If getting the job is more important than impressing the interviewer, this article will give you concrete suggestions to succeed. This short post is geared for an interview with the real decision-maker or your potential future boss.

Maybe you’re suddenly looking for a new job. You were not expecting this! After all, you are highly-trained and deeply committed to quality healthcare, someone who’s invested (nearly) your entire adult life to become the best medical professional possible.

Or perhaps you’re starting to see the writing on the wall: this job, this place, these people don’t match your aspirations anymore. So it’s time to look elsewhere.

Whatever your reasons, if you’re in the market or just starting to shop around, there is a crucial step you’ll eventually need to take: the job interview.

If you are thinking, “Hey, thanks James, but I’m a whiz at that and will ace it on my own.” you could be right. Or you might be fooling yourself with false confidence that your brains and charm will be more than enough. 

It’s ok, we all do it sometimes. 

Sadly, I’ve watched wonderful, talented people like you lose out just because they didn’t know how to make the most of the interview. 

If you’ve heard the clichés “Just be yourself,” ” Do your homework on the company,” or “Have great questions ready,” then you’re halfway home. 

But halfway won’t get the job done. So let’s look at what you really need to do.

First, I’m going to assume that you know the basics:

  • Get there early 
  • Dress appropriately
  • Mind your manners
  • A bright smile and a firm handshake (pandemic version: air-hand shake, elbow bump, you get it…)

Now to the parts that most don’t know or don’t do:

Just be yourself

Ugh, doesn’t this one make you cringe? 

I suggest you convert this one into “Just be your professional self,” the one who might want the job if your skills and goals match it.

When you go to a performance or a lecture, is the person on the stage “just being themselves”? When you are treating a patient or working with colleagues to solve a problem, are you just being yourself? Of course not! The performers are playing their role as you play yours at work.

Ask yourself before the interview: “why am I doing this?” If it’s to discover what the opportunity is and then earn an offer if it’s an excellent fit for you, that is better than just being yourself. 

So remember that to interview is to play the role of a sincere, curious partner in a discovery process. 

Sincere might sound like, “I have to admit that I’m a little nervous. I guess I’m hoping this would be a great fit for us both, but I honestly don’t know yet what you need and if I would be a match for it.”

Curious might sound like, “I’ve read about your hospital’s impressive recent accomplishments. But I’m wondering what you think would be the most important thing I could do to help you continue to improve?”

Playing this role does two helpful things:

  1. It humanizes the interaction and gives everyone permission to relax and be as honest as possible.
  2. It puts the focus more on the interviewer, in order to elicit the real story of the place, people, and job expectations.

Do your homework on the company and Have great questions ready (hint: they should go together)

  • Website scan- check.
  • Glassdoor scan- check.
  • Talk to your friend who works or worked there- check.

Websites are mostly for promoting the good stuff. It’s helpful to know what awards they’ve earned, what new programs they’ve created, and so on. 

Unless they are numerous and consistently tilted in one way or another, employees or patient reviews are anecdotal by definition and thus best viewed skeptically. 

Unless your friend works in the same or a similar department/division/role, their experience could vary significantly from what yours would be. Again, useful to a point but only.

Now what? How do you make this research meaningful to the job for which you are being considered? 

You can do that by using it to craft just one or two insightful questions which give the interviewer permission to answer your transparently.

Notice the keywords insightful, permission, and transparently. 

And you only need one or two such questions, because the rest will likely flow naturally once the interviewer sees you as a top-tier candidate who has naturally impressed them. 

One such question could sound like:

“I noticed on your website that your quality scores are strong, but elsewhere, some of your patient satisfaction scores haven’t kept pace, which I’m sure is not your fault. I’m curious: do you have a sense why that might be and what I could do to help improve that?”

The principles behind this approach are simple:

  • You are showing that you have done more than just your homework: you’ve made an honest observation in a way that didn’t put them on the defensive.
  • You’ve applied your insights to try to understand how you could help them have the best outcome possible.
  • Most importantly for you, this should open up a discussion that could reveal key insights into their leadership style and the corporate culture.

If you have two to three such questions, you will very likely learn enough to decide if this is the right place for you.

So you can still be your best self, bringing all of your smarts and charm. Now you can use them to discover if this is a match or not, based on an honest assessment between equals. Playing this role with compelling skill and assuming an equal business stature with the interviewer should ensure a genuinely honest and productive exchange.

Isn’t that better than an awkward dance of you being grilled with superficial questions and never really knowing if you are a good fit for their job, or even want it?

But wait, James, you didn’t say anything about how to answer their questions?!? You’re right. I will, in my next post, because that’s a seriously important topic that calls for its’ very own post!