Would you like 5 tips for preparing for your next medical job interview? Hello, I’m Dr. Anthony Llewellyn, doctor and medical HR expert and I love to share tips with other doctors about how to improve their performance in the job interview.
When approaching a medical job interview or any other job interview for that matter the key things you should consider are:
- Establishing a practice schedule and actually committing to practicing
- Get an understanding of what the panel is looking for, so you can predict the questions you will be asked
- Review your CV for examples of your work that will increase the power of your responses to questions
- Recording yourself practicing so you can see what you actually look like
- Getting feedback on your performance from an expert
These are my top 5 tips based on years of experience in being a recruiter as well as coaching other doctors for job interviews. Let's dig into them a little deeper.
This is the most vital tip in my opinion. You should definitely treat the interview as an examination or a performance. I'm betting that throughout medical school you practiced and prepared for exams. So why would you expect to just turn up for your next job interview, “wing it” and turn in a great performance?
Your next job is just as important if not more important than getting a pass on an exam. So you need a bit of a practice schedule and you need to actually practice. I recommend giving yourself at least 6 weeks if possible and do at least one practice session per week prior to your actual interview. If you have less notice of your interview then obviously you will need to condense this and increase the frequency. Better yet. If you are anticipating a new job in the next 6 months. Think about setting up a practice schedule now
2. Understand what the panel is looking for
You need to understand what the interview panel is looking for. So you can practice the right questions and prepare the right examples. I’m often asked by doctors.
“How can I predict what sorts of questions I will be asked?”
Well. Its actually a lot easier than you think.
The questions you get asked in the interview should relate to the Selection Criteria. So to find these go to the appropriate section on the job description and review it. They are usually placed towards the end of the document. These should give you a fair indication of the types of questions you will be asked.
Sometimes, particularly for college selection, rather than selection criteria, there is a competency framework. These are normally easy to find on the college website. Again these will give you a very good guide to what you will be asked about.
You can then generate appropriate questions or there are places online you can find a bunch of them. You can access our free question bank here.
3. Review your CV for examples.
Your CV or resume is a treasure trove of achievements from which to draw upon examples of your past work (or at least it should be). Review your CV for examples so that you can use these as part of your answers to questions.
Remember providing an example from your past work is extremely powerful at the interview.Dr Anthony Llewellyn, Career Doctor
Sometimes you will be asked for an example as part of a behavioural question. But don’t be afraid to offer one, even if the question is a hypothetical question.
You are basically telling the panel.
“I can do this. Because I’ve done it before.”
And panels know that past behaviour predicts future behaviour so they will value this information.
4. Record yourself and watch yourself.
Why do I say that you need to record yourself and watch yourself back? Well. Interviews are as much about body language and tone of speech. In fact even more about these things. Than what you say.
So. Its important to know how you appear during an interview.
The only way you will know this is to observe yourself.
Here’s a great example.
Often when I am coaching candidates for an interview I notice that they appear quite stiff in their presentation. This is normally because they are trying to control their hands. By sitting on them or anchoring them in their lap. Actually, you generally want to let your hands get involved in your interview performance. Once we fix this problem. The visual performance always looks a lot better.
There are a number of options for filming yourself for an interview performance. My recommendation would be to use a desktop or laptop set up and record yourself on Skype or Zoom. This way you should easily be able to get at least a head and shoulders view of how you look whilst seated. Its particularly important to be able to see what you do with your hands.
Alternatively you can use your smartphone with a tripod if you have one or even just a stack of books on the table. Selfie videos are not as good as you have at least one hand engaged for the filming purpose. Similarly observing yourself in the mirror is not as good as you cannot rewind and go bak.
5. Engage an Expert
My final tip is to get some interview practice with an expert.
What do I mean by an expert?
I mean anyone who has had significant experience being a member of a selection panel and/or experience in coaching candidates for interviews.
So as a minimum. Try and get someone like a Director of Training or Director of Medical Services to give you a couple of sessions. These people have generally sat in on hundreds of interviews.
Don’t fall into the trap of relying on feedback from fellow candidates, your family or friends. Their feedback is likely to be unhelpful and too much on the positive and encouraging side. Because they have no context for what the panel is looking for and they are too invested in your success and you as a person. You want as critical feedback as possible.
And. If you want to up your game and performance to a higher level.
Then an interview coach is definitely the way to go.
Question. What if there are no obvious selection criteria?
Answer. There should be selection criteria for any job that is advertised. Sometimes however the job writers or the job writing system make these difficult to decipher. If you have any queries about what the criteria are its best to contact the person whose name is associated with the role for clarification.
Question. How do I find an interview coach?
Answer. There are interview coaches available in most places these days. You can generally do a Google search and someone will pop up. We've written an article about how to find a good interview coach that is good for you. Bear in mind that you generally get what you pay for. So the price should not be your only consideration. Also, bear in mind that many coaches can assist you now over the internet. This can sometimes reduce the cost of coaching and give you access to a bigger pool of options.
Question. I get really nervous in interviews. Are there some specific things I can do about this?
Yes. There is. The first thing would be to engage with an expert coach so that you can get some help in improving your overall performance. Practice will help to reduce your nerves on the day. There are specific relaxation techniques that you can incorporate as part of your coaching or separately which will also assist with your performance anxiety on the day.