International physicians applying for roles in Canada can always typically expect to attend at least an initial phone interview. Due to the pandemic, we have now seen a significant increase in virtual interviews for both national and international candidates, residents, and even medical school applicants.
Most healthcare facilities now conduct all initial and even second interviews virtually or over the phone. With the exception of international jobs, face-to-face interviews have always been the “next step”, and not being able to do this has left employers needing to get to know you in a compressed amount of time. Selecting a physician candidate who meets all the clinical skill requirements and is a good culture fit for the facility and the community has the added challenge of potentially never shaking hands or meeting face to face before a hire.
The good news is that this is a new and evolving experience for all involved. However, physicians should do their best to prepare themselves, their environment, and their devices for a successful meeting with their prospective employer, and attend the interview as professionally as possible.
Prepare Ahead to Ace your Interview
The team here at Physicians for You will always help you with pre-interview questions to help guide the flow of the interview, and also to prepare you for some typical questions you will get asked. It is a good idea to rehearse answers to questions you’ll likely get. Preparing your answers in advance to the most commonly asked questions can help you come across confident and stand out from other physicians pursuing the same position.
Questions such as “ Tell me about yourself” can catch you off guard if you are not prepared to speak freely about yourself. With this type of question, a three prong answer is helpful – brief training and experience overview, recognised achievements if applicable, and something more personal, like your specific goals or aspirations.
Setting Your Location
Choose a quiet location with an attractive background that won’t distract the interviewer from your answers. Ensure you won’t be interrupted for the duration of the interview, your cell phone is on silent, and that background noises including pets, family members, and street noise aren’t a factor.
Lighting & Background
The room you choose should be well lit, just as a face-to-face interview would be. The most flattering light is indirect and comes from several sources. Move lamps, open blinds, change angles of your device and chair to test the effect and overall impression.
Keep the background clean and free of clutter, but don’t be afraid to have personal items in the background, as a completely blank background can be boring. Book shelves, plants, and simple décor that is not distracting, or inviting questions is all good, and can add to the appeal of the overall setting.
Presentation & Camera Position
Dress as you would for an in-person interview. You cannot be overdressed. But you can be too casual for the occasion, so it is best to dress more formally than not. Being more professionally dressed will never count against you, even if your interviewer is dressed more casually than you.
Have the computer or device properly elevated before the interview begins so that you don’t need to make adjustments during the session. Just your head and shoulders in the frame looking straight ahead at the camera, not down toward a keyboard is most ideal. Know where the camera is on your device.
Once the session is underway, it’s important to maintain focus by not moving the head too much or looking off to the side. Even if that feels somewhat stiff, it won’t come across that way to the interviewer. You can look at the interviewer’s face when he/she is speaking, but do look at the camera when you are responding to a question.
Pre-Interview Test Run
Test your equipment and on the video interview platform ahead of time to avoid the stress of trying to resolve technical problems that can fluster you. This is especially important if you’re not familiar with the app. Meetings and interviews are now commonly held on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Teams. Many physicians may have already had to become familiar with specific platforms due to the increase in patient virtual visits, but if you are not familiar with the platform the interview will be conducted on, it is highly advisable to test it out first.
We encourage our physician candidates to try the application out ahead of time with a friend or family member so that you can become familiar with microphone and volume settings, logging in and answering the call, exiting the platform, and other useful functions you may need during the interview. Keep in mind, the most common problem on video interviews is poor audio.
Think of it as an in-person interview
Virtual interviews are often shorter than in person, but the impact is no less impactful. For this reason, it is important to maintain good eye contact and remain focused for the duration of the virtual meeting.
Take notes during your interview just as you would in-person, just let the interviewer know what you are doing so you don’t appear distracted. Notes show that you are taking the interview seriously and care about the information being relayed. This will also be useful to refer back to for follow-up interviews.
Record the names and titles of the people you meet virtually. If there are multiple interviewers, this will be a particularly useful tool to help you remember names and keep them straight.
All that said, relax!
The most important thing to remember is that both the hiring team and those looking for a new career opportunity share common goals as well as challenges during the virtual interview process. Being prepared with your technology will allow you to be more relaxed and focused on the people you are about to meet.