Mistakes To Avoid When Interviewing For a Physician Job

I’ve been trying to hire a new physician to join my practice. I wanted to share some of the bad behavior that we have experienced while interviewing for a physician job posting. Some of this may be self-explanatory or obvious. Other examples below might not be so obvious. Others are just sad or funny.

Below is our list of things that have prevented us from offering a job to a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to join our practice.

Inappropriate Communication

We have had people cuss in email replies. Some have even called our office and yelled at my manager for various reasons (mostly about being lost when driving to our office). Rude behavior is an automatic pass on employment while interviewing for physician jobs with our group.

Below is a screen shot of what someone sent us when we asked them to send us their CV for the physician job interview. On one hand, the email is kind of funny. On another hand, it is a bit inappropriate when applying for a job. Double check your emails if you are sending them quickly so that there is nothing egregious present. Also, if you call in and yell or cuss at the office staff, that most likely will make it back to the person who is choosing to hire you. Be kind, be professional.

Inappropriate Attire

If you have not been living under a rock, then you know COVID is here. Maks are almost always required in medical offices. In our office, they are always required.

Showing up to a medical practice and refusing to put a mask will be an automatic “no” when thinking if we should hire you as an employee. Especially when it is plastered all over our building that masks are required. This happened to one of our potential hires. They refused to put on a mask in our office and for the interview. That made our decision really easy not to hire them.

Assume masks will be required. Do not show up in shorts and t-shirt to your interview (yes someone did this). Dress for the job that you want and look professional.

Showing Up Very Late

We get it, life happens.

However, showing up an hour late for your interview is not a good look. Figure out how long it will take to drive to the facility ahead of time. Our day is fully booked. Showing up an hour late means that we have moved on to another meeting.

If you by chance are running late, call and tell the person on the phone about the situation. That is the professional thing to do.

We have also had some people rotate through the clinic as a “trial run.”

Showing up late every day to these trial interviews for the physician job is not a good look. It is behavior that may cause us to not hire you.

Interviewing For The Wrong Job

We are an outpatient primary care office. Our office has had people show up to the interview for our physician job posting telling us how much they love ortho joint procedures and being in the operating room. We had people tell us how much they love the well child exam (we do not see kids). We have had prospective hires tell us that they only want to do dermatology and love Botox. Know which job you are applying for.

Know your audience. Be honest in what you are excited for or looking for in a job. However, if you love surgery and orthopedics, general outpatient adult medicine is probably not going to be a great fit for you.

Badmouthing In General

We once had a prospective physician hire come into our office and while showing them a tour, they kept making backhanded complements or downright rude remarks about our office. Here are a few examples:

  • “This office is kind of small and cramped.” (We have 3,300 sq ft. Yes, it is not huge but not tiny.)
  • “Every room does not have a window facing outside, well that is depressing.”
  • “This place is nice, for primary care.”
  • “The doctors dictation room looks like furniture was bought from Ikea or craigslist. I guess that is all you get in outpatient medicine.”

I do value feedback. However, putting down our office on our tour is not the time or place to give that kind of feedback. Keep the negative comments to yourself.

Inappropriate Comments About Staff

One prospective male applicant made a comment on the size and desirability of one of our female staff members buttocks to another male staff member in the office.

I know what you are thinking. Wow.

We too were all shocked at that comment and ended up doing damage control once we found out. That was not a fun day. Please, just no. Do not do that.

The applicant thought it was okay because they were friends with the other male worker in the office before the interview. They claimed to be making a harmless “bro” comment to a friend that was meant to be in private. We had to politely tell them that was not okay and good luck on their job hunt somewhere else.

The Not So Obvious Mistakes Interviewing For A Physician Job

Zero Personality

Interviewing someone to join our practice means that we will be spending most days in an office with that person. Being so dry in conversation that it is almost like pulling teeth during the interview is not a red flag, but something that we feel patients (or us) may have a hard time connecting with.

If asked about your hobbies, it is okay to show excitement about them. I find it best when both people treat the interview like a good conversation. It should have a flow and have some naturalness to it.

Now, much of the responsibility in how the interview is going is largely in the hands of the person conducting the interview. If the person conducting the interview is dry, has bad questions, or unprepared, then that is totally on them. Unfortunately, it is hard to succeed with a very bad interviewer.

