Site visit dos and don’ts

Site visit dos and don’ts

Do make eye contact and don't bad-mouth your current colleagues

October 2017
Gettyimage: PeopleImages

RECRUITERS HAVE plenty of advice on making your best impression during a site visit. Here’s a partial list: 

Make eye contact and offer a firm handshake. Do your due diligence. Find out in advance who are area competitors, what are different health care resources in the community and who are the lead physicians in the group you’re interviewing with.

More site visit DOs
• Know yourself. You’ll be asked about your skills as well as your strengths and weaknesses, so take an inventory of what you do best, and ask your residency directors to help you identify those skills.

Do your due diligence, but don’t bad-mouth your current colleagues.

Is your rapport with patients strong or weak, and are you good at documentation? Rehearse your answers about strengths, and don’t evade questions about weaknesses. Instead, talk about whether or not you’re a team player, and what your patients have liked most and least about you. Don’t dwell on a weakness, but do point out what you’ve done to improve.

• Be prepared for probing questions. Interviewers increasingly rely on behavioral interviewing techniques, which are founded on the principle that past behavior can illuminate future behavior. Go into any site visit (or interview, for that matter) with an analysis in hand of several specific past situations and how you responded. Questions to expect may include:

  • Tell me about the last time you went over the top for a patient.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to influence others or show leadership.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a bad outcome with a patient and had to tell the family.
  • Tell me about a conflict you had with another physician and how you handled it.

• Expect to be asked what kind of job or practice you see yourself in in five and 10 years.

• Save your hardball for the end of the game. Recruiters and candidates should both have some idea of each other’s compensation expectations early on. If those are very divergent, you should probably part ways before a site visit. But don’t start actually negotiating until there is an offer on the table.

• If you think you’re interested in a prospective position, say so. Let the practice know that you can at least see yourself working there and ask what the next steps would be.

• Think about staying an additional day (if possible) if you like what you see and hear during the site visit. That’s particularly the case if you haven’t had an opportunity to shadow one of the doctors for part of his or her day or shift.

• Do send a written thank-you note, whether or not you’re interested in the job. Write an individual note to everyone involved in the interview process, including all the principals.

Site visit DON’Ts
Recruiters also offer up a host of “don’ts” for site visits, most of which are common sense. But the fact that recruiters mention them means that these mistakes sometimes happen:

• Don’t fixate on location and money. Those are, recruiters say, the most common mistakes young doctors make when taking a first job.

• Do not bad-mouth your training program, medical school or the colleagues you work with. Instead, couch difficult situations or relationships as “challenging,” and be prepared to talk about how you met those challenges.

• Don’t wear casual clothes, even to interviews in resort areas. (See “How to dress for success during your site visit.”) And dressing appropriately doesn’t just mean steering clear of beach clothes: Wearing a very expensive or chic outfit to interview in a small community is going to make you seem out of place.

• Do not use the word “cap” when asking about patient volumes. Instead, finesse that question by asking about workload expectations, how quickly the program or practice plans to grow, and how often the practice experiences unusually high volumes.

• Don’t light up. A physician who smokes is going to stand out. Don’t make that worse by interrupting interviews for “smoke breaks.”

• Don’t bring any drama. Recruiters recall site visits with doctors who brought a girlfriend along—instead of the wife that group members knew the candidate had.

• Don’t talk at length about past problems with addictions.

• Don’t drink too much.

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