Graduating from Medical School and beginning Residency is perhaps the single most exciting time in a Physician's life; what you learn when speaking to Residents is that the euphoria doesn't last too long.
The pressures of working as a Resident become very real, very quickly; paying back student debt and navigating the intricate labyrinth of Residency is intense. Considering that Residents have already made it through the long, harrowing journey to Medical School graduation, most of them handle the Residency years without many incidents.
What does often go overlooked by Medical Residents is the necessity of planning and preparation to find and land the right job in their chosen area as they work their way closer to their post Residency career. Without planning and foresight a Resident may end up in a job that they are not suited for, or worse, they may spend many months unemployed and job hunting.
Pre-Interview Tips for Medical Residents
Preparing for an interview is one thing; first you must land the opportunity to have
the interview. Here are some basic tips that should help you get that appointment:
- Your Reputation Matters: Well before the interview, you should understand that your reputation, both professionally and online, matters. Being snide to the people you work with is never smart, so the way you carry yourself throughout your Residency is important. You never know if the person you will be interviewing with has relationships with your colleagues.
- Social Media Can Be Dangerous: Playing off of #1, make sure you are not a bonehead on Social Media. Yes, you may be an avid Twitter addict, and bemoaning your work schedule and lack of personal time may make you feel better, but NOTHING is private once you cast it out into the great social media universe. Be smart. Be professional online, and never, ever think anything is private that you post.
- Begin the Search Early: Yes, your Residency is time consuming, but the early bird does get the worm, especially when it comes to finding the right job. Waiting until your final year of Residency and then hitting the panic button and rushing to find a job may mean that you have to accept any job that comes along. Give yourself at least 18 months to find the right position.
- Make Lists: Making lists may not be your standard method for getting organized, but it will certainly help you figure out what type of job you want to pursue. What works well with your personality? Where do you want to live? What are your income requirements? Do you have a spouse or dependents who will be effected by your decision? Writing all of this down and prioritizing your requirements and goals will help you drill down to the right job for you.
- Consider Hiring a Placement Specialist: You may already have a mentor and many connections in the specialty you want to pursue; finding and landing the interview for your dream job may come easily. If that isn't your situation, hiring a professional who works with Physicians and practices as a headhunter may speed up the process and widen the possibilities, as their network is usually vast.
Medical Resident Interview Advice
As with most things in life, preparation is key; preparing for
the interview is as important as lining it up. Here is some advice that will help you do your best in the interview:
- Do Your Research: Of course we know that you have been on a very long journey and gained a ton of knowledge along the way, but you need to do more. Get to know as much as you can about the hospital, practice or organization you are meeting with. Work your network and see if anyone you know is connected to anyone who works for or has worked for the organization. Learn as much as you can, because you cannot know too much about the place where you may begin your career.Don't Overlook the Basics: You may do everything right but lose the job because you overlooked some basic points. Show up on time, bring your resume, and make sure you are very clear on the pronunciation of your interviewer's name.
- Be Professional Throughout: The first impression you make on your interviewer is of tantamount importance. Dress professionally - showing up in dirty scrubs will not cut it (and yes, we have heard of this occurring more than once). If you've read anything about Enclothed Cognition, believe me, it matters. What you wear will impact not only how you are perceived, but how you feel and think in the interview. Make eye contact and be friendly and personable.
- Practice, A Lot: You may be incredibly prepared when it comes to knowledge of the specialty or organization you are applying to, but that does not mean it will all come out in the interview. Have a friend or mentor, particularly someone who has applied for a job as a Physician already, role play with you so that you are practicing, out loud, for the interview.
- Ask Questions: Yes, you must be prepared to answer questions, but you must have a list of your own prepared, not only to show obvious interest in the job, but so that you can ensure that the job is right for you. Remember, you are interviewing each other. Here is a great (and long) list from the AAFP site that will get you thinking.
Post Physician Interview Tips
The interview is over and you think it went well; it may be that you think it went very well
and you're feeling confident about your prospects. Our final piece of advice is commonplace perhaps, but often overlooked: don't count your chickens. Take a few moments and send a thank you letter to your interviewer. No, an email will not suffice. In today's hurried age of electronic communications, that written thank you will go a long way to shore up the impression you made.
We hope these tips help ease the stressful process of landing your first job as a Physician. If you have tips or advice you think we left out, we'd love to hear it in the comment section below.