For free help with your job search, call (800) 776-8383

July 2, 2021

Good interview questions to ask throughout the process

So, you’ve been posting information about the open provider position you’re seeking to fill within your health care organization. As a result, several candidate CVs have surfaced. Now, how to move forward?

As your recruitment efforts progress from CV review and initial interview to determining the specific candidate to whom you are going to extend an offer, there are a variety of good interview questions to be considered at different stages of the process. The questions included in this article are designed to support the fact that the greater the fit between the candidate and the position, the greater the likelihood of outstanding performance and job satisfaction - and who doesn’t want that mutually beneficial outcome?

CV review

As you consider submitted physician CVs, keep an eye out for several things. Does the timing throughout the candidate’s training make sense, e.g., are there any gaps in the training timeline? If so, be prepared to question the physician about what occurred during those gap periods. It may be that the candidate needed to take a personal leave, or it may be due to an unrelated situation. Either way, it is important to understand the elements of timing specific to a candidate’s training.

What about extracurricular interests or activities? Are some of those related to the area within health care that the candidate is pursuing? For example, if the physician’s specialty is pediatrics, does the CV reflect time working with or conducting research regarding children? Maybe the individual originally pursued an engineering career and later decided to pursue a clinical path - possibly orthopedic surgery. What prompted the change and how committed is that physician to this recent career path?

If the candidate is an International Medical Graduate (IMG), it is important to understand whether the individual currently holds a visa. If so, you will want to understand what type of visa that is so you can determine whether your organization is able to support the type of visa held by the candidate.

Now that you have reviewed those potential candidates’ CVs, you determine that there’s at least one candidate about whom you’re excited - time to connect!

Virtual (or telephone) interview

Once the virtual (or telephone) interview details have been established and confirmed, it’s time to make the verbal connection. As you begin the conversation with the candidate, you might want to kick off the discussion with the basic interview question - "Would you tell me a bit about yourself?" I don’t know about you, but I’m always curious to understand how the physician candidate came to the decision to enter health care and specifically, the clinical area in that field.

Additional good interview questions to consider asking could include:

  • "Why did you choose that as your specialty?"
  • "Would you tell me more about your training and with whom you studied?"

Button up virtual interviews

Before you delve too deeply into providing the specifics of the position during your conversation, a good question to ask is, "What’s important to you in a practice?" This allows the physician candidate time to explain their specific needs and areas of interest regarding a practice - all of which serve to set the stage for you in terms of how this individual might best fit with the open position.

Another good question that helps paint a picture about the candidate is, "What sort of things do you like to do with your personal time?" This serves to add another point of perspective about the candidate in terms of activities they consider enjoyable, maybe mentioning a hobby or two or talking about their interest in travel - local, regional, national or international.

Of course, the candidate will likely have some questions for you to address. As you answer those questions and then bring the discussion to a close, it would be good to ask the candidate, "With what you know about the opportunity at this point, why is the position appealing to you?" Based on the candidate’s response to this question and the previous answers provided, you will have the information you need to make the appropriate recommendation to your colleagues regarding the next step specific to this individual’s candidacy. Hopefully, it’s scheduling the candidate’s on-site interview.

On-site/in-person interview

In addition to giving the physician candidate the red carpet treatment while visiting with you, touring the community within which the opportunity is located, and interviewing with the appropriate administrators and clinicians, you should build in time to consider asking some other good interview questions. Those could include questions about the candidate’s approach to medicine, e.g.:

  • "How would you describe your style of medicine?"
  • "What differentiates you from other candidates?"

Know the questions to ask during in-person interviews.

Behavioral questions also have a place in the interview process. By including behavioral questions, it tends to broaden your understanding of the candidate. With the goal of having the candidate reveal their true self, and since philosophically past behaviors predict future results, these types of questions may be helpful:

  • "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient. What was the difficulty? What problems did you encounter? What went through your mind? How did you handle the situation? What else did you do? What happened next?"

During the candidate’s in-person visit, you or others who participate in the interview process may wish to build several other interview questions into the process. Some of those questions could include topics related to the candidate’s clinical interests.

  • "How would you rank your specialty’s procedures based on your competency?"
  • "Are there any particular types of patients for whom you would like to care?"

By posing additional questions, you obtain insight into additional facets of the candidate’s interests and fit with the role to be filled. For example:

  • "What feature of this opportunity interests you the most, and why?"
  • "What feature of this practice/opportunity interests you the least, and why?"
  • "To gain referrals, it often seems that developing relationships with referring physician colleagues is helpful. How would you go about doing that?"
  • "How would you follow up with referring physicians?"
  • "What are your plans for continuing your studies?"
  • "What are your compensation and benefit expectations?"

Some concluding interview questions for consideration include:

  • "How do others describe you?"
  • "Tell me about your long-term goals. For example, where do you see yourself in 10 years?"
  • "What should I know about you that I currently don’t know?"

As the in-person interview time is wrapping up, it would be good to ask the candidate why you should hire them. This provides the physician time to summarize their skillset, express interest in the position and excitement about being considered.

For a final question, it is good to ask, "What questions do you have for me?" This is often helpful in determining the level of interest on the part of the candidate. If they express keen interest, offer some follow-up questions to the information they received during the on-site interview and communicate their excitement about the position, you know you have an engaged candidate. If, however, they have not proactively posed many, or any, questions during the on-site interview, they have no questions at this point in the process and there is no excitement being expressed, it is quite likely this opportunity is not a strong contender on their list of positions under consideration, nor would this be a candidate of interest for your organization’s position.


Recruiting physicians is more of an art than a science. Good interview questions can serve as the foundation upon which to build your talent acquisition strategy and process. All the best as you seek to fill your physician opportunities with highly qualified individuals who are passionate about patient care in your community!

Read PracticeLink Articles by Maureen Zvanut

Maureen Zvanut

Recommended articles

See All

Newsletter Sign-Up