happened. I felt ridiculous. I couldn’t even excuse myself because I couldn’t speak. I just stood up and walked out. How do you recover from that? Who wants to live in a place with mosquitos the size of birds anyway?
How to Get an Interview
Getting an interview with a practice you’d like to join can be a challenge. Here are some suggestions:
- Online job boards and employer career webpages are usually the places to get started. Employer career pages are perfect for when you are targeting a specific community and niche job boards (such as HospitalRecruiting.com, hint, hint) are probably a better resource when the search is less defined or when your search parameters are defined by factors other than a specific town or city.
- Networking is one of the best ways to get an interview for a private practice or a clinical setting within a medical center. It is hoped that an introduction leads to an invitation to interview from the practice. These interviews may take place even if there is no opening posted. Practices often have their radar up for opportunities to bring someone in who will be a good fit.
- Expand your network. Join your local professional association(s). Go to meetings, join committees, start talking and asking questions. Find out what needs are present in the community that interest you or which you have an ability to fill. Ask if you can use the name of the person who told you about the practice when you inquire about the position.
- Reach out to contact people who are practice owners and ask them for a few minutes to talk with them, by phone or in person, and find out a little about their practice. It’s ok to say you are thinking of joining a practice and that you are trying to talk to a number of local practices, even if they don’t have a particular position open at the time. Sometimes that kind of statement might get you a 15-30 minute meeting. This meeting, however limited, is an interview. It is a chance for you and the practice owner(s) to get to know each other and see if there is, for lack of a better word, chemistry. Do your research first, so you know what questions to ask and what you can offer that might be of interest to the practice. Keep the tone casual and professional.
- Connect with the local hospital recruiters. Even if you don’t see a suitable job posted anywhere it’s still a good idea to connect with the in-house recruiter at the hospitals in your geographic area(s) of interest. You might find out a new position is about to come open. A surprise position might open before your search is concluded. Or, you might make a connection that pays off down the road if/when you’re looking for your next job. A good in-house recruiter will be happy to talk with you even if there is no posted position and should be delighted to have a potential candidate, with a sincere interest in their job/hospital/community, literally fall into their lap. To carry this out simply call the hospital’s main number and ask to speak with the person in charge of provider recruitment. You will probably have to leave a voicemail, and wait for a call back, but this simple process is just too easy to pass up.
The Interview Process
Many human resource directors speak to the subjectivity of the process and the number of poor hires that occur over time. Practice owners are not necessarily trained in interviewing and hiring professionals. Worse than not getting the job is getting the job, passing by other possibilities, and then finding out that the personalities, abilities, needs, etc. of the practitioners just do not work for you. Consequently, the interview process, from start to finish, is an opportunity to gauge fit across many different dimensions on both the parts of the practice and your own.
The interview process begins from the very first communication with the potential practice or employer. This occurs before the actual formal interview. Many interview opportunities are lost due to poor phone etiquette, lack of professionalism in responding to an advertisement, and even the firmness (or lack there-of) of a handshake (as ridiculous as this may sound, remember that this is a subjective process). Many employers may view every interaction as an opportunity for you to say something about yourself and as an indication of how you might represent them should you indeed join their practice. Going out to lunch or out to dinner is not simply sharing a meal. It is another sample of professional behavior for them to observe. If you drink alcohol, do not have more than one drink. The interview process is your opportunity to put your best foot forward and to show them what value you bring to their practice, beyond that of other candidates.