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14 physician interview questions to ask


When unsure of questions to ask during a physician interview, use this as a guide. Posted by Drew Terry
When unsure of questions to ask during a physician interview, use this as a guide.

Hitting repeat sounds like a great idea while listening to your favorite song. When it comes to the physician recruitment process, though, starting all over is the last thing you want to do.

There are a couple of ways to reduce the chances of a complete restart after having a finalist fall through. One is to build and maintain a talent pipeline so you always have list of possible candidates from which to source. Another is to emphasize moving multiple candidates further through the process at the same time so you have additional qualified options in case your first choice falls through.

The responses you elicit during initial screenings can also help ensure you’re advancing those who will most likely be a good fit for the practice and community. Here are 14 questions to consider - and how they can help you hone in on the best-fitting candidates during their physician job search.


Question 1 - What made you interested in the opportunity?

This basic question can still draw an answer that may provide insight into how much they’ve prepared for their job search and how interested they are in the role.


Question 2 - What do you know about our organization?

Related to the previous question, taking note of how much your candidate has learned about the organization may indicate how serious they are about the opportunity. If a candidate skips preparing and planning for their career, does that suggest anything for how they’ll approach the role?


Question 3 - How did you come to choose your specialty?

Understanding their background and what led to their choices may uncover their passion for medicine and what motivates them in their practice.


Question 4 - What are your greatest strengths? What would someone else say is your greatest strength?

It’s another traditional question but one that can help you get a glimpse of their self-assessment and how they think they’re perceived. Having these responses gives you notes to compare when contacting references and doing any cursory online research for interactions and reviews.


Question 5 - In addition to your medical expertise, what other skills make you a good doctor?

Finding out about other skills might reveal additional passions and preferences, along with how they might interact with patients and staff.


Question 6 - Can you help me understand the gap in your CV?

Gaps can be common as some physicians purposely schedule downtime before entering a new practice. However, gaps can also be an indicator of performance or other issues. Asking for an explanation can give you as clear a picture into what happened between your candidates’ roles as during them.


Question 7 - Why are you considering leaving your current role?

Answers to this question can vary greatly, which can help you later in the recruiting process. Are they interested in the location for family reasons or available amenities? Are they drawn to your organization’s culture? Or are they actively seeking to leave a toxic atmosphere? The response can show you what additional information you can provide to build the candidate’s interest in the opportunity.


Question 8 - What would you bring to the practice that another candidate can’t?

Similar to their greatest strengths, an answer to this question could provide insight into how they view themselves as a provider and why they think they’re the right hire.


Question 9 - What are some ways you deal with the stress that comes from the job?

Stress and eventually burnout are constant concerns with providers. It’s good to know if they already have a way to deal with it or, if not, to make you aware it’s an area where you can provide resources that can help them.


Question 10 - What are your salary expectations?

If your candidate won’t answer, then follow up by asking if there’s a minimum they expect from the opportunity along with expected benefits. Knowing even loose expectations can indicate whether it’s worth your time or the candidate’s time to continue the conversation. Be prepared to have an approximate number in mind for a range of candidates, from seasoned docs to those just out of residency.


Question 11 - What are your long-term career goals?

Do they aspire to be a partner? Are they driven to be an organization leader? Does their passion involve community service? Discovering their desired career path tells you how to show them your organization has the road map to get them there.


Question 12 - Can you describe a time you disagreed with a colleague or administrator - and how you worked through it?

This and similar questions do a couple of things. First, they give your candidate an opportunity to share a tough experience where their skills shined through - in this instance, what they consider a difficult situation and the right way to handle it. They can also provide additional information on how they may fit with the organization’s culture and approach.


Question 13 - Can you describe a difficult patient encounter and how you were able to solve it?

Similarly, this question lets the candidate describe how they’re a skilled provider with a deft touch - while also suggesting how they might respond to factors like the role’s caseload, patients and the organization’s expectations.


Question 14 - Following up on voluntarily shared personal details.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act prohibits questions that may lead to discrimination or the appearance of discrimination. Always take care to avoid questions that could be perceived as unfairly influencing the hiring decision based on age, race, ethnicity and other protected statuses.

In some cases, candidates may openly share personal details. It’s often best to avoid asking about further details in those areas and to instead continue following your planned line of questions. However, in select instances, this volunteered information may provide an opportunity for you to go above and beyond in providing a positive candidate experience.

For example, if they mention a spouse or significant other, you might ask if they have career needs with which you could assist. Or if they mention having children, you could volunteer to provide information on local schools and children’s activities.


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