How to Answer the Top 5 Physician Interview Questions
Our recruiter offers insights on what to highlight in your responses, including sample answers.
December 15, 2022
You just got a call to interview in-person for your dream job. Wouldn't it be great if you knew exactly what you were going to be asked? While there's no guarantee, PS&D Senior Recruiter Amy Knoup says there's several questions that rise to the top.
Having conducted hundreds of interviews over her decade in healthcare recruiting, Amy says she often counsels physicians and advanced practice clinicians (APCs) about the importance of the in-person interview in getting the job offer.
"Especially with the physician shortage, many physicians assume that if they’ve trained successfully and sufficiently, they’ll probably get the job," Amy says. "But having the right training is not a guarantee. Health systems are really assessing for overall fit at the site visit and interview stage, so you’ll want to be ready to tell them in your own words, why you are that right fit.
“I see candidates spend a lot of time fine-tuning their cover letter and updating their [physician] CV, but I encourage them to also prep for interview questions – document your answers and rehearse them. This will help you go into that experience as relaxed and confident as possible.”
Expert Guidance for Your Physician Interview
1. Tell us about yourself and what interests you in this position.
With such an open-ended prompt, it can be tricky to know where to start.
“This is basically your elevator pitch, and it will change depending on where you’re at in your career, whether you’re interviewing for your first job or making a mid-career change,” Amy says.
A good formula for your answer? Present, past, future. Touch on the scope of your current role, then share the story of you — what inspired you to become a provider. Lastly, you’ll want to explain why this is your natural next step.
I’m a Pediatrician at a large urban hospital, and I love what I do. Especially the past two years, I’m proud of the way I’ve adapted to integrating telehealth visits into my practice. Growing up, my younger sister had some health struggles. I saw the amazing care that led to her recovery. I knew I wanted to be a doctor so I could help children like my sister. Now, with five years of experience, I’m looking to live and work in a smaller town. This role would give me that chance to work in a more rural location, make a difference and play an important role in my community.
Note: The sample answers throughout this article should serve as a guide for you to build on. You should personalize them, make them your own and expand on them.
2. What is drawing you to this community?
There’s a lot to consider when you're relocating for a physician job. Prospective employers know that, and they want to make sure you’re going to be happy in your new hometown, both in your work and in the life you create.
“Every new provider is a big investment for a health system or practice, and the continuity of care their patients receive is important to them,” Amy says. “So what employers are really getting at with this question is: Are you going to be a long-term fit?”
You can speak to this directly, Amy says, by providing details about what interests you in a particular location.
The biggest thing attracting me to this community is of course your clinic and its innovative approach to Pediatrics. I’m especially impressed by your new virtual visits program. I helped pilot a similar program at my current job. I’m also excited that your clinic is just an hour from Lake Tahoe. I'm big into skiing and boating, and have vacationed at Tahoe several times, so it would be amazing to be so close to a place I love. I’m drawn to the livability of your community, and the great schools. I feel like I could really settle down and enjoy life here.
3. Tell me about your current practice.
While this is another broad question, Amy says to describe your day-to-day work life, and zero in on what you bring to the table. It’s a good idea to mention what electronic medical records system you use, your technical aptitude, how you interact with your staff and your leadership qualities — all important skills to emphasize in the post-pandemic world.
A good portion of my panel are newborn visits, with new patient visits at 30 minutes and follow-ups at 15. We use Epic for our EMR. I have a great relationship with my support staff. They’ve helped me build an efficient rooming routine, so I can maximize my time with my patients. We have six pediatricians and two nurse practitioners, which means I am in somewhat of a niche role with newborn care. I’d like to return to bread-and-butter Pediatric care and see kids of all ages. Practicing more broadly will allow me to enjoy the full scope of being a Pediatrician.
4. Tell me about a time when…
You will almost surely get one or more behavioral questions, presenting a common scenario and asking how you handled it. Regardless of the specific question, Amy suggests focusing on how you came up with solutions to a problem and what the result was. “They want to know what your communication style is and how you react when conflict arises,” she says.
You may be asked to talk about a time when:
- You had to gain the trust of your patient or the patient’s family.
- You disagreed with colleague and how you dealt with that.
- You implemented a process improvement.
Yes, I had one patient who needed a specific medication, and her parents were very hesitant and skeptical. I stayed with them for a longer visit to answer all their questions, which showed them that I respected their opinion. Because I had already built a good relationship with that family, it was easier to come to an understanding about the course of treatment, and the medication ended up really helping their daughter. It was gratifying to see that end result.
5. Why do you want to work with us?
This question is usually asked at the end of an interview, and Amy recommends using it as a “closing statement.” Showcase yourself as a candidate, emphasize your qualifications and express your enthusiasm about the job and community.
Your mission and core values of dignity and respect really resonate with me, and I love that you have the region’s only Baby-Friendly designated hospital. I like your practice’s spirit of innovation and that you have adapted so well during the pandemic. I want to live and work in a rural, underserved community that truly needs my skillset. Your practice has everything I’m looking for, and it’s in an area I can see myself and my family thriving in. It seems like a perfect fit.
Finally, Amy recommends being ready when the tables turn, and they ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” Preparing tailored questions for your interviewers will help you ensure that the role truly is the right next step.
PS&D Can Help You Prepare for Your Next Job Interview
Expert recruiters like Amy are on hand at PS&D to support you throughout your interview process and beyond.
We’ve helped thousands of physicians and APCs find their next opportunity. With hundreds of opportunities nationwide — across a diverse range of healthcare partners and practices — we can help you find the right fit the first time. Reach out today.