Show some personality, be yourself. We want to get to know you. If you are licensed, we know you probably have the mental capacity to do the job. We want to know that we may enjoy working along with you in our office.

Job Hopping / Launching Pad

When someone applies to our job and interviews, we feel that we can often tell that this is not their long-term job. Many times, this person is just trying to get a job in the city that we are in.

I don’t want to waste my time hiring a new employee only to have them leave us when the right job for them comes up.

Usually this appears on their CV as a history of only working for one type of job. For example, we had a PA apply and only worked in pain management before. During the interview we asked why now switching to outpatient primary care. Their answer, “well there are no openings right now for pain management.”

Nothing followed about a true passion for outpatient primary care or desire to switch.

We appreciate the honesty, but we are looking for a long-term candidate and put that on-the-job application. If you are looking for a temp job, apply for the temp jobs. Not the ones that specially say we want to build a long-term working relationship in the job posting.

Asking For Too Much Money

Let us say the going rate for outpatient APP pay is in the 100k to 145k range depending on experience. Asking for way too high of an income level is a dealbreaker. We had one applicant who told us that they were working urgent care as a brand-new graduate doing covid testing in middle of no-where Texas making almost 200k a year. This was a locums gig in an urgent care. They had been doing that job for 4 months and burnt out working 12-to-14-hour shifts, weekends, and holidays seeing over 50 patients every day.

They knew that they were not going to get that type of pay here but wanted something “close.” Look on sites like Indeed to gauge how much going pay is.

We didn’t even make that person an offer since a new graduate would be closer to 100k or even 120k a year for reimbursement. We felt that they would have been extremely disappointed to see their paycheck cut in half. It is hard to downgrade in life. This applicant expressed wanting to make “close” to what they were making doing locums. We cannot pay $200k a year for a new APP graduate in outpatient primary care.

We are in a desirable city, we don’t work 12-hour shifts, we don’t do weekends or holidays. It is a tradeoff. If you want that high level of income right out of graduating school, you are going to be doing a job no one else wants.

Focusing Way Too Much About Time Off

We had a new possible hire spend 80% of the interview focused on time off, paid time off, and what kind of paid benefits they get. During the interview, we did not even get to the number hours that might be worked, how many patients a day they will see, or the current schedule. In fact, we didn’t even get to anything beyond introduction of our names. The conversation then went right to paid time off and benefits.

We don’t mind talking about benefits, but you should be interested in the job first. Not spending many minutes talking about benefits and time off right after introducing yourself.

Show interest in the job, and then let us talk about all the perks beyond the workday. We want to show off the perks that we offer but we don’t feel that should consume the entire interview.

Running Another Business / Distractions

We loved one possible hire. However, we found it was not going to be a good fit since they were running another business full time.

This person told us that they would most likely have to step out of the office, occasionally to deal with running that other business. This business currently takes at least 40 hours a week to run.

We were burned in the past by a doctor who was doing tele-med on the side that cost me $100k in lost revenue.

After discussing it back and forth with my team, we decided that this would be a deal breaker. They were not willing to close their other business or sell it to someone else. They claimed their wife would do all the work and that they could step back. Our opinion was that was unlikely to happen since their wife had almost zero involvement in that business before we brought up any issues with this.

While what they told us may have been true about their wife taking over. We just did not want to take that risk with such potential loss in the future with such a distraction hanging over their head. It is difficult to do 2 full time jobs well and I am not paying someone to possible be working on their other job during my business hours.

Now you have it, that is our list of reasons why we did not hire many of the applicants this past 2 years. Any other good examples you may have?

3 thoughts on “Mistakes To Avoid When Interviewing For a Physician Job

  • December 11, 2021 at 12:04 PM

    Wow. That really is a shocker about how professionals/doctors behave during interviews. I fortunately have never done any of those things or had a bad interviewee like that.

    An interview is like a first date and everyone is on their best behavior. If that is there best foot forward than I can only imagine what it would be like down the road

    • December 12, 2021 at 10:39 AM

      It was very eye opening to see this behavior during the interview process and I agree, both parties should be putting their best foot forward during the initial interview. Not a good sign when either party notices some big issues during the interview day.

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