Whether you’re applying for your first healthcare job or a seasoned professional looking to make a move, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Here are 12 tips that every healthcare professional should follow when interviewing for a new job. These pointers will boost your chances and help you edge out the competition.
1. Do your homework
Ask your interview contact for the names of your interviewers, their titles, and their relation to the position you’re seeking. Then look up their profiles on LinkedIn. Find out how long have they’ve been with the company, what positions they’ve held, and what other organizations they’ve worked for. Communicate with other employees at the company if possible, mining insights into the personalities and even the culture you’ll be interacting with.
2. Dress for success
Employers express surprise at how often medical professionals show up for interviews dressed…well…unprofessionally. Too many arrive in clothes as casual as tank tops and jeans or even scrubs.
Conservative business attire is always the safe option. It conveys respect for the interviewer and the organization you are visiting. Play the odds — it’s hard to go wrong being attired well; dress too casually, and it can cost you.
3. Skip the java
Caffeine is not a job candidate’s best friend. Your adrenaline level will be high enough going into an interview. The added kick of coffee may do more harm than good. Prone to sweaty palms under stress? Caffeine can make them worse. Imagine you’re the interviewer and recipient of a clammy handshake. ‘Nuff said.
4. Show up early, but not too
Common sense says, arrive late and you start your interview off on the wrong foot.
But showing up too early can be as off-putting. Job candidates who arrive 20, 30, even 45 minutes ahead of time — and they do — make staff uneasy. Did someone in-house screw up the interview time? Did the candidate misunderstand? Rather than make a positive impression, your behavior will more likely strike them as peculiar. Best to sit in your car or a nearby cyber cafe until five or 10 minutes before your appointment.
5. Be nice to the receptionist
The person at the front desk may not be the hiring manager, but he or she can be your friend. The reason? The receptionist’s impression of you counts. Many companies ask their front desk attendants to report on the pre-interview demeanor of candidates. So treat that person as nicely as you’ll treat your interviewer.
6. Make the first move
Many job candidates expect the interviewer to initiate introductions. But extending your hand first gives you momentum that can tamp down nervousness and signal a take-charge attitude, confidence, and enthusiasm that serves a job candidate well. And it’s not missed by the interviewer.
7. Find the interviewer’s interest
After initial introductions, look for obvious interests of the interviewer’s. Are there photos around his or her office of children or pets? Of him or her in military garb or on horseback? Vacation pictures?
Finding an easy segue into an ice-breaking conversation about one of the interviewer’s interests is your goal here. A friendly, sincere curiosity will kick off the interview well. Such an ice-breaker will also help you fashion personalized, post-interview thank-you emails discussed in more detail in point #12 below.
8. Target your answers
Think of the interview as a chance to guide the conversation to the subject you want to talk about, i.e., why you’re right for the job. Just about every interviewer asks a version of, “Tell me about yourself.” Steer that question to your purpose. “Well, let me explain how fulfilling I found working with indigent patient populations in a busy city hospital…” Then go through four or five items you’ve rehearsed about your fit. Your skillful direction of the questions will move the conversation where you need it to go.
9. Feed comfort food to interviewers’ ears
Candidates who use down-to-earth language, employ storytelling, and draw on specific results are more likely to be hired. Empty buzzwords and interview clichés like “self-starter” and “thinking outside the box” too often stand-in for a lack of quantifiable examples. Interviewers quickly tune out. Also speech saturated with “ums,” “likes,” and “you knows” challenge an interviewer’s patience, and cast the speaker as — at worst — hesitant and unsure and — at best — unpolished. Avoid them at all costs.
10. Don’t “I” yourself out of a job
Candidates who give credit to the team or department of which they were a part, and then clearly explain their role in the team’s achievement are far more likely to be hired than those who overuse “I” in describing their individual contributions. In fact, the “I” candidates use the personal pronoun twice as often and end up with fewer job offers.
11. Behave like you’re never off-stage
Job candidates should never ever let their hair down, even for a moment, during any part of an on-site visit.
One physician candidate grumbled to his wife about an unpleasant hospital VP who’d been among his interviewers. His venting took place on a realty tour of the area, unaware the realtor got the assignment by being the VP’s sister. The candidate’s ill-timed comments cost him the job.
12. Send personalized thank-you emails
Follow-up to the on-site visit should include sending interviewers thank-you emails, personalized with a comment on their interest you uncovered and discussed. Skillfully executed, this personalized tact can help make your interview more memorable.
Be confident with your skillful application of these tips, and your confidence will yield great rewards!
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