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Video interview tips for physician candidates


As interviews move to a virtual setting, HCA Healthcare recruiters share tips for video interviews Posted by Therese Karsten
As interviews move to a virtual setting, HCA Healthcare recruiters share tips for video interviews

As interviews move to virtual platforms, it’s important to know how to best present yourself and how you can help physicians and advanced practice providers make a good impression in a video interview. Recruiters from HCA Healthcare provide tips to share with the physicians and APPs you’re recruiting, which can also benefit you as you conduct interviews.

Physician job interviews are shifting temporarily to video platforms as hospital systems and medical practices adapt recruiting processes to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 environment.  With exception of international jobs, face-to-face interviews have always been the "next step" after initial screening calls in the United States.  Employers are adapting to a new normal due to travel restrictions and limitations on non-essential visitors to hospitals.  Your ability to perform well in a video interview is more important right now, during this crisis, than it ever has been or will be in the future.  In 2020, some offers will be made and contracts developed before the selected candidate ever sets foot on the hospital campus.  Here are a few tips from HCA Healthcare recruiters:

Do a Trial Tech Run Well Before the Interview

Make sure you have the interviewing software loaded and tested on your device. Preparing your device is just like mapping out your drive to an in-person interview. When you join the interview on time, visible/audible and ready to go, you are setting the right tone for a strong first impression.

Personal Appearance

Use the best device-camera you have for the interview. You may be surprised that your older laptop has a better video camera than your newest device. Some cameras have a bit of fish-eye distortion that isn’t flattering to faces. On ideal video connections, there is little or no distortion. However, prepare for less than optimal video quality…

  • White shirts look dingy and gray
  • Stripes can "wobble" on lower-resolution feeds
  • Lip liner pencil under lipstick can become visible and clown-like on camera
  • Beard stubble can be visible. Either have intentional facial hair, or don’t - the forgot-to-shave look is rarely flattering
  • If you’re not wearing pants, don’t stand up to adjust the blinds!

Sound & Lighting Check

  • Do a sound test with a friend or spouse. The most common problem on video interviews is poor audio. Only a sound check will show you that your device is too close to electrical interference or your laptop microphone is damaged. If your best video quality is on a laptop but sound is not great, try earbuds or a headset, or dial in to the number provided on your phone. If you are using phone for audio and laptop for video, mute the laptop.
  • The most flattering light is indirect and comes from several sources. Move lamps, open blinds, change angles of your device and chair to test the effect. Particularly for nighttime, avoid having the glow from the screen light your face.  Interviewers are looking for your professional presence and nobody looks healthy and rested hunched over a screen, lit with an eerie blue/gray glow.

Framing the Shot

(This issue got the MOST feedback from HCA Healthcare recruiters)

  • Put your device close to eye level by propping it on top of a printer, a box, a bookshelf…anything that will get the device off desktop level to avoid having the interviewer looking up your nose. A camera positioned above you tends to look too staged/artificial.
  • Do not be afraid to have personal items in the background. A completely blank background is boring. A typical home or physician office setting behind you is great. Pictures, awards, books, a guitar on a stand, sports memorabilia, plants are all fine. Move things that may be distracting or misinterpreted out of camera range.   Odd items like a huge preserved frog, a cremation urn, a toy collection, will have the interviewer wondering. Some interviewers argue they like to ask about your taxidermy hobby or your recently deceased parent, but there is also a lot of potential for unusual backgrounds to detract rather than add to the overall impression.
  • Be sure to hide clutter completely. It is not uncommon for a camera to be jostled slightly in the course of an interview.  A messy pile of bills, trash and a days’ worth of beverages are not a good surprise peek into your lifestyle if that camera pivots an inch

The #1 Pet Peeve of Interviewers:  Distractions

  • Let family or roommates know you are in an interview. Help them avoid interrupting by taping a reminder to the door, giving the start/end time you are not to be disturbed.
  • Turn off TV and radio and let your household know you need quiet. Be explicit with family members - even if they are not personally talking, their video game or TV show distracts you and the interviewer.
  • Turn OFF the TV in the interview room. Muting is not enough. Movement on a screen in the background or flickering light reflecting off the side of your face are not flattering.
  • Make sure pets are in another room and distracted by another human or a new toy. (We wish we had a dollar for every interviewee who said, "Gee, he never does that!" about a cat or dog scratching at the door or jumping up on the keyboard.)
  • Outdoors (or near an open window) is risky because you have even less control of noise. The neighbor’s lawn mower, the trash truck arriving on your street, even chirping birds can disrupt interviews. You waste valuable time handling the distraction and getting back on track.
  • If you absolutely cannot avoid ambient noise, use the mute button when your interviewer is speaking. Earbuds or headset will also reduce ambient noise.
  • Put your phone on "do not disturb" so that it does not ring or audibly vibrate. If you are paged, apologize and reschedule.
  • If you are using an apple product, check iMessage settings. Macbooks are notorious for a loud "ding" signaling an incoming text message if synched to your phone.

Be Mindful of the Camera

  • Smile when you introduce yourself! Human brains are wired to interpret a smiling face as friendly and relatable.
  • Know where the camera is on your device. You can look at the interviewer’s face when he/she is talking, but look at the camera when you are responding to a question.
  • Don’t hide the portion of the screen where you see yourself. When candidates do this, they tend to look off in other directions when speaking…as if they are on a telephone. Check yourself periodically to make sure you are still in frame. We see candidates drifting off to the left or right as they get comfortable in their chair.
  • Don’t chew gum. Don’t eat.
  • It’s fine to have water or coffee to sip. We would offer it to you in a face-to-face interview, so behave just as you would if sitting in our office.
  • Resist the urge to move around with your phone the way you might do with friends or family. Movement is very distracting and interviewers can’t help but wonder where you’re going and why. (Thanks to the infamous viral video of a conference call attendee using the toilet…we’re worried when you walk)

It is an INTERVIEW, not a screening call

  • Prepare for the call just as you would have done if you were flying in.
    • Visit the organization’s website
    • Google your interviewer in advance
    • Have a "site visit checklist" handy for your reference, and to email after the call. List the resources you believe you need to be successful building the kind of practice you want: facilities, equipment, availability of other specialists and support staff. In this condensed interview process, bring up your specific needs as soon as you think this may be the right fit for you.
  • Be ready for icebreaker chitchat. Face to face interviewers normally ask you how your flight was, how your hotel is. Now, you will hear:
    • How is your training program participating with your facility’s emergency response?
    • What are you "binge" watching during COVID-19 lockdown?
    • What do you think you will remember most about this crazy time?


  • It’s hard, we know…but we have to get to know you in a compressed amount of time. That’s difficult if you look defensive (like a tennis player, dancing from foot to foot, waiting for the next volley).  We love our doctors and we hope you will soon be one of them.  Be human and show us your UBER DOCTOR side at times, but also show us the side of you that cracks up your fellow residents or makes your 85-year-old neighbor smile!


We will get through this. Together.


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