How to make the most of your interview

Ask about referral patterns, technology and the group’s financial stability when interviewing for your first or next practice

By Lisa Vognild, FASPR | Job Doctor | Spring 2011


Taking time away from training or a busy practice to interview for a position takes a significant investment of your time. With travel, most interviews will require two or three days.

Being prepared with a list of questions to ask—both before you accept an interview and during the interview itself—will help you make the most of your time and leave the interview thoroughly informed.Quote

You will be asked by almost everyone that meets you, “Do you have any questions?” Having a list on paper will prevent you from having to come up with them on the spot. Also, it will show each interviewer that you are engaged in the process, are prepared, and have a genuine interest in the opportunity.

You will find that, after several interviews, the information from each place will start to run together. You will ask yourself, “Was that at that place or the other place?” So during your interview, jot down a few notes to refer back to later. More importantly, at the end of your visit, write a brief summary of the pros and cons and any uncertainties you have.

The list of questions below will assist you in evaluating an employment opportunity. The answers will provide you with a side-by-side comparison. Don’t forget to ask questions about the community, too, to ensure it will match your lifestyle needs.

Even if initially you’re not sure the position is for you, your goal should be to get the offer. It could turn out to be a great fit.

Questions to ask in the job-search process

1. Why is this position available?

2. What are the approximate ages and number of years out of residency for each physician in the group?

3. To what extent are the individual physicians in the group involved in medical nonclinical activities (i.e. sports, research)?

4. What is the length of stay for each physician?

5. Why did the last physician leave?

6. Who is the competition?

7. How many new doctors have started practice in this area by specialty in the last three years?

8. How many patients does a physician usually see in a clinic day?

9. What procedures are performed in the clinic, and who performs them?

10. What is the patient mix (financial or payer class, i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, PPO, HMO, etc.)?

11. How many new patients are seen per day? Per week?

12. What are the referral patterns, and are good consultants available?

13. How many HMOs/PPOs are available in the community?

14. How many managed care contracts does the group currently have?

15. How are the emergency rooms covered?

16. What is the financial stability of the hospital, clinic or group?

17. What is the group’s average daily hospital census?

18. How is coverage managed for weekdays, weekends, holidays, vacation, CME?

19. What is the staff-to-physician ratio and the rate of turnover of employees?

20. How are chart notes recorded (i.e., handwritten, dictated or EMR)?

21. Is there a computer system for scheduling? Billing and accounting?

22. What is the overhead (operating) rate?

23. How are bad debts collected?

24. Who makes the decisions about employee hiring/firing?

25. Will I have input into the selection of my nurse?

26. How old are the buildings and the major equipment, how are they financed, and what is the amount of outstanding debt?

27. How often are the fee schedules reviewed?

Lisa Vognild, FASPR, is a director of recruitment for Sanford World Clinic division of Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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