Contributors: Paul Hamor, Chris Elliot, Nhi Nguyen, Bruce Way, Kerrie Jones, Lauren Cone
Editors: Evangelie Polyzos, Chris Elliot
Many of you will be busy preparing for that important next job.
Your next step will be to think about and prepare for upcoming job interviews.
Regardless of the stage of training that you are at, it’s important to revisit and brush up on those interview skills.
We published a blog on the job interview process with some tips on how to dress for an interview, how to answer interview questions, whether these are clinical or behavioural based and the importance of non-verbal communication.
We also asked six consultants to give us their top interview tips. Here’s what they had to say:
Do your research
“A medical student would not walk into a viva without practicing all the various types of cases that she or he could possibly get. It would also be unwise for a medical student not to find out what was on the exam in previous years.
In the same way, you must research and practice your interview techniques so they are polished and ready for the day.
- Find out what was asked in interviews from previous years
- Get a collaboration of friends and set up a mini-interview panel with your peers and ‘grill’ each other
- Record your answers and play them back, so you know what you did well and what you can improve upon
Answer the question, the whole question, and nothing but the question
- Questions often have multiple parts. Be sure to answer all parts and create a holistic response
- Don’t answer the question you practiced for, answer the question that the interviewer asks of you. If you didn’t hear the question properly, be sure to ask the interviewer to repeat it. Take a breathe, think about the question first before starting your answer
Don’t make things up. If you don’t know something, that is OK, but it would be worse to try to lie your way through an interview.
- The way you hold yourself and present yourself are really important. Get one of your friends to take notes or a photo of you while you are responding to the questions and think about what this says about you.”
Paul Hamor, Respiratory Physician and Network Director Basic Physician Training
Practice your answers
“In theory there are an infinite number of questions which you can be asked in an interview. In practice, you know you’re likely to be asked a variation of some of the following questions:
- “Who are you and why are you the best person for the job?”
- “Tell us about a time when you had conflict with someone” (e.g. peer, nurse or senior)
- “Tell us a bit about the research you’ve undertaken, or quality improvement project that you’ve been involved in?”
- “Tell us about your teaching experience?”
- “Where and what would you like to be doing in five years’ time?”
You’ll also be asked a clinical question, which aims to identify whether you are a safe practitioner or not.
If you don’t practice your answers to these questions you’re setting yourself up to disappoint. None of us, particularly in medicine, are well-versed at presenting ourselves in interviews.
I’d suggest sitting down with these five questions and brainstorming dot-point answers for each. Then try (in private) putting them into sentences to give short, succinct, informative answers. Then, recruit a trusted friend, relative or partner to ask you these questions and practice giving answers, as well as asking for feedback.
Finally, and most importantly, take a deep, calming breath in and out, and discard your rehearsed answers. When you’re in the interview you’ll need to really listen to the questions you’re asked. Your practice will support you to give good answers to the questions you get asked, not just the ones you rehearsed for.
On the day take a few moments, before walking in, to get your head in the right place – you are a serious, credible doctor who has the right skills for the job and would be an asset to the service. Don’t be flippant or make jokes. Make it easy for someone who doesn’t know you to trust you with the care of their family member.“
Chris Elliot, Consultant Paediatrican and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Women’s & Children’s Health
Take the process seriously
“Practicing out loud is one of the most important things you could do. Also answering the question in a measured, succinct and reflective manner creates the best impression possible.
I would also add, take the interview process seriously, don’t rush or be late and have all necessary and requested paperwork ready to give to administration. “
Nhi Nguyen, Senior Staff Specialist Department of Intensive Care Medicine at Nepean Hospital and Clinical Advisor Intensive Care NSW, Agency for Clinical Innovation
Bring a good question
“Treat the clinical question like it is a viva. Take a minute to think about and organise your answer into ‘headings’ in your mind.
You will usually be asked ‘Do you have any questions? – have a good one that shows you are serious and have prepared for the interview.”
Bruce Way, Senior Emergency Consultant and Co-director of Prevocational Education and Training
Fake it till you make it
“My tip is to ask a friend to film you on your phone or ipad answering one or two questions, especially a question you haven’t considered before.
On playback you will be able to see how you come across and eliminate any habitual responses or mannerisms. Common responses are:
Saying ‘ummm’ too much, bad posture, nervous facial and hand movements.
You want to appear as calm and unfazed as possible even if you don’t feel like this on the inside. But if you are asked a question on a topic you have a passion for, then show your enthusiasm! “
Kerrie Jones, Senior Emergency Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine, Flinders University
Be specific in your answers
“I would suggest that doing your homework about a hospital or region is really important. You should know something specific about the site you are applying for and be able to speak about the benefits that working there can offer. We really like to hear why you have chosen to apply to this specific site and what we can offer that you are really excited about. “
Lauren Cone, General Practitioner and Senior Lecturer in Medicine
Plan your travel
“Check the venue and plan how to get there allowing enough (travel) time. Check the venue address to make sure you’ve got it right and don’t turn up to the wrong hospital.”
Prepare your referees
“Tell your referees which jobs you are interviewing for and send them the latest copy of your CV. It makes it much easier for them to talk about your skills and attributes when they get that call. “
Dress to impress
“Dress like your favourite sharply-dressed consultant. “
Chris Elliot, Consultant Paediatrician
This blog was originally published on Sunday 14 August 2016.