How Job Hunting Physicians Can Impress the 'Gatekeeper'

December 10, 2014
Melissa Byington

In most health systems there is a very important gatekeeper - the physician recruiter. Here are six ways to impress him.

Every physician knows that if he wants to land a great job at hospital, he’ll have to make a great first impression on his new boss and team.  But what many doctors don’t realize is that there’s a crucial step before they ever have the chance to talk to their potential employer.

In most health systems there is a very important gatekeeper - the physician recruiter. The recruiter’s job is to have preliminary phone conversations with interested candidates to determine if they will be a good fit for the position and if they’re worth passing on to the division head or hiring manager.

I recently spoke with physician recruiters from a large health system in the Midwest. They shared with me what they hope to find out when they talk to a physician for the first time - and now I’m passing those secrets onto you  (shhh, don’t tell!). 

Here are six ways to impress a physician recruiter and help you make it to the next step of the hiring process.

1. Know why you are interested the in the job. You can almost guarantee the first question you will be asked is “What interests you about the job?” Make sure you’re ready to discuss what aspects of the job you find intriguing - from the opportunity to improve your clinical skills, to a chance to work with specific team members, to a desire to live in an area that’s closer to family members. Recruiters are more likely to recommend candidates who are excited about the job than those who are just testing the water.

2. Share your scope of practice. The recruiter will be familiar with your education, training and work history, but she will expect you to provide more insight about your scope of practice. Because every facility is different, she’ll want you to explain your current role, including what type of procedures you perform, your typical patient load, and what age groups you’re comfortable seeing.

3. Show off your emotional intelligence. Employers are looking for physicians who have more than just strong clinical skills. They want someone who can communicate and empathize with patients and who can get along with the staff. Be prepared to discuss how you approach difficult conversations with patients and how your unique experience can help you excel in a team-based organization.

4. Be mindful of how you speak about yourself. Physician recruiters are always on the lookout for behavioral red flags, such a doctor who spends the entire call talking about “me,” without ever mentioning the team, staff, or leaders. And while it’s OK to ask questions about salary, recruiters bristle at phrases like, “What are you going to do for me?” and, “Here’s what I’m going to need to have.”

5. Be clear about what you want outside of work. Bringing on a new physician is a huge financial commitment for any facility, so recruiters want to make sure their new hires are going to stick around. They know that is much more likely if doctors feel like part of the community. Make sure to let your recruiter know what you and your family like to do outside of work, so he can let you know what opportunities exist in the area.

6. Disclose any skeletons in your closet. People make mistakes. Luckily, a blemish in your past does not necessarily mean you will be passed over for the position. Being upfront about the issue and demonstrating that you have learned from it will give you a far better chance of landing the job than the alternative approach - not disclosing the information and slowing down the process by having to explain later.

Though these tips seem pretty basic, many physicians struggle to follow them. Remember, it’s going to be tough to get a chance to impress a new boss if you don’t impress the physician recruiter.