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Interviewing physicians for leadership positions


a recruiter with a magnifying glass picking out a person Posted by Alexandra Cappetta
a recruiter with a magnifying glass picking out a person

You’ve already mastered finding stand-out candidates to fill openings at your health system. But, when your present hires want to advance their careers by stepping into leadership positions, you’ll have to embrace the recruiter mindset yet again. However, this time, you’ll be recruiting from within your organization.

As potential leaders aim to impress you and make a case for their ability to lead, use these tips to help you feel confident about selecting your internal hire.

Know what details to gather from potential leaders

Just as they’d show up prepared for a standard job interview, your ideal interviewee should come to your meeting with important information and materials that back up their experience and eligibility for leadership positions.

Before your meeting, consider reaching out to interviewees being considered and request a condensed resume, cover letter or personal summary that focuses mainly on employment at your present organization. This summary can include:

  • The provider’s current title, specialty and employment start date.
  • Responsibilities in their current role.
  • Examples of leadership qualities they’ve utilized in various situations.
  • Notable achievements, awards or research they’ve conducted.
  • References from their current superiors or administrators.

Prepare potential leaders for the key job differences and responsibilities

When a provider within your organization is inspired to level up and grow as a leader, you want to make sure they’re aware of how their day-to-day and overall job might change. You can do this by being clear about:

  • The description and full scope of responsibilities involved with assuming the leadership role.
  • The level of authority within the role and who would be reporting to them.
  • Differences in compensation, benefits or other perks.
  • Workload outlook - and what might be expected in terms of daily, weekly or monthly demand.
  • Time management details - such as the division of time between administrative tasks and direct medical practice.
  • Specific administrative tasks associated with the role.
  • Changes related to the new leader’s chain of command.

Ask questions that reveal leadership potential  

During your interview, hopeful leaders will want to not only show you they’re qualified for the job, but they’ll also want you to see they’re ready and willing to take on the additional responsibilities that come with the role.

The questions you ask during these conversations can reveal a lot to interviewees about what to expect, and it can reveal a lot to you about their professional maturity, where their priorities lie and their ability to delegate.

Be sure to ask questions that will give you more context about the candidate’s readiness and understanding of the new position, such as:

  • How would you like your day-to-day work to look different in this leadership role compared to your current role? What would you hope would stay the same?
  • Can you provide more insight into your understanding of the specific administrative tasks required in this role?
  • What qualities do you have that would make you a strong leader for this team?
  • What are your expectations for superiors to help you transition into this position of leadership? What will you need to be successful?
  • Can you tell me more about your current relationships with members of your department? What kind of leader would you aim to be to those you’ve already worked with?

Ask potential leaders to share compelling examples of their ability to lead

During the interview, you’ll want to learn more about an individual’s ability to problem solve, unite teams and manage multiple tasks at once - all important qualities of a leader.

Ask candidates to share a few examples of times they’ve acted as a leader in their current role. When they do, ask yourself:

  • Is their tone positive, even when discussing challenges?
  • Do they single out or talk negatively about any individuals? Do they elevate the success or effort of others?
  • Does the candidate share examples of challenges that are specific, realistic and notable for how they’ll perform in this role?
  • Do they have effective communication skills that would be sufficient to lead large teams or departments?
  • How do they speak about their victories or promising qualities? Are they confident but still humble?
  • Is it clear they lean into your organization’s core values and embody them not only in everyday practice but also during high-stress situations?


Moving into a position of leadership is a big career step - and it can be a great one if those interested are fully prepared for what the role entails and the level of responsibility that will be expected. The most important thing is to make sure your internal candidates understand the scope of role and how it might change their everyday work duties and dynamics.

As a recruiter, you have an eye for finding the right hires to join your health system. Now, all you have to do is decide which of your hires have what it takes to lead the rest. 


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