Getting hired as a physician today: Succeeding in virtual interviews

Secure your dream job by navigating the challenges of virtual interviewing.

As a physician, you will have many interviews, such as when you are applying to a training program, for a job, or for promotions throughout your career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most interviews have moved to an online format. And even as many physicians have been getting vaccinated, virtual interviews have continued to predominate over in-person interviews.

Many interviews, such as interviews for grant proposals or consulting projects, might remain online long after the pandemic is over. Making a good impression in a virtual interview can involve considerations that aren’t necessarily factors for in-person interviews, so it is important to plan ahead for your virtual interview so you can maximize your chances for success.

Do Your Homework

When you are preparing for an online interview, it is vital to show that you have knowledge about the position and organization that you are applying to. This is important in-person, but it can be more challenging to demonstrate your sincere interest in the virtual format. When you have not had to pay for travel or take time off, it is not as easy for those who are interviewing you to know whether you would have bothered with the interview if it would have required more of an inconvenience for you.

Taking some time to get to know the strengths of the place where you are applying can pay off. You might want to specifically discuss something that you saw on their website or ask more details. The key is to show those who are interviewing you that you are not attending the interview as an afterthought or to practice your interview skills.

Prepare Documents to Share

Keep in mind that the people who are interviewing you might not be as familiar with online interviews as they are with in person interviews. Many physicians who regularly conduct candidate interviews are used to receiving a paper folder with candidate information. This can be easy to flip through during the interview when they want to follow up with you about something specific.

For some physician interviewers, it might not be as easy to find your information in the online folders during your Interview. It is a good idea to keep your own application materials handy so you can quickly share your screen or send materials to interviewers during the interview if it would facilitate your discussion. This level of preparedness can help you highlight achievements that your interviewers might want to discuss with you.

Be Straightforward

Prior to your interview, you might be provided with a list of people who will interview you. And you could decide to take some time to research their work as you prepare yourself. If you come across something that you would like to discuss—such as a research interest that you have in common—it is best to share that you looked up their research as you bring up the subject of your mutual interest.

It can seem disingenuous to mention an area of mutual interest without indicating that you know about their achievements. Sometimes the information that you find online is not truly representative of the person who is interviewing you—and mentioning it without an explanation can leave them puzzled. For example, they may have coauthored a peer reviewed article for a research project that they were only marginally involved in, but their primary focus of medical practice could be quite different. Explaining that you noticed their area of expertise, rather than acting as if it is a coincidence, is a more professional approach that can help open up communication.

Ask About the Timeline

Keep in mind that many places are adjusting to the online format. Some departments might not have a process in place for informing candidates about the timeline. They might be using a schedule for selecting candidates that is similar to their pre-Covid schedule, or they could be working out a timetable for the adjusted process. If you have not been provided with an anticipated agenda for next steps, it is perfectly fine to ask so you will have an idea about what to expect.

Online interviews have been an abrupt reality for many physicians—on the candidate side and on the side of those doing the selection. When you are the candidate, learning how to make the process flow better for those who are evaluating you can help you gain an advantage.