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3 Things to Do (or Not Do) on the First Job Interview

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Okay, so you’ve arrived at your first job interview for a potential position with a hospital or practice. Here are a few things that you should do or shouldn’t do on that first go-around.

Once again, our list was inspired and paraphrased from an article on the American College of Physicians website by Cynthia Smith, MD, FACP, director of clinical program development.

1. Don’t bring up salary, benefits, or working hours unless the interviewer brings them up.

All of this information will be revealed as the process unfurls. By bringing these topics up in the first interview, you could send some dangerous, albeit unintended, signals, such as, “Sheesh! Is this guy only interested in the money?” Or, “Gee, I guess she’s more concerned about how much time off she’ll have than what she’ll actually be doing on the job.” Or even, “So, yet another doc who wants to be on-call as little as possible.”

You may not mean to raise these red flags, but bringing up money and hours will more than likely do that, especially if it’s the first interview.

2. You have two goals on the first interview: “Make them want to hire you and determine if you will like working with the group.”

As Smith writes, “Carefully consider your ability to fit comfortably into their style of practice and if you'll be treated as a valued and valuable colleague. Additionally, you'll need to collect enough information to determine if this opportunity has a high probability of providing career satisfaction.”

3. Make sure you have organized your thoughts and questions, even if that means bringing a list with you.

When I was in college, I was able to remember everything I had to do from day to day, including work schedule, appointments, classes, homework, etc., without writing a thing down. Nearly a decade later, that’s no longer the case. Now, I have to write everything down.

Do the same for the first, second, third, and however many interviews there will be: Write everything you need to know down. As you’ve seen over our last few posts, you have a lot of information to collect upfront.

In fact, Smith gives a great overview of everything you may want to find out on the first interview: “You may wish to gather information about practice philosophy, a typical working day, anticipated responsibilities, medical student and resident teaching, and opportunities for practice growth. You may wish to learn about your expected role in the practice and what will be done by the practice to help make you successful. Getting an idea of staff, including physician, turnover, and length of employment can reveal much about the workplace atmosphere. If physicians have recently left the practice, try to find out why and make an effort to speak to them directly about their experience.”

So, yeah. Write your questions down and back yourself up with a genuine, hard-copy list.

As advanced practitioners and physicians who are looking for jobs, what are the things you want to find out on a first interview? Have you ever walked out of an interview and realized that you never asked a vital question or received vital information? How did you handle this?

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