Mastering the Occupational Medicine Physician Interview

Insider Interview Tips for Occupational Medicine Physicians
May 6, 2024 by
MedGeo Ventures, Lindsay Thomas
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As Senior Director of Recruiting at Jackson Physician Search, Katie Moeller knows a thing or two about what it takes to impress her clients during the interview process. In a recent webinar for ACOEM, she shared in-depth interview advice for occupational medicine physicians that goes beyond “be on time” and “dress appropriately” (though she does endorse those recommendations as well!). Keep reading for the what, who, when, where, and why of physician interviewing.

What Type of Interview Is It? 

Over the course of the physician recruitment process with any one organization, a candidate will be interviewed multiple times. While the focus of your preparation is likely on the formal, on-site physician interview, it’s important to recognize the different types of interviews you may have leading up to that point. The first touchpoint is an initial screening call. If you meet the criteria, there will be a follow-up call and/or virtual interview. Assuming this goes well, you may be invited on-site for a formal interview. The formal interview likely involves multiple meetings with various stakeholders, which leads us to…

Who Is Conducting the Interview? 

Katie stresses the need for physicians to know their audience with each interview. The screening call will likely be conducted by an internal recruiter or third-party recruiter who may or may not be able to tell you much about the position beyond what is in the job description. The recruiter’s goal, at this point, is to determine if you have the qualifications required for the job and, to some degree, find out if your job search preferences align with what the organization has to offer. Be polite and courteous as you expound upon what is listed in your CV and try not to get frustrated if the recruiter can’t answer detailed questions about the job. That said, it is okay to say you would like to know more about the position before being formally presented for the job. On the other hand, if you do learn enough to know that you are interested, it’s helpful to send the recruiter an email that summarizes your interest and qualifications so he or she can easily present you to the hiring manager.     

The recruiter will facilitate a follow-up call with someone from the department or group. They may be able to share a bit more about the position, but this is not yet the time to ask about compensation or time off. Instead, ask questions to learn more about the practice. Which industries do they serve? Do they have plans to expand to other areas? Do they have relationships with large employers in the region? Be curious about the opportunity. If the call goes well, you may be invited to a virtual interview with one or more stakeholders. While you may not have all the details about the position yet, you should be able to articulate why you are interested in the role. If there is agreement that you are a potentially good fit for the organization, you will likely be invited for a site visit where you will tour the facility, see the community, and of course, meet more stakeholders. 

Physician Interview Logistics: When, Where, and How 

Whether a phone call, a virtual meeting, or the on-site interview, make sure you have detailed information regarding the date, time, and location of the interview. Ask enough questions to be completely clear about the process. If invited to the facility, ask how much time you should allow for the visit. If the position would require you to relocate, ask if you should bring your spouse at this time. Most organizations will plan a community tour and several social events while you are in town. Reach out to the recruiter if you have not received an itinerary one week before your travel date. 

When it comes to scheduling, you may be asked to share your potential windows of availability. When you provide this, ask how soon you can expect to get something on the calendar, and if you don’t hear back in a set timeframe, who should you follow up with? The physician recruitment process involves administrators and executives who can be difficult to schedule time with, but you shouldn’t be left in limbo. That said, delays happen and coordinating calendars can be challenging. Keep all communication professional and friendly. How you treat everyone involved in the process will be noticed, so be patient and courteous, but don’t be afraid to be carefully proactive when necessary.

Why Do You Want the Job?

A critical part of a successful job search is self awareness about what matters most to you in a professional opportunity. If you are clear about your own motivations, you can use the on-site interview to ask questions and look for proof that the job and organization can offer what you need. If you like what you see, affirm your enthusiasm and let your interviewer know you feel that you are aligned. On the other hand, if you have concerns or feel you need to know more, find a gracious way to express this too. (“You clearly have a great organization here, but I’m still wondering about…”) Your transparency will be appreciated, as it gives the interviewer a chance to address your concerns. 

You should also be transparent about where you are in the physician job search process. If you are just starting to evaluate opportunities, let them know you are unlikely to make a quick decision. Likewise, you can tell them if you are already considering other offers, so they know they will need to act quickly if they want to be in contention.   

What Not to Do

Now that you have a clear understanding of the physician interview process, keep in mind the following “don’ts” for your physician interview. 

● Don’t be late -- Arrive early. Ask questions about exactly where to park and check in so you know what to expect and how much time to allow.

● Don’t be underdressed -- It’s always better to be overdressed rather than underdressed. If they say “business casual,” lean more towards the business side. Never wear scrubs.

● Don’t be rude -- Be courteous and respectful to everyone you interact with regardless of their job title. Be patient and give others grace when a mistake is made.

● Don’t be dismissive -- Be curious and interested in what others have to say. Even if you already know this organization is not the right fit, be respectful and don’t burn bridges. Consider it practice for your next interview.

● Don’t spend time on your phone -- Avoid staring at your phone unnecessarily. It’s okay to check it as needed, but silence notifications before you arrive and find other ways to occupy yourself if you have a free moment.  

● Don’t talk about money too early or too often -- Of course compensation is important, but if you ask about it too early or too often, the employer will think it is all you care about. Let them get to know you, and you them, so you can determine if there is alignment before you get into the compensation details.

How to Prepare

The OEM physician interview process is an opportunity for both parties to get to know each other to find out if they make a good match. Jackson Physician Search’s Katie Moeller helps physicians prepare by sharing exactly what to expect. She stresses the importance of knowing what stage of the process you are in, who you are talking to, and of course, when, where, and how the interview will take place. If something isn’t clear, politely ask for more information. Most importantly, know what you want in a job and use the on-site interview to evaluate if the opportunity has the potential to meet your needs. If you suspect it does, do everything in your power to demonstrate why you are the best physician for the job.

If you are seeking a new OEM physician job, the ACOEM career center provides the latest job search technology, allowing you to view practices in your preferred area and filter by industries served.  

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