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2 Things a Physician or AP Should Never Say in a Job Interview

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Let’s start the New Year off with some fresh interview tips, courtesy of Phyllis Maguire at Today’s Hospitalist. Her tips apply to all medical professionals seeking jobs, as she zeroes on two defining aspects of the interview: your personality and the words you say.

“Intangibles that you can’t convey in a resume—the ability to relax, ask questions, present a firm handshake, and be friendly to staff on a tour—play a huge part in persuading program directors and other physicians that you’d be a good fit,” she writes.

This especially applies to groups and hospitals that are well-established, Maguire adds.

Beyond your personality, she continues, “most groups want to find out how (or if ) you'd contribute to the many nonclinical areas where hospitalists have to take the lead.”

Therefore, you shouldn’t say the following two things during the interview:

1. Will I have to?

This question especially works against you when it comes to paid tail coverage. Dr. Eric Rice, MMM, assistant director of hospitalist services at Omaha, Neb.-based Alegent Creighton Health, said red flags are raised when a physician inquires about paid tail coverage “early in the interview process…”

Yes, he said, “most employers do provide tail coverage. But when interviewees are already bringing up issues related to how easy it is to leave before they are even hired, that seems off to me. “

In fact, virtually any question that begins with “will I have to” can be a turn-off, including “will I have to work nights” and “will I have to do committee work,” because committee work is essential to teamwork these days, Dr. Julie Holmon, medical director of the hospitalist program at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Del., said.

2. Cap

Dr. Jasen W. Gundersen, MBA, president and chief medical officer at TeamHealth Hospital Medicine in Tennessee told Maguire, “Physicians can (and should) finesse questions about patient volume by asking about workload expectations, how quickly the program plans to grow or what strategy it uses to handle unusually high volumes… But caps shouldn't be mentioned.”

Another question that requires care regards extended time off for travel. If you’re a new physician, Dr. Gundersen said, “there …has to be flexibility…to be able to work within the confines of the group. Everybody can’t take four weeks off.”

What about working locum during your off-hours?

According to Gundersen, “Right off the bat, I'm going to say, 'You're working full time and you run the risk of burnout working locum, too.’” Furthermore, he added to Maguire, “prospective recruits make the mistake of honing in on going locum rates per day or hour and don't understand how to compare those to a package of full-time benefits and quality incentives.”

As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, what are some things you’ve learned not to say during a job interview? Have you found other ways to phrase these matters that won’t offend the interviewer and will still enable you to get the information you want?

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