Medical training is a long, grueling process filled with highs and lows. Despite your best preparation, it’s common to feel slightly anxious about seeking a position post-residency. The interview process can certainly be daunting. We asked a top recruiter, Cory Woods, to share some of his insight.
What should a resident be thinking about during the year leading up to interviewing?
Be decisive about what you are looking for and don’t drag your feet. Remember, all other residents in their last year are interviewing, too. A common misconception is that you have a full year to decide, but that is not really the case when you factor in licensing and credentialing.
“If you want to start in July, realistically, you need to have decided by February,” says Cory. “Before you start seriously looking, put together a priority list of what’s most important to you and don’t veer off that list. If you feel strongly about working in a New England state because you’d like to be close to your family, stick to it. Don’t suddenly consider a different position across the country with a more attractive salary, because if it turns out that you really need to be near your family, that ends up being a waste of everyone’s time and resources.”
Decisiveness continues after the offer is presented. Cory recommends that each candidate remains realistic. “Know that most of these places are interviewing other people and your offer could be taken away at any point,” he says. “We like to prepare clients and physicians to act as if they have two weeks to decide. If you take any longer than that, you’re just holding up the process and it’s a bit disrespectful to the employer because they’ve held out for you. Be transparent.”
How do I prepare for an interview?
Have the same mindset as students outside of the medical world and treat each interview as an individual job opportunity. Speak positively and always have your references ready. If you are asked to provide them and you end up dragging your feet, it looks unprofessional, delays the process, and can even hurt your chances of an offer. It’s always a good idea to check with your references and make sure they know which opportunities might be reaching out and when so they don’t reference the wrong job.
“It seems simple, but know the job you’re applying for,” adds Cory. “Whether you’re working with a recruiter or on your own, familiarize yourself with the opportunity. Don’t just recap details from the website in the phone interview. Instead, focus on asking about the practice environment and about the area. Show that you’re connected to the job and have thoughtful questions prepared. You don’t seem interested if you haven’t prepared anything; it could come off as pompous and hurt your chances of receiving an offer.” After the initial interview, be humble and send a thank-you note. Common courtesy reflects your character and shows whether you would be a good permanent fit for the facility.
When should I start looking, how long will the interview process take, and when could I expect an offer?
You don’t want to start poking around hospitals and getting anyone’s hopes up before you are ready, but you do want to have a solid idea of the market. That’s where a recruiter can really help.
For a permanent position, establishing a relationship with a recruiter is equally important. Cory explains that the process typically will take around 60 days, but each specialty is different. “If you start to interview in July or August, but don’t plan to decide on a position until January, then there’s no point in interviewing so early,” he explains. “Try to schedule your interviews closer to when you’re deciding. Hospitals are going to take it seriously, so they’ll start getting pressure right after an interview.” If you’re interested in exploring what is out there without setting any expectations, your recruiter can step in as your resource.
What will make me stand out?
You might be wondering what separates you from your colleagues. Your future employer is wondering this, too. All psychiatrists, for example, go through the same training. What’s different about you compared to any other candidate? “Talk about what differentiates you and what you want to build, not just the nuts and bolts of the job,” suggests Cory. “A lot of programs aren’t set in stone. They like to have the ability to expand, but if they don’t know that you can bring that to the table and introduce additional revenue streams, then you don’t stand out compared to anybody else.”
What about including my research on my CV?
“If it’s an academic position, list all of your research,” advises Cory. “If not, then typically it isn’t relevant. You can attach an addendum to your CV that has the academic side. We really suggest that residents tailor CVs and themselves to the interview, just like anyone else applying for a position.”
When you match a candidate to a permanent opportunity, what information do you gather to make sure you get a good match?
For a permanent job, the personality must be a good match, and the surrounding area should resonate with the candidate. Cory explains more about the process. “We go through not only your CV and the specific job details, but we try to peel back the layers of who you are to find your ideal placement,” he says. “That’s what really makes Optimum different. We build a profile of what you’re looking for. We identify your ideal hours, area, work-life balance, and then we take all that information and match it to our available opportunities.”
Identifying the perfect fit is integral to securing a long-term relationship between the facility and the physician. “From a recruiting standpoint, if we just talked about one job, eventually we could get anybody interested because it checks off 7 of 10 boxes,” says Cory. “That sounds like a great fit on the surface. However, if you don’t know that those three boxes are the most important things to the physician, then it ultimately won’t work out in the end. At Optimum, we strive for 10 of 10.”
How does working with a recruiter versus looking for an opportunity on your own benefit your job search?
Working with a recruiter helps you assess the market and allows you to explore options without commitment. If you keep reaching out to hospitals, particularly in the same area, to test the waters, you could tarnish your reputation as someone who is wasting time and isn’t serious. A recruiter can mediate the process.
“We try to strip back the paint and get an idea of who you are, and that’s what makes us different,” shares Cory. “As a new grad, you don’t know the market very well, particularly if you completed residency in one place and moved to another. Use a recruiter as your resource. Worst-case scenario, if you don’t like the available jobs, then you don’t work with us, but at least you can learn something. We can tell you things about the market that you didn’t already know and present job opportunities that we think would be a good fit for you so that you don’t have to use your limited time off to search.”
Good recruiters do much more than arbitrarily match you to an opportunity. Cory explains Optimum’s mindset.
“We know that you’re new to this and have never been through the process before, so it’s our goal to help coordinate everything that we think you would need,” he says. “We’ll find the jobs, schedule the interviews, prepare you, and send your CV. You’ve been training to be a doctor for the past 15 years and these interviews are your make or break. The last thing we want you to do is miss your shot because you aren’t 100% prepared or don’t know all the right questions to ask. So, tell us what you’re looking for and then use us as the resource to do all of those things for you.”
Your perfect placement could be just around the corner.
Interested in learning more? Contact Optimum Permanent Placement Services at 603.732.0663 to connect with a knowledgeable recruiter, like Cory, and check out our blog for the latest news and other helpful information.