Congratulations, you recruiter has swiped right on your profile!
Now, all that is left is to stand out from a group of at least thirty high achieving, motivated doctors by sitting in front of a panel of esteemed senior clinicians, possibly a recruitment expert too, and condense your 5 years of tertiary education and 2 years of prevocational training into intelligible 1-2 minutes responses to probing behavioural questions.
I’ve not met anyone that enjoys interviews, but there are lots of things you can do to ease the pain.
In order – get skills, get dressed, get prepped and get aroused! And remember…
You’ve got this.
Toastmasters is a non-profit educational organisation that has been around almost 100 years. It provides a forum for people from all walks of life to develop skills in communication, presentation and leadership.
In session known as ‘table topics’ someone throws a question your way, you stand up in front of a crowd of supportive, smiling faces and make a 1 to 2-minute speech on this topic.
Terrifying? Sometimes. So was driving a car at 110km/h for the first time, but now you just flick on the cruise control and yawn, right?
If you can come up with an impromptu speech arguing the case to include meatball throwing in the next Olympics (my topic one week), you can answer what your strengths as a doctor are.
If you can’t make the commitment to weekly or fortnightly club meetings, attend a short course. My local club runs a 6 week speechcraft course twice a year. The Hunter New England Simulation Centre runs a 1 day recruitment course, with interview skill development as a focus.
So much of interviewing and presentation is not what you say, but how you say it. These are skills. Skills can be developed. Get practicing.
Better to overdress than underdress. Be conservative over flamboyant. Plan your outfit and have it ready to go the night before.
Include with your outfit a compendium. Have in it all of your required documents (AHPRA registration, medical degree etc.), spare copy of your CV, copy of your selection criteria, workplace based assessments and referee letters that may come in handy.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” –Arthur Ashe
Tell us about yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
All pretty bog standard interview questions.
At New South Wales Health, there has been a shift towards behavioural interviewing. They generally start as “Tell us about a time when…”
In fact, the ready-made elevator pitch for the ‘tell us about yourself’ question that I had concocted went unused throughout the entire recruitment period.
The theory is that past behaviour predicts future behaviour. The person that deals with stress by throwing tantrums is probably going to continue doing so.
This is where that diary I begged you to start comes to the fore.
“Tell us about a time when you made a mistake.” Diary.
“Have you ever worked in a situation where the rules and guidelines were not clear? Tell me about it. How did you feel about it? How did you react?” Diary.
“Give me an example of a situation where you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get something done.” Let me just look on in to my little ol’ diary.
Give yourself a structure for your responses. A popular one is the STAR approach.
S – Situation
Tell them the story. Where were you, what rotation were you on, what time of day was it (if relevant to the narrative)?
T – Task
What was the challenge that needed to be overcome? Talking an irate patient? Clinical decision making in the face of uncertainty?
A – Action
How did you/the team respond to the task at hand?
R – Results
What did you accomplish at the end of the day? What were some lessons that you learnt?
I was sitting outside the interview room at one of the Sydney Hospitals, in quiet contemplation, trying to calm my thoughts before stepping into the interview.
They were having the orthopaedic interviews on the same day.
A young lad sat across from me, headphones in, eyes closed, thrashing his head violently. He prises open one eye and declares “I’M LISTENING TO DEEP HOUSE!”
He closes his eyes and gets back in the zone.
The point of the story is find out where you lie on the arousal curve. I was probably sitting to the right, a bit too highly aroused, so I was trying to quietly calm myself.
The budding young orthopod obviously sat to the left, and needed the kick that only deep house music can provide.
Concluding the interview
A lot of people have told me that you need to have a question for the panel at the end, to show that you’re engaged and interested. I think this is good in principle, but don’t force it.
I’ve forced it a few times and it’s obvious. If you genuinely have a question, and the panel aren’t looking at their watches, go ahead.
Finally, take a leaf from Dick Bolles playbook and write a thank you note to the panel after the interview.
Remember, the interview panel is human too. I’ve taken the below screenshot from one of the greatest works of behavioural economics in the Western Literary Canon, The Sims.
The only bars that you have influence over is the ‘fun’ and ‘social’ bars. The rest will decay exponentially.
Put yourself in their shoes. You would want to be entertained. You would want the pain of this tedious process to be eased.
There was only so much I could fit into one blog post. Please contact me via twitter or LinkedIn for more.